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The Massachusetts Historical Society


The Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215-3695


The Massachusetts Historical Society holds a rich collection of manuscript materials, including those listed below, related to the history of the United States Navy from the Revolutionary era through the twentieth century.  The collections include letters and diaries of sailors and officers of all ranks, papers of three Secretaries of the Navy, and collections of politicians, historians, and authors involved with the Navy and maritime history.  Many of these collections are summarized in the Massachusetts Historical Society online library catalog (available on the Society's webpage at, in the National Union Catalog for Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), and OCLC.  Please address reference questions to


Allen, Gardner W.
Papers, 1925-1935

Correspondence and miscellaneous papers of Gardner Weld Allen, physician, naval medical officer, and naval historian. The collection relates mainly to The Papers of Commodore [Isaac] Hull (1929), which Allen edited for the Boston Athenaeum, and his chapter on the War of 1812 in the Commonwealth History of Massachusetts (1927), edited by Albert Bushnell Hart.

1 box


Bancroft, George
Papers, 1816-1890

Papers of historian and diplomat George Bancroft. After graduating from Harvard University in 1817, Bancroft spent several years studying in Europe. Descriptions of his travels and meetings with the great scholars of Europe are contained in several volumes of journals. Most of his later diaries are datebooks containing few observations. Bancroft corresponded with political leaders and diplomats as U.S. minister to Great Britain, 1846-1849, and to Berlin, 1867-1874. He also corresponded with numerous academic, cultural, and political leaders, including John Thornton Kirkland, Edward Everett, Andrews Norton, George Ticknor, William Cullen Bryant, Jared Sparks, William Hickling Prescott, Samuel A. Eliot, Robert C. Winthrop, Francis Parkman, Joseph Cogswell, Clara Barton, Henry John Temple (the third Viscount Palmerston), William Gladstone, his father Aaron Bancroft, and his nephew J.C. Bancroft Davis. Some newspaper clippings, and drafts from parts of Bancroft's History of the United States, are also included.

55 boxes, 54 volumes, and 1 oversize container


Brown, Samuel
Papers, 1799-1805

Accounts, inventories, bills and receipts, proposals, estimates, contracts, and miscellaneous correspondence of Samuel Brown as Agent of the United States Navy in Boston. Among the papers are requisitions and inventories of supplies for the ships ArgusBostonConstitutionMerrimackWarren, and the captured French corvette Le Berceau. Included are requisitions of Edward Preble, captain of Constitution. Also included are forms signed by sailors directing that portions of their salaries be paid to their families, and other papers relating to payments for services.

4 boxes and 1 oversize container


Cabot, Godfrey L.
Papers, 1870-1962

Papers of businessman, inventor and aviation pioneer Godfrey Lowell Cabot of Boston, Massachusetts include personal correspondence, 1870-1962, diaries, 1872-1922, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and writings (including typescripts) related to various organizations and activities including the Harvard Class of 1882 Alumni Association, 1927-1941, New England Watch and Ward Society, 1913-1921, and the Maria Moors Cabot Foundation; and correspondence and cash accounts of Godfrey L. Cabot, Inc. regarding the manufacture of carbon black, 1934-1962. Also included are papers related to Cabot's involvement in aviation including correspondence and subject files related to patents, the Aero Club of New England, the Aero Pickup Service Corps, 1892-1959; and papers related to Cabot's role as U.S. Navy pilot during World War I, 1917-1918.

73 boxes, 12 volumes, and 1 oversize box


Child, John R.
Papers, 1731-1895

Letters from Seaman John Child to his wife, describing visits to Boston, a journal (1810-1815) written while on a voyage to and from Canton, China, describing his duties as a seaman on board Hunter and his capture at Macao by the British frigate Doris and transfer to America for passage home; together with genealogical records and other papers of the families of Benjamin Child and Ezra Davis. Needlework samplers stitched by Child daughters document Child family genealogy.

1 box


Crowninshield, Benjamin W.
Papers, 1731-1892

Benjamin Williams Crowninshield was Chairman of the House Committee on Naval Affairs from 1823-1825.

50 items


Dudley, James A.
Papers, 1814

Journal kept by James A. Dudley.

1 volume


Folsom, Charles
Papers, 1732-1871

Correspondence, diaries, expense book, and miscellaneous papers of Charles Folsom, diplomat, librarian, and editor. Correspondence concerns Folsom's service as chaplain on board USS Washington on a Mediterranean tour in 1816-1817 and his service as U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Tunis (Tunisia). His letters and journals include descriptions of many parts of the Mediterranean, including Gibraltar, Italy, and Tunis; discussion of U.S. relations with Tunis, and of private and public affairs, including an epidemic of the plague in 1818-1819. Folsom corresponded with David G. Farragut while in Tunis, and again in the 1860s. Several photographs of Farragut and a phrenological analysis are included.

2 volumes and 3 cases


Graves, Samuel
Papers, 1732-1871

5 volumes


Green Family
Papers, 1810-1958

Correspondence, mainly that of Bernard R. Green to his mother, with news of his activities at Lawrence Scientific School (1861-1863), and as engineer attached to the U.S. Office of Engineers at Portland, Maine, during the Civil War, working on Forts Preble, Scammell, Gorges, and Knox. The collection includes correspondence (1819-1840) of Ezra Green, of Malden, Massachusetts, who served as seaman on board Vincennes under Charles Wilkes (1838-1842).

