Maria Bowen Papers, 1855-1936

Charles, Maria and Helen Bowen, c. 1860 [Warren]

Administrative Information

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Box and Folder List

2 file boxes                                                                 

.83 linear feet                                                                         

Processor:  Nicole Perrault                                                     

Date:  November 2011

Acquisition: The bulk of the Maria Bowen Papers were left to the Cambridge Historical Society by bequest in1935.  Earlier items were donated by Maria Bowen in 1908 and 1928. Photographs were donated by Maude Vosburgh in 1940. 

Access:  There are no restrictions on items in this collection.

Permission to Publish:  Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.

Copyright: Although the Cambridge Historical Society does not hold copyright on all items in the collection, copyright has expired for the majority of items.

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Biographical Sketch:

Maria Bowen, the daughter of Francis Bowen (philosopher and Harvard professor), was born in Cambridge on March 12, 1852.  A devoted Cambridge resident, Bowen was a member of both the Cambridge Historical Society and the Female Humane Society for many years.  While a member of the Historical Society, she wrote papers on the houses and people of Follen Street and Sparks Street for the Society’s Proceedings.  In addition to these essays, she published the following books: The Only True Mother Goose Melodies in 1904, Flora Transmuta: A Calendar of Translations in 1913, and Flos Sanctorum: A Calendar of Saints in Verse in 1920. 

Bowen was also an artistic woman. She sketched portraits of people she knew, landscapes of places she visited (e.g., New England and Italy), and Cambridge buildings, as well as painting watercolors.  She used this artistic talent to create her own paper doll collection, drawing and coloring both the dolls and their clothing. 

In her will dated March 19, 1935 she left the Cambridge Historical Society her house (9 Follen Street) and land and one half of the residue of her estate.  Bowen died in Cambridge on July 21, 1937 and, following her death, the Cambridge Historical Society sold her house for $15,000 with the proceeds being used to establish the Maria Bowen Fund to be used for the mission of the Society.


Cambridge Historical Society. (1915).  Proceedings January 27, 1914 – October 27, 1914. 

Cambridge Historical Society. (1934). Proceedings for the Years 1927, 1928, 1929. 

Cambridge Historical Society. (1937). Proceedings for the Years 1932 and 1933. 

Cambridge Historical Society. (1938).  Proceedings for the Years 1936 and 1937. 

Peppler, J. (2011). Descendants of Griffith Bowen.  Retrieved from

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Scope and Content Note:

The collection consists of family and personal papers, paper dolls, original poetry, pencil sketches, watercolors, and photographs.  The collection is organized chronologically by document type. 

The collection includes school papers of Bowen’s brother, Charles Stuart and a bond from Harvard University signed by her father, Francis Bowen.  Also included are letters received by Maria Bowen and The Early Irish Fairies and Fairyland, inscribed by the author, Norreys Jephson O’Conor, to Bowen. 

This bulk of this collection consists of paper dolls created by Bowen.  While the collection includes machine-manufactured paper dolls, the majority of the dolls and their sizeable wardrobes were hand-drawn and colored by Bowen.  Most of these dolls were named by Bowen; the names are either written on the back of the dolls and their clothes, or written on the envelopes which originally housed the paper dolls.  Included is a family tree of the paper-doll “Gordon family” (Box 1 Folder 7).  In addition to loose poems, one scrapbook in which she pasted clippings also includes an original poem by Bowen.  The majority of the sketches are of Cambridge buildings and friends, acquaintances, etc. of Bowen. Watercolors generally depict landscapes. 

The photographs included in this collection reflect Cambridge buildings and inhabitants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  They include professional portraits, tintypes, carte-de-visites, and paper prints.  There are three photo albums included in the collection.  One photo album includes professional photos of various dogs, a rarity of this time period.

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Library of Congress Subject Headings:

Bowen, Francis A.

Bowen, Maria

Bowen, Charles S.

Cambridge (Mass.)--Buildings.

Paper dolls

Pencil Drawing


Watercolor painting

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Maria Bowen

Papers, 1855-1936 (inclusive), 1860-1925 (bulk)

Box                 Folder            

1                      1                                  Charles Bowen: report card, essays, 1866, 1870

1                      2                                  Francis Bowen: bond, 1867

1                      3                                  Maria Bowen correspondence: 1899, 1920, 1934

1                      4                                  Paper dolls, n.d.

1                      5                                  Paper dolls, n.d.

1                      6                                  Paper dolls, n.d.

1                      7                                  Paper dolls, n.d.

1                      8                                  Paper dolls, n.d.

1                      9                                  Paper dolls, n.d.

1                      10                                Paper dolls, n.d.

1                      11                                Poems, 1928, 1936

1                      12                                Sketches: portraits, ca.1877

1                      13                                Sketches: landscapes, 1888, 1889, 1891, 1893, 1895

1                      14                                Sketches: Kittery, Marblehead, Cambridge, 1895, 1897,

1923, 1930

1                      15                                Sketches: Italy, 1899, 1906

1                      16                                Sketches: houses, portraits, and related, n.d.

