Longfellow, Alice M. (Alice Mary), 1850-1928

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Born 22 September 1850 to Henry Wadsworth and Frances Appleton Longfellow, Alice Longfellow lived a privileged life with her family in Cambridge, enjoying her studies and developing a love of travel after a visit to Maine in 1863, when she was only 12 years old. After the death of her mother in 1861, Longfellow took on something of a caretaker role to her two younger sisters, earning her the depiction of "grave Alice" in her father's famous poem, The Children's Hour. At the age of 21, Alice Longfellow came into her inheritance from her mother, a fortune worth $131,755.45, which allowed her financial independence and the freedom to make her own decisions regarding her future.

Growing up, Longfellow received a thorough education for young ladies at Miss C. S. Lyman's School, and later Professor Williston's School. In 1879, at 28 years old, she became the youngest member of a committee of women then known as The Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women, working to establish a Harvard Annex for women. The Annex held special classes for women taught by Harvard professors. Longfellow served as treasurer of the Annex from 1883–1891. Her love of education led her to offer the Craigie House library for the Society's commencements of the Society, which eventually become Radcliffe College. Her affiliation with the school continued throughout her life. She attended classes through the Society until 1890, with a year off spent at Newnham College in Cambridge, England, in 1883-1884. Alice later functioned as a Radcliffe administrator by serving on the executive committee, the Board of Trustees, and as treasurer from 1883 to 1891.

Longfellow traveled extensively throughout her life, visiting Canada,the United Kingdom and several countries in Europe. She met with Benito Mussolini on October 24, 1927, at Palazzo Chigi and presented him with a copy of her father's translation of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Longfellow was sympathetic to the Fascist cause, writing a paper circa 1923 entitled "The Fascisti As I Saw Them" in which she praises Mussolini's work as leader of Italy.

Longfellow traveled extensively throughout her life, visiting Canada, the United Kingdom and several countries in Europe. She met with Benito Mussolini on October 24, 1927, at Palazzo Chigi and presented him with a copy of her father's translation of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Longfellow was sympathetic to the Fascist cause, writing a paper circa 1923 entitled "The Fascisti As I Saw Them" in which she praises Mussolini's work as leader of Italy.

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Longfellow shared her love of travel with students through the creation of a traveling fellowship for Radcliffe graduates. She also donated books and supplies for the institution's first library and enlisted her cousin Alexander to design several of its first buildings. In 1899, Alice Longfellow paid her cousin to redesign Fay House, the first building owned by Radcliffe college. When the organization was officially acquired by Harvard in 1893, then President Charles William Eliot wished to name the college after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, but Alice, a member of the founding committee, suggested they should find another namesake who had been more committed to the education of women.

Alice Longfellow continued her legacy by donating money for Longfellow Hall, built in 1930, and her passion for education led her to contribute to charitable and volunteer activities involving education. She served as a member of the Cambridge School Committee from 1887 to 1892; provided scholarship funds for Black and Indigenous students at Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes, and also donated money and time to schools for the blind.

Longfellow's philanthrophic career was also focused on the preservation of American antiquities, promoting educational opportunities for disenfranchised groups, and supporting the Allied forces during World War I.

Longfellow took an active interest in the history of the United States, possibly inspired by growing up at Craigie House, which had served as headquarters for General George Washington from July 1775 to April 1776. In 1876, when she was about 25 years old, she went to the Centennial International Exposition with her father and two sisters in Philadelphia for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. She later became extremely knowledable about the history of Craigie House and often read a paper she had written on the subject to local historical societies. Longfellow was active in preservation efforts at Mount Vernon and served as Massachusetts vice-regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association for forty-eight years. In 1896 Longfellow held the 120th wedding anniversary of George and Martha Washington in the Longfellow House by reenacting the Washington's supposed Twelfth Night party held in 1776.

