This year marks the thirty-eighth year of operation for the Danvers Archival Center. The Archives opened in the borrowed basement of the Danvers Historical Society’s Memorial Hall on Page Street in October 1972 and in 1981 moved to our new home in the renovated and enlarged Peabody Institute Library at 15 Sylvan Street.
The collections of the Danvers Archival Center are now securely stored in a fire-retardant and environmentally friendly space in the Peabody Avenue underground area of the Peabody Institute Library. The facility includes a spacious public reading room, secure manuscript storage area and a 6-hour fire-rated walk-in vault. The collection policy for the Archives calls for the preservation of all written, printed and pictorial materials relating to the history and development of Salem Village and Danvers. Our combined collections make up one of the largest and most important documentary resources of a community of its size in the United States. Besides retaining, preserving and cataloguing all current and backlog records, the Archival Center is committed to continuously upgrading the collection through gifts, deposits and purchases.
This report will give an overview of activities relating to the Archival Center and Town Archivist for fiscal year 2010, which dates between July 2009 and June 2010. My thanks are given to Library Director Douglas Rendell, a boss who makes work a pleasurable pursuit and who is always willing to assist with any concern or request. Thanks also to Assistant Director Suzanne MacLeod and the nine-member Board of Library Trustees who are ever supportive of this department and its needs and significance. My colleague Eva Veilleux is an important part of our smooth, and hopefully efficient, operations. She is an enthusiastic worker and always willing to do any job necessary. She is also the only one who knows how to perform many of our necessary tasks. I have complete confidence in her work and judgment.
Just as I was preparing this annual report, I learned of the passing of Madeline D. Crane, a long-time resident of Manchester-by-the-Sea. During the 1980s into the 1990s Mrs. Crane volunteered at the library, including the Archival Center, through the R.S.V.P. program. A retired school teacher with 39 years in the classroom, Madeline was a wonderful lady, a joy to work with and had an insatiable love for knowledge.
Thomas Marsella continues his Wednesday morning volunteer work at the Archival Center. This past year Tom donated some 87 hours to researching and cataloguing newly acquired archival manuscripts, including Samuel Holten documents and other recent acquisitions. Tom also assists in many other activities including accessioning and sorting photographs and filing catalogue cards. We are fortunate to have Tom’s assistance.
During FY 2009 we obtained, accessioned, processed, and catalogued 64 books for inclusion within our Public Reading Room collection, 30 of the volumes acquired through gifts, while 34 were purchased. In addition, 8 books in our collection were casebound in buckram for long term use.
Among volumes added by gift to our nationally known “Ellerton J. Brehaut Witchcraft Collection” were: Salem Witchcraft by Sarah Comstock (1928); Cotton Mather by Babette Levy (1979); an article in LIFE titled “Maid of Salem” (Feb. 8, 1937); and Man as Witch by Rolf Schulte (2009).
A large number of purchased witchcraft volumes were added to our Brehaut Collection including a slew of recent fiction volumes dealing with Salem and witchcraft. Among the new fiction acquisitions were : The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (2009);November in Salem by L.C. Russell (2009); Satan’s Scourge by Lewis Putnam Turco; The Peruke Maker by Ruby Dominguez (2009); Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharatt (2010); Witch by Jenifer M. Wilson (2005); and Calligraphy of the Witch by Alicia Gaspar de Alba (2007). Non-fiction works acquired included: The Witches of Warboys by Philip C. Almond (2008); Witchcraft on Trial by Mauvene Hinds (2009); Witchcraft Trials by Deborah Kent (2009); The Kirk, Satan and Salem by Hugh McLachlan (2006); Witch Hunts in the Western World by Brian A. Pavlac (2009); The Mentor (1923); Bewitched in Salem by Russ Ely (2004); The Making of Salem by Robin DeRosa (2009); Witchcraft and Religion by Christina Larner (1984); Witch Hunting by Brian Easlea (1980); Matthew Hopkins: Witch Finder General by Richard Deacon (1976); and A Discourse of the Subtill Practices of Devills by George Gifford (1977) a reprint of a late 16 th century work.
A major work was acquired for inclusion in our witchcraft Rare Book Collection housed in the walk-in vault. The two-volumes-in-one work authored by Richard Boulton (1676-1724) is titled, A Compleat History of Magick, Sorcery, and Witchcraft. Printed in London in 1715-1716, the work reviews important English cases, as well as “The Trials of Several Witches at Salem in New England.” The book itself is in contemporary full leather binding with raised bands and a gilt stamped leather title label. The book contains 272 & 236 pages. We are pleased to add this important title to our collection.
Included through purchase within our “Danvers History” book collection this past year were: Descendants of Daniel Ray by Joseph W. Ray (2005); The Great Migration v. 6 (2009); Putnam’s Historical Magazine (1897); A Discourse on the Life of Samuel Putnam by C.A. Bartol (1853); Andover by Andrew Grilz (2009); and Middleton by Shirley P. Raynard (2010).
Gift history books included: Vital Records of Danvers v. 1 & 2 (1909); the three volume set History of Massachusetts by Alden Bradford (1822-1829); the three-volume set History of Massachusetts by John S. Barry (1855-1857); Town Records of Salem v. 2 (1913); and Heritage (2010), the Danvers High School yearbook.
