Danvers Archival Center
Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Report

This is the forty-first year of operation of the Danvers Archival Center, a department of the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers.  In October 1972, the Archives opened in the borrowed basement of the Danvers Historical Society’s Memorial Hall at 13 Page Street. Then in 1981 we moved to our new quarters in the renovated and enlarged Peabody Institute Library at 15 Sylvan Street.

The collections of the Danvers Archival Center are securely stored in a fire-retardant and environmentally friendly space within the Peabody Avenue underground area of the Peabody Institute Library.  Our facility includes a spacious public reading room, secure manuscript storage area, and a 6-hour fire-rated walk-in vault.  Our collection policy calls for the preservation of all written, printed and pictorial materials relating to the history and development of Salem Village and Danvers, and 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.

Click to Enlarge All Illustrations

This report will give an overview of activities relating to the Archival Center and Town Archivist for fiscal year 2013, which dates between July 2012 and June 2013. I want to thank Library Director Alan Thibeault for all his assistance, direction and attention to the Archives and all concerns I bring up to him. Thanks also to Assistant Director Suzanne MacLeod for her steadfast support and to the nine-member Board of Library Trustees who are ever supportive and interested in our Library.  My co-worker Eva Veilleux is very important to our smooth operation. Without her I would have trouble functioning and making the Archives an efficient department. She is always willing to do any job necessary and I have complete confidence in her and her many talents.

Thomas Marsella continues his multi-year Wednesday morning volunteer work at the Archival Center. Tom donated 86½ hours to researching and cataloguing newly acquired archival materials, as well as working on the Danvers Highway Department records. We are fortunate to have the assistance of such a fine, dogged researcher with an easy-going personality.

During FY 2013 we obtained, accessioned, processed, and catalogued 84 books for inclusion within our Public Reading Room collection, 44 of the volumes obtained through patron gifts, and 40 purchased through our funds. In addition, we sent 25 softcover or damaged books to Acme Bookbinding to have them cased in Buckram for long term use. As the library does not now include a line item for such work, cost to do this was absorbed within our archive “Document Restoration” line item.

Among volumes added by gift to our nationally known “Ellerton J. Brehaut Witchcraft Collection” were: three issues of The Arthur Miller Journal (2008, 2010-2011). A  number of purchased witchcraft volumes and items were added to the witchcraft collection including: a copy of The Athenian Mercury, an early newspaper  printed in London by John Dunton announcing the publishing of Increase Mather’s book,  A Further Account of the Trials of the New England Witches (June 20, 1693); A History of Spiritualism … In Salem, by Maggi Smith-Dalton (2012); Reading Witchcraft: Stories of Early English Witches, by Marion Gibson (1999); a facsimile copy of The Witches: A Tale of New England, by William L. Stone (1837); The Devil’s Door, by Paul B. Thompson (2011); Early Modern Witches, by Marion Gibson (2000); and America Bewitched, by Owen Davies (2013). We were also able to snag through eBay at a super bargain price of $63 an additional set of the 3-volume 1977 work, The Salem Witchcraft Papers, which set is typically offered for sale at over $1,000.

Through an auction conducted by Skinner Auctions of Marlborough, Massachusetts, in December 2012, we acquired several rare booklets, chapbooks and plays on witchcraft including:  Mercy Disborough: A Tale of New England Witchcraft, by William L. Stone (1844); The Certainty of the World of Spirits, by Richard Baxter (1834); Witchcraft: A Tragedy in Five Acts, by Cornelius Mathews (1852); Witchcraft Detected & Prevented (1823); Signs Before Death, by Horace Welby (1831); and Of Temptation, by John Owen (1831).

A very rare work was also acquired at the Skinner auction. Through the kind deposit of the Danvers Historical Society, we have within our Brehaut Witchcraft Collection the very rare and important John Hale 1702 volume, A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft. A second edition of this work for which we have been looking for many years had been printed in 1771 by Kneeland and Adams, this volume of very few copies. Through the Skinner Auction we were able to acquire this rare, second edition, to go along with the first. We are pleased to add this important title to our collection.

There were two other witchcraft-related purchases of note this fiscal year. The first item is an 1888 G.P. Putnam published book of poetry titled Rebecca the Witch by David S. Foster. The other volume came to us through a letter from Bauman Rare Books of Las Vegas, Nevada, asking if we might be interested. The volume is a beautifully printed, first English edition of the 1489 classic witch finder book by Heinrich Kramer and Jakob Sprenger titled, Malleus Maleficarum Translated With an Introduction, Bibliography and Notes by the Rev. Montague Summers. The large format volume with red paper spine, brown cloth boards and Dutch paper was a limited edition printed by Messrs. R. Clay & Sons in England in 1928. While cataloguing this book, I came across a notecard tucked inside it, which after a little research I discovered was a note from well known Hollywood high-power lawyer Jacob Bloom to actor “Nick” [Cage] gifting this volume and hoping “you enjoy it when you’re back from the filmings.” In 2011 Cage starred in the film, Season of the Witch.  Now in 2013 his book is within our collection.

Two items were also added to the manuscript segment of our “Brehaut Witchcraft Collection” by deposit from the Danvers Historical Society.  One item was a 14-page manuscript text of a talk on witchcraft, spiritualism and prejudice given to the Society by Rev. James M. Buckley at an 1892 meeting. The other item is a rare manuscript receipt dated February 9, 1693, signed by Rev. Samuel Parris acknowledging receipt for 52 shillings from Daniel Rea “for the two last years rate.”

In January 2013, we received a significant donation collection of the working papers of Professor Bernard Rosenthal. Bernie is professor emeritus at Binghamton University in New York and spends part of each year teaching in England. An acknowledged scholar on the writings of Herman Melville, Rosenthal wrote the important 1993 work on Salem witchcraft titled, Salem Story: Reading the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Beginning in 1999 he gathered an international team of scholars and historians to reexamine and re-transcribe all the known Salem witchcraft-related documents. I was invited early on to join his team as a co-editor, and in 2009 under his general editorship Cambridge University Press published the massive volume, Salem Witch-Hunt.  In 2012 Bernie asked if the Danvers Archives would be interested in his working research papers for his first book, and I was pleased that he thought so highly of our library to offer them to us. On a Friday morning in early January 2013 we transferred three overflowing boxes of papers into my car trunk and then went off to breakfast and good conversation at the Pancake House in Rowley. His donated papers include printed matter, VCR videos, and numerous files, print-outs, index note cards and other paperwork used by the professor in his witchcraft research. The material is safely deposited in the Archive Manuscript Storage Room, and as time permits I shall process it. Thanks to Professor Rosenthal for his very kind gift!

Pulitzer Prize winning writer and historian Stacy Schiff continues to research the Salem witchcraft events for a book she is writing, and corresponds with me via email. She scheduled another research visit here to the Danvers Archival Center for a week in July.

Now on to a description of non-witchcraft materials acquired during this last fiscal year. Included through purchase within our “Danvers History” book collection this year were: Lost History of the North Shore, by Christopher Forest (2010); Russell’s American Almanack for 1782, by Ezekiel Russell; a facsimile copy of a Salem imprint written by Danvers minister Benjamin Prescott, titled A Free and Calm Consideration, concerning the British Stamp Act (1774); a rare booklet titled Union Pacific Railroad Company published by Brown & Hewitt (1867); Rival Rails, by Walter R. Borneman (2010); a reprint of  Peabody Genealogy, by Selim H. Peabody (1909); George’s Cambridge Almanack or the Essex Calendar, published by Ezekiel Russell (1775); An Astronomical Diary, or an Almanack, by Nathaniel Ames and also published by Russell (1773); and a dramatic personal memoir of the 1990s titled, With or Without You by  Domenica Ruta, who was born and raised in Danvers (2013).

Gift history books included: 16 volumes of the St. John’s Preparatory School yearbooks, The Spire, graciously donated by Brother Arcadius, the Prep’s  librarian; an article from the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society by David McKenna titled, “A Preliminary Report on Surface Collections … of an Archaic Site on the Town Forest Branch Brook, Western Danvers, Massachusetts” (Spring 2012); The Magnitude of a Preacher’s Work … Ordination of I. W. Putnam, by Ebenezer Porter (1815); Art Work of Salem and Vicinity (1893); Annual Town Reports (2000-2010); and Heritage [Danvers High School Yearbook] (2013).

The Lawrence, Massachusetts Law Library sent us as a gift the two-volume, 1910 printed Danvers Vital Records, while the Massachusetts National Guard Museum and Archives gave us the book, Account of the Centennial Celebration in Danvers (1852), inscribed by F. A. Osborn to John T. Prince (February 15, 1853).

We were also given duplicates of books already within our collection, and not counted within our statistics, including: 8 issues of the Danvers Historical Society Collections, 16 issues of The Holten Magazine, 12 Danvers High School Yearbooks, and over a dozen other items.

The only new items added this year to our Richard P. Zollo John Greenleaf Whittier Collection were 9 First Day Covers featuring art work, postal cancellations and the Whittier U. S. postage stamp issued on February 16, 1940. These were added to our album of Whittier First Day Covers.

Mrs. Ellen Endicott witnesses President Cleveland’s wedding in the Blue Room of the White House

Though we catalogue newspapers somewhat differently than books and have a distinctive call number for them, the catalogue cards for newspapers are filed within our history book catalogue. This year we purchased an issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper featuring a story on George Peabody (1866), and Harper’s Weekly with text and illustrations concerning the wedding of President Grover Cleveland at the White House (1886). Illustrated and within the text is reference to Secretary of War William C. Endicott and Mrs. Endicott, both guests at the wedding. As mentioned in our witchcraft write-up, we also acquired a 17th century London newspaper for that collection.

