Porter Family Papers

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Porter family papers
Creator: Porter family
Call Number: A.P84
Dates: 1785-1912
Physical Description: 14 boxes
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

Table of Contents:

Biographical/Historical Note
Scope and Content
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Content List
Series I: Correspondence
Series II: Personal papers
Collection Overview
Title: Porter family papers
Creator: Porter family
Call Number: A.P84
Dates: 1785-1912
Physical Description: 14 boxes
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

Biographical/Historical Note
Samuel Drummond Porter came to Rochester in 1827 to Rochester in 1827 to work as a clerk in the book and stationery shop of his uncle by marriage, Everard Peck, who was at the time the publisher of the Rochester Telegraph and a figure already prominent in Rochester affairs. In 1834, Porter married Susan Farley (1811-1880) of Waldoboro, Maine, and brought her to live in Rochester. Later his sister, Laura G. Porter, became the wife of his brother-in-law, Joseph Farley, and they too made their home in Rochester. Everard Peck's first wife, Chloe Porter, died in 1830 and in 1836 he married Martha Farley, sister of Mrs. Porter and Joseph Farley. These three families--Peck, Porter and Farley--so closely related by marriage, were from the start actively engaged in the various movements for the betterment of Rochester and this is revealed in the papers.

Samuel D. Porter and his wife, Susan F. Porter, were active in the anti-slavery movement. Under Porter's guidance, slaves escaping to Canada were concealed in the barn on the property of his sisters, his own property being under constant surveillance. Letters written by Frederick Douglass (there are seven in the collection) indicate a close friendship between the two men and show Porter's assistance in Douglass' work. There are also eleven letters in the collection by Gerrit Smith during the 1840s and 1850s relating to the anti-slavery movement.

Mrs. Porter was an active member of the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society from its beginning and assisted in gathering material for its two anthologies, both titled Autographs for Freedom, which were issued in 1853 and 1854. A letter from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and one from Harriet Beecher Stowe relating to these works are found in the collection.

The Porter's older son, Samuel (1843-1881) was eighteen years old at the outbreak of the Civil War. Leaving the University of Rochester, which he had entered in 1859, he joined the army on August 9, 1862 with the rank of Second Lieutenant of Company F, 108th Regiment of New York State Volunteers and emerged from the war with the rank of Brevet Major. He was wounded at the Battle of Antietam, at Gettysburg and at Bristoe Station, and a fourth time during the Battle of the Wilderness. The bulk of his letters to the various members of his immediate family have been kept as a unit in the collection and are of particular interest and value, giving an almost daily account of the movements of the Company with which Porter was associated, and the conditions under which his men lived and fought, and first-hand observations on the war. As such, they form a coherent and fairly complete story of one man's experiences in the Civil War.

The final part of the collection is from the 1870s to the 1910s and is correspondence to and from Martha T. (Porter) Hopkins (1851-1924) (Mattie), the daughter of Samuel D. and Susan F. Porter. She kept in close contact with her Porter and Farley relatives as well as numerous friends and often corresponded with and visited them in Connecticut, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York State. When away visiting, her family regularly wrote her relaying the news from Rochester.

Scope and Content
The Porter Family Papers is a collection of over two thousand letters and other papers spanning four generations--from the late 1700s to the early 1900s-of the Porter and related Farley and Peck Families of Connecticut, Maine, Philadelphia, and Rochester. Seventy-two of the letters in the collection have been indexed in the Department's index to letters. A list of these letter writers is found in this register. The collection focuses on the third generation and Samuel Drummond Porter (1808-1881), a native of Bristol, Maine

New York (State)--Rochester
Antislavery movements
American Civil War (1861-1865)
Porter, Samuel Drummond, 1808-1881
Porter, Susan Farley, 1811-1880
Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895
Smith, Gerrit, 1797-1874
Porter family
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Porter Family Papers were the gift of Samuel Porter (U of R, Class of 1908) on August 24, 1950, January 14, 1965, and May 14, 1968 and of Mrs. Craig P. Cochrane on August 1, 1961. The donors were grandchildren of Samuel D. and Susan F. Porter and first cousins of each other. Additional items related to Maria Porter were purchased in 2015. The Department is also pleased to be able to provide the text of a lecture given by Robert Marcotte entitled "The University of Rochester and the Civil War: Three Heroes at Gettysburg," presented on December 17, 2002, which discusses the Civil War letters found in the Porter Family Papers.Access
The Porter family papers is open for research use. Researchers are advised to contact Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation prior to visiting. Upon arrival, researchers will also be asked to fill out a registration form and provide photo identification.Use
Reproductions are made upon request but can be subject to restrictions. Permission to publish materials from the collection must currently be requested. Please note that some materials may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information contact rarebks@library.rochester.eduCitation
[Item title, item date], Porter family papers, A.P84, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Administrative Information
Author: Finding aid prepared by Rare Books and Special Collections staff
Publisher: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055

Content List
Series I: Correspondence
Box 1, Folder 1-6Indexed letters, 1820-1880
Box 1, Folder 7-13Civil War letters, 1862-1865
Box 1, Folder 14Civil War records, diary, and typescripts of letters
Box 2, Folder 1-10Correspondence, 1785-1816
Box 3, Folder 1-8Correspondence, 1817-1839
Box 4, Folder 1-9Correspondence, 1840-1857
Box 5, Folder 1-14Correspondence, 1858-1866
Includes account by Woolsey R. Hopkins of the first Battle of Bull Run (July 1861)

Box 6, Folder 1-17Correspondence, January 1, 1867-June 30, 1867
Box 7, Folder 1-9Correspondence, July 1, 1867-December 1867
Box 8, Folder 1-11Correspondence, January 1, 1868-April 30, 1868
Box 9, Folder 1-10Correspondence, May 1, 1868-December 31, 1868
Box 10, Folder 1-9Correspondence, 1869-1870
Box 11, Folder 1-12Correspondence, 1871-1872
Box 12, Folder 1-15Correspondence, 1873-1880
Box 13, Folder 1-7Correspondence, 1881-1912
Box 13, Folder 8-10Correspondence, undated
Series II: Personal papers
Box 14, Folder 1Invitations, 1873-1876, undated
Box 14, Folder 2Incomplete letters and autographs
Box 14, Folder 3Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, Constitution
Box 14, Folder 4Address, re: Chattel slavery and the Scriptures
Box 14, Folder 5Miscellaneous
Box 14, Folder 6Memorabilia
Box 14, Folder 7Will of Noah Griswold, March 26, 1787
Box 14, Folder 8Land surveys, 1824, undated
Box 14, Folder 9Poems of Isabella J. Porter
Box 14, Folder 10Business papers of Joseph Farley Jr., 1884-1895
Box 14, Folder 11Business papers of Porter Farley, 1870-1889
Box 14, Folder 12Financial papers, 1777-1854
Box 14, Folder 13Receipts, 1843-1880
Box 14, Folder 14-15Legal documents, 1776-1841
Box 14, Folder 16Wills of Samuel Porter II, and related papers, 1810-1840
Box 14, Folder 17Cabinet card portrait of Maria Porter, circa 1880's

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