We were also pleased to be given a collection of cookbooks produced by Danvers organizations including: Our Favorite Recipes by the Highlands Elementary School (ca. 1987); Favorite Recipes by the Maple Street Church (1945); What’s Cooking in Danvers? by the Danvers Women’s Association; Danvers Family Festival 30th Anniversary Commemorative Cookbook (2009); and a purchased book titled Prize Recipes with Cream of Chocolate (ca. 1900), which product was manufactured in Danvers.
Added to our Richard P. Zollo John Greenleaf Whittier Collection, two by gift and one by purchase, were the following titles: The Complete Poetical Works by John G. Whittier (1876); Poems of Nature by John G. Whittier (1886); and Life and Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier v. 1 & 2 (1894). I also purchase through eBay a pair of cast iron bookends which include the bust image of John Greenleaf Whittier and have placed them as end supports for two shelves of the Whittier book collection of the Public Reading Room.
Our subscription list of periodicals available to the public and as reference materials includes publications of The Essex Society of Genealogy; the Peabody Salem Museum; The Manuscript Society; Old House Journal; New England Archivist; About Towne by The Towne Family Asscoiation; American Archivist and Preservation, the publication of the National Trust. Current issues are kept on the periodical case next to the Archive main entrance, and adjacent to our display of “Books For Sale” and the bulletin board. Older issues of the periodicals are stored in the Manuscript Storage Room.
Cards typed and added to our Danvers History catalogue numbered 166, while 95 new main entry, title and subject cards were created and interfiled into our Witchcraft catalogue. Our smaller catalogue collections are growing so as to be statistically relevant. Catalogue cards for pictures amounted to 16 this year, while 47 cards were added to both our map and our plan catalogue.
“Ephemera” is a class of paper items which are typically small, single items, pamphlets, sheets, etc., originally meant for temporary use. These items can be very revealing point-in-time bits of history, though they generally do not warrant individual cataloguing within the archival collection. Much of our ephemera collection is stored within acid-free folders under appropriate subject headings placed in vertical file cabinets. Among items of ephemera donated to us this past year are: a reception program for Rev. Thomas E. Powers (1897); Reminiscences of Tapleyville by Roland Perkins (2005); four menus from the Allenhurst restaurant (1950s & 60s); a Danvers victualer license (1938); advertisement cards for the Samuel Fowler Tea Room (1930s); a booklet titled “Hunt Hospital Aid Association Board Members’ Guide” (1979); and a brochure titled “What is Lobster O’Neil?” (ca. 1950).
Gift forms were sent out to 18 individuals who donated books and/or manuscripts to the Archival Center, reflecting single or multiple donations to us. Likewise, in our processing of materials, we were able to discover items not related to Danvers, which we sent off as gifts to appropriate sister institutions. Among these institutions which received items from us were the Lynnfield, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Topsfield Historical Societies. We were pleased to be able to find homes for these estray items.
Organizations which borrowed items from our collections, including original or copies of photographs and documents for exhibition or research purposes included: the Danvers Historical Society; Danvers Herald; Salem News ; Danvers Cable TV, as well as several individual patrons.
Again this year we obtained a large number of photographic and print materials for our archival collection. Donated items numbered 1,214 images, while 71 photographs and prints were obtained through purchase.
Among the vast number of donated pictorial images were: a color print of Sir William Phipps, governor during the witchcraft times; roll photographs of the Holten High School class of 1934 and the Danvers High School class of 1968; 27 exterior photos of the Danvers Town Hall from the 1860s to 1980s; five 8″ x 10″ black white photographs of the interior of the Samuel Fowler house in the 1930s; an 8th grade class photo of the Maple Street School (1912); a winter photo of the Endecott Pear Tree (ca. 1950); and a wonderful collection of over 100 photographs of the Allenhurst Restaurant interior and exterior taken between 1950 and the 1980s. Along with this large collection of photographs and ephemera donated by Stephen Godzik relating to Sotir Adams and the Allenhurst Restaurant was a 32″ x 40″ mounted and framed watercolor depicting cowboy wranglers roping cattle. This artwork was executed by Danvers artist Richard V. Ellery who painted it about 1960 for display in the restaurant dining room.
Near the end of the fiscal year the Archives was presented with two artistically executed “scrapbook” photo albums of the Danvers 250th anniversary celebration of 2002. Gathered and constructed by Donna Cahill, Patricia G. Toomey and Todi L. Sparkas, the over 250 photos and memorabilia document the anniversary parade held on September 29, 2002, and a second volume portraying the various other activities and events of that year.
Among purchased photographs obtained by the Archives this past fiscal year were: a stereo view of a bust of George Peabody (1870s); thirteen 8″ x 10″ photos of Danvers buildings which images were used by the Eastern Publishing Company as real photo postcards (1920s); an album containing 36 albumen photographs of Danvers area buildings and sites (ca. 1900); two snapshot photos of local businessman Lester Friend’s small-scale outdoor live steam train (ca. 1950); two wire service news photos of the famous Danvers armored car robbery of March 1952; two 19th century engravings of Rufus Choate; ten 8″ x 14″ glass plate negatives and prints of scenes around Danversport (1913-1915); four Magic Lantern glass colored slides of a glacial stream channel in Danvers (ca. 1900); and an albumen photograph of Danvers Town House decorated in mourning bunting upon the death by assassination of President James A. Garfield (1881).
