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Charlton family papers

Identifier: MC-031

Scope and Contents

This collection was compiled by Earle Perry Charlton II, E.P. Charlton’s grandson. It includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, several artifacts and photographs.


  • 1889-2016


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English

Conditions Governing Access

No known restrictions. Permission to publish must be discussed with the archivist and the donor.

Biographical / Historical

Earle Perry Charlton was born in Connecticut in 1863. He left home as a teenager to travel around New England working for a merchant based in Boston. After several years, he formed a partnership with Seymour Knox to form a chain of 5 and 10-cent stores, Knox and Charlton 5 and 10. Charlton’s flagship store was in Fall River, MA, where he would settle with his wife Ida (1868-1957) to raise their family. Eventually the partnership dissolved and Charlton began spreading E.P. Charlton & Co. stores into Canada and the western United States. In 1912, Charlton merged with four other 5 and 10-cent storeowners, including his former partner, in order to form the Woolworth Company. After the merger Charlton began to expand into other businesses. He financed a textile mill in Fall River, as well as serving as director of several railroad companies. He also served on the board of directors of various banks, most notably the First National Bank of Boston. He was honored to serve on the Board of Trustees at Tufts University, though he never graduated from college.

The Charlton family did not confine their activities only to business. Both Earle and his wife Ida were involved in numerous clubs and activities in the Fall River area as well as Palm Beach, FL where they had built a winter home. They also contributed to a great number of charities, in particular the Truesdale Hospital in Fall River. They donated the money to add several new wings, and in recent years his descendants donated the money to fund the merger with Union Hospital to form Charlton Memorial Hospital. Since Charlton’s death in 1930, his heirs have also given generously to the Mayo Clinic and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Earle P. Charlton II, the grandson of the store founder, donated generously to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth starting in December pf 1996 with a $3 million pledge gift to endow the Charlton College of Business. The Ida S. Charlton trust established nursing scholarships in 1997 ($75,000) and funded the electronic marquee at the entrance to the campus. Ground was borken on the Charlton College of Business in 2001. The first building was constructed over the period 2003-2004, with completion in 2004. The second, classroom building was completed in 2015. Earle P. "Chuck" Charlton II was given an honorary degree by UMass Dartmouth in 1996.


9 Linear Feet (3 manuscript boxes and 5 oversize boxes)


Series I consists of the business records of the E.P Charlton & Co. 5 and 10 stores as well as Woolworth records. Among these records is correspondence with Simon Kapstein, one of Charlton’s West coast leaders. There are legal documents from Charlton’s partnership with Seymour Knox, as well as photographs, publications and artifacts from the Woolworth Company.

Series II comprises the papers of Earle P. Charlton and his immediate family, which includes his wife Ida and daughter Ruth Mitchell Masson. Within this series can be found a family scrapbook that contains newspaper clippings and correspondence illustrating important events in the Charltons’ lives.

Series III comprise the papers of Earle P. Charlton's grandson, Earle P. Charlton II. Included in this series are family photographs, and publications and articles highlighting the charitable works of the Charlton family and Charlton Family Foundation through the present day.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Initial donation by Earle P. Charlton II on May 30, 2002. (On loan since 2000) Accession #02-23. Additional papers of Earle P. Charlton II donated by his daughter Stacey Charlton in 2015. Accession #16-8.

Related Materials

Related Charlton Family items have been donated to the Fall River Historical Society.


For more information on the Charlton family, consult The Charlton Story by Earle Perry Charlton II and George Winius (2001; Peter Lang Publishing Inc., New York).
Charlton family papers
Moira Bowen (Simmons College intern) and Judy Farrar
November 2002
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Finding aid revised January 2018 with addition of series III, the papers of Chuck Charlton.

Repository Details

Part of the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Repository

285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA