University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Henry Northrup Castle Papers 1863-1942

© 2013 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Castle, Henry Northrup. Papers




5.75 linear feet (9 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Henry Northrup Castle (1862-1895) Journalist and political leader in Honolulu. Attended Oberlin College. The papers contain personal correspondence, college essays and other writings, the personal correspondence of Castle's immediate family, miscellaneous family papers, and typed copies and printer's proofs of a volume of Castle's letters that were edited by George and Helen (Castle's sister) Mead in 1902. Letters include correspondence with George Herbert Mead.

Information on Use


This collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Castle, Henry Northrup. Papers [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

Henry Northrup Castle (1862-1895) was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of American missionary parents, Samuel and Mary Castle. After spending all of his youth in the islands, where he attended Oahu College, he came to the United States in 1878 to attend Oberlin College. It was at Oberlin that Castle began a close friendship with George Herbert Mead, which lasted the remainder of his short life.

After working two years in his brother Will's law office in Honolulu following graduation from Oberlin in 1883, Castle studied in Germany and for two years at the Harvard Law School. Mead joined Castle at Harvard, and both men continued their studies in Germany. As intellectual companions, they shared a mutual interest in philosophy and literature, and exchanged lively letters extensively on these subjects.

Castle returned to Hawaii after marrying a German girl, Frida Steckner, and became editor and owner of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser and the Hawaiian Gazette, the principal newspapers in the islands. Frida was tragically killed in an accident in 1890, a month after their daughter, Dorothy, was born. After having married his second wife Mabel Wing in 1892, Castle returned, in 1893, to the United States to attend the Hawaiian Commission in Washington, which was investigating American intervention in the Hawaiian revolution to overthrow Queen Lilinokalani, and to visit George and Helen Mead. Mead had married Castle's sister, Helen, in 1891.

In 1894, Castle, ever in search of knowledge, returned to Germany with Dorothy to continue his studies in Leipzig. When word reached him in December 1894 of a counter revolt by Hawaiian royalists, Castle and his daughter left immediately for the islands on the steamship, Elbe, which collided with a small steamer on January 30, 1895 in the North Sea. Both Castle and his daughter were drowned, and he never was able to see his younger daughter, Elinor, who had been born a month before.

Castle was eulogized as a martyr to the cause of democratic government for Hawaii and a loyal supporter of the new Hawaiian Republic. Additionally, he was a man of unusual intellectual attainments whose friendship was an important influence on the career of George Herbert Mead.

Scope Note

The collection of about 1500 pieces includes Henry Castle's personal correspondence, his college essays and other miscellaneous writings and papers, the personal correspondence of Castle's immediate family, miscellaneous family papers, and typed copy and printer's proofs of a volume of Castle's letters which were edited by George and Helen Mead and privately printed for the Castle family and friends in 1902.

The collection is divided into seven series. Series I: Personal, includes records related to Henry Northrup Castle’s education, his diaries, personal ephemera, and information about the sinking of the Elbe and Castle’s death. Series II: Correspondence, contains letters written by Castle, arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The majority of the letters are written to members of Castle’s family. General ingoing and outgoing correspondence between Castle and non-family members is found at the beginning of the series. Series III: Castle Family Correspondence, comprises personal letters from Castle's immediate family, arranged chronologically under the name of each relative, as well as letters received by members of the Castle family. Series IV: Castle Family Papers, includes ephemera related to various members of the Castle family. Series V: Publication of Letters, contains material related to the arrangement, transcription, and publication of Henry Northrup Castle’s correspondence by his sister, Helen Kingsbury Castle Mead, and his brother-in-law, George Herbert Mead. Series VI: Photographs, contains photographs of the Castle family and of Henry Northrup Castle and his daughter, Dorothy. Series VII: Oversize, contains galley proofs for Castle’s published letters.

