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Phelps Family Papers


Identifier: 1961-39-0

Scope and Contents

The Phelps Family Papers consist primarily of correspondence. Most of the letters date from 1854-1865 and were written to or from Rev. Winthrop Henry Phelps, who served as chaplain to the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery during the Civil War and from his wife Lucy F. Robinson Phelps. Among the most noteworthy of the papers are a series of diaries maintained by Rev. Phelps. Several of these were edited by his granddaughter Ethel Lowerre Phelps in 1945 and published as limited editions titled "A Chaplain's Life in the Civil War." The papers also contain three of Rev. Phelps' sermons. The papers consist of four series, Series 1, Correspondence,  Series 2, Other Papers, Series 3, Photographs, and Series 4, Notes, and are generally arranged by the creators. For a detailed inventory, click "Show Digital Content Links" at left and then "Phelps Family Papers inventory."


  • created: 1817-1945
  • Other: Date acquired: 02/09/1963


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical or Historical Information

Rev. Phelps was born in Albany, N.Y., in 1818, the son of William Phelps (1785-1858) and Chloe Reed May Phelps (1789-1868). They had three other children: Erasmus Addison Phelps, Charlotte Reed Phelps Van Hoeverberg, and Marietta Atwell Phelps. Rev. Phelps graduated from New York University in 1842. He studied at Union Theological Seminary, graduating in 1845. He also received a Master of Arts from New York University in 1845. He then held positions at the Congregational Church in Greenfield, N.Y., 1845-1846 and the Presbyterian Church in Hillsdale, N. Y., 1846-1849; was ordained a Presbyterian minister, 1848; and served at the Congregational Church in Stockbridge, Mass., 1849-1854; the Congregational Church in Monterey, Mass., 1854-1861; and the Congregational Church in  Hitchcocksville (now Riverton), Conn. 1861-1863. In 1863, he was appointed chaplain of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Infantry, serving until 1865. He purchased a farm in S. Egremont, Mass., in 1866 and held several temporary church positions in the area. He moved to New York City in 1882 to take up liturgical work. He died in 1885. In 1848, Rev. Phelps married Lucy Fassett Robinson Phelps (1822-1901), the widow of Andrew Benjamin, and a daughter of Royal Robinson (1789-1841) and Fanny Fassett Robinson (1799-1862). Rev. and Mrs. Phelps had four children: Winthrop Erasmus Phelps, Harriett Frances Phelps Beardsley, Edward Wilbor Phelps, and Fanny Robinson Phelps.

Note written by


7.00 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The papers are arranged in four series: 1. Correspondance 2. Other Papers 3. Photographs 4. Notes

Source of Acquisition

Ethel Lowerre Phelps

Method of Acquisition


Accruals and Additions

The first donation consisted primarily of museum objects including badges, and a soldier's cap; Chaplain Phelps's personal library; and a few documents relating to a temperence society within the regiment. The first addition was assigned a number, 1961-39-0, and contained Miss Phelps's edited version of her grandfather's diaries.  Upon her death in 1969, the executrix of her estate offered the original diaries and papers to the Historical Society.  They arrived in August of 1969 and were assigned the same number as the initial donation.

Existence and Location of Originals

multi-part note content

Related Materials

multi-part note content

Other Descriptive Information

This collection was processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Phelps Family Papers
Joe Carrano
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Litchfield Historical Society Repository

7 South Street
P.O. Box 385
Litchfield CT 06759
860-567-3565 (Fax)