This year marks the thirty-seventh year of operation for the Danvers Archival Center, a department of the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers. Created in 1972, the Danvers Archival Center was initially located within the brick and concrete “Memorial Hall,” a Lester Couch designed 1930 structure built for and owned by the Danvers Historical Society at 11 Page Street. The Historical Society loaned their entire basement of this building to the Town of Danvers’s public library free of charge for nine years. Then in 1981, the town completed the renovation and expansion of the Colonial Revival style Peabody Institute Library at 15 Sylvan Street. Through an all-volunteer effort, the contents of the Archival Center were moved to the newly created Archive rooms in the underground addition to the library, located on the Peabody Avenue side of the building. Our new quarters include a large public research room, secure manuscript storage room and a walk-in vault with a 6-hour fire rated door.
Our mission in the words of our collection policy reads: “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.” These materials are stored in a secure and stable environment, and available to all who wish to use them.
The Danvers Archival Center’s combined collections of gifted, purchased, and deposited collections make our archival library one of the largest and most important documentary resources of a community of its size in the entire country. And we are committed to continually upgrade our collections through seeking gifts, deposits and purchases. Our multi-faceted collections remain a seldom-found mix of diverse municipal, corporate and private research materials 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. Indeed, a forthcoming book on collaborative collection development by archives consultant Melissa Mannon will hold up the Archival Center of Danvers, Massachusetts as a “model which other towns should strive to achieve.”
This report will summarize the operations of the Danvers Archival Center during fiscal year 2009, being from July 2008 through June 2009.
Thanks to the ever supportive Library Director Douglas Rendell, Assistant Director Suzanne MacLeod, Bookkeeper Susan Kontos and the nine-member Board of Library Trustees. Doug and Suzanne are always encouraging and willing to provide me with needed materials, technical support and advice. Eva Veilleux has been my assistant for many years and is a good friend and a skilled professional. Though she wears several hats in her several jobs within the library, her knowledge of secretarial skills, reference materials within the archives and patron services is very much appreciated. Eva’s archival work amounts to approximately seven hours per week and when I am absent, she carries out the functions of the Archival Center. She also continues to input new books in our collections and works on including backlog volumes into the Noble On-Line Catalogue. I am fortunate to have her as a co-worker.
This is Danvers resident Thomas Marsella’s sixth year of volunteering at the Archival Center. Tom works each Wednesday morning sorting and cataloguing for three hours a variety of backlog collections or new acquisitions. This past fiscal year Tom volunteered 96 hours in the Archives. Several other days per week Tom works as a library staff page, though the Archives is fortunate to get his efforts for free!
In FY09 88 books were obtained, accessioned, processed, and catalogued for inclusion within our Public Reading Room book collections. Of this group, 28 were gifts to the Archival Center.
Our Brehaut Witchcraft collection is one of our most noteworthy assemblages of volumes, utilized by local school kids and international scholars alike. The core collection was donated by local resident and noted bibliophile Ellerton J. Brehaut in the 1960s, and has been expanded since the creation of the Archival Center to now represent the largest collection of Salem witchcraft imprints in the country. Prior to its being established as an independent “District of Danvers” in 1752, Danvers was known as “Salem Village” and the location for the world-known 1692 “Witch Hunt.”
Among books and monographs added by gift to our “Ellerton J. Brehaut Witchcraft Collection” this past fiscal year were: Kathleen Kent, The Heretic’s Daughter (2008); and Benjamin Ray, The Geography of the Witchcraft Associations in 1692 Salem Village (2007). Witchcraft-related items purchased for inclusion within the collection included: Judith Fadin, The Salem Witch Trials (2009); Gretchen Adams, The Specter of Salem (2008); Abner C. Goodell, Further Notes on the History of Witchcraft (1884), inscribed by the author; George Moore, Final Notes on Witchcraft in Massachusetts (1885), also inscribed by the author; Bernard Stambler, The Crucible; An Opera in 4 Acts (1961); Kathleen B. Duble, The Sacrifice (2005); Rowland H. Allen, Salem Witchcraft (1868); [Samuel Willard] Some Miscellany Observations (1869); and John Demos, The Enemy Within (2008).
Local history books make up our other major book collection shelved within the Public Reading Room, including Danvers family genealogies and biographies and books relating to adjacent towns which reflect or influence our history.
Gifts of books and pamphlets added to this collection included: L. A. Wilson, The Preston Genealogy (1900); St. John’s Preparatory School Alumni Directory (1982); Michael Ramseur, The Spirit of Antoinette (2007), a fictional piece relating to Danvers State Hospital; Great Oak School, A Collection of Recipes (1995); W. J. Latimer, Soil Survey of Essex County (1925); William B. Sullivan, The Irish in the American Revolution (1905); A Handbook of Conservation (1936), sponsored by William C. Endicott; The Danvers Town Manager Act (1970s); Danvers Hockey Cheerleaders, 2008 Calendar Danvers, Mass. (2007); Danvers High School Alumni Directory (2009); K. David Goss, Treasures of a Seaport Town (1998); Joshua Smith, Block & Battery (2009); 250th Anniversary of the First Church of Danvers (1922); David L. Phillips, Phillips Family Glimpses! (2009); and Heritage 2009, the Danvers High School yearbook.
