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Ayer family papers

Identifier: MSS 0152

Scope and Content Note

The Ayer family papers document the lives of two generations of the Ayer family of Massachusetts, and later Pennsylvania.

The papers are arranged in two series. Series I consists of correspondence between Caroline E. Roberts and Joseph Cullen Ayer. The bulk of this series dates from 1860-1880. Series II contains correspondence and other papers of Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr., the second son of Caroline and Joseph Cullen Ayer, who was an Episcopal minister and Professor of Theology. Bulk dates of this series are 1920–1935.


  • Creation: 1859-1940
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1860-1880, 1920-1935


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Joseph Cullen Ayer

Joseph Cullen Ayer (October 15, 1839-1918), commonly called Cullen, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was educated at Harvard (1859-1860) and served as a Lieutenant in the 18th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War from 1861-1864.

Trained as a lawyer, Ayer began a career as a businessman in Boston following his military service. He subsequently was involved in land speculation in Tennessee and in mine speculation in New Zealand. Ayer married Caroline (Carrie) E. Roberts (June 22, 1840–1890) on December 25, 1860. Although Carrie and Cullen produced three children--John Lovering (1862), Joseph Cullen, Jr. (1866), and Francis (1874-1877)--the two seldom lived together during their married life and eventually separated. Carrie worked by necessity to support her children as a matron and cook at the Peeksville Military Academy in Peeksville, New York, and at other jobs.

Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr.

Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr. (1866-1944), the second son of Joseph and Carrie Ayer, was educated in theology and philosophy at Harvard (AB, 1887), and in Europe at Leipzig (PhD, 1893).

Ayer had a long career as a clergyman and theologian and served as Rector of St. Peter's Chapel, Osterville, Mass. (ca. 1903-1913); Rector of St. Philip's Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1929-1936); and as Professor of Theology at the Philadelphia Divinity School of the Protestant Episcopal Church (1913-1936).


2.5 linear foot (1,984 items, 7 notebooks)


The Ayer family Papers document the lives of two generations of the Ayer family, Joseph Cullen Ayer (1839-1918) of Massachusetts and Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr. (1866-1944), the second son of Joseph and Carrie Ayer.


Gift of the Moyerman Family, 1972.

Shelving Summary

  • Boxes 1-11: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes


Processed by Lori A. Bridgers, 1990-1991. Encoded by Thomas Pulhamus, March 2010. Further encoding by Lauren Connolly, July 2015, and Tiffany Saulter, November 2015.

Finding aid for Ayer family papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2010 March 1
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA