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Woodruff family collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

George C. Woodruff correspondence

Other correspondence

Legal papers

Business papers

Financial papers

Family papers

Newspaper clippings


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Woodruff family collection, 1779-1966 | Litchfield Historical Society

By Anna Chen

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Collection Overview

Title: Woodruff family collection, 1779-1966Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1815-1919

Primary Creator: Woodruff, George C. (George Catlin) (1805-1885)

Other Creators: Seymour, Lucy Morris (Woodruff) (1807-1894), Woodruff, George M. (George Morris) (1836-1930), Woodruff, Henrietta Sophronia (Seymour) (1806-1892), Woodruff, James Parsons (1868-1931), Woodruff, Lewis B. (Lewis Bartholomew) (1809-1875), Woodruff, Morris (1777-1840), Woodruff, Reuben M. (Reuben Morris) (1811-1849)

Extent: 21.5 Boxes


The collection is arranged in 8 series:

I. George C. Woodruff correspondence

II. Other correspondence

III. Legal papers

IV. Business papers

V. Financial papers

VI. Family papers

VII. Newspaper clippings

VIII. Miscellany

Date Acquired: 03/23/1953. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Collecting of accounts--United States, Connecticut--Politics and government, Epidemics--New York (State)--New York, Genealogy--Connecticut, Land titles--Connecticut, Law--Connecticut, Law--United States--Study and teaching, Lawyers--Correspondence, Litchfield (Conn.) - History, Litchfield Law School, Medicine--United States--History--18th century, Postmasters, Real property, Reeve, Tapping, 1744-1823, Southern States--History--1775-1865, Speculation--United States, United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783, United States--Politics and government--1775-1783., United States--Politics and government--1783-1865, United States--Politics and government--1865-1933, United States--Social life and customs--1783-1865

Forms of Material: Account books, Autograph albums, Correspondence, Diaries, Drawings, Greeting cards, Notebooks, Receipts

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Woodruff Collection primarily documents the personal life and professional career of George Catlin Woodruff, who not only practiced law for several decades in Litchfield but also served as Litchfield's postmaster and held elected positions both locally and in the United States Congress.  

His law career is extensively represented in his business correspondence with clients concerning suits in progress and with other law professionals; his law school notebooks; and his own notes on pending lawsuits.  These papers document the education and routine work of a lawyer in this period, as well as the networks among lawyers in New England and their relationships with judges, courts, and other members of the judicial system. 

The collection also illuminates the central position of the postal service in the early republic through letters sent to Woodruff in his capacity as postmaster of Litchfield.  These include not only correspondence with other postmasters concerning mail schedules and misdirected letters, but also correspondence from individuals from other towns seeking information about Litchfield inhabitants, reporting suspicious activities, and asking for assistance in publicizing their own careers.

Additionally, Woodruff's extensive personal correspondence with his family sheds light on his personal life, especially in letters to and from his brothers Lewis B. Woodruff, a lawyer in New York, and Reuben M. Woodruff, a physician.  These letters record their efforts to establish and develop their careers, their travels along the east coast and the southern United States, and family and social news.  Moreover, the collection includes Woodruff's personal papers, which trace his interest in genealogical research, the history of Litchfield, and his autobiographical efforts.

The collection follows Woodruff's political career through newspaper clippings and his own handwritten records of local and national election results, as well as documents his other business ventures, including investments in railroads, canals, and banks, and his involvement in the Litchfield Mutual Fire Insurance Company.  By extension, these papers reveal political processes and economic developments during this time period.

Also present in this collection are the papers of numerous Woodruff relatives, as well as those of other prominent and lesser-known Litchfield families.  For example, the collection documents the extensive land transactions executed by Woodruff's father, Morris Woodruff, especially in partnership with Simeon Harrison; the law career of his son George M. Woodruff; and his grandson James P. Woodruff's law and political careers.    The collection also includes many personal and business papers from members of the Seymour and Wolcott families, as well as from the family of Henry E. Gates, who served as a physician during the Civil War, and from Grant Wickwire, a prosperous Litchfield farmer.

Biographical Note

George Catlin Woodruff (1805-1885) was born in Litchfield, CT in 1805.  He graduated from Yale College in 1825, after which he studied law with James Gould at the Litchfield Law SChool.  In 1827 he was admitted to the bar and began practice in Litchfield.  He also served as postmaster of Litchfield from 1832 to 1846.  Afterwards, he became involved in local and national politics, becoming a member of the State House of Representatives in 1851, 1866, and 1874, and elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-seventh Congress (1861-1863). 

In 1829, he married Henrietta Sophronia (Seymour) Woodruff, the sister of Origen S. Seymour, who married Woodruff's sister Lucy.  They had two children: George and Henrietta.  George C. Woodruff died in Litchfield, CT in 1885.

