Arthur Dehon Hill Papers, 1854-1963 (1890-1920) – MS030

Provenance: Placed on loan at the Portsmouth Athenaeum by Mary Coolidge Lincoln, granddaughter of Arthur Dehon Hill, in 1983. Later transferred as a gift by Mary Coolidge Lincoln, Olivia H. C. Dworkin, Hamilton Coolidge, and Francis R. Lipp in 1991.

Citation: Arthur Dehon Hill Papers (MS030), Portsmouth Athenaeum

Size: 17 boxes, 51 volumes

Access: No restrictions

Processed by: Charlyn Ellis in 1987 and 1988

Note: For additional papers related to Arthur Dehon Hill see Arthur Dehon Hill Papers, MS005


Correspondence, legal diaries, personal notebooks, newspaper clippings, and other papers, relating to the early social and legal life of Arthur Dehon Hill, lawyer and civil libertarian, and correspondence to and from his mother, Caroline Inches Hill, and his wife, Henrietta McLean Hill. Subjects include Hill’s activities as Suffolk County, Mass., district attorney (1908-1909) and law professor at Harvard (1915-1919); support of the nomination of Louis Brandeis to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1916; and the post-trial efforts of Hill’s law firm to appeal the conviction and delay the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927.

Scope and Content

The collection, as a whole, deals with Arthur Dehon Hill’s early life: his childhood, college days, courtship, and beginning law practice. Viewed as such, the ltters provide a clear picture of his life, socially and intellectually, while the personal papers fill in some specific details.

In a broader manner, the collection also provides an interesting insight to Boston society at the time. The Hills were involved in the Beacon Hill – Harvard – Portsmouth social scene. Arthur Dehon Hill was a conservative individual, and well known and well liked. His correspondence, both in his own letters and in the list of recipients provides a picture of who he knew and socialized with. His letters also describe dances, dinners and meeting.

The letters of Arthur Dehon Hill consist of: letters to and from his mother, Caroline Inches Hill, from 1875-1917; letters to and from Henrietta Post McLean during their courtship, 1893-1895; letters to his son Sherman in 1911; and business letters and social correspondence.

The letters between Arthur Dehon Hill and Caroline Inches Hill make up a little more than one third of the collection and they are by far the most informative. They deal primarily with upper class Bostonian Society and occasionally relate to travel in Portsmouth and New York.

The letters of Arthur Dehon Hill to his mother often take on a journal-like quality. He describes his daily living, work, and social life in great detail. His mother is familiar with his work and legal cases through his letters. In 1911, when she went to Europe, the letters form a journal, which he wrote in daily and sent periodically.

Processing Note

The letters, which were in no discernable order, have been arranged alphabetically, then chronologically by author. Arthur Dehon Hill’s immediate family, his mother, father, wife and children, have been moved to the front of the collection for early reference. General correspondence have not been sorted so finely, letters are arranged by author, but letters to Arthur Dehon Hill, Henrietta, and Caroline Inches Hill may all be found in the same file.

Following the general list of correspondents are lists of specialized packets. When the collection arrived, some letters were tied up and labeled “letters of congratulation on Sherman’s birth” and such. Because these letters had to go into the general file, lists of the letters in each packet were compiled. Not only does this preserve the original divisions, but it also serves as a reference to when Arthur Dehon Hill was writing to different individuals.

Biographical Note

Arthur Dehon Hill was born in France on June 25, 1869, the son of Caroline Inches Dehon Hill (CIH) and Adams Sherman Hill (ASH), both New England natives. In 1872, his parents returned to America, settling once again in the Boston area.

Adams Sherman was a professor of English and Rhetoric at Harvard College; the few letters in the collection which he wrote reveal a lively wit and a delight in the English language. He lived in Cambridge year round, on Reservoir Street.

Caroline Inches (Dehon) Hill, was a strong minded woman who ruled the family. She spent her summer at “The Barns,” the family home in Portsmouth, NH, purchased in 1890. There were originally three children: Arthur, Henderson Hill (Hendie) 1879-1891, and Constance (Cuckoo) 1883-1894. But Arthur was an only child by the time of his marriage, and there was a strong bond between mother and son.

In 1885, Caroline and Adams Hill went to Europe once more, traveling extensively through England and France. There are letters from this time period which trace their journey. By 1887, they were home again, and Arthur entered Harvard to study law. He also entered the social life of Boston. Although he visited and summered in other places, such as Portsmouth and Woodstock, VT, he lived and worked in Boston. He began to practice law in 1894.

Beginning around 1890, Arthur Dehon Hill began to travel to New York and Long Island frequently. There he met Henrietta Post McLean. By 1892 the two were exchanging small gifts and letters. The two married shortly after. There are letters from Henrietta’s connections with Belport society congratulating the couple on their engagement and the birth of their first child, Sherman.

In 1895 Arthur was involved with the law firm of Hill, Barlow, and Homans (later became Hill, Barlow, Goodale, and Wiswall). He also moved into 14 Brimmer Street on Beacon Hill at this time.

Arthur’s first child, Adams Sherman Bunker Hill, was born in 1897, followed by Mary Louis in 1899, and Arthur Dehon Jr. in 1910. In 1914 Molly went to Europe and Sherman went out West in 1911. Arthur bragged extensively about his youngest child, Arthur Jr. in letters to his mother.