During World War I, she donated to the American Fund for French Wounded in 1919, the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris from 1915–1916, the Layette Fund from 1915–1919, the Serbian Hospital Fund in 1917, the American Memorial Hospital at Rheims from 1919–1928, the American Ouvrior Funds from 1918–1928, as well as the American Committee for War Relief in Florence in 1916. Longfellow also corresponded with the Paris-based Committee for Men Blinded in Battle. In 1915, she donated to the American Ambulance Field Service, which named Ambulance No. 88 named in her honor.

Longfellow served as a member of various other committees as well: the Audubon Society (1886–1915),the American Association for Highway Improvement (1912), the Daughters of the American Revolution (1901), the Massachusetts Historical Society (1916), and the National Geographic Society (1919). Longfellow was also a governing member of The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, today known as Historic New England from its inception in 1910 until her death.

Longfellow published a four-page sketch of her father in 1882 following his death, entitled "Longfellow in Home Life". She worked to preserve and promote the poet's legacy. Alice and her sister Anne saw the dedication of their father's bust in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey in London in 1884, the only American-born American to have the honor. Alice commissioned the Thomas Brock, the bust's artist, to make an exact replica for Longfellow House library. Longfellow was invited to visit the Ojibwe people in Ontario, Canada in 1900 in recognition of her father's favorable representation of the tribe in The Song of Hiawatha (1855). Alice and her surviving siblings were made honorary members of the tribe. She traveled with two of her sisters to New Kensington and attended a pageant based on the book performed by members of the Garden River First Nation.

In 1913, The Longfellow House Trust was created by the surviving children of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and their spouses to preserve the home of their father for its historical significance so that it could remain for future generations as a monument to his life and work. The first indenture of the Trust provided that Alice Longfellow be the live-in caretaker of the house as long as she would like, a position she retained until her death in 1928. Longfellow went on to donate an additional $50,000.00 to the Trust in her will for the purpose of ensuring that future Longfellow descendants could live in the Longfellow House if they so desired. The Trust took care of the house until 1972 when the house was transferred by the trustees to the National Park Service so that it could become a National Historic Site.

While at home in Cambridge, Longfellow led an active social life. She maintained friendships with the wives of some of her father's friends, such as Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz, the wife of the natural historian and Harvard professor Louis Agassiz, and Annie Adams Fields, the wife of her father's publisher, James T. Fields of Ticknor and Fields. Also of note are her friendships with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Longfellow had close relationships with many family members, such as her cousins Mary King Longfellow, the landscape painter and travel companion, and Alexander Wadsworth "Waddy" Longfellow Jr. one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Longfellow had enough wealth so she never needed to take a husband. Interpreters at the Longfellow House have examined information Longfellow left behind and now understand her to have been queer. She spent a great deal of time with a close female friend, Fanny Stone, daughter of a Republican politician from Massachusetts. Longfellow and Stone frequently corresponded while Stone was living in Washington, D.C. with her father. Stone's letters reveal a strong romantic attachment to Alice and their relationship was one of the most important and significant of Longfellow's life. The pair travelled together for over forty years and Stone often visited while visiting her sister down the street. Their letters reveal a close, intimate relationship between two women who loved each other deeply.

