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Josiah B. Woods Family Papers

Identifier: MA.00359

Scope and Contents

The Josiah B. Woods Family Papers contain material relating to the Woods family of Enfield, Massachusetts (a town sacrificed to build the Quabbin Reservoir), especially in relation to their business affairs. The main figure in the collection is Josiah Bridges Woods (lived 1795-1872; son of Aaron W. and Sarah Bridges Woods), but other family members are also documented, including Josiah's son Robert McEwen Woods (AC 1869), his son-in-law William Bird Kimball (AC 1856), Robert's son Josiah Bridges Woods (AC 1905), and the second Josiah's son Gilbert Nilsson Woods (AC 1940). Of particular note, the collection also contains a collection of property deeds that document other Enfield citizens and the properties they owned.

Josiah B. Woods (for whom the "Woods Cabinet" was named) was an important donor to Amherst College and appears frequently in the volumes of the minutes of the Trustees of Amherst College. His children and grandchildren also donated to the College over many decades.


  • Creation: circa 1815-2016


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Josiah B. Woods Family Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Josiah B. Woods Family Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Josiah B. Woods and the Woods Cabinet: Two selections from the historical record

"Josiah Woods was an early supporter and sponsor of the College. He was responsible for raising the necessary funds to build the Woods Cabinet. He served on that building committee and on the Barrett Gymnasium building committee. He was a generous donor [to] the adornment of recitation rooms and helped meet special needs of the President and the professor. From 1850-1856 he was a member of the Board of Overseers of the Charity Fund. He was born in Enfield, Mass., Nov. 18 1796, and died there May 15, 1872. Although he was prepared for college, he went instead into the manufacturing business in Enfield. He was the inventor of a machine for manufacturing cards...."

--Excerpted from the Minutes of the Amherst College Board of Trustees, note 659E.

In "Reminiscences of Amherst College," President Edward Hitchcock remembered Josiah Woods in a discussion of his (Hitchcock's) desire to build a new cabinet (a room for a specific purpose such as housing a scientific collection) for the College:

"I was stimulated also by the offer of Professor C.U. Shepard to deposit his collections here if a good buiding were provided. I went to Boston to make a preliminary effort, but without much success. On my return, however, I met Hon. Josiah B. Woods, of Enfield, who expressed a conviction that he could obtain the means for such an object, and I persuaded him to attempt it. He did succeed so well that the Trustees at commencement in August, 1846, voted to erect 'a fire proof building for a cabinet of Natural History and an Astronomical Observatory.' This was done in 1847, at an expense of $9,000, constituting the present Woods Cabinet and Lawrence Observatory, to which two other buildings have since been attached. It was completed and nearly filled with specimens, so as to be publicly dedicated June 28th, 1848."

--"Reminiscences of Amherst College" (1863), page 60.


2.5 Linear feet (1 oversize flat box and 1 archives box)

Language of Materials



The Josiah B. Woods Family Papers are comprised of a selection of materials from and about multiple members of the Woods family of Enfield, Massachusetts. The papers include promissory notes, partnership papers, deeds, correspondence, photographs, and objects.


The Josiah B. Woods Family Papers are arranged chronologically in one series.

Processing Information

Processed in 2022 by Margaret R. Dakin, Archives and Special Collections.

Margaret R. Dakin
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299