This is the thirty-ninth year of operation of the Danvers Archival Center, a department of the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers. In 1972 the Danvers Archival Center first opened for business in the borrowed and refurbished basement of the brick and concrete “Memorial Hall,” owned by the Danvers Historical Society at 13 Page Street. The Historical Society loaned their basement to the Town of Danvers’s public library free of charge for nine years. Following completion of the renovation and expansion of the Colonial Revival style Peabody Institute Library at 15 Sylvan Street in 1981, the Archival Center relocated to these new quarters. The Archival Center includes a large public Reading Room, secure Manuscript Storage Room and a Walk-In Vault with a 6-hour fire rated door.
According to our collection policy statement: “The Danvers Archival Center is a repository for information relating to the history and development of the geographical area encompassing Salem Village and Danvers, Massachusetts. The Archival Center performs its mission by gathering and collecting flat, informational materials through gifts and purchases and through permanent deposits in cases where the material is owned by functioning corporate organizations. Among items collected by the Archival Center are books, pamphlets, monographs, manuscripts, broadsides, periodicals including newspapers, maps, architectural drawings, photographs, prints, audio and video tapes, films, CDs and microfilms.”
We attempt to place all our resources within a secure and stable environment, and have the collections available to all researchers who wish to use them. The Center’s combined collections of gifts, purchases, and deposit collections make our resources one of the largest and most important documentary collections of a community its size in the entire nation. The collections are continually upgraded through new gifts, deposits and purchases. This multi-faceted collection remains a seldom-found mix of diverse municipal, corporate and private research materials. The collection has been gathered together through the cooperative pooling by many organizations that were willing to give up physical custody of their papers for their being conserved, preserved, properly stored, catalogued and accessible.
The following report will summarize our operations during the fiscal year beginning in July 2010 through June 2011.
I want to thank Library Director Douglas Rendell for his many years of friendship and leadership. He will be retiring in the fall of 2011 and will be very much missed. Doug has always been extremely supportive of me personally and of our unique, and at times quirky, Archival Center. His love for knowledge, his helpfulness to the public and his commitment to education and the public library system are shining models for all of us in the field to emulate. It would be difficult to find as nice a boss as Doug. Also in line for special thanks for their support of the Archives are Assistant Director Suzanne MacLeod, Bookkeeper Susan Kontos, Reference Librarian Jennifer McGeorge and the nine-member Board of Library Trustees. My co-worker Eva Veilleux is both a personal friend and a skilled professional. Without her skills and support I don’t think the Archives and I would function. She does all her tasks well, anticipates and does jobs without request, patiently reads and word processes into readable format my poor penmanship, and lets me know what’s going on in other parts of the library.
Volunteer Thomas Marsella has been working in the Archives for eight years now, coming in Wednesday morning for three hours of researching, sorting and cataloguing. His efforts are much appreciated and he enjoys solving little mysteries and delving into resources to find information about the documents he examines. Tom has a gregarious personality, and an interest in many subjects. I look forward to his visits each week. This past fiscal year Tom volunteered 73.5 hours in the Archives.
In FY2011 61 books were obtained, accessioned, processed, and catalogued for inclusion within the shelves of our Public Reading Room. Of this number, 17 were gifts to the Archival Center.
Our Brehaut Witchcraft Collection is one of the largest collections of Salem witchcraft imprints in the country. The core collection was donated to the Library in 1960 by local resident and bibliophile Ellerton J. Brehaut. We have been carefully building upon this core collection since the inception of the Danvers Archival Center. This past year saw a very significant expansion of this collection.
Gifts added to the Brehaut Witchcraft Collection included Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, by Karen Jolly (2002); and The Salem Witch Mania, by Benjamin C. Ray (2010).
Among witchcraft books and monographs added by purchase this past fiscal year were books of fiction including The Black Shilling, by Amelia E. Barr (1903); and The Place Called Dagon, by Herbert Gorman (1927). History volumes included Witchcraft Myths in American Culture, by Marion Gibson (2007); Witchcraft in Salem, by Steven I. Stern (2011); Death in Salem, by Diane Foulds (2010); The Sermon Notebook of Samuel Parris (1993); the England edition of Witchcraft at Salem, by Chadwick Hansen (1970); Matthew Hale, by Edmund Heward (1972); Witch Hunting and Witch Trials, by Ewen C. L’Estrange (1929); as well as facsimile reprints of Dialogicall Discources of Spirits and Devils, by John Deacon (1601); A Candle in the Dark, by Thomas Ady (1656); and The Belief of Witchcraft Vindicated, by G. R. (1712).
Added to the rare book segment of our witchcraft collection were: Satan’s Invisible World Discovered, by George Sinclair (1769); Records of the Salem Witchcraft Compiled From Original Documents, published by W. Elliot Woodward (1864); Witch Stories, by E. Lynn Linton (1861); Demonology and Witchcraft, by Robert Brown (1889); A Tryal of Witches, by Sir Matthew Hale (1838); Salem Witchcraft, edited by Samuel P. Fowler (1865); A Collection of Rare and Curious Tracts on Witchcraft, by David Webster (1820); Daemonology, by King James I (1924); and A Discourse on Witchcraft (1736).
Through the generosity of the Annenberg Foundation grant given to the Danvers Archival Center last year, we were able to purchase two significant items for our Brehaut Witchcraft Collection. The first item is a copy of the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society for the Year 1798 (Boston, Samuel Hall, 1798), which first put into print the very important Thomas Brattle 1692 manuscript Account of the [Salem] Witchcraft. This hard-to-find, bound volume was acquired from Grey Matter Books, of Hadley, Massachusetts. The second item acquired was a rare 1792 engraving of Matthew Hopkins, Witch Finder General (London, J. Caulfield, 1792), showing Hopkins depicted with two witches who are calling out the names of their imp familiars. This print was purchased from Blue Mountain Books & Manuscripts of Saranac, New York. Both items have been catalogued and made part of our Brehaut Rare Book Collection and are housed within the Walk-In Vault.
In acquiring the Hopkins print, I decided that a new classification of witchcraft items needed to be created within our collections. The collections include “W” for witchcraft books; “W Rare Books” for witchcraft rare books; “Wfile” for pamphlets or one-page printed items; “WMs.” for manuscripts; “W Rec” for recordings; and “W Audio-Visual” for films, tapes and DVDs. The new category is “W Prints,” designating original, printed woodcuts, copper plates, mezzotints, etc. Joining the Hopkins print in this rare collection area are copper plate prints of Sir Matthew Hale ( London, T. Cadell, c 1792); and The Reverend Mr. Samuel Willard (London, Gerard Van der Gucht, 1727).
Near the end of the fiscal year, through the assistance of Doug Rendell, we were able to add an extremely significant work to our Brehaut Witchcraft Collection. Acquired through a book dealer and physician in Tennessee was the rare work, An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences. Written by famed 17th century Boston intellectual, college president, and divine Increase Mather (1639-1723), this 1684 work was the first printed in the New World describing witchcraft cases in early New England, and was used as a precedence for the later 1692 witchcraft cases. The book is generally known by the more familiar title, Remarkable Providences. This extremely hard-to-find first edition has been sought since the establishment of the Brehaut Witchcraft Collection as an essential source for 17th century witchcraft studies, and its inclusion within our collections is very significant.
Local history books make up our other major shelf collection within the Public Reading Room. These volumes include Danvers history, Danvers family genealogies and biographies and books relating to adjacent towns which communities reflect or influence Danvers history.
Gifts of books and pamphlets added to this collection included: Some Danvers Acres and Associations, by Ezra D. Hines (1930); A Country Collection of Common Verse, by Willard H. Nickerson (1994); Heritage 2011, the Danvers High School yearbook; and Souvenir of the Grand Army of the Republic (1893). Also donated throughout the year were assorted issues of Danvers Town Reports, The Holten Magazine, and Danvers Historical Society Collections.
Among purchased volumes added to the local history collection were: Rowley, by Edward J. Des Jardins; Descendants of Thomas Goldthwaite, by Charlotte Goldthwaite (1899); Towne Family, by Lois Payne Hoover (2010); Beverly Revisited, by Beverly Historical Society (2010); Union Pacific Railroad [Report] by Grenville M. Dodge (1867); Bickerstaff’s Boston Almanack, printed by Ezekiel Russell (1784); and Almanack for 1773, by Nathaniel Ames (1772).
Through library funding we were also able to acquire an additional Ezekiel Russell Danvers publication, Bickerstaff’s Boston Almanack for the Year of our Redemption, 1779. Being the Third Year of American Independence (1778). This issue has several woodcuts including that of the Bell Tavern, which was located adjacent to Russell’s print shop.
Our “Dr. Richard P. Zollo John Greenleaf Whittier Collection” was added-to this year by the purchase of Whittier’s first published book, Moll Pitcher and the Minstrel Girl, originally published in 1840 by Joseph Healy. This collection is named in honor of Whittier scholar and Townie Richard Zollo, who now resides in San Francisco and several years ago donated his vast Whittier collection to the Archival Center.
A separate designation within the classification of printed items is “Broadsides.” Broadsides are generally large sheets of paper with printing only on one side of the sheet. They were often used by government agencies to notify the public of important events or occurrences. They often include dramatic text and were meant to be posted in public areas. Our Archival Center deposit collections include many rare and valuable Town of Danvers Revolutionary War Broadsides, chiefly from Town of Danvers records, with a few coming from Historical Society deposit materials. Two significant broadsides were catalogued this past year. Both had been conserved by the Northeast Document Conservation Center in 1985/86, along with many other broadsides.
The first broadside is dated June 1780 and was sent, as is indicated on the reverse of the printed side in handwriting, “To the Selectmen of Danvers.” In the midst of the American Revolution, this broadside announces that Massachusetts is establishing a new state constitution. Written by John Adams and James Baldwin, this constitution has become the oldest functioning written constitution still in effect in the world. The broadside calls for the election of the Governor, Counselors and General Court in implementation of the new constitution.
The second broadside is a large 43×35 cm. sheet issued by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in late 1774 and sent to each town. On the reverse of this sheet are the manuscript words “Respecting the Military – Danvers.” The broadside text reviews the activity of British troops in Massachusetts and recommends the reorganization of the colony’s militia, the arming and drilling of its men, and the establishment of what became known as “Minuteman” units. Months before the Lexington battle of April 1775, Massachusetts was preparing for what seemed to be inevitable conflict.
Near the end of the fiscal year I picked up for $20 a close-to-home broadside. It was printed up to advertise a play titled Down the Black Canon to be presented at the Peabody Institute Library on Thanksgiving Day 1896. Sponsored by the Young Men’s Mutual Benevolent Society by the Emmett Dramatic Club, tickets to the event sold for 25 cents.
Newspapers are another sub-category of printed materials. In some years we catalogue complete issues or even complete runs of newspapers. Several of our newspaper acquisitions this year centered around text and illustrations concerning William Crowninshield Endicott. Endicott summered at what is now the Danvers Historical Society’s Glen Magna mansion off Centre Street. He was a judge, and served in President Grover Cleveland’s first administration as Secretary of War. In the 19th century several publishers created weekly illustrated news magazines.
Among the newspaper items we acquired from this category were: an illustration and text concerning Cleveland’s cabinet featured in both Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and Puck (March 1885); together with an article with an accompanying large illustration of a Presidential reception in the Red Room of the White House, featuring Mrs. Ellen and Secretary William C. Endicott. This article is from Leslie’s Illustrated (April 1885).
Also obtained were two issues of Harper’s Weekly with illustrations and articles about George Peabody (1867 & 1869); The London Chronicle (December 1777) with accounts of the battle at Saratoga, New York where many Danvers men participated; and an issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine with reports on the Lexington Alarm (May 1775).
Newly produced main entry, title and subject cards added to our union catalogue included 475 in the Danvers History catalogue and 166 in our Witchcraft catalogue.
The name “Ephemera” is used for revealing point-in-time printed items which generally do not warrant individual cataloguing, but are important artifacts and items of information. Most of these items are donations, with several being acquired via a weekly look for items at auction on eBay. Our ephemera items are generally collected and stored by subject in a series of vertical metal file cabinets within the Manuscript Storage Room. Among ephemera items acquired this past year were: a fine collection from eBay costing only $10 for 10 programs of events and graduations at the Willard School for Girls later located on Maple Street (1889-1899); booklets and newspaper items relating to the 2010 Danvers Family Festival; eight copies of Junior High School and Middle School student publications under several titles (1981-1991); four menus from Wheeler’s Restaurant on Route 114 (1930s-1950s); a list of workers at Bernard Friedman Leather Company (1895); typescript “Memoirs of Jimmy George” (2010); two booklets on the history of the Danvers Council on Aging; Danvers Women’s Society yearbooks (1989-1990; Hunt Hospital Aid Association 60th Anniversary Program (1987); a file relating to the 200th anniversary of the First Baptist Church (1993); a greeting card with poem from Thurl D. Brown; a large group of newspapers, clippings and press releases concerning the 11/22/2006 Danversport explosion; an envelope addressed to J.W. Trask (1917); certificate for “outstanding Man of the Year” given to Daniel J. McFadden by the Danvers Community Council (1962); certificate of membership of Town Manager McFadden to the International City Managers’ Association (1957); paper delivered by Dr. Anthony Patton on the Endecott Pear Tree (April 13, 2011); and “Transportation Bulletin” concerning Danvers trolleys (1962/63).
We drew up 19 gift acknowledgement forms which were then sent to donors. These forms describe the gifts received, which can be for just one item or for multiple items. They are then signed and include a Peabody Institute Library blind stamp impression acknowledging that these items are unconditional gifts to the Archives.
On occasion we find items within our collections, which due to their point of origin or content, are not within our collection area and could be of use elsewhere. These items are sent off to appropriate sister institutions. Among items sent off this year were: a large publicity card from the 1960s to “The Ship” restaurant which was given to the Lynnfield Historical Society; an 1817 letter addressed from Windsor, Vermont to Salem, Massachusetts, which was donated to the Windsor Historical Society; a 1965 menu from the General Glover House sent to the Swampscott Historical Society; 12 post cards of Camp Edwards sent to the Bourne Historical Society; various other post cards sent to the Middleton, Marblehead and Beverly Historical Societies; an 1880s genealogical copybook concerning the Danforth family and copies of vital records of Tyngsboro, Massachusetts given to the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library in Boston. All the institutions acknowledged there gifts with thanks.
Several organizations requested to borrow original or copies of photographs and documents from within our collections for exhibition or research purposes including the Danvers Historical Society, Danvers Preservation Commission, the Department of Public Works and the Towne Family Association.
We were able to put together for the very popular Friends of the Library Annual Book Sale held each June as an event in the Danvers Family Festival a group of duplicate history books and pamphlets. The items were placed on a separate book cart with a sign reading “Local History & Witchcraft Books. For Sale As Marked.” Some 27 items were sold bringing into the Friends treasury an additional $133.
A major collecting area within the Archival Center are pictorial items, including prints, artwork, and photographs, as well as audio-visual media such as films, videotapes, DVDs and CDs. We obtained through gift 387 items and purchased 5.
One interesting photograph catalogued this year was a Ferrotype (tintype) measuring 7×6 cm. and kept within a formal leather-covered case. The image is from 1861 and shows a bust portrait of Private Nehemiah Putnam Fish at the time of his enlistment in the Union Army from Danvers. He wears a military uniform. Unfortunately Fish was captured by Confederate forces and spent many months in a prison camp. When released he was emaciated and died soon after in 1864. Within our collection we also have a carte-de-visite taken of Fish after his release, showing a pathetic youth of 22 years, just prior to his death. Catalogued images are treated specially, with this image and its case stored in an individual acid-free box and kept in a metal cabinet.
Among photographic items donated this past year were: thirteen large format color 35mm transparencies of Danvers historic buildings (1964); color prints of several Highland School primary grade classes (1983-1988); a large format mounted photograph of nurses at the Danvers State Hospital Nursing School (1930); an albumen photograph in a novelty frame of the house at 11 Centre Street (ca. 1870); an albumen photograph by F. J. Taylor of 17 Cherry Street (ca. 1880); a photograph showing Danvers Town Manager Daniel J. McFadden and several others (1962); nine cabinet photos of members of the Holten High School class of 1937; and a framed long roll photograph of the Danvers High School class of 1967.
Several photographic items were purchased for our collections including: two cartes-de-visite of famed poet John Greenleaf Whittier (ca. 1860s); a colored, signed and framed photo art print by famed antiquarian Wallace Nutting of Braiding a Rag Rug, an interior scene created in the Samuel Fowler house (1913); a collection of twenty-nine postcards relating to John Greenleaf Whittier (1900-1960s); and a print of Grover Cleveland’s cabinet including William C. Endicott (1885).
Also received within the Audio-Visual category was a DVD titled, The Generations Project. Last summer I was asked to participate in the filming of a program produced by BYU Broadcasting, a division at Brigham Young University in Utah. The program takes a young woman named Rachael Broadbent on a journey through the United States and back to Holland tracing the story of her ancestors and “meeting with relatives and experts to uncover family mysteries and experience the lifestyle, culture and history that made up her ancestors’ lives.” One of Rachael’s ancestors was accused 1692 witch Sarah Pease. The Salem/Danvers segment explores the witchcraft events as experienced by Pease. I filmed for a day at the Nurse Homestead and the reproduction Meetinghouse showing Rachael copies of the documents in the Pease case and explaining the procedures used in her examination and jailing. This program premiered on May 23, 2011, and shortly thereafter the producer sent us a DVD of it for our collections.
We continued with an ongoing project of re-boxing frequently used or important collections within our photographic collection into new Hollinger photo-neutral boxes and folders, and placing fragile or important images into clear inert plastic sleeves within these folders. Due to so much new material coming into our book collections, we also moved several infrequently used reference book sets to the Archive corridor, so we could expand the self space within our Danvers and Witchcraft book collection in the Public Reading Room. We also had to redistribute our union catalogue so that the ever increasing numbers of cards can be added to the shelves.
Back in November 2009, three representatives from Explore, a division of the Annenberg Foundation, a world-known private family philanthropic foundation, visited the Archival Center to film a segment on the 1692 Salem witchcraft events. Charles Annenberg Weingarten, the vice president and a director of the foundation, visits interesting places around the world and makes documentary films to showcase extraordinary nonprofit efforts. In this visit to the Archives they used the cinéma-vérité style of filming using a hand-held camera to obtain a natural flow, rather than creating a staged interview. They were in the Archives for several hours and then I took them to several witchcraft sites in Danvers. It was a lovely fall day and all three Californians just loved the bright fall colors and the smell of New England.
In October 2010 the 30 minute video presentation Salem Witch Hunt, produced by Charlie Weingarten’s Explore programming, went on-line at the Annenberg web site. It may be viewed by visiting the site at www.explore.org.
In late June 2010, I was told that the Annenberg Foundation wanted to give a two-year grant of $25,000 in support of the Danvers Archival Center’s work. Such recognition by this well-regarded philanthropic organization of the validity of our work was very satisfying indeed and in July a check for $12,500 arrived. The money was deposited within the account of the Friends of the Peabody Institute Library, Inc. from which the Archival Center could draw funds.
It was fortuitous to receive the two year grant, as the bulk of the first year’s funds of $12,500 could assist in rectifying a significant potential danger to our Archival collections. Last year on two separate occasions, two sprinkler heads within the Library’s water sprinkler system failed for no apparent reason and seriously damaged library equipment and collections. Seeing this as a potential devastating situation if it ever occurred in the Archival Center area with our valuable collection of manuscripts and rare books, it was determined to seek an alternative system with the use of the first year’s grant from the Annenberg Foundation.
Following research and outside assistance, we were able to recommend that the two Archive rooms and Walk-In Vault of the Archival Center within the Peabody Institute Library be set up with an Inergen Clean Agent Fire Suppressive System composed of inert gases which, if set-off, would suppress a fire, though not producing by-products of decomposition that could damage our historic records. This would also alleviate the water damage associated with an accidental fire-suppression discharge of the water-charged sprinklers. It was determined that cost for installation of this Inergen System to protect the Archival Center would cost approximately $40,000. Doug, Suzanne and I met with Assistant Town Manager Diane Norris and Fire Chief Kevin Farrell, as well as Doug talking with DPW Director David Lane, they becoming convinced of the need for this upgrade.
With my commitment to offer the use of the majority of the first year’s grant of $12,500 by the Annenberg Foundation, the Town of Danvers was willing to request Danvers Town Meeting for an additional $18,000, which along with a small donation by me and a commitment by the Library Trustees to make up the difference, meant the project could be done.