We also received as extra back-up copies 36 volumes of the Historical Collections of the Danvers Historical Society from a resident of Maine and 11 Danvers High School yearbooks.
Purchased volumes added to the local history collection included: a series of 16 books on area towns from the Arcadia Publishing series Images of America; Samuel Chamberlain, Salem Interiors (1950); Hope R. Miller, Great Houses of Washington D.C. (1969), including The Lindens; William Endicott, Wrecked Among Cannibals in the Fijis (1923); Rev. Milton J. Braman, A Discourse (1845); a 5-volume reference set titled The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634-35; George Francis Dow, The Arts & Crafts in New England, 1704-1775 (1927); Amy Wentworth Stone, Going-on-Nine (1939), a delightful children’s book which was set at the Nichols estate in Danvers and includes drawings. The existence of this book was noted by reading the articles published in the Danvers Herald under the series “Remembering Danvers” written by Sandy Nichols Ward.
New main entry, title and subject cards added to our union catalogue by subject include 395 in the Danvers History catalogue and 442 in our Witchcraft catalogue.
A group of 24 newly acquired paperback books or volumes with binding problems were sent off to Acme Bookbinding for re-sewing and re-casing them in buckram. So too, several very fragile volumes and pamphlets with their original wrappers were placed within acid-free binders and stored in the vault collection.
Another class of collections that we have is known as “Ephemera.” These revealing point-in-time printed items generally do not warrant individual cataloguing, though to have them available in a logical manner, these items are collected in subject files and stored in a series of vertical metal file cabinets. Among ephemeral items acquired this past year were: six 1880s polychrome trade cards for Perkins & Bradstreet soap; an 1890s tobacco card featuring Israel Putnam in the “Heroes of History” series; an 1890s seed package by D. M. Ferry & Co. for yellow Danvers onions; a silk badge depicting presidential candidate William Henry Harrison and reading “Harrison Convention, September 10, 1840, Danvers Delegate;” a 1940s menu to the Taproom of the James Putnam House featuring food and alcoholic drinks served at 42 Summer Street; a ticket to the dedication of the Peabody Institute in 1869; an 1870 black bordered envelope and invitation to the commemorative service in honor of George Peabody in Danvers; Danvers Improvement Society Winter 1966 Bulletin; an 1856 silk badge depicting George Peabody and reading “Peabody Reception, Committee of Arrangements;” Co-operative Bank 1957 plastic pocket calendar with photo of streetcar barns; photocopies of materials relating to General Francis Dodge; a 1920s seed package put out by Card Seed Company for Danvers half-long carrots. We also received a gift from retiring teacher Jane Stauffer of numerous programs of the Danvers High School Academy Theatre, Falcon hockey programs, 20 issues of “Spectrum,” 21 school directories of personnel, and numerous other items relating to the school and high school band.
Gift acknowledgement forms were drawn up, sealed, signed and sent to 37 individuals and institutions; these forms reflecting gifts to the archives of from one to dozens of items each. The forms acknowledge the items given to the Archival Center as unconditional gifts.
When we find items within our collections, that due to their point of origin or content, actually belong elsewhere, we send off such items to appropriate sister institutions. One such item was an 1829 list of Middleton scholars sent to the Middleton Historical Society. They were very appreciative to receive this document.
In March we were contacted by church historians in Brooklyn, New York about Rev. Alfred Porter Putnam, the founder of the Danvers Historical Society in the 1880s. Porter had served as pastor to their church for many years and they were attempting to find a portrait of him for an anniversary history. I communicated with them and upon learning they knew little about the minister’s career in Massachusetts, I sent them a complimentary copy of the book In Memory of Rev. Alfred Porter Putnam, D.D. published in 1906, including his portrait. They were thrilled and very appreciative of our gift. Several other organizations requested to borrow original or copies of photographs and documents from within our collections for exhibition or research purposes.
At the end of last year we were contacted by Professor Joshua M. Smith of the United States Merchant Marine Academy enquiring about any material we might have on Moses Porter and his role in building Fort Edgecomb in Maine in the early 1800s. At the time we were working on cataloguing Gen. Moses Porter’s military papers. Following additional contacts, we provided Professor Smith with copies of a number of Porter papers. Several months ago the resulting book, Block & Battery: A History of Fort Edgecomb, was published with the preface mentioning how we “provided some crucial documents from previously unknown sources that helped immensely.”
As we have done for the last several years, the Archives donated a number of extra copy books and pamphlets to the Friends of the Library annual book sale. We placed our books on a separate book cart with a sign “Danvers History & Witchcraft Books” and priced them individually by means of round yellow labels. Sale of 15 of these archive extra items brought in $85 to the Friends’ total and gave some local residents the chance to obtain some local history publications.
Another major area of collecting within the Archival Center are all manner of pictorial items, including prints, artwork, and photographs, as well as audio-visual media such as films, videotapes, DVDs and CDs. This year we had more photographic materials donated to us than in any previous year since 1975, when we began keeping statistics. Acquired this past year were 2,588 items as gifts, while 8 items from the Danvers Historical Society were accessioned as new deposits. We also obtained 19 items through purchase.