Among projects accomplished with our photographic collection this past year was the accessioning, sorting and placement of about 600 3½” x 5″ color images of the 1992 Witchcraft Tercentennial events into inert plastic pockets and stored within seven 3-ring albums by subject. In other projects, numerous images representing collections of the Danvers Town Hall, Salem Village Parsonage Archaeological Site, and Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial were fully processed and where appropriate, images were placed in mylar-type sleeves. A collection of 90 images of the older gravestones within the Wadsworth Burial Ground taken between 1973 and 2000 were donated as a collection and processed.
Only a small portion of the picture collection is actually catalogued, and these tend to be very early photographic images or collections of photographs arranged in albums or by collection. Among items catalogued were: 25 color prints by David Scott of Senator Edward M. Kennedy giving a speech at Danversport Yacht Club (1999); 36 color prints mounted in a binder of Danvers Historical Society properties taken by Alden C. Goodnow (1993, 1995); 9 color digital images of Governor Deval Patrick at the Peabody Institute Library taken by Douglas Rendell (2010); a soft cover photo album of 36 albumen photographs of Danvers sites and buildings (ca. 1900); and 3 Ferrotypes of Civil War Private Alonzo Rackliff in uniform (ca. 1864).
Within the audio-visual category we received a VHS video tape relating to a 2004 debate on the race for the state representative 13th Essex seat in the General Court.
Each year we attempt to catalogue some of the backlog of manuscripts belonging to the Danvers Historical Society, which documents were put on permanent loan at the Archival Center as the “Historical Society Collection.” Among newly catalogued Historical Society items were: a partially printed militia commission to William Goodale as lieutenant and signed by Governor Caleb Strong (1806); a booklet titled Articles of War and Regulations of the Army of the United States owned by General Moses Porter (1817); and three partially printed Civil War military commissions appointing Wallace Ahira Putnam to various officer ranks including Major and signed by Governor John Andrew (1861, 1863 & 1864). Putnam was wounded in battle in 1864 and returned north, dying of his wounds shortly thereafter.
Also catalogued from the Historical Society collection were a group of important Anti-Slavery documents including: the report of the New Mills Anti-Slavery Society (1841); an historical monograph by Sarah E. Bradstreet recollecting the “Underground Railway” in Danvers (1914); three letters from minister and abolitionist Samuel May, Jr. (1847, 1864 & 1897); a letter from abolitionist Parker Pillsbury to the Danvers Historical Society (1897); and two letters from educator and Black leader Booker T. Washington about his famous Tuskegee Institute (1896 & 1898).
Added to the “Manuscript” card catalogue this fiscal year were 546 main entries and tracing cards. Included in this group of catalogued items is a group of important Samuel Holten correspondence and draft letters by him which were purchased last fiscal year. They include: correspondence with Lake Webster (1784-1794); a letter to Holten from John Herrick about liberty (1775); correspondence with Nathaniel Warner (1788-1806); correspondence with James Lovell (1785); several retained unsigned draft letters (1785 & 1813); correspondence with John Avery, Jr. (1783-1786); a letter to Holten from George Partridge (1785); and an ALS from Israel Hutchinson to Holten concerning Captain John Paul Jones (1785).
One fairly unique aspect of our collections is the fact that the Archival Center acts as a permanent depository for the records of numerous churches and organizations in Danvers. Among new manuscripts deposited this year from other institutions were: the American Legion Charter for the establishment of the Drapeau-McPhetres Post in Danvers (1919); a record book of the Danvers Art Association (1965-2004); Peabody Institute Library scrapbooks (1976-1978); an oversized Danvers High School scrapbook of school activities (1981-1986); and a receipt for salary signed by Rev. Peter Clark (1729) from the First Church, Congregational.
This year we also acquired a large and varied group of hand-written papers, documents and materials relating to Danvers. These items were obtained through both outright gifts to the Archives and by purchase. Among the manuscripts donated as gifts this past year were two great family collections sent to us as unsolicited gifts from California and New Mexico. George Watson, a High School friend now living in New Mexico, sent us a wonderful collection of Danvers family papers donated in memory of M. Annette Watson and Rachael A. Dow Phillips. Included with this gift were 15 diaries kept by Percy Fremont Phillips (1912, 1921, 1933, 1936-1947) and several genealogical notebooks and 4 diaries used by Rachel A Phillips (1931-1935, 1938-1945, 1959-1963). The gift from California included a large assortment of materials relating to the prominent Fowler family of Danversport, including material about the early 19th century brick Fowler House at 166 High Street. Among manuscripts catalogued from this donation were: correspondence between Sgt. Henry Putnam Fowler of the 14 th Regiment and his Danvers family (1862-1864); letters of Betsy Putnam Fowler (1868, 1881); a letter of Samuel Page Fowler, Jr. about school and his attending a levee at the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1861); a letter from Henry Fowler in California telling his wife about his experiences during the Gold Rush (1850); school essay written by Eliza Kettelle Putnam; Clara Putnam Fowler papers (1850s); Adelade Fowler papers (1864, 1866); and a penmanship exercise by Rebecca Putnam Fowler (ca. 1815).
