Thoreau Society

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Founded in 1941, the Thoreau Society is the oldest and largest organization devoted to an American author. The Thoreau Society.jpg
Founded in 1941, the Thoreau Society is the oldest and largest organization devoted to an American author.

Founded in 1941, the Thoreau Society is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to an American author. It is based in Concord, Massachusetts, United States, at the house where Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817. With members from all 50 states and countries around the world, the Society disseminates knowledge about Thoreau by collecting books, manuscripts, and artifacts relating to Thoreau and his contemporaries, by encouraging the use of its extensive collections, and by publishing two periodicals, the Thoreau Society Bulletin and the Concord Saunterer.


The Thoreau Society archives are housed at the Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute Library in Lincoln, Massachusetts. This repository includes the collections of Walter Harding and Raymond Adams, two of the foremost authorities on Thoreau and founders of the Thoreau Society; and those of Roland W. Robbins, who uncovered Thoreau's Walden house site.



Thoreau Society members represent a broad range of professions, interests, and hometowns across the United States and around the world. They are connected by the conviction that Thoreau had important things to say and crucial questions to ask that are just as significant now as in Thoreau's lifetime.

Through its programs, publications and projects, The Thoreau Society is committed to preserving Thoreau's legacy and encouraging people to think about how they live their lives.


Annual gathering

Four days of indoor and outdoor sessions and excursions in and around Concord focused on a different theme each year. The Thursday–Sunday program is scheduled in early July.

Educational programs

Lectures, classes, and performances in Thoreau's hometown of Concord, often in collaboration with other historical, literary, environmental and educational organizations.


Henley Library at the Thoreau Institute Henley Library, Thoreau Society, Lincoln MA.jpg
Henley Library at the Thoreau Institute

Trips to places associated with Thoreau, from half-day hikes to multi-day outings. Past locations have included Mount Katahdin, Cape Cod, Harpers Ferry, Mount Monadnock and Concord sites such as Egg Rock, Fairhaven Bay, Gowing's Swamp and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.


At academic conferences (the Modern Language Association and the American Literature Association have two annual sessions at their conferences each devoted to Thoreau) and at workshops for educators and the general public in Concord and beyond.

Projects and events

Coordinated by members, Thoreau Society projects and events take place in communities across the country and around the world.


Thoreau Society Bulletin

A quarterly publication with Society news, additions to the Thoreau bibliography, and short articles on Thoreau and related topics. Edited by Brent Ranalli.

Concord Saunterer

An annual scholarly journal featuring in-depth essays on Thoreau, his times and his contemporaries, and his influence today. Edited by John J. Kucich.


The Society publishes and sponsors the publication of original Thoreau-related books and reprints of selected hard-to-find titles about Thoreau.

The collections

The Thoreau Society owns several important collections, including the papers of Walter Harding, Raymond Adams, and Roland Robbins, which are housed at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods. [2] This research facility, founded through a collaboration between the Walden Woods Project and The Thoreau Society, is managed by the Walden Woods Project.

Related Research Articles

Henry David Thoreau 19th-century American essayist, poet and philosopher

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Concord, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Concord is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the United States. At the 2010 census, the town population was 17,668. The United States Census Bureau considers Concord part of Greater Boston. The town center is near where the confluence of the Sudbury and Assabet rivers forms the Concord River.

<i>Walden</i> Book by Henry David Thoreau

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Walden Pond Pond in Concord, Massachusetts

Walden Pond is a pond in Concord, Massachusetts, in the United States. A famous example of a kettle hole, it was formed by retreating glaciers 10,000–12,000 years ago. The pond is protected as part of Walden Pond State Reservation, a 335-acre (136 ha) state park and recreation site managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. The reservation was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 for its association with the writer Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), whose two years living in a cabin on its shore provided the foundation for his famous 1854 work, Walden; or, Life in the Woods. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 ensured federal support for the preservation of the pond.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site United States historic place

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A Walk to Wachusett

"A Walk to Wachusett" is an essay written by Henry David Thoreau recounting an excursion he took with a companion, Richard Fuller, from Concord, Massachusetts to the summit of Mount Wachusett located in Princeton, Massachusetts. Their journey, by foot, began on July 19, 1842. Traveling through Acton, Stow, Bolton, Lancaster and Sterling, they arrived in West Sterling by sunset and lodged overnight at a local inn, most likely the Milton Buss Inn and Tavern.