Photographic items donated included: a mounted photograph of a 1903 class at the Danversport School; eleven black & white photos of student nurses at Danvers State Hospital; two long roll photographs of the Holten High School class of 1946 and 1950; 120 5″x5″ color prints of the service and burial of witchcraft victim George Jacobs during the 1692 Danvers Salem Village Witchcraft Tercentennial commemoration year, these professional photos taken by Candid View Photographers; a framed and mounted color print of the Putnamville School; 36 color images of properties owned by the Danvers Historical Society in 1995 put together in a booklet by Alden Goodnow; a large group of color snapshot photos from the 1970s through 1980s taken by our Archive volunteer Tom Marsella of businesses, barns and factories in Danvers, most now gone, such as the coal storage silos on Hobart Street; 58 4″x5″ glass plate negatives including Danvers scenes in the 1890s; an 1880s circular-framed ferreotype of Danvers police officer and later chief John Putnam given by descendant Paula Noyes; over 100 color prints of the Danvers State Hospital between 1995 and 2001 taken by Thomas Gardner; and 16 color prints taken by me of a 1996 fire at Rocco’s Pizza in Danvers Square, together with a group of 35mm transparencies of Danvers subjects from the 1960s & 70s.
Also acquired was a large collection of black & white photos of activities of the Danvers High School class of 1983, obtained from the Danvers High School through the efforts of my grand-niece Lisa Trask. The collection, composed of professional and amateur photos of sports and school activities, included many duplicates. As the class was going to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2009, I contacted their reunion committee and offered over 200 extra images to them for display or even sale at their reunion, which offer the committee took up.
Another large gift collection was a box of 646 black & white photos found in the Town Hall basement in preparation for the building’s renovation. The photos dated from the 1950s through the 1980s and included work by photographers Eddie Richers and police officer Roger L. Cyr of a variety of town projects, events and people.
Audio-visual materials donated included: a DVD of the documentary from Towers Productions of Chicago, Illinois for the Biography Channel titled Witches. It was sent by the producer as thanks for our on-air participation in this production which aired in October 30, 2008; an audio cassette tape of the address of Charles S. Tapley at the closing of the Tapleyville School in June 1979; a DVD produced in 2008 by the Chemical Safety Board concerning the Blast Wave in Danversport, donated by my assistant Eva Veilleux; and four DVDs of the history and reminiscences of Calvary Episcopal Church including an interview of me and with photos from the Archive collection. This neat church history was produced in 2008 by Melissa West for its anniversary celebration.
Among photographic items purchased for our collections were: seven 8″ x 10″ black & white photos from about 1960 of a tugboat breaking up ice near the Waters River bridge; two 19th century Carte-de-Visite portraits of poet John Greenleaf Whittier acquired from two separate sources; a snapshot photo of the Danvers Ahrens-Fox fire engine #3 dated August 14, 1947; and a ca. 1870 CDV of George Peabody. Several deposit items from the Danvers Historical Society were also processed, including 7 high quality photographs of the John Endecott 1630 sundial and an 1879 stereoscope view of the Benjamin Putnam house on North Street, this image being catalogued for inclusion in our photographic union catalogue, which now holds some 770 cards.
Several years ago we began a preservation process of re-boxing our photographic collection in new Hollinger photo-neutral boxes and folders, and placing fragile or important images within clear inert plastic sleeves within these folders. Among photo collections completely accessioned individually and placed within protective sleeves were: the Village Training Field on Centre Street; the Endicott Estate and Glen Magna; and John Greenleaf Whittier.
Several outreach projects involving illustrative materials within our collections were accomplished this past year. Nathan Powers, a member of the Danvers Preservation Commission, recently created a web site “Danversstate.org” concerning the Danvers State Hospital. The site includes a digital collection of records, artifacts and reference materials. He had requested use of some images from our collections and we provided him with 28 postcard images of the State Hospital property for inclusion in his site taken from our extensive postcard collection. All images used on his site are given credit as from our collection and this site will be linked to our on-line material relating to the State Hospital.
We were also contacted and had several meetings with representatives of the North Shore Medical Center, which is now open on Endicott Street. We provided text and illustrations for replication on a professionally designed panel now located in the Center’s foyer giving a history of John Endecott and his now famous pear tree. The tree still survives and thrives at the rear of the property since its planting in ca. 1632. 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. We continue to make attempts to allow for appropriate preservation and access to this remarkable relic.
We often treat serially printed items including newspapers and magazines as a subcategory of printed materials. Though we did not acquire any traditional newspaper issue this year, we did acquire an important periodical, the August 1774 issue of The London Magazine: or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer. This issue includes a report on difficulties in rebellious Massachusetts and activities of military governor Thomas Gage, who was at the time living in Danvers and being guarded by two companies of British troops.
