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Gideon Hollister papers


Identifier: 1914-16-0

Scope and Contents

The Gideon Hollister papers (1914-16-0, 2.42 linear feet) document Gideon Hiram Hollister (1818-1887), a lawyer, historian, and author who also served as United States minister to Haiti from 1868 to 1869. He is perhaps best known for his History of Connecticut, published in 1855. In addition, he published several books of fiction and poetry. The collection contains manuscripts and documents regarding these works. Also found are manuscripts drafts of some of Hollister's poems and a play written for Edwin Booth. Correspondence in the collection includes many letters written to his wife, Mary Brisbane Hollister, and such figures as William A. Buckingham and William H. Seward. Letters Hollister wrote from Haiti give detailed accounts of the turbulent events which took place there. The collection also includes the manuscript draft of his "History of Santo Domingo," on which he was working at the time of his death; correspondence and literary work of his wife; documents regarding his son, John Brisbane Hollister; materials related to the treatment of the insane; currency and documents related to Haiti; and news clippings.


  • Created: 1850-1906
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/09/1914


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Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain.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

Gideon Hiram Hollister (1818-1887), historian and author, was born at Washington, Conn., Dec. 14, 1818, son of Gideon and Harriet (Jackson) Hollister, and a descendant of John Hollister, who came to America from England about 1642. Gideon Hiram Hollister was graduated at Yale College in 1840. While a student he was president of the Linonian Society and editor of the "Yale Literary Magazine" and he was class poet. After graduation he studied law under the direction of Judge Seymour, at Litchfield, Conn., and being admitted to the bar in 1842, practiced for a short time in Woodbury. In 1843 he was appointed clerk of the courts at Litchfield, Conn., a position which he held—with an interregnum of one year—until 1851, continuing meanwhile in the active practice of his profession. He acquired great political influence in the western part of the state, and in 1850 was elected to the state senate. During 1868-1869 he served as minister to Haiti. On his return he practiced for a short time at Bridgeport, and in 1876 returned to Litchfield, and represented that town in the state legislature in 1880. As a writer he is chiefly known for his "History of Connecticut" (1855), which passed through many editions, and is an authoritative work. He published a valuable treatise on the "Law of Eminent Domain," and at the close of his life was engaged in writing a history of Haiti. He also published: "Blount Hope; or, Philip, King of the Wampanoags; an Historical Romance" (1851); "Thomas a Becket, a Tragedy," and other poems (1866); "Kinley Hollow; a Novel," published in 1882, after his death. He was married, June 3, 1847, to Mary S. Brisbane (1828-1914), of South Carolina. Only one of their children, John Brisbane Hollister, survived to adulthood. Gideon Hollister died at Litchfield, Conn., Mar. 24, 1881. (The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1904)

Note written by


1.88 Linear Feet

4 document boxes, 1 half-document box other_unmapped

Language of Materials


Source of Acquisition

John Denison Champlin and Charlotte M. Wiggin

Method of Acquisition


Accruals and Additions

John Denison Champlin gave the papers in 1914. Charlotte M. Wiggin retrieved manuscript of the history of Haiti from the Litchfield Town Hall in 1953.

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).

Gideon Hollister papers
Leith Johnson
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)