Items obtained through purchase for our manuscript collection are discovered through many sources including auction sales, autograph catalogues, on-line web sites and through eBay. Among the purchased manuscript items relating to Danvers obtained this past fiscal year were: a promissory note executed by Jeremiah Page (1761); a school house building contract between Stephen Whipple and the Danvers School Committee (1817); a Danvers letter sent by Edith Hutchinson to her brother (1845); a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings, elevations of two historic houses, postcards, maps and printed items about Danvers (1900-1921); a receipt signed by Samuel Page regarding military matters (1813); a group of 7 deeds and 1 map of Danvers property belonging to Endicotts and Reeds (1789-1807); correspondence of Harriet Orne (1820-1823); a letter to Samuel Holten from John Hartwell about assisting a relative (1785); an ALS by poet John Greenleaf Whittier from Oak Knoll (1883); a letter from Congressman Robert C. Winthrop to William R. Putnam (1843); a TLS from Grenville M. Dodge to Congressman Walter I. Smith about railroad issues (1908); and an ALS by George Peabody mentioning Queen Victoria’s gift to him of a miniature portrait.
Another class of document is broadsides. Broadsides are large, one-sided printed items meant to be posted for public information. Among those catalogued this year were two from the deposit collections of the Danvers Historical Society relating to Black history. One item is an anti-slavery anthem titled “Get off the Track” written by abolitionist and musician Jesse Hutchinson, Jr. (ca 1844); while the other broadside is a poem written by Eben Berry about a black Danvers Revolutionary War veteran and titled “Milan [Murphy] and his wife Happy.”
Two important Revolutionary War era broadsides from the Town of Danvers collection were also catalogued. These items were sent to Danvers in 1775 for posting from the Massachusetts Provincial Congress concerning furnishing soldiers with arms and accoutrements and the turning in of tax money.
Our map collection includes both manuscript and printed maps relating to the Town of Danvers or smaller geographical areas within the community. Two maps were purchased this year for this collection, one being a printed map showing the Danvers sewer system as delineated by civil engineers McClintock & Woodfall in October 1914. The other printed map was acquired through eBay and is a very impressive color print showing a portion of the Crane and Waters Rivers including mean low water soundings surveyed by the Corps of Engineers for the Secretary of War. This colorful map was printed in 1889. A copy of this map was made available to the Danvers Harbor Master for display purposes.
Statistics were kept for only 45 weeks this year with the archivist missing 7 weeks of statistics due to vacation and primarily because of several weeks of a serious health issue. During the 45 weeks for which statistics were kept, 765 patrons utilized the archive collections, 691 telephone calls were answered and 765 letters and emails were sent. Seven talks were presented to various civic, college, school and historical organizations including students from Danvers schools.
In early 2006 the Archives acquired the 1830 Danvers-built Ezra Batchelder tall clock originally owned by Joseph Porter. The 6′ 8″ clock has been placed in a prominent spot in front of the Archive Processing Room and is visible as one enters the Archives. It has its original movement, the dial signed by Batchelder, movement seat, pendulum, bob and weights. Except for several minor moldings that had previously been replaced, all the cabinetry is original. It is an eight-day Federal period clock which includes a date dial and a bell strike on the hour. The clock did have several minor deficiencies, however, which we eventually wanted to fix.
This year, with the assistance of $800 in funds from the Board of Trustees and using some of my restoration budget, we put the clock in tip-top condition. The talented Roberts brothers at The Clockfolk of New England in Reading replicated what would have been the original brass ball & spire finial for the top of the clock’s hood and reproduced the brass escutcheon key plate on the tall clock door using the shadow line as seen on the door itself.
They then restored on the clock face the Ezra Batchelder name, as well as the word “ Danvers.” Cleaning and repairing the works, they then returned the clock to the Archives. Now we have a beautifully restored clock and case and a timepiece which keeps accurate time and chimes each hour. Thanks to the Trustees for their support in restoring this wonderful Danvers artifact.
In July of 2009 I hosted a familiarity tour of the Danvers Archival Center for staff of the Town Clerk’s office. Patron requests for vital records and other public records are frequently addressed to both our departments and we thought it a good idea to familiarize the Town Clerk staff with what we do and do not have within our collections.