Also in the category of periodicals, I catalogued two almanacs titled Bickerstaff’s Boston Almanack, both printed in Danvers by Ezekiel Russell, an historically famous publisher of Revolutionary War era items. The almanac published in 1778 for use during the year 1779 is a deposit item from the Danvers Historical Society and includes a crude front cover woodcut of a man observing stars with a telescope. The other almanac catalogued was published in 1777 with calculations made at the time by Benjamin West. This almanac was acquired by the Archival Center in 1979 for just over $100. The very noteworthy feature of this pamphlet is its front cover which includes woodcut profiles of “The glorious [George] Washington and [Horatio] Gates.” The Washington profile, though a conjuration of his visage, was first used in 1776 by Russell and represents the earliest published image of the future first President of the United States. This item today is considered very valuable.
Manuscripts are the raw material of history and the type of primary source documentation that is most revealing of the past. Manuscripts and public documents make up the largest part of our collections. Added to the “Manuscript” card catalogue this fiscal year were 628 cards.
For a number of years we have been plugging away at cataloguing the Putnam Family manuscript papers. This large and significant collection was donated in 1993 to the Danvers Historical Society by the Emerson family and placed on permanent deposit here at the Archival Center. Putnam family papers processed and catalogued this past year included: School registers for District Number 4 kept by Susan Putnam (1848-1851); and six writing exercise copybooks used by Abby Hinckley Putnam (1842-1844), including several color-wash maps. Several of the copy books were developed for publication by Danvers principal Charles Northend and include printed recommendations on the book wrapper from the Danvers school committee. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteer Tom Marsella, there are relatively few unprocessed Putnam family papers left to do, and this major, multi-year project may be completed this next fiscal year.
Other Danvers Historical Society deposited manuscripts catalogued this year include: a letter to Moses Prince from cousin Margaret Foster of Vermont recounting the murder of her father (1862); a letter sent to Anne L. Page about teaching in Danvers in the 1840s (1890); receipt to Ebenezer Jacobs for paying chaise tax (1799); a medical book, Vade Mecum: Companion for Chirurgion (1670) used and signed by Danvers doctors Jonathan Prince, Jonathan Prince, Jr. and Samuel Holten; estate accounts of David Preston (ca. 1774); a late 19th century photographic facsimile of the warrant for the first meeting of the District of Danvers (1752), the original document not as yet found in town records; personal papers of Moses Prince (1834-1902); copy of a receipt on the loss of “my Negro Maid,” by Rev. Peter Clark (1739); and two manuscript sermons preached in Danvers by Rev. Charles Hudson (1823).
Another group of Historical Society manuscripts catalogued includes a collection of manuscript sermons written by Rev. Ebenezer Grosvenor. Grosvenor (1739-1788) married a daughter of Rev. Peter Clark and visited Danvers frequently, occasionally preaching sermons here. He was pastor at Scituate and later Harvard, Massachusetts, and is buried in the Wadsworth Burial Ground in Danvers. I broke down his sermons into several groupings including a Danvers sermon, Thanksgiving sermons, religious content sermons and political sermons. His sermons date from 1768-1788 and he often preached on the difficulties and later the war with Great Britain, with the sermons containing remarkable political content. These sermons were written on small 16 x 10 cm. paper and were donated to the Danvers Historical Society in 1901. Unfortunately a large group of sermon pages are completely or partially disbound, so that it would be very difficult to match them with one another. Perhaps some day some researcher will take on this vexing task. The political sermons are of unusually interesting content.
For quite some time I had wanted to correctly process and file the very large collection of military papers of Moses Porter. Born in Danvers in 1756, Porter had joined the military at Bunker Hill and continued to serve in the regular army until his death in 1822. The Historical Society had been given his papers in 1907 by Rev. A. P. Putnam and though I had roughly sorted them in 1972, they needed to be put into legal-sized, acid- free folders and numbered by the finding aid system we now use. Tom Marsella assisted with this sorting project and we now have four boxes of military papers ranging from 1782-1822, with the bulk of the papers in the early 1800s. The papers include correspondence, military reports, orders, invitations, accounts and inventories while Porter was stationed at various posts throughout the United States and includes correspondence with various Secretaries of War including Henry Dearborn, William Eustis, John Armstrong and later President James Monroe. Correspondence is most extensive during the period of 1814 while Gen. Porter was commander of Norfolk, Virginia during the British invasion of the Washington area. In one hastily written letter to Porter dated August 29, 1814, from his aide-de-camp, the aide reports having just waited on President James Madison and writes to Porter: “The President was on horseback in the field with the troop and gave me a verbal order to you, authorizing you to call for so many of the most convenient militia as in your opinion would be necessary for the defense of your post.” This was just days after the British had burned the White House and Capitol, and when it was feared they would next attack Norfolk. What a remarkable collection!
Town Clerk deposits of town records catalogued this year included a very rare order to pay for work done on the South Congregational Church steeple by Samuel Cook, Jr., with his signed receipt of payment on the reverse (1775). Just several months after signing this receipt, Cook would be killed as a militiaman during the Lexington Alarm of April 19, 1775. Signatures of the seven Danvers men killed during this first battle of the Revolution are extremely rare.
With the temporary closing of Town Hall for renovation, the clerk’s office asked if they could transfer more recent birth returns to the Archives. Taken in, sorted, boxed and catalogued were over 6,500 loose birth returns (1900-1940). While doing that cataloguing, we also processed death returns we already had, including 22 boxes of loose returns (1844-1903) and 57 volumes of bound death returns (1904-1960).
We continued processing the very large donated collection of interesting political papers from the 1970s and 80s of former State Senator John G. King of Danvers. Among papers processed this past year were: two boxes of incoming office correspondence (1979-1982); and two boxes of outgoing office correspondence (1979-1982).
Manuscripts donated to the Archival Center this past year included: working files kept by committee secretary Alan L. Grenier of the Danvers Charter Review Committee (1992-1994); a guest register to Tuesday Teas at Glen Magna (1987); and Joseph Putnam tax receipts (1814-1817), from Richard and Judy Gorman.
This was a spectacular year for acquiring by purchase important manuscripts. Among sources consulted for buying items are auctions, autograph catalogues, on-line web sites and eBay. Among manuscripts purchased were: account books of Danvers dentist Dr. Charles Henry White (1893-1902); a warrant to the Town of Danvers Selectmen for county taxes, with signed acknowledgment by Samuel Holten (1774); papers of Elisha Hooper (1866-1936), including bills for building his house at 116 Locust Street; a stock certificate issued by the First National Bank (1873); and a letter of invitation sent to Revolutionary War veteran George Osborne to attend the laying of the cornerstone of the Danvers Lexington Alarm Monument (1835).
We are also pleased to continue to build up our “Dr. Richard P. Zollo John Greenleaf Whittier Collection,” named in honor of Dick’s gift of his library of the works of Danvers’s famed 19th century resident poet. Four purchased items added to this significant collection this year included: an Autograph Letter Signed of Whittier ordering books for his library at Oak Knoll (1881); an autograph manuscript signed of three stanzas from Whittier’s poem about Declaration of Independence signer Josiah Bartlett on the occasion of erecting a statue to him in Amesbury (ca. 1888); and an A.L.S. from Oak Knoll to author and feminist Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, writing about the death of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1882).
Most significant in our acquired manuscripts were documents relating to Samuel Holten. Dr. Holten is Danvers’s most noted son who helped establish American independence and served in numerous political positions including the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. Holten is a “founder” whose papers seldom appear on the market. Two draft letters retained by Holten were acquired on eBay for a remarkably low price (I was the only bidder). One was sent to his wife (1785) while he attended the Continental Congress, while the other was sent to Israel Hutchinson from Philadelphia while Holten was serving in the third U.S. Congress. The 1794 letter discusses politics and foreign affairs including the unrest with both France and England. Holten comments, “it is a favor for us that the President & other persons near the helm of government are for strict neutrality.”
An additional letter acquired through an autograph company is from Rev. Benjamin Wadsworth of Danvers to Holten (1785) about the recently opened Northwest Territory (to which a number of Danversites would migrate) and the limits of congressional authority under the Articles of Confederation (of which Holten was a signer representing Massachusetts).
In September of 2008 I attended a weekend auction at CRN Auctions, Inc., of Cambridge and was able to acquire a wonderful collection of 31 Holten letters and documents dating between 1775 and 1813.Then, near the end of this past fiscal year, a successful mail/phone auction held by Alexander Autographs of Connecticut brought in another impressive manuscript collection of 18 Holten papers. For this we had to dip into the Archive Special Fund, created for such occasions. The material acquired includes personal affairs relating to Danvers and much official governmental business. It would be difficult to overestimate the accumulated local and national significance of these collections of Holten materials.
Broadsides are another class of historic documentation. 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. A very important broadside sent to “Danvers” in early summer 1776 requested the town to advise whether it would support the Continental Congress “with their lives and fortunes,” if the Congress declares the colonies independent of Great Britain. At a town meeting on June 18, 1776, Danvers so declared. Several other broadsides were accessioned and catalogued this year including: a broadside issued and sent to Danvers by Boston reporting on a town meeting at Faneuil Hall which had discussed grievances with the mother country and called for a provincial assembly of other Massachusetts towns to discuss the problems (1768); a Massachusetts House of Representatives request sent to Danvers for supplying the army with shoes, stockings and shirts (1778); a resolve about blankets signed in print by Samuel Holten and requiring Danvers to provide 18 blankets for soldiers (1776). These broadsides had been sent for conservation by the Archival Center to the Document Conservation Center in 1985/86, but not catalogued until now.
Among other non-Revolutionary War broadsides catalogued this year was an act by the Province of Massachusetts on the regulation of shingles, hoops and clapboards. On the reverse of this 1762 broadside is the manuscript address to the “Danvers Town Clark.”
The Archival Center also has a significant collection of maps and plans. Plans donated this past year included from architect Oscar Padgen, who designed the 1980 library renovation and addition; Little, Brown & Moore blueprint plans of the Peabody Institute Library (1891); and 15 blueprint sheets of Rich & Tucker Associates alterations to the Peabody Institute Library (1962). As these gifts had to be catalogued, we decided to also catalogue the backlog of other plans of the library within our collections. These included: alterations to the Library (1961); plans showing changes to the stairs by Little & Brown (no date); alterations to Peabody Institute Library by Oscar Pagden (1980); millwork for Peabody Institute Library (1980); landscaping plan (1980); and Peabody Institute Library exterior restoration by Perry Dean Rogers & Partners (1999).
We were open for 48 weeks this past fiscal year and kept weekly tabs on public use of the Archives. During this time 784 patrons visited the Archives to use our resources, while 789 telephone calls were answered and 787 letters and emails sent out in response to patron queries. Four talks were given to civic and school groups, with a combined audience of over 225 people.
The Archives attempts to act as an information resource to other institutions and individuals for the proper preservation of materials. Each year we are pleased to help a number of area residents with preservation and conservation questions relating to family papers, photographs, books and family bibles. Individuals representing several institutions also visited the Archives for assistance, including staff or volunteers from the New England Home for the Deaf, the Girl Scouts, the Kernwood Country Club and a Danvers Veterans organization.
To give an idea of the type of reference and other activities performed within the Archival Center, I will describe a fairly active day on February 26, 2009, during which I kept a running log of activities for the 1½ hours working prior to the 9:00 a.m. opening and then throughout our open hours of from 9 to 12 and 1 to 5.
Visitors to the Archival Center who used our assistance included a man looking up classmates in Danvers during the early 1950s. He was given yearbooks and copies of The Holten magazine. Another man used our microfilm of the newspaper, The Danvers Mirror, researching an ancestor who had lived in Danvers, joined the military and was killed in 1870 in the mid west. A professor from Salem State College came in to research the Page family of Danvers in preparation for publishing an article. He was shown a variety of articles, manuscripts and photographs and I offered advice on further assistance and where to find some potential objects with Page connections. A woman came in researching information on the Danvers Garden Club, while a young female staff researcher was looking for the history of land use of a property on Route One. A man used an early 19th-century Danvers diary within our collections to research singing societies in the area; while another man visited requesting a death certificate from the early 1900s of a patient who had died at Danvers State Hospital. A member of a Town Commission also came in to discuss commission business.
During the day 12 phone calls were answered including: several calls coming in to inform me of a fire which was taking place in an historic house in Danvers, followed by the editor of the Danvers Herald calling for background information on the house (the house was not badly damaged, thank goodness); a call for the name of a reference book on Danvers; a woman calling to ask if we were interested in a map she had and wanted to donate; a student calling to request information on the post-witchcraft events in Salem Village; a phone call from planning board staff about a date of a Danvers house; a call from a Danvers physician asking for information about a previous physician, as he was restoring a sleigh the doctor owned and used for house calls around the turn of the 19th century; a social call from historian and donor of our “Dr. Richard P. Zollo, John Greenleaf Whittier Collection,” Dick Zollo from his home in San Francisco; and most importantly a call from my wife asking what I would like for supper!
The only letter I received in library mail delivery that Thursday was from a rare book dealer in Texas asking if we would be interested in purchasing an 1830s first edition of J.G. Whittier poems, in which Whittier corrected, added to and deleted much of the printed text. As this very nice item was done prior to Whittier’s 17 years of living in Danvers beginning in 1875, such a manuscript was not within our collecting area. We also had a copy of this book within our collections. I wrote back thanking the dealer for his kindness, and filed the information he had sent me in our Whittier file. When Dick Zollo called, I told him, tongue-in-cheek, that he should buy this $8,500 item for us, but for some reason Dick didn’t bite!
Email has taken over as the most frequent communications to the archives, and among other requests I received on that Thursday were: a request from a man in South Carolina for copies of pages from his 1959 Danvers High School yearbook; a request to verify three dates of birth in Danvers from the 18th century; a request to purchase one-time photo rights to seven images within our witchcraft collection for a forthcoming book; information sharing from the town clerk’s office concerning transfer of records to the archives and a possible familiarization visit here by Town Clerk staff; a request for information about our archive web site; and a question about records of the Danvers State Hospital. I did not have time to answer all these requests that day.
Items worked upon that Thursday by Eva and me, besides time with patron requests, included sorting and boxing General Moses Porter military papers from 1816-1820 (our volunteer Tom Marsella has also been working on these papers); working on the revision of the Archive Guide; adding to the master list of information about Danvers structures to eventually be included on the web site; typing up a catalogue card for a witchcraft book; and accessioning and boxing about 25 photographs from remnants of a collection of over 600 photographs of the Danvers High School class of 1979 processed during the last few days.
Thursday night was the designated time for an eBay auction of two 1700s letters written by Samuel Holten from the Continental Congress. On my own time I went on-line to bid on eBay at the time of the end of the auction, figuring that these items had a value of around $1,500, if not more, and fearing some other collector or institution would bid on them during the last few seconds. I was ecstatic that mine was the only bid, and that the items were obtained for the first minimum bid of $150. All in all this was an active and successful day. I won’t pretend that every day we have as many walk-in patrons as on this Thursday in the winter, but most of the other activities of the day reflect the diversity and number of activities.