Arthur Dehon Hill continued to rise professionally. In 1908-1909 he was appointed District Attorney for Suffolk County. He was also professor of Law at Harvard, although not full time. He was also involved in the political campaigns in 1913.

Folder List

Box 1

Folder 1-14 Arthur Dehon Hill to Caroline Inches Hill, 1879-1901

Box 2

Folder 15-26 Arthur Dehon Hill to Caroline Inches Hill, 1901-1911

Box 3

Folder 27-38 Arthur Dehon Hill to Caroline Inches Hill, 1911-1912

Box 4

Folder 39 Arthur Dehon Hill to Adams Sherman Hill, 1875-1902

Folder 40 Arthur Dehon Hill to Henderson I. Hill, 1882-1888

Folder 41-50 Arthur Dehon Hill to Henrietta McLean Hill, 1892-1919

Folder 51 Arthur Dehon Hill to SBH, 1911-1912

Folder 52 Arthur Dehon Hill to MHG, 1918-1941

Folder 53 Arthur Dehon Hill to Arthur Dehon Hill, Jr., 1918

Folder 54 Arthur Dehon Hill to Cameron Forbe, 1899-1911

Folder 55 Arthur Dehon Hill to others (alphabetical), 1891-1942

Box 5

Folder 56-67 Caroline Inches Hill to Arthur Dehon Hill, 1879-1895

Folder 68 Caroline Inches Hill to Adams Sherman Hill, 1887-1890

Folder 69 Caroline Inches Hill to Henrietta McLean Hill, 1895-1905

Folder 70 Caroline Inches Hill to Mr. James Davis, 1864

Folder 71 Caroline Inches Hill to others (alphabetical), 1857-1888

Box 6

Folder 72 Adams Sherman Hill to Arthur Dehon Hill, 1878-1908

Folder 73 Adams Sherman Hill to Caroline Inches Hill, 1887-1902

Folder 74 Adams Sherman Hill to Hendie and Cukoo, 1888-1889

Folder 75 Adams Sherman Hill to Henrietta McLean Hill, 1895-1905

Folder 76 Adams Sherman Hill to Darwin Ware, 1853-1857

Folder 77-82 Henrietta McLean Hill to Adams Sherman Hill, 1892-1895

Folder 83-93 Henrietta McLean Hill to Caroline Inches Hill, 1893-1912

Folder 94 Henrietta McLean Hill to MGH, 1918

Folder 95 Henrietta McLean Hill to unknown, undated

Box 7

Folder 96-97 Henderson Inches Dehon to Caroline Inches Hall, 1858-1861

Folder 98 Hendie and Cukoo to others, undated

Folder 99-102 SBH to Arthur Dehon Hill and Henrietta, ca. 1905-1915

Folder 103-105 MHG to Arthur Dehon Hill and Henrietta, ca. 1914-1940

Folder 106 Arthur Dehon Hill Jr. to Arthur Dehon Hill and Henrietta, 1938-1939

Box 8

Folder 107-116 Sarah Bird Otis to Henrietta McLean Hill, 1888-1908

Box 9

Folder 117-131 General Correspondence A-D, 1870-1963

Box 10

Folder 132-151 General Correspondence E-L, 1870-1963

Box 11

Folder 152-167 General Correspondence M-R, 1870-1963

Box 12

Folder 168-180 General Correspondence S-Z, 1870-1963

Box 13

Folder 181-202 Family Papers, 1841-1937

Box 14

Folder 203-227 Professional, speeches, 1892-1941

Box 15

Folder 228-248 Other papers, ca. 1865-1945

Box 16

Folder 249-255 Printed materials

Folder 249 Harvard Bulletin June 19, 1907, Harvard Alumni Bulletin January 4, 1911, Harvard Class Day 1920, Harvard Graduation Program

Folder 250 “Augustus Noble Hand” 1948, “La Boionnette” October 10, 1948, Familiar French 1918, Insigna of the Naval Services 1917, “John Marshall and his Home” 1913

Folder 251 “The Light that Must Not Fail” 1917, “Mary Queen of Scots” 1926, Radcliffe Graduation Program 1940, R.R. and C. Directory 1921, Fine Arts Competition 1940, Time January 4, 1943, “Weetamoe in Memory” 1949

Folder 252-253 Scrapbook material

Folder 254 MHG Artwork, ca. 1910

Folder 255 Scrapbook of clippings, 1920-1925

Box 17

Folder 256 Scrapbook, Caroline Inches Hill

Folder 257 Scrapbook, Adams Sherman Hill

Box 18

Folder 258-259 Scrapbook, poetry, Caroline Inches Hill

Folder 260-262 “Mother’s Records,” Caroline Inches Hill, 1869-1893

Folder 263 Adams Sherman Hill Journal

Folder 264-266 Arthur Dehon Hill Journals, 1887-1891

Folder 267 Wedding vows, 1895

Folder 268-269 Record of The Barns, 1890-1947

Folder 271-272 Henrietta McLean Hill, notebooks, 1920-1925

Folder 273-275 Arthur Dehon Hill, notebooks, 1907-1927

Folder 276 Arthur Dehon Hill, clippings, 1900

Folder 277 Notebooks