At the May 2011, annual Danvers Town Meeting it was voted to fund $18,000 of the project. The town will now have to go out to bid for the project. As this process would obviously continue past the present fiscal year into FY2012, I requested the Annenberg Foundation if it would be acceptable to encumber and not expend this first half of the grant money until the work is completed. The foundation was very amenable to this, for which we are grateful.
Several outreach projects involving materials within our collections were worked upon this past year. For the Danvers Preservation Commission I gathered illustrations of the Danvers State Hospital and rewrote text for possible historic signage to be installed at the former State Hospital property. Also for the Towne Family Association and the Town of Topsfield I assisted in the creation of and text for a marker to be erected in Topsfield relating to the establishment of the Towne family in America and of several of its family members.
I worked with Dr. Anthony Patton and Wayne Eisenhauer of the Danvers Historical Society, and representatives of the Endecott Family Association to assist in the continued appropriate preservation and better, but secure, access to view the Endecott Pear Tree located off Endicott Street. We had several meetings with representatives of the North Shore Medical Center, which now owns the property formerly known as Osram Sylvania. The tree itself, planted in about 1632 as part of Governor John Endecott’s orchard, still survives and thrives at the rear and below the parking area. This, the oldest cultivated fruit tree in the United States is a living link to the first European settlers to 17th century America and us of the 21st century.
In conjunction with improvements to the tree site and the desire to make its significance better known, a program was sponsored by the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care and several local historical organizations on April 13, 2011. Visits to the tree were followed by a program in the foyer of the building near the panel giving the history of the tree. Speakers included Dr. Patton telling the story of the tree and land, and I was presented with a preservation award for assisting in the preservation of this unique and ancient relic. Over 130 people were in attendance and the program was a huge success, with the kind sponsorship of the Mass General/North Shore group.
Our Archival Center manuscript collection is composed of deposit collections from the Historical Society, various churches and civic and social organizations; along with the official papers of the Town of Danvers dating back to 1752 and documents and papers that have specifically been donated or purchased by the Archival Center. Cards generated from cataloguing these new and backlog collections and added to the “Manuscript Union Catalogue” amounted to 380 cards.
The large and significant Putnam Family manuscript collection was donated in 1993 to the Danvers Historical Society, along with the Israel Putnam Homestead and its contents, by the Emerson family. The Putnam family manuscripts were placed on permanent deposit here at the Archival Center and we have been cataloguing parts of this extensive collection yearly. Putnam family papers processed this past year included: a letter to Ahria Putnam from Daniel F. Putnam (1828); penmanship exercises of Elizabeth Balch (1822 & 1824); and poetry transcribed by John Kettell (1812).
A major effort this year was to continue the backlog task of cataloguing the vast and rich manuscript collection of the Danvers Historical Society. Society manuscripts make up a large portion of the handwritten history of Danvers and these collections are on permanent deposit within the Archival Center, with the archivist committed to process, catalogue, shelve, and make available these deposited manuscripts. Among items catalogued this year were: funeral procession list for the internment of Benajah Collins (1821); receipts for stock in building the Universalist Church and for a pew for Ira P. Pope (1859); architectural papers and correspondence of Lester Sanger Couch (1905-1935); letter of sympathy from Jonathan Porter, Jr. (1804); probate papers concerning Abigail Putnam (1813-1814); a captain’s commission for the militia made out to Daniel Preston and signed by Governor Caleb Strong (1813); letter from Henry F. Putnam regarding local Danvers news (1843); estate papers including a room by room inventory of Samuel Putnam (1768-1782); letter to Warren Porter agreeing to build a wagon (1822); poetry copied by Nancy Putnam (1810); militia company orders sent by Captain Daniel King (1798); addresses given by seven historians at a special 200th anniversary meeting on the death of General Israel Putnam sponsored by the Danvers Historical Society (1890); Town Treasurer receipt for
militia exemption of John M. Abbot (1815); petition from jail by Daniel Prince, a Danvers tax collector, for non-payment of tax monies (1785); notice from Governor John Davis to the Danvers Board of Selectmen to call a meeting to vote a replacement for U.S. representative Rufus Choate (1834); papers of widow Eunice Prince (1828, 1841-1866); pew deed to the Third Orthodox Congregational Society (Maple Street Church) obtained by John A. Learoyd (1851); a volume of handwritten obituaries of Historical Society members (1890-1893); warrant for the election of militia officers (1809); Order of the Day for a regimental parade sent by Lieutenant Colonel David Putnam (1810); partially printed military commission issued to William Goodale as a lieutenant (1806); receipt signed by Jeremiah Page for a horse shed (1842); letter to her parents in Danvers from Hannah Pope (1767); last will and testament of David Putnam (1816); minutes of Ebenezer Goodale’s will (1806); indenture apprenticing David Preston to housewright Asa Putnam (1770); an anonymous poem (1864); penmanship copybook kept by Moses Prince (1820s); genealogical monograph on the descendants of John Porter by Perley Derby (1873); four biographical sketches about Israel Hutchinson (1877-1891); last will and testament of Amaziah Whitney (1811); poetry copybook kept by Anna Putnam (ca. 1813); militia records of Solomon Wilkins (1799-1800, 1803); and last will and testament of Emma Putnam (1825). These items were put into Hollinger folders and then filed in acid free manuscript boxes within the Manuscript Storage Room.