As Town Archivist I serve as a commissioner for the Essex County National Heritage Area and when grant monies are available I serve as a member of the sub-committee that considers and chooses yearly grant recipients. Since its inception in 1973 I have been a member of the Salem Village Historic District Commission. The Commission uses the Archives as its mailing address and repository and holds public meetings and hearings here or in the Gordon Room several times a year.
Relations between the Archival Center and the Danvers Historical Society remain close. I serve in the Society as a member of its 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. In April I offered to the Society Executive Board courtesy security storage of an object located at Tapley Memorial Hall which item could be better protected. On May 7, 2009, with the assistance of George Meehan we removed the object from Page Street to the Archive Walk-in Vault. The Archival Center also includes courtesy security storage for several objects belonging to the First Church, Congregational of Danvers.
Also in April the Historical Society hosted an AAM Museum Assessment Program with surveyor Connie Barone visiting the Society properties. I participated in a morning review at Page House and then showed Ms. Barone and others of the Society the Archival Center and the Historical Society deposit collections housed here.
In my capacity as Town Archivist, I also serve as a resource for the Danvers Preservation Commission, particularly in regard to researching structures as part of the Danvers Demolition Delay By-Law. I was also able to assist with research on the Penn Hussey estate on Water Street for a possible renovation of that high style Italianate mansion. Some service has also been given to the Danvers Preservation Fund, including researching the history and assisting with the preservation of the 1875 Walnut Grove brick and granite Receiving Crypt.
This year was our second in an outreach program in cooperation with The Danvers Herald. Editor Cathryn O’Hare had previously asked if I might be willing to write an occasional column about the Archives. Since April 2008 I have submitted ten articles with supporting photographs to the Herald under the series title “Touching the Past at the Danvers Archival Center,” spotlighting an item recently acquired by us. The Herald gives us good space and in each article I am able to describe in some detail an item we have acquired and its context in history. Just at the end of this fiscal year I reformatted the articles, and with the technical know-how of reference librarian Jennifer McGeorge, will have these articles available on the Library website under the Archival Center menu.
One of these articles published in May 2009, recounts the finding of an 1850s marble gravestone astray brought to the Archives by its discoverer, my being able to find its original location at Walnut Grove Cemetery, and its being reset within the Withey family plot over the remains of the almost forgotten little girl. (See the article in “Touching the Past”)
Several other items were added to the menu of the Archive section of the Library website. Last year’s annual report was included with illustrations, this posting making two annual reports available for public inspection, with this FY09 report soon to join them. Thanks to Suzanne MacLeod for her formatting these reports.
Another menu item added to the site was an article I put together with illustrations titled, “The Creation of Danvers,” outlining the history of the struggle of Salem Village and the Middle Precinct (Peabody) to become independent from Salem. Included are the creation of the District of Danvers in 1752 and the Town of Danvers in 1757, speculation on from whence the name “Danvers” originated and the story of “The King Unwilling.” This article will help to answer the oft-asked reference question about Danvers’s origin. Thanks again to Suzanne MacLeod for her technological assistance.
This last fiscal year the Archival Center brought in $49 in reference fees and certified copies as part of my responsibilities as an Assistant Town Clerk. Five house markers were ordered by Danvers homeowners bringing in $225. This is one of the more successful preservation projects in town created in 1975 and having generated over 400 house markers. These markers hopefully assist with neighborhood pride, as well as displaying historic information about our built environment. All new requests are researched to provide the original date of the house, its original owner and his occupation. The signs themselves are executed by talented sign painter Robert Leonard of Maine.
Other monies were generated from the resale of several duplicate items and reproduction maps, use of an image from our witchcraft collection for the cover of a new commercially published book, and photo rights for 7 images to be used in a forthcoming book on the history of the Witch House in Salem. These fees and donations amounted to $752.79. All three incomes were added to our Archive Special Fund. This fund was established years ago in order to have money available in case important but expensive items came to our attention and would overwhelm our regular budget. The fund was utilized at the tail end of this fiscal year when a group of important manuscripts became available on the market and there was not enough money in our budget to cover the cost. We dipped into the Special Fund for $1,657.45. This left our Special Fund with a beginning balance for new FY2010 of $10,592.
This past year we purchased many archival supplies including letterhead stationery and envelopes, archival bond paper for long term preservation of materials copied, inert plastic envelopes and sleeves for important documents and photographs, photo paper to use in preservation copying of photographs with our table model Epson copier. We also bought two stackable 40″x29″ five-drawer steel files. We have been in need of more storage space for our ever-increasing collection of large format plans, maps and important broadsides. We also ordered them with locks for a bit of extra security. Our large format files are located within the Manuscript Storage Room.
In an effort to better sort our collections and free up space in the Reading Room and Manuscript Storage Room, we moved a number of seldom used or duplicate reference volumes to shelves in the corridor, augmented by two steel shelves obtained elsewhere in the library and secured to the wall by our custodian Elmer Voisine. Elmer is very helpful with any archive request and self-motivated to keep the Archives in good shape. Numerous unsorted boxes of Creese & Cook business papers stored in this corridor were also put in chronological order and tightened up in an orderly fashion so that when we get to them the task will be easier. We also re-shelved our book collection in the Reading Room, as the shelves were getting quite tight with the constant shelving of new acquisitions. Work was also begun to better order the manuscripts and other materials in the Manuscript Storage Room.