Edwin Way Teale

Edwin Way Teale was an American naturalist, photographer and writer. Teale's works serve as primary source material documenting environmental conditions across North America from 1930–1980. He is perhaps best known for his series The American Seasons, four books documenting over 75,000 miles (121,000 km) of automobile travel across North America following the changing seasons.

Walter Harding (1917–1996) was a distinguished professor of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo and internationally recognized scholar of the life and work of Henry David Thoreau. Harding was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and received his B.S. from Bridgewater State College in 1939, M.A. from the University of North Carolina in 1947 and a Ph. D. from Rutgers University in 1950.

Ralph Waldo Emerson House United States historic place

The Ralph Waldo Emerson House is a house museum located at 18 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, Massachusetts, and a National Historic Landmark for its associations with American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. He and his family named the home Bush. The museum is open mid-April to mid-October; an admission fee is charged.

Concord Museum

The Concord Museum is a museum of local history located at 53 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, Massachusetts, United States, and best known for its collection of artifacts from authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It is open daily except major holidays; an admission fee is charged.

Nashoba Brook Pencil Factory Site

The Nashoba Brook Pencil Factory Site contains the ruins of a 19th-century dam-powered pencil factory. This factory was one of several in Acton and Concord, Massachusetts at the time that brought important developments to pencil manufacturing. All that remain today of the factory are the ruins of its dam and a few mechanical components. The site is in the Nashoba Brook Conservation Area in Acton, Massachusetts, along Nashoba Brook and the old Davis Road Dam. Visitors can access the site by following a marked path from the Davis Road parking area for the Nashoba Brook Conservation Area

<i>Walking</i> (Thoreau)

Walking, or sometimes referred to as "The Wild", is a lecture by Henry David Thoreau first delivered at the Concord Lyceum on April 23, 1851. It was written between 1851 and 1860, but parts were extracted from his earlier journals. Thoreau read the piece a total of ten times, more than any other of his lectures. "Walking" was first published as an essay in the Atlantic Monthly after his death in 1862.

Fairyland Pond

Fairyland Pond is a pond within Hapgood Wright Town Forest, a conservation area in Concord, Massachusetts. It is a popular recreation area, notable for its old-growth forest and its association with many literary figures from Concord’s past.

The Walden Woods Project (WWP) is a nonprofit organization located in Lincoln, Massachusetts, devoted to the legacy of Henry David Thoreau and the preservation of Walden Woods, the forest around Walden Pond that spans Lincoln and Concord, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1990 by rock artist Don Henley to prevent two development projects in Walden Woods. Its mission has since expanded from conservation to research and education on the works of Henry David Thoreau. In 1998 the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods was founded as part of the Project; today its library houses a collection of Thoreau-related resources.

Raymond Emerson was an American civil engineer, an investment banker, and faculty at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. He is known for his large donations of personal Ralph Waldo Emerson letters and other documents for educational purposes. He was part of the Emerson family, Ralph Waldo Emerson's grandson. In addition to his marriage to Amelia Forbes, he was also connected to the Forbes family through other marriages in his parents' and his own generations.

A Yankee in Canada, with Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers is an anthology of works by Henry David Thoreau, edited by his sister Sophia Thoreau and his friends William Ellery Channing and Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was published in 1866, after Thoreau’s death, by Ticknor and Fields, the Boston firm that had published Walden.

Paul Brooks (1909–1998) was a nature writer, book editor, and environmentalist.

Roland Wells Robbins (1908–1987) was an American archaeologist, author, and historian who is known for discovering the site of Henry David Thoreau's house at Walden Pond. His other discoveries include the Saugus Iron Works and the John and Priscilla Alden Family Sites.

Sophia Thoreau American book editor

Sophia Elizabeth Thoreau (1819–1876) was an American editor. As the sister of Henry David Thoreau and his close collaborator, she was responsible for the posthumous publication of many of his well-known works.

Minot Pratt was a founder, a director and head farmer of the Brook Farm experimental community, a printer, a friend of noted Concord, Massachusetts writers, Henry David Thoreau, Amos Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and a naturalist in Concord, Massachusetts. At his death in 1878 it was written of him: “his recreation, and one might say, his worship, was among the wild-flowers and woodlands, which he knew almost as familiarly as Thoreau did. Thoreau was a ‘poet-naturalist,’ Minot Pratt was a farmer-naturalist, -- but in both the love of nature was far stronger than the mere scientific thirst for knowledge. They revered nature and treated her with the modesty due to a maiden, and with the respect of a young lover. This sentiment did not wither as age came on.”


  1. "About Us". The Thoreau Society.
  2. "Thoreau Society Collections". The Thoreau Society.