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James Thomas Fields Papers Addenda: Finding Aid
mssFI Addenda  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Subject matter
  • Physical Description
  • Related materials in the Huntington Library

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James Thomas Fields Papers Addenda
    Dates: 1838-1901
    Collection Number: mssFI Addenda
    Creator: Fields, James Thomas Fields, Annie Adams
    Extent: Approximately 500 pieces in 13 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: manuscripts@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection of papers of American editor, publisher, and poet James Thomas Fields (1817-1881) and his wife, Annie (Adams) Fields (1834-1915), consists of notebooks and loose papers containing their poetry, essays, notes for speeches, a few scattered diary entries, and memoranda.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administration Information


    The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please visit the Huntington's website: www.huntington.org.  

    Processing Information

    In March 2000, an initial EAD-encoded finding aid was created for this collection and then updated in 2004. In January 2015, Diann Benti created a new EAD-encoded finding aid for the collection.

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], James Thomas Fields Addenda, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 1934 from Boylston A. Beal, through M. A. DeWolfe Howe. The Anniversary Poem, Box 7 (1), also obtained from Mr. Beal, was received in 1936.


    James Thomas Fields (1817-1881) occupied an important position in the nineteenth century literary scene in his dual role as editor of The Atlantic Monthly and publisher in the Boston firm of Ticknor and Fields. His career as publisher began in 1831, when he became a clerk for the Old Corner Bookstore, which evolved into the firm of William D. Ticknor and Company. During the forties, Ticknor and Co. began its rise to greatness, with extra impetus provided by its publication in 1847 of Longfellow's Evangeline. Soon after, the firm also established relations with other New England writers such as Whittier, Lowell, Hawthorne, and Holmes, each of whom contributed to the increasing prestige of Ticknor and Co. Meanwhile, Fields began a corresponding rise, advancing to a junior partnership in 1843, though the firm retained its title until 1849, when it became Ticknor, Reed and Fields. The title of Ticknor and Fields came into being in June, 1854, and lasted until 1868, when reorganization changed the name to Fields, Osgood and Company, with Fields as senior partner. Throughout his career as a publisher, Fields was extremely successful in establishing good relationships (and in a great many cases, friendships) with a large number of authors, both American and English. Through his fair and generous terms in dealing with them and through his policy of protecting their works against piracy in spite of the absence of any international copyright laws, he was able to attract established, well-known writers to his firm, as well as many who would yet achieve fame. Fields succeeded also in obtaining wide exposure of his firm's books by means of his extensive circle of friends and acquaintances among editors and book reviewers. Chiefly as a result of his promotional talents, Ticknor and Fields were able to develop a national market for their books and hence to make Boston the primary center in the United States for the publication of literary works.
    In his capacity as editor of The Atlantic Monthly, Fields was no less successful. Created in May, 1857, the magazine was purchased by Ticknor and Fields two years later. The following year, Fields took over the editorship of the magazine from James Russell Lowell. During Field's tenure as editor, he continued to maintain the magazine's reputation for dignity and integrity which Lowell had established, and his promptness and business acumen provided a marked contrast to Lowell's sometimes casual methods. As in his role of publisher, Fields dealt fairly and generously with Atlantic contributors, inaugurating the practice of paying for articles when accepted rather than when published. Further, he actively sought out new writers in an effort to broaden the appeal of the magazine, also accepting more pieces of light fiction to ease the number of scholarly literary and historical articles. Under his leadership, the Atlantic significantly increased its circulation, becoming widely known throughout much of the United States and England, as well.
    On December 31, 1870, Fields retired from business, partly because of health, but was able to continue his writing and lecturing. He also continued to enjoy the many friendships he had formed with authors and other literary figures. The Fields home, with James and his wife, Annie (Adams) Fields (1834-1915) receiving, had become a delightful gathering place for literary people in Boston. There were frequent visits from those in and around Boston, such as Dr. Holmes, who lived just down the street, and there were guests from abroad -- those whom the Fieldses had met on their several trips to England, and many distinguished visitors who were brought to the Fieldses to meet the Boston literary circle. The story of the many hours spent with their literary friends is told in their memoirs: Authors and Friends, by Annie Fields, and Yesterdays with Authors, by James T. Fields.
    Following James Fields's death in 1881, Annie continued to receive her many friends, with the frequent companionship of Sarah Orne Jewett, and continued her own literary activities until her death in 1915.

    Subject matter

    This collection of papers of Annie (Adams) Fields (1834-1915) and James Thomas Fields (1817-1881) consists of notebooks and loose papers containing their poetry, essays, notes for speeches, a few scattered diary entries, and memoranda. Also included are letters to and from the Fieldses, as well as a group of letters from James Fields to Annie. Complementing the fully-catalogued Fields Collection, these personal papers of James and Annie Fields comprising the Addenda contain anecdotes and references to some of the literary figures represented in the main body of the Fields Collection.

    Physical Description

    Much of the collection consists of notebooks and composition books containing assorted verses, notes, anecdotes, essays and clippings, with many loose leaves inserted between the pages. Most of James Fields's manuscripts represented here are loose pages of notes, many intended for use in his lectures, and which are unnumbered and in random order. They seem to be notes and anecdotes which he could rearrange at will for a particular purpose.
    With the exception of one facsimile John Greenleaf Whittier letter, the papers are all original autographs. The general physical condition of the papers is good.

    Related materials in the Huntington Library