A significant improvement to the layout of the Archival Center and more efficiency in work time and reference assistance was director Doug Rendell’s arranging for us to have a second telephone installed in the Archive Processing Area. We can now answer calls when working on and having access to the computer, rather than having to leave the room and go to the desk in the Reading Room. A phone plug was also installed in the Manuscript Storage Room for use when we are back there for extended periods of time. The old portable phone, which seldom worked in our underground concrete bunker, was removed.
As time allows, work continues on revamping and expanding the Archival Center Guide, being an internal reference document outlining our collection policies, day-to-day duties, a guide to our various collection types and a compendium of rules on how our collections are processed. I expect we will finish this task by the beginning of the next fiscal year, if not sooner. With input from the director and the reference librarian, we established a Guideline For Reference Staff Use of the Danvers Archival Center, when during times of public operation Eva and I are both absent.
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, Town Counsel, Preservation Commission, Building Inspector, Harbor Master, Historic District Commission, School Department, Public Works Department, and Planning Department.
Following up participation on last year’s Design Selection Advisory Committee which reported to the Town Manager our recommendation of an architectural firm to restore the 1855 Town Hall exterior and install a new HVAC system, I met several times with the architects and town hall representatives and emailed historical photos and information relating to the best means and materials in restoring the Town Hall façade and an appropriate exterior color scheme.
March of 2009 marked the culmination of a major witchcraft publication project in which the Peabody Institute Library and Danvers Archival Center have been intimately involved for the last 10 years. The book, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, was finally published by Cambridge University Press beginning in late February. The volume weighs in at 11 pounds, contains over 1,000 pages and is the first comprehensive transcription of all surviving legal documents relating to the Salem witch events running from February 1692 to the end of 1693.
Professor Bernard Rosenthal, author of Salem Story (1993) and professor at State University of New York at Binghamton was familiar with a book I had produced in 1992 during the 300th anniversary of the witchcraft events. Titled The Devil Hath Been Raised, this book was initially underwritten by the Danvers Historical Society as a fund raiser and included new transcriptions of the surviving witchcraft records of March 1692, the first month of the witch outbreak. For the first time in publishing history, I had arranged these legal records in chronological order. Professor Rosenthal asked if I would be interested in participating in a new edition of the over 1,000 witchcraft papers, and he accepted the challenge to have the edition reflect the chronological use of these legal documents. Library Director Doug Rendell and the Board of Trustees agreed to the participation of the Peabody Institute Library and the Archival Center, the only non-collegiate institution to become a co-sponsor. The project eventually attracted 11 international scholars as associate editors, including linguists and historians from the United States, Finland and Sweden. Assisting locally were library staff members Eva Veilleux and Mary Jane Wormstead, as well as Ethel Trask.
A major accomplishment of this work includes publishing over 40 newly discovered witchcraft documents never before printed in such a work. A later edition of The Devil Hath Been Raised had included 17 documents or fragments of legal records discovered by me over the years. These documents were incorporated into the new edition, as well as several dozen additional documents located by the editors in other obscure and previously unearthed sources. These newly located documents, including examinations of 5 accused witches, depositions, and indictments, add important new knowledge to our understanding of the witchcraft events.
New transcriptions of all the known documents were also made correcting many previous omissions and errors. Explanatory notes were also produced about the documents, including their often multiple use in various of the legal procedures in which accused persons often went through the process of a preliminary hearing, grand jury and finally a trial. Another first for this edition is the identity of many of the transcribers of the documents through handwriting analysis. These identifications reveal insights of who recorded what and when.
Augmenting the documentary record is an appendix with brief biographical notes on all the hundreds of persons mentioned in these documents. The front matter includes several essays. General Editor Rosenthal wrote the historical introduction, while six of the professors contributed to a linguistic essay. I contributed an introductory essay outlining the legal procedures used during the witch trials and a brief history of the previously published versions of these records.
The book’s dust jacket features a portion of a title page of one of the contemporary books on witchcraft, the facsimile taken from a book within the Danvers Archival Center’s rare book collection, for which the Archives received a fee.
The project continued over many years in spurts of intense activity, followed by calmer periods. Several of the editors, including Rosenthal, Margo Burns and Benjamin Ray of the University of Virginia, and I were able to spend many hours examining the original documents, including finding where, through ink changes, the document had been added to at various times during the legal procedures, and where various documents had been cut and separated. Determining the original dates of creation of these documents, many of which were not dated, included interesting historic detective work.
The $150 book can be used as a reference book or read as an unfolding narrative of the events of 1692. Copies are available for patron reference both in the Archival and in the Reference collections. The volume’s production is a major event in the intellectual history of the understanding of the 1692 witchcraft events, and a proud and important contribution by our public library and town archives.
We have had a very active year at the Danvers Archival Center. Nationally important manuscripts and the largest number of local photographic images ever given us in a year have been added to our collections. The Danvers Archival Center takes seriously our role as being the institutional memory and manuscript repository of the history of Salem Village and Danvers, and those thousands of residents who have in large or small ways impacted our American society, culture and history.