Most of the original manuscripts of the published letters are included in the collection, as well as many unpublished letters and papers. The decision for or against publication of entire letters seems to have been based on technical problems rather than content, although occasional personal references were deleted. Since George and Helen Mead were responsible for the editing of the correspondence a natural reticence on their part seems to have motivated the withholding of scattered comments about their private lives. The original letters should always be consulted in preference to the published text to make certain that nothing of importance has been deleted. The original edited letters are always marked in blue pencil. Unpublished letters have the symbol "O" at the top of the first page or were not marked by the Meads.

(Persons interested in Mead will find references to him beginning with Castle's letters of the Oberlin period (c.1979-1883). Mead is most often mentioned, or entire letters are most often addressed to him, during the time when Castle was urging him to come to Harvard (c.1886-1887), and when the two friends were in Germany together (c.1893-1894). Letters to and from Helen Castle Mead after 1891 also reveal information about the philosopher(s early career.)

Fourteen personal letters from Mead, all unpublished, are found in the collection, but much of the correspondence addressed to Castle, other than personal family letters, is not included, and its present whereabouts is unknown. It can be assumed that this correspondence not only would contain more letters of philosophical content from Mead, but revealing letters about Hawaiian political affairs which Castle would have received as an influential newspaper editor.

A helpful list of the family members, their births and deaths, was found in the collection and is filed in Box 7, Folder 8.

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

Castle, Mabel Wing. Papers

Nef, Elinor Castle. Papers

Subject Headings


Series I: Personal

Box 1   Folder 1

Calling cards, undated

Box 1   Folder 2

Notes, undated

Box 1   Folder 3

Memorandum from Samuel Northrup Castle, undated

Box 1   Folder 4

Education – Oahu College – Report card, 1877

Box 1   Folder 5

Education – Oberlin College – Essays, 1881 and undated

Box 1   Folder 6

Education – Oberlin College – Notebook containing notes on Evidences of Christianity, Zoology, Physiology, and Chemistry, 1882

Box 1   Folder 7

Education – Oberlin College – Essays, 1883 and undated

Box 1   Folder 8

Education – Oberlin College – "The Limitations of Thought" – Manuscripts and typescript, 1883

Box 1   Folder 9

Education – Oberlin College – Address on Hawaii, outline and typescript, circa 1883

Box 1   Folder 10

Education – Oberlin College – Class of 1883 List of Members, 1926

Box 1   Folder 11

Education – Harvard University Law School – Certificate of study, 1888

Box 1   Folder 12

Conditions and rules for Doctor of Philosophy at Friedrich-Wilhelms University, Berlin, undated

Box 1   Folder 13

European Journal, Volume 1 – Typescript, Summer 1879

Box 1   Folder 14

European Journal, Volume 2 – Summer 1879

Box 1   Folder 15

Diary – "Chronicle of Events and Sensations, Thoughts and Feelings in Europe," 1879-1894

Box 2   Folder 1

Bound typescript of "Chronicle of Events and Sensations, Thoughts and Feelings in Europe," includes typewritten copes of letters, 1879-1894

Box 2   Folder 2

London hotel bill, 1889

Box 2   Folder 3

Guidebook to Lowestoft, England, undated

Box 2   Folder 4

Signed consent for marriage to Frida Steckner, 1889

Box 2   Folder 5

Advertisement for lecture series, circa 1890

Box 2   Folder 6

Copy of article by Henry Northrup Castle in Hawaiian Gazette – "Robert Louis Stevenson's Letter," 1890

Box 2   Folder 7

Newspaper clippings – Editorials written by Henry Northrup Castle for the Honolulu Advertiser, 1892

Box 2   Folder 8

Invitation to ball at Iolani Palace, circa 1892

Box 2   Folder 9

Certificate – Commissioner of Private Ways and Water Rights, 1892

Box 2   Folder 10

Police Constable's Commission, Island of Oahu, 1894

Box 2   Folder 11

Newspaper clippings – Sinking of S.S. Elbe and death of Henry Northrup Castle and Dorothy Castle, 1895-1942

Box 2   Folder 12

Elbe disaster clippings, 1895

Box 2   Folder 13

Broadside – Advertisement of rewards for recovery of victims of S.S. Elbe sinking, 1895