Alice Mary Longfellow died on December 7, 1928. She was 78 years old. Her body was cremated and buried in the family plot at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
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referencedIn Governing Board Records, 1878-1999 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Saturday Morning Club (Boston, Mass.). Records, 1871-1983 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Black, James Wallace, 1825-1896,. Family and friends [graphic] Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Letters from various correspondents, 1869-1942. Houghton Library
referencedIn Curtis family. Papers, 1797-1991 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Barrows family papers, 1861-1931. Houghton Library
referencedIn Ralph Morris collection of autographs and portraits Houghton Library
referencedIn Longfellow House Trust. Longfellow House Trust records, 1852-1973. Longfellow House, Longfellow National Historic Site
referencedIn Brush, George Jarvis, 1831-1912. Family papers, 1834-1960 (bulk: 1834-1939) Yale University Library
referencedIn Papers, 1842-1843, 1862-1935, 1960 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Longfellow, Alice M. (Alice Mary), 1850-1928. Letter, 1902. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Longfellow, Alice M. (Alice Mary), 1850-1928. Autograph letter signed Alice (?) Longfellow to: "My dear Mr. Palmer" January 3, 1908. Wellesley College
referencedIn Oliver Wendell Holmes letters from various correspondents, 1820-1894 Houghton Library
referencedIn Thorp, Annie Longfellow. Letters, 1930-1931, Cambridge, Mass., to Philip D. Sherman, Oberlin, Ohio. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Thomas Bailey Aldrich papers, 1837-1926. Houghton Library
referencedIn Wendell family papers, 1620-1921 Houghton Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library
referencedIn Goold, Nathan, 1846-1914. Nathan Goold genealogies of the Wadsworth and Longfellow families, undated. Maine Historical Society Library
creatorOf Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Papers of Henry Wadworth Longfellow [manuscript], 1764-1887 (bulk 1832-1882). University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Markham, Jeanette, 1862-1932. Scrapbook, 1885-1889 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Records of the Central Administration, 1883-1985 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dorr, Julia C. R. (Julia Caroline Ripley), 1825-1913. Papers of 47 women authors, chiefly American [manuscript] 1847-1949, 1970. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Ray, Gordon Norton, 1915-1986,. Literary and historical letters and documents, [ca. 1661]-1976. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Thayer, William Roscoe, 1859-1923. Papers, 1762-1927 (bulk 1872-1921) Houghton Library
referencedIn Radcliffe College. Class of 1932. Scrapbooks and papers, 1928-1984 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Longfellow, Alice M. (Alice Mary), 1850-1928. Letter : 1901 February 14, to "Miss Nichols" [manuscript]. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Cronkhite, Bernice Brown, 1893-. Papers, 1915-1970 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Lutz, Alma, 1890-1973. Collection of documents by and about abolitionists and women's rights activists, 1775-1943 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Roelker, Bernard, 1816-1888. Papers of Bernard Roelker, 1856-1941 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Almy family. Papers, 1649-1984 (inclusive), 1832-1984 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Brush, George Jarvis, 1831-1912. George Jarvis Brush family papers, 1834-1960 (inclusive), 1834-1939 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn James Thomas Fields autograph album, 1750-1941. Houghton Library
referencedIn Autograph Files, 1783-1983 Vassar College
creatorOf Longfellow, Alice M. (Alice Mary), 1850-1928. Letter to Mrs. J.C. Nixon. Boston, MA. 1885 Nov. 2. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918, recipient. Letters from various correspondents, American period, 1876-1937 Houghton Library
creatorOf Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Longfellow Family Papers [manuscript], 1855-1860. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Scott, Mary Augusta, 1851-1918. Mary Augusta Scott papers, 1870-1917. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908. Papers, ca.1845-1908 Houghton Library
creatorOf Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow letters to various correspondents, 1823-1876. Houghton Library
referencedIn Sarah Orne Jewett compositions and other papers, 1847-1909. Houghton Library
referencedIn Scott, Mary Augusta, 1851-1918. Papers, 1870-1917. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Radcliffe College governing boards records, 1878-1999 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Viola Price Franklin letter collection, 1849-1941 Willamette University Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Papers, 1915-1970 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Brooks, Phillips, 1835-1893. Papers, 1832-1892 Houghton Library
referencedIn Clark, Ruth E. Letter, 1934. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn George Jarvis Brush family papers, 1834-1960, 1834-1939 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Howells family papers, 1850-1954 (inclusive). Houghton Library