1 box


Higginson, Samuel
Papers, 1819-1840


Huntington-Wolcott Papers
Papers, 1698-1911

Papers of the Huntington and Wolcott families include materials relating to money and supply shortages, desertion, prisoners, naval operations, and troop morale during the Revolutionary War. Correspondents include Silas Deane, Andrew Huntington, Jabez Huntington, Joshua Huntington, Oliver Wolcott (1726-1797), Oliver Wolcott (1760-1833), Robert Livingston, Robert Morris, John Treadwell, Jonathan Trumbull, and Jeremiah Wadsworth. Account books of Joshua Huntington record his supervision of the building and outfitting of the ships Confederacy and Continental. Commissary accounts of Joshua and Jabez Huntington for the Continental Army are also included. Later correspondents include Massachusetts Governor Roger Wolcott, Frederick Wolcott, Grover Cleveland, Roger Griswold, Benjamin Harrison, Julia Ward Howe, Henry Cabot Lodge, Benjamin Tallmadge, and Daniel Webster. Includes a letterbook/autograph collection.

3 boxes, 2 volumes, and 2 folders


Lloyd, James
Papers, 1801-1826

30 items


Long, John D.
Papers, 1820-1943

Congressman and Secretary of the Navy. The Long Papers contain material on Massachusetts politics and government, the temperance issue, the United States Navy and the Spanish-American War. Other Long family members represented in the collection include: Zadoc Long, Agnes Pierce Long, Helen Long, Margaret Long and Peirce Long. Among the notables discussed or represented by correspondence in the collection are: George S. Boutwell, Benjamin F. Butler, French Ensor Chadwick, Henry Cabot Lodge, William McKinley, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Theodore Roosevelt, William T. Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley.

76 boxes and 148 volumes


Meyer, George von Lengerke
Papers, 1808-1918

The papers of George von Lengerke Meyer (1858-1918), businessman, legislator, United States Ambassador to Italy and Russia, Postmaster General and Secretary of the Navy, consist of thirty-five archival boxes of loose manuscripts and 57 bound volumes of letterbooks and scrapbooks. Meyer's papers for his term as head of the United States Postal Service deal primary with his campaigns for parcel post and postal savings banks. His Navy Department correspondence is chiefly bureaucratic and concerns the operation of navy yards and naval stations. Also contained in the Meyer papers is much political material relating to the Republican Party in Massachusetts and the nation. Important correspondents include Meyer's wife Marian Alice Appleton Meyer; his son George von L. Meyer, Jr., Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Winthrop Murray Crane, Frederic C. Dumaine, Curtis Guild, Henry Cabot Lodge, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

35 boxes and 57 bound volumes


Parkman, John E.
Papers, 1853-1894

Letters written by John E. Parkman to his mother, Caroline H. Parkman, and his brother and sister, Francis and Eliza Shaw Parkman. Letters from 1861-1865 were written from the ships on which he served as Captain's Clerk during the Civil War and describe the naval aspect of the war and his personal experiences as seen from USS BainbridgeAlbatrossSusquehannaBrooklyn, and Aries. Also included are a few letters written to Parkman family members about the capture in January 1864 and subsequent imprisonment of Parkman during the war. Letters written after the war describe his journey out west to Colorado where he worked as an officer in the National Gold Mining Company and served as an advisor in Indian affairs, specifically regarding the Ute Indians.

2 volumes


Percival, John
Papers, 1826-1841

Papers of Captain John Percival of the U.S. Navy relate primarily to his command of the schooner Dolphin in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) as protection for American merchants and citizens from pirating and other threats, and specifically to two incidents during 1826-1827. One was a riot initiated by sailors from Percival's ship at the home of American missionary Hiram Bingham in response to missionary-supported anti-prostitution legislation, in which charges were brought against Percival for inciting the riot. The other incident involved a controversy over the fee for the charter of the brig Convoy used by Percival in the rescue of the wreckage of Alfred Edwards's ship, London, and a deposit fee for the goods left on Percival's ship.

1 box


Preble, George H.
Papers, 1729-1926

The papers of George H. Preble, naval officer and author, consist of family and naval correspondence, literary and historical compositions, and genealogical materials, together with diaries, logbooks, scrapbooks, expense accounts, notebooks of poetry and watercolors, and other papers concerning his naval career from 1835-1878. Subjects include: the Battle of New Orleans (1862), the escape of the Confederate cruiser Oreto for which Preble was censured, and official logs of his naval service. The collection includes research material collected by Preble for writings on construction at the Boston (Charlestown) Navy Yard, the U.S. flag, and privateering in the U.S. Preble's diaries cover a voyage to the World's Fair in the U.S.F. St. Lawrence (1851); "Diary of a Cruise to China and Japan, 1853-56" kept on Matthew Perry's mission to open Japanese ports; and on a naval voyage, 1863-68. The collection also contains letters and diary, 1803-39, of Enoch Preble, father of George H. Preble, and correspondence of Ellen Bangs Preble, Susan Zabiah (Cox) Preble, and Adeline Preble.


Walsh, David I.
Papers, 1915-1936

David I. Walsh was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs from 1936-1946.

8 items


Wormeley, Ralph R.
Papers, 1802-1865

Personal papers of the Wormeley family, including letters of James Wormeley in England to his son Ralph R. of the British Royal Navy; letters of George W. Erving to Ralph R. Wormeley; and correspondence of author (Mary) Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer with her husband Randolph B. Latimer and friends, including author and historian William Hickling Prescott and Julia Ward Howe. Miscellaneous papers include a manuscript biography of Virginia slave Peter Byers, who fled to Boston when his owner died; and genealogical notes on the Randolph, Preble, and Wormeley families. Other Latimer and Wormeley family members are represented in the collection as well.

1 box

Published: Thu Jun 26 15:49:10 EDT 2014