Several Historical Society collections processed were of exceptional historical value or created by famous persons. These historically or monetarily valuable items were designated as “Vault” items and stored in the Walk-In Vault for top security. Among these Historical Society collections catalogued this year were: military papers (1862-1909) of Danvers Medal-of-Honor recipient Francis Safford Dodge, including items signed by U. S. Grant and Ben Butler. This collection was a 1909 gift to the Society by Mrs. Mary Hunt Dodge. The Society houses many of Dodge’s military artifacts and his medals. Also catalogued were an ALS of Oliver Wendell Holmes concerning an invitation to speak in Danvers (1865); two original poems and correspondence of Lucy Larcom to Sarah E. Hunt regarding programs at the Danvers Historical Society (1891-1892); two legal notices regarding a saw mill in Danvers signed by several men, including Israel Putnam (1774). General Putnam’s authentic signature is very scarce.
Additionally, two items within the Historical Society collections were catalogued and placed within the Witchcraft Manuscript Collection, also stored in the Walk-In Vault. These items were: an historical monograph on the Salem Village Parsonage written by Augustus Mudge and given at a Society meeting (1890); and a letter by witchcraft author Mary E. Wilkins to society secretary Sarah Hunt concerning an invitation to Danvers for the witchcraft commemoration (1892).
Several items within the Town Clerk’s deposit collections of the Town of Danvers catalogued were: Militia Company orders filled out ordering soldiers to appear for muster (1814, 1817); and a collection of 29 volumes of marriage certificate forms filled out with information about the bride and groom including age, occupation, birth place and parents (1920-1972).
Among manuscripts donated to the Archival Center this past year were: a genealogical monograph on the Smith family (2011); a group of stock certificates owned by Joseph W. Ropes and Percy F. Phillips (1878-79 & 1909); and an historical monograph on the history of the Danvers State Hospital (2001).
Among manuscripts purchased this year were: an A.L.S. from George Peabody in London concerning shipment of iron to the United States (1851); papers of the Porter family (1812-1814); an A.L.S. from William Crowninshield Endicott to an autograph seeker (n.d.); a bill of lading for shoes and other commodities being shipped by Moses Porter in Danvers to Savannah, Georgia (1844); deeds to property owned by Joseph Endicott (1789-1790 & 1792); letter from Edith Hutchinson to her brother Benjamin (1845); a signed bank check of famed mathematician and astronomer Nathaniel Bowditch (1834); a deed from Zerubabel Porter (1810); bill of lading from W. M. Russell (1834); and deeds granted to Nathan Read (1792-1807).
We continue to attempt to gather all the papers of Dr. Samuel Holten. Holten is Danvers’s most noted son who assisted in the establishment of American independence. He served in numerous political positions including the Continental Congress during the American Revolution and the early U.S. Congress. Among the purchased items catalogued for the Holten collection were: a retained unsigned draft letter by Holten while in the Continental Congress to Col. Jonathan Eddy (1784); probate papers coming before Judge Holten (1800-1812); an A.L.S. from Aaron Wood to Holten in Congress concerning political activities (1783); draft letters from Holten to the Danvers North Parish concerning parish business, Holten serving as the parish treasurer (1795, 1798 & 1802).
At the Archival Center we also collect and have a significant number of maps and plans relating to Danvers. One plan accessioned this past year was a pen & ink drawing by architect Lester S. Couch of alterations to the First Universalist Church on High Street (1887). The drawing shows the original flush board exterior on the left tower of the church and the new proposed textured siding on the right tower and main body of the building. In the 1920s Couch would execute another renovation converting the old church into the Masonic Temple there today.
Within the classification of “Maps” we obtained and catalogued a plan of the estate of Elias Putnam (ca. 1876); and a manuscript plan of Captain Selden’s woodlot drawn by Eleazer Putnam (1797). Two items donated but not as yet catalogued due to their needing to be conserved, are layout maps of the Bernard Friedman & Company Leather Factory originally on Ash Street. One colored map dates to 1896, and the other survey was drawn by Andrew Nichols in 1899. It’s our intention to have these items restored. The large factory complex burned at the turn of the 19th century and now nothing remains of the former factory.
This past fiscal year I had a protracted bout with a leg infection. In January I fell by the library entrance on a snow surface and received a bruise on my right leg which quickly developed into a major infection. This eventually necessitated a hospital stay and many days out sick. Archive statistics were only kept for 43 weeks. During that time 698 patrons visited the Archives to use our resources, while 723 telephone calls were answered and 794 letters and emails sent out in response to patron queries. Seven talks were given to civic and school groups including at Danvers Rotary, Old Salem Village Condominiums, Cape Ann DAR, Peabody Historical Society, a graduate student group from New York and the Danvers Historical Society, for a combined audience of about 260 people.
The Archival Center was spotlighted in a new professional publication titled, Cultural Heritage Collaborators: A Manual for Community Documentation by Melissa Mannon. In a chapter titled “Model 2 Collaborating to Preserve Town History,” the text states, “The success of the Danvers program is due to the single-mindedness of key people to ensure that the Archives came to fruition. Success begat more success…. Few towns in New England centralize such extensive public and private holdings in one repository, under the control of one professional. Danvers serves as a model of the benefits of perseverance and centralization.”
