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Guide to the Howe Family collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Howe Family collection
    Dates: ca. 1845-1990
    Bulk Dates: ca. 1855-1945
    Collection number: MS0082
    Collection Size: 18.5 linear feet (39 boxes), plus artifacts
    Repository: Center for Sacramento History
    Sacramento, California 95811-0229
    Abstract: The collection documents the Howe Family of Sacramento. With roots as educators and abolitionists in the Midwest, members of the Howe family came to Sacramento in the 1870s. Several continued working in education, while Samuel Luke Howe Jr. was Sacramento city attorney from 1900 to 1908. The collection dates from the 1850s to the 1990s and consists primarily of correspondence, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, artifacts, and other memorabilia that belonged to or was created by the Howe and Sunderland families, as well as other related families.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research use.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to publish or quote from private manuscripts held by the Center for Sacramento History (CSH) must be submitted in writing to csh@cityofsacramento.org. Permission for publication is given on behalf of CSH as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the patron. No permission is necessary to publish or quote from public records.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item and/or item number], [box and folder number], Howe Family collection, MS0082, Center for Sacramento History.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Angela Schrimp de laVergne, 2003 (accession number 2003/056).

    Processing Information

    Processing and finding aid by Alisa Austin, 2006. Finding aid edited by Kim Hayden, 2020.

    Biography / Administrative History

    The Howe Family of Sacramento has its roots on the East Coast and in the Midwest as abolitionists and educators.
    Patriarch Samuel Luke Howe was born in Vermont on August 5, 1807 or 1809. He graduated from college in Athens, Ohio, and married Charlotte Wilson (born September 1, 1811) on April 2, 1829. The Howes had nine children: Oscar, Elizabeth W., Pembroke W., Edward Page, Hayward Howard, Mary Frances, Seward Curtis, Francis, and Cora Belle.
    Howe formed an academy in Lancaster, Ohio, in 1835, counting William Tecumseh Sherman and his brother John Sherman among his pupils. In 1841, the Howes moved to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and opened the Mt. Pleasant High School and Female Seminary. Howe was an abolitionist and a member the Free Soil Party in Iowa, and his house was a station of the Underground Railroad. He published the only antislavery newspaper west of the Mississippi in the 1850s, the Iowa Free Democrat.
    By 1856, the Howes had moved to Kansas, while several of their children and members of the extended family moved out West. Those coming West continued the family’s career in education, with three working at Sacramento High School: Samuel Luke Howe’s sons Hayward Howard Howe and Edward Page Howe were both principals there during the 1870s, and his brother John Mark Howe was a teacher there in the 1850s. John Mark Howe is buried at Sacramento City Cemetery.
    Edward Page Howe Sr. arrived in Sacramento in 1872. He married Ella Perrin Sunderland of Indiana and they had five children: Edward Page Jr., Oscar T., Samuel Luke Jr., Ella Perrin (who later changed her name to Helen Sunderland Howe), and William. In 1884, Edward and Ella purchased land from S. A. and Mary McDonnell in the area of 21st and 22nd street and built a house. In addition to being principal at Sacramento High School, Edward founded Howe's Normal Academy, and he and his father authored Howe's Grammar. In his senior years, he lived at 1028 J Street. He died October 22, 1915, of a heart attack at a cathedral on the corner of 11th and K streets at the age of 76.
    Edward and Ella’s son Edward Page Jr. married Luella Slack Howe (whose father, Frank Slack owned the Riverside Dairy in Sacramento) and they lived at 2215 21st Street. They had one child, Helen Margaret, who graduated from Mills College in 1930 and was a teacher in Carmel and Courtland.
    Another of Edward Sr.’s sons, Samuel Luke Howe Jr., was the Sacramento city attorney from 1900 to 1908. After many years in the military, Samuel studied law at Beatty, Denson and Oatman, and Devlin & Devlin, and was admitted to the bar in 1893. He was senior partner in the firm Howe, Hibbitt, and Johnson, and was also a partner with his brother William Sunderland Howe. For 20 years, he was the secretary of the Sacramento County Bar Association. His residence was on the corner of 21st and V streets.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Howe Family collection dates from the 1840s through the 1980s, with the bulk from circa 1855 to 1945. Material consists primarily of family letters to and from Sacramento County, Northern California, Iowa, and Nevada; newspaper clippings; photographs; scrapbooks; military records; artifacts; and other memorabilia that belonged to or was created by the Howe and Sunderland families, as well as other related families. Of note are a letter written by General William Tecumseh Sherman, civil war letters including a cross-written letter, and photographs of Japanese and Chinese students in Courtland. There is one unprocessed box consisting mostly of newspapers and clippings. A Sacramento County rural directory from 1941 was moved to our city directory library.


    The collection is arranged into 5 series:
    • Series 1. Correspondence, papers, and ephemera, ca. 1855-1981
    • Subseries 1.1. Various Howe family members, ca. 1862-1981
    • Subseries 1.2. Ella Perrin Sunderland Howe and Edward Page Howe Sr., 1854-1899
    • Subseries 1.3. Edward Page Howe Jr., 1879-1886
    • Subseries 1.4. Samuel Luke Howe Jr., ca. 1855-1939
    • Series 2. Scrapbooks, journals, and ledgers, ca. 1850-1922
    • Series 3. Photographs, ca. 1854-1955
    • Subseries 3.1. Howe family and friends, ca.1854-1955
    • Subseries 3.2. Ryde and Courtland Chinese and Japanese schools, 1932-1944
    • Series 4. Books and periodicals, 1845-1972
    • Series 5. Artifacts, undated; 1899; ca. 1918

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Social life and customs -- Sacramento (Calif.)
    City attorneys -- Sacramento (Calif.)
    Chinese -- California -- Delta Region -- History – 20th century.
    Japanese-- California -- Delta Region -- History – 20th century.
    Ryde (Calif.)
    Courtland (Calif.)
    Howe, Samuel Luke
    Howe, Samuel Luke Jr.
    Howe, Edward Page Sr.
    Howe, Edward Page Jr.
    Howe, Ella Perrin Sunderland
    Howe, Helen Margaret
    Howe, Helen Sunderland

    Related Material

    The California State Library holds items related to Samuel Luke Howe Jr. and Helen Margaret Howe.
    California State Parks Museum Collections holds five chairs from the Howe family.