In late October I was contacted by a representative of Explore, a division of the Annenberg Foundation, a world-known private family philanthropic foundation. Cynthia Scrima indicated that Charles Annenberg Weingarten, the vice president and director of the foundation, visits interesting places around the world and makes documentary films to showcase extraordinary nonprofit efforts. He wanted to visit the Salem area and discover the story of 1692 Salem witchcraft. They desired to visit the Danvers Archives. Arriving on November 29 was Ms. Scrima, the producer; Marissa Becker, the camera operator; Charlie, the director; and his dog Lucky. They were all enthusiastic about the visit, except Lucky who mainly slept. Their enthusiasm and interest in the subject easily drew me in as well and we had a wonderful time. They filmed in the cinéma-vérité style with a hand-held camera and a natural flow, rather than creating a staged interview. We remained in the Archives for several hours and then I took them to the Salem Village Parsonage Archaeological Site and the Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial for a tour. It was a lovely fall day and all three Californians just loved the bright fall colors and the smell of New England.
Several follow-up phone and email contacts provided them with additional information and in late November I was told that Charlie, through the Foundation, might like to make a contribution to the Archives. Just at the end of this fiscal year, in late June, we were informed that if acceptable to us, the Annenberg Foundation was offering a two-year grant for $25,000 in support of the Danvers Archival Center! Needless to say, the offer of such a gift, and as importantly, the recognition by such a well-regarded philanthropic organization of the validity of our work, is very satisfying indeed. (In my next fiscal year report of July 2011, I’ll record whether or not we decided to accept the cash donation.)
Also just at the end of this fiscal year we were again part of a film production. A television series on family history produced by Brigham Young University Broadcasting out of Provo, Utah was visiting Salem as part of an episode tracing the roots of a Utah resident around the world. The premise for The Generation Project is that persons travel to places their ancestors called home, meeting with relatives and experts to uncover family mysteries and experience the culture and history that made up their ancestors’ lives. In this episode they were exploring Sarah Pease, a woman accused of witchcraft in 1692. Filming took place on June 22 at the Nurse Homestead with a full complement of a film crew including camera, lighting and sound technicians. For three hours the subject of the program and I did multiple takes from various camera locations talking about her ancestor and the witchcraft. Much of the filming occurred in the reproduction Salem Village Meetinghouse, the original of which was the location for the examination of her 1692 ancestor. Back in 1985 I had designed the meetinghouse for the movie Three Sovereigns for Sarah.
Last summer I was interviewed for an article in “InfoLink,” the newsletter of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College. The article featured the Archival Center and Danvers-related witchcraft sites and was titled “The Archives of Witch City” in their October 2009 issue.
Archives consultant Melissa Mannon visited the Archival Center last summer and interviewed me regarding our establishing the Center in 1972. She is authoring a book for AltaMira Press to be titled Assembling Archives. As to our set-up she noted, “The success of the Danvers Archival Center is due to the single-mindedness of key people to ensure that the archives came to fruition. Success begat more success. The program started in Danvers is rare. Few institutions in New England centralize such extensive public and private holdings in one repository, under the control of one professional because of the magnitude of such a project.”
In June the Archival Center co-sponsored a project orchestrated by Donna Maturi and the Library’s Reference Department with the University of Massachusetts and Mass. Humanities. The “Mass Memories Road Show” is a state-wide project that documents history through family photographs and stories by scanning photographs of individuals who attend and digitally videotape the stories behind the pictures. Through local media coverage, local citizens were encouraged to bring photos important to their life or family to the Gordon Room for documentation. On Saturday, June 26, 2010, several score citizens attended the event and a great number of photos were scanned for preservation and later study through the U Mass and Library websites. I set up a display on the history of photography and on supplies families can put together to preserve their family photographic heirlooms.
Since 2008 I have been submitting occasional articles to the Danvers Herald in a series called “Touching the Past at the Danvers Archival Center” displaying a sampling of new items acquired for our collection. This year I wrote “School Costs 1817” in August 2009; “Of Microbursts and Hurricanes” in October; “Our New Old Town Hall” in February 2010; “The $681,000 Cup of Coffee” in March; and “A Deadly List” in April. These stories and supporting illustrations will be posted on the Archive section of our library website along with past articles.
With Eva’s assistance, we have begun a master listing of all the older and historic structures in town for eventual inclusion on our web site and that of the Town of Danvers. We are generating the list from in-house resources including “Historic House Surveys” we have done, our “House Marker Program,” materials from our house file and other miscellaneous materials. The list includes the dwelling address, date of construction, name of builder or architect, name of first owner, occupation, architectural style of the house, any significant notes such as if the house were moved, and information source. So far we have 400 structures listed.
I continue to serve as a Commissioner in the Essex County National Heritage Area as Danvers Town Archivist. Other organizational connections include serving as a member of the Salem Village Historic District Commission, which typically meets in the Archival Center for public meetings, a trustee of the Danvers Historical Society, and resource person for the Danvers Preservation Commission, particularly in regard to researching structures which have been requested by owners to by demolished.
There were several other local history matters in which I participated as Town Archivist during the last year. I gave research assistance and spoke at a Selectmen meeting in favor of Chris & Tony Patton’s graciously wanting to place a preservation easement on their two-acre property at 159 Locust Street, being the historic 1756 Georgian gambrel roof home of Dr. Caleb Rea. I reviewed and assisted in the Veterans’ Burial Grounds Project, and attended a meeting of the Open Space Committee relating to the 1678 Rebecca Nurse Homestead possibly granting a development easement.
In conjunction with the famed ca. 1632 Endecott Pear Tree, the Archives was requested last year to assist in the design of a panel to be located in the foyer of the new North Shore Medical Center which would display the significance of this tree. Several years ago Mass General/North Shore Medical Center purchased the former Osram Sylvania property at 100 Endicott Street, upon which land sits the famed Endecott Pear Tree. I had previously written President Robert G. Norton outlining a brief history of the site and tree and recommending that they spotlight this hidden treasure in the redevelopment of the property, including new landscaping, signage, and protection. I offered my assistance and our collection to their efforts.
Last year I was contacted by David King, Director of Communications and Public Affairs and Bill Ewing for assistance in putting together a panel about the tree. I provided numerous images and a text for the display which was put together by a designer and set up as a permanent exhibit in the lobby of the new medical facility. At the bottom of the display is a message: “For more information on the Endecott Pear Tree please contact the Danvers Archival Center at the Peabody Institute Library.” A Community Open House at the Center was conducted on September 26, 2009.
As for the tree itself, working with Wayne Eisenhauer, Dr. Tony Patton and John Endicott Lawrence, Jr. of the Endecott Family Association, we have met and communicated to come up with suggestions for its preservation, security and access. This small group is continuing to develop plans to present to the Medical Center for the well being of this national natural landmark.
It has been 18 years since the May 1992 dedication of the Town’s Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial on Hobart Street. The Department of Public Works maintains the grounds and about every other month I go there to clean up any ground debris and left flowers and do minor washing of smudges. It is very satisfying that no major case of vandalism has occurred there in all this time. Nature, however, has taken its toll with the fairly recent visual greening of several panels and the accumulation of grime on the granite, as well as the eroding of caulking in the joints between the granite blocks.
Our monument is visited by interested tourists and has been extensively filmed for television documentaries. Its image is reproduced in books, articles and on the Internet. Its design, use of symbols and the documentation of those who perished during the witch times of 1692, makes this memorial a significant part of our heritage and possibly the most frequently used image representing Danvers in the media. A detailed description of the memorial is available for viewing on our website www.danverslibrary.org under “Archives.”
Back in the early 1990s I served as Chairman of the Salem Village Witchcraft Tercentennial Committee and Robert Farley, Marjorie Wetzel and I designed the Memorial. Ralph E. Ardiff, Jr. spectacularly raised the over $75,000 in less than a year for its erection through donations large and small and the Memorial was dedicated in May 1992. In 1993 and 1994 the Committee was able to make four donations to the Town amounting to $2,400.91 for future repair and improvements to the Memorial. This money was turned over to Joseph Collins and a fund set up to be administered by the Preservation Commission.
I had requested Bruce Lane of Mount Pleasant Memorials of Gloucester, who was our coordinator during the entire Memorial project and who has assisted me in the past with information and spot cleaning of the Memorial, to draw up a proposal for its cleaning and maintenance. The proposal included an acid and pressure wash cleaning of the Memorial for $600, repair of joints at $250 and cleaning and sealing the bronze donor plaque at $250.
In March 2010 I contacted Susan Fletcher of the Planning Department and she coordinated the location of the funds and generation of the purchase order and in May and June the work was completed by Lane.
I also asked him to clean the Revolutionary War Memorial at the Village Training Field on Ingersoll Street. I had designed this memorial which was erected in 1976 as part of our Town Bicentennial activities. Total cost for the cleaning of everything was $1,250, which left a balance of $1,150 in the fund for future needs.
In years past, I would contact the Tree Warden each spring informing him what was needed for repairs and replacement on several of the Town owned historic sites and markers, and his department was always very cooperative. Though I am pleased to continue to monitor these sites and memorials, my mortality is creeping upon me and I am concerned that they continue to be monitored and cared for. The two witchcraft related sites are particularly important to regularly maintain, as they are often the subject of media attention and a visual representation of Danvers through national and international films and broadcasts.
I have therefore suggested that it might be appropriate for the Danvers Preservation Committee to consider taking on the task to yearly check on the condition of the Town-owned memorials and historical sites beyond those at Town Hall and the High Street Burial Ground, which are on a regular maintenance schedule. These would include the cast aluminum historic markers throughout town (all repaired and repainted in 1992), the Hutchinson Monument on Water Street, the Parsonage Archaeological Site (fencing, stone work, washed stone cellar covering, signage, pathway), the Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial and the Training Field Marker, Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Mexican War Memorials at the Village Training Field off Centre and Ingersoll Street.
Reflecting the flatness of the economy, this year the Archival Center brought in for revenue almost $500 less than last year. Reference fees and certified copies amounted to $48, while only two signs were ordered for Danvers houses totaling to $90. Also added to our “Archive Special Fund” was $201 reflected in donations to the archivist for talks given, for use of two illustrations photographed by me, which fee I donated to the Archives, and the resale of two books. Altogether $339 was brought in this past year.
At the beginning of the FY2011 the Archive Special Fund had a balance of $10,931, not including interest. This fund was established several years ago in order to have money available in case important but expensive items came to our attention and would overwhelm our regular budget.
Among supplies purchased this past year were inert polyester envelopes for use with storing fragile documents and photographs. We also obtained Hollinger archive boxes of several sizes, and acid-free map folders, as well as a large supply of catalogue cards. My Epson Stylus Photo RX620 copier sees heavy use in the Archives for reprinting photos ordered by patrons, and as a color photocopier. I use this feature sparingly, with most of my copying being done on the staff room copier. The Epson is most heavily used in reproducing good quality copies of borrowed photographs or glass plate negatives. Through the library supply budget I am able to order the five separate ink packets needed in color printing.
Two major problems, both dealing with water, occurred in late March and April, 2010, problems which had to be immediately addressed. Back in mid-May 2006, during an exceptionally heavy rain season the Archives, for the first time in our existence, had water problems. Water seeped into part of the Archive Manuscript Storage Area, as well as on the rug around my desk in the Reading Room. After several days of clean-up and monitoring by us and the DPW, the problem was alleviated.
This past early spring was another exceptionally wet season. On March 30, 2010, water suddenly began appearing in several locations throughout the library, particularly in the Children’s Room, the stairwells and the Archives. Water suddenly appeared in several locations within our Manuscript Storage Area and in two locations in the rugged Reading Room. Most disconcerting, however, was the appearance of water in our Walk-In Vault Area. Doug and I began removing the water and were joined soon by DPW workers with several machines and pumps. It was soon discovered that the out-of-doors area just outside the Mechanical Room adjacent to the Archives had serious water percolating to the surface. A pit was dug and a submersible pump installed with a hose leading to a sink drain in the Mechanical Room. For about 10 days several gallons of water per minute was drawn out of this sump, which just after a few hours of pumping began to relieve the water problems within the building. On April 1 the pump burned out and while out of service the water began reappearing in parts of the library. While we thought this sump was a key to our problem, having such water in critical areas of the Archives was very nerve-wracking. The period from March 30 through April 8, I would check on the lower level areas of the Library during weekend or off hours, so that on at least five or six occasions I would visit the library anywhere between midnight and 4:00 a.m. and on Easter Sunday made three visits during the day.
Then a water problem developed from above, rather than from below. During the early morning of April 13, 2010, the third floor Reference area had a spontaneous activation of a sprinkler head with water cascading onto equipment and books and migrating to the floors below before being discovered and shut off. This was the second occasion that a sprinkler head had failed and resulted in thousands of dollars of lost materials. I assisted with salvaging microfilm and Danvers Herald catalogue cards, and became very concerned that this incident was not just a fluke. If such a malfunction occurs within the Archive Manuscript Storage Area to the extent of the two recent incidents elsewhere in the library, it could be catastrophic to the historical and legal records of the Town of Danvers, as well as to the large number of deposit records from other organizations which are kept within our archives. It could destroy irreplaceable historical documentation relating to the Town of Danvers and has the potential of wiping out hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of historic materials, neither of which category could be covered by insurance.
In a memo to Doug Rendell and Trustees President Mary Beth Verry on April 16, 2010, I requested that the eight sprinkler heads within the secure Archive Storage Area be removed and the water pipe capped so that no malfunction of these sprinkler heads could occur. After several site visits by representatives of the system, a possible mechanical problem was eliminated, but the potential of a catastrophe in the Archives remained an active nightmare. When initially planned in about 1980, it was contemplated to install a Halon gas fire suppression system throughout the entire Archives area. Cost became prohibitive, however, so that only the Walk-In-Vault was outfitted with the Halon system. I had been told that the sprinkler system for the Archives would be a non-charged system, though this turned out not to be the case. So when the sprinkler system had a problem, such a problem in the Archive environment could be catastrophic. Water can be as destructive to the contents of the Archives we are trying to protect as the fire itself.
Through the efforts of Doug and Suzanne MacLeod, we have had representatives of Metro Swift Sprinkler Corp. and Hiller New England visit the Archives and submit estimates for upgraded sprinkler systems, and alternative gas or clear agent fire suppression systems. The clear agent system seemed best for the Archives. I strongly urge that early in the fiscal year we fund a new system that will suppress a potential fire, while not destroying, by means of the suppression agent itself, many of the records we are trying to protect.
The renovation project for Danvers Town Hall continued through the first half of 2010. Several times I visited the site to take photos of the progress, including when the original 1855 color scheme of dark grey and yellow was exposed with the original corner boards. I had earlier been asked to give an opinion as to the new color scheme of the renovated 1899 building, suggesting a two tone body of the building boarding and trim and with accented red doors as typical 1890s Colonial Revival color choices.
I had also provided the architects with visual blow-ups from the 19th century of the original balusters on the façade and had recommended that plantings be kept away from the foundation area to affect a clean 19 th century look and better exhibit the basement’s high granite stone work. A real scare occurred during the renovation project when part of the west side of the roof caught fire on September 8, 2009. Diligent work by Danvers and area firefighters prevented a major conflagration and I was able to photographically document some of the firefighting activities. Schedule for the completion of the renovation was able to be kept and in February the staff began moving back in.