Two film production companies were active locally this past year. I had assisted, along with University of Virginia professor Benjamin Ray, with producer Thomas Phillips in pre-production for a documentary that was made by British National Geographic. They filmed at Danvers sites and on December 17, 2010, did a day-long segment and a sit-down interview with me at the Archival Center concentrating on several manuscript volumes within our collection.
This past spring another project was conducted here through Tom Phillips’ own production company. A cooperative project involving the Essex Heritage Commission and the National Park in Salem to tell the story of the Salem witchcraft events of 1692, I assisted in coordinating areas to be filmed in Danvers, including at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead and several town owned sites. Besides their conducting a sit-down interview with me at the Archives on May 12, we filmed at and I spoke about the Salem Village Parsonage Archaeological Site off Centre Street and the Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial. I also spent a day at the Nurse Homestead assisting, though not being filmed.
On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, all the library departments gathered reference and patron assistance statistics to represent a typical day of operations. A log of our activities in the Archival Center was also kept. We were open that Wednesday from 9-12 & 1-5. During that time Archival Assistant Eva Veilleux worked from 9:30-12 and Archive volunteer Tom Marsella worked from 9-12. General desk tasks performed included cataloguing manuscripts on permanent deposit from the Danvers Historical Society and the researching of witchcraft related books available for purchase. After researching information, Eva and I also answered via email six previous email queries dating from several days prior to April 13. Among reference services performed on April 13 were:
Phone calls: (1) Request for information about Civil War letters and documents in our collections from a caller from Ohio. (2) Salem News Editor Nelson Benton called requesting information and the use of several illustrations for an article in the newspaper. (3) A Danvers woman called about family genealogy. (4) A Salem News reporter asked for a brief interview concerning the Endecott Pear Tree. (5) A Danvers man called about house history. (6) A Danvers Herald reporter called about Danvers history.
Email requests received: (1) A formal Danvers Preservation Commission request for research to be done on a dwelling under the purview of the Danvers Demolition Delay By-Law. (2) A Beverly man requested information about a section of Salem Village in the 17th century. (3) A Salem man requested information on the identity of several images from the 19th century. (4) A Salem man requested genealogical information.
Letters received: (1) A Walpole man requested genealogical information. (2) A Canadian woman requested obituaries of two local residents. (3) An Oregon woman sent fee for Vital Record certified copy and thanks for previous reference services.
Visits: (1) A Danvers woman researched genealogy for DAR membership. (2) A Danvers man researched family genealogy. (3) Danvers Planning Department Senior Planner Kate Day met to discuss Danvers railroad history and the fabrication of signs for the Danvers Rail Trail. (4) An out-of-town man researched a former business located in Danvers. Some days are fairly quiet when it comes to visits and telephone calls. This particular Wednesday was a fairly active day, and reflects the kinds of questions and queries we receive.
I continue to serve as a commissioner for the Essex County National Heritage Area and a member of the Salem Village Historic District Commission. The Commission uses the Archival Center as its repository and holds public meetings and hearings here or in the Gordon Room several times a year.
Additionally, I serve as a member of the Danvers Historical Society Executive Board and as its Honorary Historian. Reference questions to the Society are typically sent along to me at the Archives for answering, and I am pleased to serve as a resource to the Society wherever needed, as the Society has been very generous over the years with its resources and its commitment to the Archival Center.
In my capacity as Town Archivist, I also serve as a resource for the Danvers Preservation Commission, particularly in regard to researching and reporting on the significance of all buildings that are going through the Demolition Delay By-Law procedure. At the request of the Commission I also participated in a site review of the 1840s Greek Revival house at 83 Holten Street.
Back in May 2008, I found out that the Walnut Grove Cemetery Corporation was about ready to demolish the historic, hipped roof, 1875 brick and granite Receiving Crypt located near the cemetery entrance, due to its deteriorating condition and their liability. I quickly contacted the Preservation Commission about this imminent potential loss and offered to donate to its restoration. Many months later, after much effort on the part of the Commission, Susan Fletcher of the Planning Department, Danvers town officials, the Cemetery Trustees, and historical input from me, an agreement was reached. The Commission coordinated the raising of funds to restore the structure, assisted by the Danvers Department of Public Works, volunteer efforts by North Shore Technical High School students, and an agreement in place that the town would maintain the structure in the future. This cooperative venture was very successful and the restored crypt was rededicated on October 25, 2010, at which program I spoke.
Thanks to reference librarian Jennifer McGeorge, five articles from my Danvers Herald series, Touching the Past at the Danvers Archival Center, were added to the Archive web site with supplemental illustrations. These articles describe items we have recently acquired and their context in history. Also, last year’s FY 2010 annual report, illustrated with numerous pictures of new acquisitions, was also put on the web site. Our excel program of listing Danvers house dates, style and original occupant is progressing with 700 entries now included, up 400 from last year. We contemplate to soon put this program online at the Archive web site for quick availability to the public.
The Archival Center brought in $81 in reference fees and certified copies as part of my responsibilities as an Assistant Town Clerk, while four house markers were ordered by Danvers homeowners for $180. Sign requests are researched to provide the original date of the house, its original owner and his occupation. Robert Leonard of Maine fabricates the signs for us.