Box 2   Folder 14

Obituaries, February 1895

Box 2   Folder 15

Memorial, 1903

Series II: Correspondence

Box 3   Folder 1

General – Incoming, 1884-1893 and undated

Box 3   Folder 2

General – Outgoing, 1885-1895

Box 3   Folder 3

Castle Family, unidentified individuals, 1875-1881

Box 3   Folder 4

Castle Family, General, 1872-1883

Box 3   Folder 5

Castle Family, General, 1886-1887

Box 3   Folder 6

Castle Family, General, 1888-1891

Box 3   Folder 7

Castle Family, General, 1893-1894

Box 3   Folder 8

Castle, Ida Mary Tenney, 1887

Box 3   Folder 9

Castle, James Bicknell, 1886

Box 3   Folder 10

Castle, James Bicknell, 1888-1889

Box 3   Folder 11

Castle, James Bicknell and Caroline Castle Westervelt, 1877

Box 3   Folder 12

Castle, Mabel Wing, 1894

Box 3   Folder 13

Castle, Mabel Wing, 1895

Box 3   Folder 14

Castle, Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1879-1882

Box 3   Folder 15

Castle, Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1885

Box 3   Folder 16

Castle, Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1886

Box 3   Folder 17

Castle, Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1889-1891

Box 3   Folder 18

Castle, Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1894-1895

Box 3   Folder 19

Castle, Mary Tenney (1819-1907) and Harriet "Hattie" Castle Coleman, 1883

Box 3   Folder 20

Castle, Mary Tenney (1838-1926), 1878-1882

Box 3   Folder 21

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894), 1880-1882

Box 3   Folder 22

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894), 1885

Box 3   Folder 23

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894), 1886

Box 3   Folder 24

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894), 1888-1889

Box 3   Folder 25

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894), 1893

Box 3   Folder 26

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894) and James Bicknell Castle, 1883

Box 3   Folder 27

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894) and Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1882-1883

Box 3   Folder 28

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894) and Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1885

Box 3   Folder 29

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894) and Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1886-1887

Box 4   Folder 1

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894) and Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1888

Box 4   Folder 2

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894) and Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1889-1891

Box 4   Folder 3

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894) and Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1893

Box 4   Folder 4

Castle, William Richards, 1872-1881

Box 4   Folder 5

Castle, William Richards, 1886-1887

Box 4   Folder 6

Castle, William Richards, 1889-1891

Box 4   Folder 7

Castle, William Richards, 1894

Box 4   Folder 8

Castle, William Richards, 1895

Box 4   Folder 9

Castle, William Richards and Ida Mary Tenney, 1878

Box 4   Folder 10

Coleman, Harriet "Hattie" Castle, 1873-1883

Box 4   Folder 11

Coleman, Harriet "Hattie" Castle, 1885

Box 4   Folder 12

Coleman, Harriet "Hattie" Castle, 1886-1887

Box 4   Folder 13

Coleman, Harriet "Hattie" Castle, 1888-1891

Box 4   Folder 14

Coleman, Harriet "Hattie" Castle, 1893-1894

Box 4   Folder 15

Coleman, Harriet "Hattie" Castle, 1895

Box 4   Folder 16

Mead, George Herbert, 1883

Box 4   Folder 17

Mead, George Herbert, 1884-1885

Box 4   Folder 18

Mead, George Herbert, 1886-1887

Box 4   Folder 19

Mead, George Herbert, 1888

Box 4   Folder 20

Mead, George Herbert, 1892

Box 4   Folder 21

Mead, George Herbert and Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1891

