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Charles H. Cragin Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Cragin, Charles H. (Charles Hartwell), 1817-1887.
Title: Charles H. Cragin Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1831-1881
Quantity: 0.5 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American genealogist, physician; collection includes correspondence, principally of family members; bills, writings, and printed material
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Charles Hartwell Cragin (1817-1887) was an American physician and genealogist.

Born in Alsted, New Hampshire, he attended the Academy of Groton. He taught school in Richmond, Virginia (1837-1838) and Fitchburg, Massachusetts (1838-1840); during the latter period he also studied medicine, earning his M.D. in 1844. He practiced medicine in Washington, D.C. and Georgetown. Along with Alexander G. Abell, he established Sacramento Hospital at Sutter's Fort in 1849, the first hospital in what is today Sacramento, California. He later served four years as Police Commissioner of the District of Columbia and three years as Postmaster at Georgetown.

In his youth Cragin was romantically involved with Mary E. Thurston, who died in 1839 at age 18 of erysipelas. Several years later Cragin married his first wife, Mary Foxall McKenney (1845), who died in 1853. In 1857 Cragin married Henrietta Foxall McKenney (the two women are assumed to be sisters). In 1860 Cragin wrote and published a family history entitled The genealogy of the Cragin family, being the descendants of John Cragin, of Woburn, Massachusetts, from 1652 to 1858.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Charles H. Cragin Papers consists of correspondence and subject files.

Correspondence contains both incoming and outgoing items. Family correspondence is placed first, including Charles' father and siblings. There is considerable correspondence with Alexander G. Abell, author of a biography of President Tyler, and with a young woman named Mary E. Thurston, evidently an early love of Cragin's.

Subject files contains a few bills, two essays by Cragin, and two printed items.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged family first, then alphabetically by correspondent.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Additional Abell material is available in the Alexander G. Abell Correspondence.

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Subject Headings


Abell, Alexander Gurdon, 1819-1890.
Cragin family.
Cragin, Charles H. (Charles Hartwell), 1817-1887.
Haven, Joseph, 1816-1874.
Tyler, John, 1790-1862.


Genealogists -- United States.
Physicians -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Bills of sale.



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Charles H. Cragin Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Finding Aid Information

Created by: --
Date: circa 1975
Revision history: 9 Oct 2008 - converted to EAD (MRC); 9 Mar 2021 - a few additions, correspondence rearranged (MS)

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Box 1 Cragin, E.M. (sister?) 1842-1844
Box 1 Cragin, Isaiah (father, a deacon) 1831-1844 (2 folders)
Box 1 Cragin, Isaiah L. (brother) 1834-1843
Box 1 Cragin, Maria (sister) 1835
Box 1 Cragin family, miscellaneous 1844, 1868, 1880-1881
Box 1 Abell, Alexander G., to Cragin 1847, 1850, 1867 - from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and San Francisco
Box 1 Abell, Alexander G., from others 1843-1844 - regarding his biography of John Tyler; includes a few letters addressed to John Tyler
Box 1 A-C, miscellaneous 1840-1846
Box 1 D-H, miscellaneous 1835-1848
Box 1 Haven, Joseph 1834-1836 - clergyman, educator at Amherst College, founding professor at Chicago Theological Seminary; includes letters from Amherst as well as one from New York during his time teaching at the State Institution for the Deaf and Dumb
Box 1 I-S, miscellaneous 1835-1880
Box 1 Shipley, Sam 1836-1841
Box 1 Thurston, Mary E. 1837-1839 - youthful love interest of Cragin (3 folders)
Box 1 Thurston, W. P. (Mary's father) 1838-1843
Box 1 T-V 1837, 1841
Box 1 Waldo, Giles 1839-1841 - acquaintance and correspondent with Ralph Waldo Emerson; travelled with Abell to the Hawaiian Islands, where he served as Vice-Consul
Box 1 W, miscellaneous 1838, 1844, undated
Box 1 Unidentified 1838, 1845, 1858
Subject files
Box 1 Bills
Box 1 Essays by Cragin - "Diseases of the blood" and "Review of Burns"
Box 1 Printed material - a carte de visite of opera singer Carlotta Patti and an accordion-folded set of tiny souvenir photographs of Eastbourne

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