Subject/Index Terms

Collecting of accounts--United States
Connecticut--Politics and government
Epidemics--New York (State)--New York
Land titles--Connecticut
Law--United States--Study and teaching
Litchfield (Conn.) - History
Litchfield Law School
Medicine--United States--History--18th century
Real property
Reeve, Tapping, 1744-1823
Southern States--History--1775-1865
Speculation--United States
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
United States--Politics and government--1775-1783.
United States--Politics and government--1783-1865
United States--Politics and government--1865-1933
United States--Social life and customs--1783-1865

Administrative Information

Repository: Litchfield Historical Society

Accruals: Additions include gifts from George M. Woodruff (1922); Mrs. James P. Woodruff (1952, 1953, and 1956); Mrs. John M. Ellis and Miss Isabell Woodruff (1957);  Lillian (Woodruff) Ellis (1978); Julie Hallaway (1984); estate of Agatha Ryan (1986);  Malcolm and Carol Bramley (2005); and Yale University Sterling Library (2010).

Acquisition Source: Mrs. James P. Woodruff

Acquisition Method: Donated

Separated Materials: Library books (2010-366-0): REFERENCE F104.L7W58 - Alain C. White History of the town of Litchfield 1720-1920 [2 copies]; REFERENCE F104.L7W6 - George C. Woodruff, Genealogical register of the inhabitants of the town of Litchfield, Conn.; RARE  F104.L7W7 - George C. Woodruff, History of the town of Litchfield, Conn., 1845.

Original/Copies Note: Transcriptions are available for some documents.

Related Materials:

Seymour family papers, 1777-1923, Litchfield Historical Society

Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn, NY

Rutherford B. Hayes Library, Fremont, OH

Preferred Citation: Woodruff family collection, 1953-02-2-8, Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library, P.O. Box 385, 7 South Street, Litchfield, Connecticut, 06759.

Other Note:

Material objects at the Litchfield Historical Society relating to the Woodruff Family Collection include:

-portrait miniature of Morris Woodruff (1978-02-1)

-portrait of Lucy Morris (Woodruff) Seymour (1918-06-3)

-portrait of Origen S. Seymour (1918-06-1)

-portrait of Candace (Catlin) Woodruff (1981-08-0)

-sign belonging to George M. Woodruff (1978-02-6)

-portrait of George C. Woodruff (2004-26-1)

-portrait of Henrietta Sophornia Seymour Woodruff (2004-26-2)

-portrait of George M. Woodruff (2004-26-3)

-portrait of James P. Woodruff (1978-02-91)

-desk, made in Litchfield, belonging to Morris Woodruff (1929-02-11)

-desk used by George C. Woodruff, George M. Woodruff, and James Woodruff (1924-04-0)

-wallet used by Origen S. Seymour (1949-03-4)

-portrait of Seth Preston Beers (1907-16-1)

-portrait of Lewis B. Woodruff (1917-03-2)

-document box belonging to Lewis B. Woodruff (1995-10-1)

-fire bucket belonging to Morris Woodruff (1971-08-10)

Contact museum curator for further information at curator@litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org

This collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: George C. Woodruff correspondence, 1821-1884],
[Series 2: Other correspondence, 1775-1932],
[Series 3: Legal papers, 1762-1911],
[Series 4: Business papers, 1829-1925],
[Series 5: Financial papers, 1737-1931],
[Series 6: Family papers, 1777-1973],
[Series 7: Newspaper clippings, 1800-1931],
[Series 8: Miscellany, 1765-1932],

Series 7: Newspaper clippings, 1800-1931Add to your cart.
This series contains newspaper clippings concerning, or of interest to, the Woodruff family.  These include articles about Woodruffs; investments in which they were involved; and election results.  The series has been arranged chronologically.
Folder 1: 1800-1809Add to your cart.
Folder 2: 1810-1819Add to your cart.
Folder 3: 1820-1829Add to your cart.
Folder 4: 1830-1839Add to your cart.
Includes election results.
Folder 5: 1840-1849Add to your cart.
Includes election results.
Folder 6: 1850-1854Add to your cart.
Includes election results.
Folder 7: 1855-1859Add to your cart.
Includes election results.
Folder 8: 1860Add to your cart.
Folder 9: 1861Add to your cart.
Includes election results and articles about slavery.
Folder 10: 1862Add to your cart.
Folder 11: 1862Add to your cart.
Folder 12: 1863-1869Add to your cart.
Includes election results.
Folder 13: 1870-1875Add to your cart.
Folder 14: 1876-1879Add to your cart.
Folder 15: 1880-1889Add to your cart.
Folder 16: 1880-1889Add to your cart.
Folder 17: 1890-1899Add to your cart.
Folder 18: 1900-1909Add to your cart.
Folder 19: 1910-1919Add to your cart.
Folder 20: 1924Add to your cart.
Folder 21: 1924Add to your cart.
Folder 22: 1924Add to your cart.
Folder 23: 1929Add to your cart.
Biographical articles in The Litchfield Enquirer about George C. Woodruff.
Folder 24: 1930Add to your cart.
Includes articles on the death of George M. Woodruff.
Folder 25: 1931Add to your cart.
Includes articles on the death of James P. Woodruff.
Folder 26: undatedAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: George C. Woodruff correspondence, 1821-1884],
[Series 2: Other correspondence, 1775-1932],
[Series 3: Legal papers, 1762-1911],
[Series 4: Business papers, 1829-1925],
[Series 5: Financial papers, 1737-1931],
[Series 6: Family papers, 1777-1973],
[Series 7: Newspaper clippings, 1800-1931],
[Series 8: Miscellany, 1765-1932],

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