Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William S. Leonard Papers, 1859-1861

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, March 2010

Summary Information
Title: William S. Leonard papers
Creator: Leonard, William Smith, 1832-1902
Inclusive dates: 1859-1861
Extent: 40 items
The William S. Leonard papers contain 39 letters written between 1859 and 1861 to William S. Leonard, a successful New Hampshire physician. Primarily written by his father and fiancée, they concern medical practice, courtship, financial struggles, and political matters.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1994. M-3092.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

William S. Leonard Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The letters are arranged by writer, and then by date.


William Smith Leonard was born in Dublin, New Hampshire, on October 13, 1832. He was the son of Rev. Levi Washburn Leonard (1790-1864), a Congregational minister, and Elizabeth Morrison Smith (d. 1848). Leonard attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Dartmouth College, receiving degrees from the latter in 1856 (Classics) and in 1860 (Medicine). He briefly practiced medicine in Amesbury, Massachusetts, before settling in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, and going into practice with Frederic Boyden. Eventually, he took over Boyden’s large medical practice. On April 30, 1861, Leonard married Martha (Mattie) E. Greenwood, also of Dublin, New Hampshire, and they had seven children.

In addition to his career as a physician, Leonard was very active in civic life. He was a member of the New Hampshire Medical Society and was twice chosen as a delegate to Dartmouth Medical School. He also held roles in the Hinsdale Board of Education, the Hinsdale Public Library Committee, and the Board of Examining Surgeons at Keene. Leonard died at his home in Hinsdale on June 28, 1902.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The William S. Leonard papers consist of 39 letters and one receipt covering 1859-1861. Twelve of the letters were written to William by his father, Rev. Levi W. Leonard. They primarily focus on family matters and on the Reverend's declining health and poor financial state. Rev. Leonard seemed to be editing books and a newsletter at this time, and had become a strong supporter of the Republican Party. In a letter of March 4, 1861, he wrote to William that the Republicans had raised the campaign flag to celebrate Lincoln's inauguration, but expressed apprehension about the gathering conflict: “the state of the country is so critical & dangerous, some think it would be more appropriate to toll the bells.”

In her letters to William, Mattie reported her daily activities and expressed her affection for him; she frequently recalled memories of times together and expressed sadness at their separation. In a letter of March 10, 1861, she responded to news of his medical practice (“I hope you have cured that Irish girl’s leg”) and in her March 31 letter, she described wedding plans and a guest list in some detail.

Four letters in the collection were written by a fellow physician and friend of Leonard’s, known only as "Bim.” His letters, in which he addressed Leonard as “Beak,” include discussions of his medical work, such as an outbreak of diphtheria, which he described in a letter of December 10, 1860. The remainder of the letters in the collection come from colleagues, friends, and a cousin and pertain particularly to social engagements, religion, and medicine.

Subject Terms

    • Courtship.
    • Dartmouth College.
    • Dublin (N.H. : Town)
    • Hinsdale (N.H. : Town)
    • Fathers and sons.
    • Leonard, William Smith, 1832-1902.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Inauguration.
    • Medicine.
    • Medicine--Study and teaching.
    • Physicians--New Hampshire.
    • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Leonard, L. W. (Levi Washburn), 1790?-1864.
    • Greenwood, Martha (Mattie)
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   15, Small Collections  
    William S. Leonard papers, 1859-1861 [series]
    Folder   21  
    Rev. Levi W. Leonard correspondence,  1859-1861
    Folder   22  
    Martha (Mattie) Greenwood Leonard correspondence,  1860-1861
    Folder   23  
    Letters from fellow physician and friend, “Bim”
    Folder   24  
    Miscellaneous correspondence