referencedIn Papers of John Graham Brooks, 1805-1938 (bulk 1900-1938) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Sarah Orne Jewett correspondence, 1861-1930. Houghton Library
creatorOf Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Letters, 1868-1879 University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Henry Oscar Houghton papers, 1773-1932 (bulk 1833-1895) Houghton Library
creatorOf Longfellow, Alice M. (Alice Mary), 1850-1928. Letter, [n.y.], July 27, Manchester, to H. H. Tilley. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Comstock, Ada Louise. Papers, 1818-1982 (inclusive), 1887-1982 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Thompson, Anna Boynton, 1848-1923. Papers, 1842-1960 (inclusive), 1862-1935 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Autograph File, L, 1641-1976. Houghton Library
creatorOf Longfellow, Alice M. (Alice Mary), 1850-1928. Alice Mary Longfellow papers, 1850-1965. Longfellow House, Longfellow National Historic Site
referencedIn Honeyman, A. Van Doren (Abraham Van Doren), 1849-1936. Collection of papers, 1870-1931. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Lutz, Alma,. Collection of documents by and about abolitionists and women's rights activists, Part 2 (Liv-W), 1775-1943 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Radcliffe College. Central Administration. Records of the Central Administration, 1883-1985 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Brooks, John Graham, 1846-1938. Papers of John Graham Brooks, 1845-1938 (bulk 1900-1938). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Emerson family correspondence, ca. 1725-1900. Houghton Library
referencedIn Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1761-1904 (bulk 1820-1888) Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 1836-1907 person
associatedWith ALMA LUTZ, 1890-1973 person
associatedWith Almy family. person
associatedWith ANNA BOYNTON THOMPSON, 1848-1923 person
correspondedWith Barrows family. family
associatedWith Bernice V. Brown Cronkhite person
associatedWith Brooks, John Graham, 1846-1938. person
correspondedWith Brooks, Phillips, 1835-1893 person
associatedWith Brush, George Jarvis, 1831-1912. person
associatedWith Clark, Ruth E. person
associatedWith Comstock, Ada Louise. person
associatedWith Cronkhite, Bernice Brown, 1893- person
associatedWith Curtis family. family
associatedWith di Campello, Conte. person
associatedWith Emerson family. family
associatedWith Fields, James Thomas, 1817-1881 person
associatedWith Franklin, Viola Price person
associatedWith Goold, Nathan, 1846-1914. person
associatedWith Hampton Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894 person
correspondedWith Honeyman, A. Van Doren (Abraham Van Doren), 1849-1936. person
correspondedWith Houghton, Henry Oscar, 1823-1895 person
correspondedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
correspondedWith Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909 person
associatedWith John Graham Brooks, 1846-1938 person
associatedWith Longfellow, A. W. (Alexander Wadsworth), 1854-1934 person
associatedWith Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. person
associatedWith Longfellow House (Cambridge, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Longfellow House Trust. corporateBody
associatedWith Lutz, Alma, person
associatedWith Markham, Jeanette, 1862-1932. person
associatedWith Morris, Ralph, collector. person
associatedWith Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Nichols, Miss. person
associatedWith Nixon, J.C., Mrs., person
associatedWith Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908 person
associatedWith Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918 person
associatedWith Palmer, Frederic, 1848-1932. person
associatedWith Perry, Bliss, 1860-1954 person
associatedWith Radcliffe College. corporateBody
associatedWith Radcliffe College. Central Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith Radcliffe College. Class of 1932. corporateBody
associatedWith Ray, Gordon Norton, 1915-1986, person
associatedWith Roelker, Bernard, 1816-1888. person
associatedWith Rogers, Henry Munroe, 1839-1937 person
associatedWith Saturday Morning Club (Boston, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Saturday Morning Club (Boston, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Scott, Mary Augusta, 1851-1918. person
correspondedWith Thayer, William Roscoe, 1859-1923 person
associatedWith Thompson, Anna Boynton, 1848-1923. person
associatedWith Thorp, Annie Longfellow. person
associatedWith Tilley, Henry H., person
associatedWith Tuskegee Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Vassar College. corporateBody
correspondedWith Wendell family. family
Place Name Admin Code Country
Europe
Cambridge MA US
Cambridge MA US
Harvard University MA US
Subject
Voyages and travels
Children of authors
Dwellings
Women--Education
Cambridge (Mass.)--History
Historic buildings--Conservation and restoration
Philanthropists--Women--History
Indians of North America--Education
African Americans--Education
Occupation
Women authors, American
Educational consultants--Massachusetts
Women philanthropists
Women civic leaders--Massachusetts
Activity

Person

Birth 1850-09-22

Death 1928-12-07

Female

Americans

English

Information

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