At the completion of the 1855 Danvers Town Hall renovations in early 2010, I began hearing rumors that the three historic murals which had been hanging in the foyer of Town Hall and had been removed during the renovation work might not be rehung. I heard from several people that their rehanging would not take place in order to give the foyer an uncluttered, crisp look. When the renovation project had begun, I had been assured that the murals would be carefully taken down, stored and rehung after the interior work was completed.
These three murals were part of a group which had originally been created as public art specifically for Danvers Town Hall. The project began in 1934 under the joint auspices of the Works Progress Administration Artist and Writers Project and the then solidly Republican Town of Danvers. Numerous local citizens, including William C. Endicott, Jasper Marsh, Lester Couch, Harriet S. Tapley, Ivan G. Smith, Victor D. Elmere, William R. Lynch and the local VFW donated cash for the materials used in the project, while the Federal WPA Administration paid the artists’ modest salaries.
Principal artist of these works-of-art-on-canvas was Richard V. Ellery, assisted by Solomon Levenson and Thomas Baker. Both Ellery and Levenson went on to be recognized as important regional artists of the 20th century, Sol Levenson being the subject of a September 2005 TIME magazine profile of his continuing mural work at the age of 95 shortly before his death. The Danvers mural painting was one of the largest such Municipal-Federal projects undertaken in the United States, with 17 murals of varying sizes completed. The murals depicted various important Danvers historic personages and events, as well as national themes.
Following the 1949 Town Hall demolition and renovation the murals were removed, stored and then slowly forgotten. In 1969 as summer worker for the Danvers Historical Commission, I came across most of these rolled up murals collecting dust in the Town Hall attic. Upon examination of the surviving murals, I recommended and the Commission took up the project to rescue the best and most important themed murals for restoration and rehanging. Commission member Doris Ford elicited the assistance of what became the Danvers Art Association to restore the canvases, which was done during many months of work under the direction of Louis Mangifesti, Rose Coffin and Eleanor Berry. The Danvers DPW ably assisted with the hanging and the restored murals were rededicated at a Town Hall program on June 6, 1971.
The three murals chosen for rehanging were:
(On the left) Governor John Endecott overseeing the planting of an orchard at his plantation homestead “Orchard Farm” in about 1632 on present day Endicott Street. Endecott arrived with 50 European pioneers at what is now Salem in 1628, being Governor of the expedition. He lived on his farm in Danvers as well as in Boston and served many terms as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The famous “Endecott Pear Tree” from his orchard still thrives as the oldest cultivated fruit tree in America, and a living link with the first European settlers of five centuries ago.
(In the center) a 7’6″ x 8’10” depiction of Danvers native Samuel Holten leaving his 1677 home, which is now Holten Street, to travel to serve as President of the Continental Congress. Dr. Holten is probably Danvers’s greatest personage and staunchest patriot who served as Selectman, Town Clerk, Moderator, Representative to the General Court, Massachusetts Representative to the Continental Congress, Signer of the Articles of Confederation, President of the Congress, and member of the United States House of Representatives.
(On the right) a depiction of the first shoe factory in the United States established on present-day Locust Street in 1777, and representing this, Danvers’s most important industry during its first 150 years as a town.
I believed that these three murals deserve their place of honor at Town Hall to reflect the ancient and important history and tradition of our town, as well as being important artifacts in and of themselves of the depression era, and of a cooperative make-work project that celebrated America’s heritage and belief in its own renewal. As Town Archivist I sent a letter to the Town Manager and Board of Selectmen requesting that these proud, old murals should be restored back to their place of prominence. Yet it appeared that there was a difference of opinion on putting them back, so I thought it best to inform interested parties about the matter. During the next several months letters emanated from the Danvers Historical Society, Danvers Art Association, Veterans, and Preservation Commission and myself urging their being rehung. So too, a public on-line petition was begun and Editor Nelson Benton of the Salem News wrote an editorial urging that this be done. It was too bad that such efforts had to be made to reinstall these murals, but in the end, by May 2010 they were rehung with new and improved frames and attractive support shelves, so that the murals look better than ever on the tall foyer wall at Town Hall. Many thanks to all those individuals and organizations that let their opinions be known.
The Archival Center continues to act as a resource for town agencies needing historic or background information. Among departments assisted this past fiscal year were the Town Clerk, Planning Department, Police Department, Recreation Department, Building Inspector, Fire Department, Town Manager, Historic District Commission, and Preservation Commission. As in previous years, the Preservation Commission requested reports by the Archives on several local buildings, as part of the Danvers Demolition Delay By-Law. I made site visits to several houses and prepared reports on requested structures for the Commission, which reports were then made part of our house files.
In June we were able to complete a several-year project to revamp and expand the Danvers Archival Center Policy Manual, 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. The manual will be available in the Archives for anyone responsible for processing materials to understand the process and the standardizations used. The document consists of 75 pages and is divided into Background and Administration, Collections, Services, and Appendix.
Despite several illnesses necessitating the Archives being closed more days than normal, we have had a very productive year in Archival Center. Significant items were added to our witchcraft, manuscript and photographic collections and many kind people gave historically or culturally interesting items for their long term preservation and use. We continue to take seriously our role as the institutional memory and manuscript repository for Danvers.