Box 4   Folder 22

Mead, George Herbert and Helen Kingsbury Castle,1892-1894

Box 4   Folder 23

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1876-1882

Box 4   Folder 24

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1883

Box 5   Folder 1

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1884-1885

Box 5   Folder 2

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1886-1887

Box 5   Folder 3

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1888-1891

Box 5   Folder 4

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1894

Box 5   Folder 5

Thompson, Mary J., 1881-1883

Box 5   Folder 6

Thompson, Mary J., 1884-1885

Box 5   Folder 7

Thompson, Mary J., 1886-1887

Box 5   Folder 8

Thompson, Mary J.,1888-1891

Box 5   Folder 9

Westervelt, Caroline Castle, 1876-1882

Box 5   Folder 10

Westervelt, Caroline Castle, 1885

Box 5   Folder 11

Westervelt, Caroline Castle, 1886-1887

Box 5   Folder 12

Westervelt, Caroline Castle, 1888-1891

Box 5   Folder 13

Westervelt, Caroline Castle and Helen Kingsbury Castle Mead, 1879-1881

Box 5   Folder 14

Westervelt, Caroline Castle and James Bicknell Castle, 1887

Series III: Castle Family Correspondence

Box 5   Folder 15

Castle Family, General, 1893-1895 and undated

Box 5   Folder 16

Letters of condolence following death of Henry Northrup Castle, January-February 1895

Box 5   Folder 17

Letters of condolence following death of Henry Northrup Castle, February 1895

Box 5   Folder 18

Letters of condolence following death of Henry Northrup Castle, March 1895

Box 6   Folder 1

Castle, George Parmelee, 1889

Box 6   Folder 2

Castle, James Bicknell, 1888-1895

Box 6   Folder 3

Castle, Mabel Wing, 1893-1895

Box 6   Folder 4

Castle, Mabel Wing, 1892-1896

Box 6   Folder 5

Castle, Mabel Wing, 1897-1900

Box 6   Folder 6

Castle, Mabel Wing, 1901-1927

Box 6   Folder 7

Castle, Mabel Wing, undated

Box 6   Folder 8

Castle, Mary Tenney (1819-1907), 1874-1897 and undated

Box 6   Folder 9

Castle, Samuel Northrup (1808-1894), 1888-1889

Box 6   Folder 10

Castle, William Richards, 1888-1895

Box 6   Folder 11

Coleman, Harriet "Hattie" Castle, 1865-1898 and undated

Box 6   Folder 12

Hitchcock, Henry Rowe

Box 6   Folder 13

Mead, George Herbert, 1895-1901

Box 7   Folder 1

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1885-1894

Box 7   Folder 2

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, 1895-1909

Box 7   Folder 3

Mead, Helen Kingsbury Castle, undated

Box 7   Folder 4

Steckner, Frida, 1889 and undated

Box 7   Folder 5

Swing, Elizabeth, 1910

Box 7   Folder 6

Tenney, Levi, 1863

Box 7   Folder 7

Westervelt, Caroline Castle, 1876-1904 and undated

Series IV: Castle Family Papers

Box 7   Folder 8

List of Castle Family, undated

Box 7   Folder 9

Frida Steckner Castle – Death notice, 1890

Box 7   Folder 10

George Parmelee Castle – Clipping, undated

Box 7   Folder 11

Mabel Wing Castle – Notes and Ephemera, 1888-1893

Box 7   Folder 12

Mary Tenney Castle (1819-1907) – Obituaries, 1907

Box 7   Folder 13

Samuel Northrup Castle (1808-1894) – Obituaries, July 1894

Box 7   Folder 14

Hair, undated

Series V: Publication of Letters

Box 7   Folder 15

Helen Castle Mead. "Recollections" (published), undated

Box 7   Folder 16

George Herbert Mead. "Recollections" (published), undated

Box 7   Folder 17

HNC, letters, typed copies, undated

Box 7   Folder 18

HNC, letters, typed copies, undated

Box 8   Folder 1

Letters. First page proof, photo proofs, 1902

Box 8   Folder 2

Letters. Marked second page proof, 1902

Series VI: Photographs

Box 8   Folder 3

Henry Northrup Castle and Dorothy Castle, 1884

Box 8   Folder 4

Castle Family photographs, 1895 and undated

Series VII: Oversize

Box 9   Folder 1

Letters. Marked galley proofs