Among other monies generated were through the resale of duplicate or damaged books and reproduction maps to the tune of $115; the use of images from our collection within two publications totaling $225; a donation of $52; and a speaking donation of $100. All these fees and donations amounted to $752.99 being added to our Archive Special Fund. This fund was established several years back in order to have money available in case important but expensive items came to our attention and would overwhelm our regular budget. Beginning with FY 2012 our Special Fund balance is $11,683.99.
During the year we purchased various archival supplies. In anticipation of the changing of the fire suppression system and the work on the ceiling of the Archival Center space, I purchased new UV light filter sleeves which can be slipped onto the outside of each light tube. Such filters were put on the tubes when the Archives opened here in 1981, but many have not been changed-out. According to literature the UV filter coating is only good for about 10 years.
Supplies purchased included various sized acid-free manuscript boxes; expanding document files; map and broadside folders; a humidity & temperature meter; an inexpensive cassette tape recorder; archival bond paper for long term preservation of materials copied; and a good supply of legal and letter sized folders for the storage of manuscripts within the manuscript boxes.
Thanks to Head of Reference Department Donna Maturi, we were able to acquire free of charge and delivered right to us two virtually new 9-draw steel microfilm cabinets from the Merrimack College Library. Once we find a place for them, we will use them for microfilm and for our older small format Daguerreotype, Ferrotype and Ambrotype photographs.
Since its inception, the Archives has attempted to act as a resource for other town agencies needing information. Among town departments assisted this past year were the Town Clerk, Town Manager, Fire Department, School Department, Preservation Commission, Building Inspector, Historic District Commission, Public Works Department, and Planning Department.
One terrible event associated with the well being and history of the Peabody Institute Library this past year was the desecration of the Peabody Urn on the library grounds. In the early morning hours of July 30, 2010, Richard Provencher knocked the massive bronze Peabody Memorial Urn, located on the grounds near the main entrance, off its pedestal and into a truck. He then stole this public art-work to sell for scrap metal. An employee at an Everett scrap metal yard called police concerning several suspicious items brought there by Provencher, including a plaque from the Rotary Pavilion on the Library grounds. Provencher was subsequently arrested, but in the end no recompense was given to the Library. The urn was cracked, purposefully stove-in on one side and a handle broken-off. Cassidy Bros. Forge in Rowley has provided the library with an estimate for its repair of $16,880, with an additional $2,400 for its reinstallation with the use of a crane, along with securing it from future theft. I was requested to research the history of this grand, ornamental lawn memorial.
George Augustus Peabody was born in Salem on August 23, 1831, and attended Harvard, graduating with the class of 1852. In 1881 Peabody purchased the 250 acre Burley Farm in Danvers and remained there to his death on May 3, 1929. In a May 13, 1929 issue of Time magazine, Peabody was described as a “gentleman farmer, big game hunter and world traveler.”
Peabody gentrified the extensive Burley Farm, including installing on the estate a formal garden. In 1895 Peabody desired to place a large architectural urn or vase in the center of the garden as a focal point. The ornamental department of J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York City molded the vase in late March, 1895, and cast the two halves in bronze. By May 16 the 695 lbs. vase was shipped to Danvers with the Mott people saying “that it is very well done and that they think it’s a beautiful piece of work.” The vase arrived by rail and was installed on a granite block especially prepared for it in the center of the Burley Farm garden.
Mr. Peabody had served for twenty-five years as a trustee of the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers, being its President from 1896 to 1916. He was also connected with many other organizations and societies. Upon his death, executers of his estate were his nephews George P. Gardner and William C. Endicott, also a trustee of the Peabody Institute Library. On May 13, 1929, the executors informed the library trustees of a $40,000 bequest to the library. The trustees also received a bust of George Augustus Peabody, that marble bust now located in an alcove near the library’s front entrance.
On July 23, 1929 the executors informed the trustees that they desired to present to the Peabody Institute the large bronze vase with a granite pedestal, which belonged to Peabody. “Should the trustees accept this gift, we should be glad to have it considered by them as a memorial to George Augustus Peabody, and we shall also be glad to have it properly installed in such place in the grounds of the Institute as the trustees shall decide.”
By 1930 the bronze vase and granite pedestal were installed on the northeast grounds of the library to the right of center of the library main entrance. The granite block upon which the vase rested was 30” tall and 35½” long x 29½” wide. The vase was attached to an 18” tall bronze pedestal with an oval base of 22” x 17”. The bronze vase itself is highly decorated with leaf, fruit and geometrical motifs and with two intricately detailed handles attached.
This monumental and artistically significant bronze piece has served generations as a silent tribute to longtime Library Trustee President and donor George Augustus Peabody, as well as a lovely public ornamental art work to be enjoyed on the grounds of Peabody Park. The now smashed and desecrated outdoor memorial is presently in storage, but hopefully the Library Board of Trustees will find a means to restore it to its original glory, rather than allowing the apostles of darkness have their way.
The Archival Center continues to function as a safe and secure repository of the written, printed, and visual history and development of Salem Village and Danvers, Massachusetts. Each year we acquire new and wonderful resources and continue to make available more of the backlog of manuscripts, and other resources from the many organizations and town government which has its materials on deposit with us. It continues to be an honor to work with these historic resources in the wonderful environment of the Peabody Institute Library, and to be part of a fine and helpful library staff.