1                      17                                Watercolors, n.d

2.1V   Photo Album, ca.1860-1874



1.01 MBP        Grandmother Bowen, ca. 1860 [Warren]

1.02 MBP        Eliza Mason Hoppin, ca.1860 [Whipple]

1.03 MBP        Francis Bowen, ca.1855 [Warren]

1.04 MBP        Charles, Maria and Helen Bowen, c. 1860 [Warren]

1.05 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1900 [Warren]

1.06 MBP        Augusta Bowen Kent Matthews, 1861 [Fassett]

1.07 MBP        Fanny Valeda Matthews Johnson, 1861 [Fassett]

1.08 MBP        Frances Bowen Kellogg, ca.1870 [Black & Batchelder]

1.09 MBP        Mary W. Bowen Hodges, ca.1870 [Black & Batchelder]

1.10 MBP        Clara Bowen, ca.1860 [Silsbee, Case & Co.]

1.11 MBP        Ada Bowen Paxson, ca.1865 [Warren]

1.12 MBP        Susan Wheelwright Wyman, ca.1860

1.13 MBP        Charles Bowen, ca. 1865 [Warren]

1.14 MBP        Charles, Maria and Helen Bowen, ca.1860 [Warren] [duplicate]

1.15 MBP        Francis Bowen, ca.1860 [Whipple]

1.16 MBP        Martha Sargent and Carlo, 1868 [Black & Case]

1.17 MBP        Martha Sargent and Carlo, 1868 [Black & Case]

1.18 MBP        Leo, 1868 [Davis Brothers]

1.19 MBP        Charlie Möving and Bello, ca.1865 [Warren]

1.20 MBP        Kate Bowen Fowle, ca.1860 [Tresize]

1.21 MBP        Charles Stuart Bowen, ca.1865 [Warren]

1.22 MBP        Ellen Dimmock Francis, ca.1865 [Whipple]

1.23 MBP        Abby Bradford Francis, ca.1870 [Ferret]

1.24 MBP        Louisa Lee Sargent, ca.1870 [Allen & Rowell]

1.25 MBP        Louisa Lee Sargent, ca.1864 [Whipple]

1.26 MBP        Helen Elizabeth Bowen, ca. 1870

1.27 MBP        Alice Cutter, ca.1870

1.28 MBP        Villa Pallavicini in Pegli, 1874 [Noack]

1.29 MBP        Maria Decatur Mayo, 1874 [McCormick]

1.30 MBP        Belfry of Bruges, ca.1874 [Bernheim & Peemans]

2.2V    Photo Album, ca.1870-1930



1.31 MBP        Nellie, ca.1930 [Warren]

1.32 MBP        Unidentified, ca.1930 [Hanns Hanfstaengl]

1.33 MBP        Unidentified, 1931 [F. Hartmann]

1.34 MBP        Martha Sargent, ca.1870 [J.J. Hawes]

2 1 Photographs of Maria Bowen, friends and family, ca.1870-1880



1.35 MBP        Mary Isabella James, ca.1870 [G &L Fratelli Vianelli]

1.36 MBP        Mary Isabella James, ca.1870 [G & L Fratelli Vianelli]

1.37 MBP        Charles Bowen, ca.1870

1.38 MBP        Martha Sargent, ca.1870

1.39 MBP        Louisa Lee Sargent, ca.1870

1.40 MBP        Charles Bowen, ca.1870

1.41 MBP        Charles Bowen, ca.1870 [duplicate]  

1.42 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1870 [Holton]

1.43 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1870 [Holton] [duplicate]

1.44 MBP        Martha Sargent, ca.1875 [Black]

1.45 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1880

1.46 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1880 [duplicate]

1.47 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1880 [duplicate]

1.48 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1880 [duplicate]

1.49 MBP        unidentified, n.d.

2 2 Photographs of Maria Bowen, friends, and family, ca.1910-1922

1.50 MBP        Maria Bowen and 3 unknown, ca.1910

1.51 MBP        Child at well, ca.1910

1.52 MBP        Marion Lane, ca.1910

1.53 MBP        Mabel Kittredge, ca.1910

1.54 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1910

1.55 MBP        Helen and Marion Lane, 1922

1.56 MBP        Maria Bowen, ca.1922

1.57 MBP        L. Brewer, Mrs. Blackman, Maria Bowen, ca.1910

1.58 MBP        Maria Bowen and unknown children, ca.1920

1.59 MBP        Maria Bowen and unknown children, ca.1920

2 3 Photographs of Cambridge Houses and Streets, ca.1925



1.60 MBP        Abbott House, ca.1925

1.61 MBP        Follen Street, G. Bowen-Goodwin-Dennen House, ca.1925

1.62 MBP        Follen Street, Follen House, ca.1925

1.63 MBP        Follen Street, Fales-De Chant House, ca.1925

1.64 MBP        Follen Street, Bowen House, ca.1925

1.65 MBP        Waterhouse Street, Follen-Walcott House, ca.1925

1.66 MBP        Waterhouse Street, Hodges House, ca.1925

1.67 MBP        Waterhouse Street, William Vassall House, ca.1925

1.68 MBP        Waterhouse Street, William Vassall House, 1925

1.69 MBP        Hall-Whittemore-Black House, ca.1925

1.70 MBP        Jackson-Lyman House, ca.1925

1.71 MBP        Abbot Tower from Follen Street, ca.1925

1.72 MBP        Abbot Tower from Chauncy Street, ca.1925

1.73 MBP        Rectory-Fay House, ca.1925

1.74 MBP        Hodges House, ca.1925

1.75 MBP        unidentified, ca.1925

1.76 MBP        unidentified, ca.1925

1.77 MBP        unidentified, ca.1925
















































































Items removed:

Flora Transmuta, A Calendar of Translations and Flo Sanctorum, A Calendar of Saints in Verse have been transferred to the Cambridge Historical Society library. These books were donated to the Cambridge Historical Society by Mary Isabella Di Gozzaldi

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