As newspaper donations we were given anniversary issues of The Danvers Herald (June 26 and July 3, 1952); The Danvers Mirror [Celebration Number] (June 21, 1902); and Special Supplement to the Danvers Herald 250 Years (September 26, 2002).

Since our founding, the Archival Center has attempted to create microfilm copies of all Danvers newspapers for long-term preservation purposes. This effort dates back to the early 1970s when we were able to borrow runs of local newspapers owned by the Essex Institute and have microfilm copies of them made for our collections. Within our own collections we also retain for preservation purposes the original artifact copy of all Danvers newspapers, even after they have been microfilmed. We have a complete run of originals, 35mm negative silver halide, and positive 35mm copies of both the Danvers Mirror and Danvers Herald, which collectively date from 1878 to 2004.

In the early 2000s the company we had been using for microfilming went out of business. This past year we found a new company, Heritage Archives of Iowa, that would produce good quality 35mm microfilm. During this past fiscal year we processed, boxed, and sent out to Heritage’s production plant in California three complete years of the Danvers Herald, being 2005, 2006 & 2007. As of the end of this fiscal year we were awaiting completion of the project and hope next year to send out more of our backlog issues for copying.

As the final note relating to newspapers, in April the library staff found two large boxes of anonymously dropped off old 19th century newspapers. After looking through them, none really had a connection to Danvers. I sent off as gifts a small number of newspapers to local towns represented within the group. I have been trying to interest the American Antiquarian Society in a large run of Boston newspapers.  An attempt to offer others for sale to an antiquarian newspaper dealer did not elicit any interest, but I hope, as time allows, to relocate these newspapers to appropriate homes.

Broadsides are large, one-sided printed items meant to be posted for public information notices.  Among this class of archival items catalogued this year were several from the deposit collections of the Danvers Historical Society including: a notice of a program at the Peabody Institute featuring violinist J. Jay Watson (1881); notice of the sale of the estate of James D. Black on High Street, which building in the 1920s became the first Hunt Memorial Hospital (1865); notice of  a play sponsored by the G.A.R. at the Peabody Institute of “Robert Emmet, the martyr of Irish liberty” (1877); a campaign broadside for the election of Hayes & Wheeler as President and Vice President, and Rev. Charles B. Rice of Danvers for representative to the General Court (1876).

Town-owned broadsides catalogued included: The Annual Town Report (1831) and a 1797 Commonwealth of Massachusetts act concerning highways sent to the Selectmen of Danvers.

Cards typed and added to our Danvers History catalogue numbered 237, while 285 new main entry, title and subject cards were created and interfiled into our Witchcraft catalogue. An additional 47 cards were added to our picture 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 placed within acid-free folders under appropriate subject headings and stored in vertical file cabinets.  Among items of ephemera donated to us this past year were:  Danvers Family Festival programs (2012); invoice from the Danvers Meat Mart (1949); genealogical notes kept by Mrs. Agnes Kitchel (1920s); by-laws of the Danvers Grange (1951); two poems by Bill Richards; mimeograph sheet “A salute to Tapley School”; George Peabody Bicentennial Concert Souvenir Song Sheet (1995); 2013 George Peabody Association Calendar; brochure “Danvers’ New Masonic Temple” (1926); “Town of Danvers Honor Roll Dedication” (May 28, 1944); program “Old Fashioned Baked Bean Supper” (July 5, 1952); bill and receipt from the Danvers Water Board (October 1917); cardboard milk bottle cap from “C. L. Elliott, Jr., Danvers”; a wood and metal shield plaque awarded to Danvers Post #130 of the American Veterans of World War II (1958); a carbon copy of a letter to Cornelius Dunn reminiscing about Holten High School in the 1930s (1972); and a World War II “War Savings Bonds Stamp Album” kept by a local young girl (1943).

Gift forms were sent out to 39 individuals and institutions which donated books and/or manuscripts to the Archival Center, reflecting single or multiple items.  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 Marblehead Historical Society for a 1771 tax bill; the Topsfield Historical Society for an article; the Beverly Historical Society for genealogical notes; and the Lynn Historical Society for three 19th century newspapers. We were pleased to be able to find homes for these estray items.

Among organizations which borrowed items from our collections, including original or copies of photographs and documents for exhibition or research purposes, were: the Danvers Herald; Danvers Cable TV, and the Rebecca Nurse Homestead. The Danvers Historical Society borrowed extensively from their deposit collections, as well as our archive material for preparation for an exhibit and elementary school class visits to the Society. We also allowed several individuals to borrow non-critical items from within our collections.

Our picture collection continues to grow. Donated items added to the collection this past year numbered 506 images, while 14 photographs and prints were obtained through purchase, and two early images on deposit from the Danvers Historical Society.

Drinking, eating, talking and dancing in the library – Oh My!

Among images donated to the Archives this past fiscal year were: 64 color prints of the Peabody Institute Library gala fundraiser “A Night at the Library” (2012); a carte-de-visite of school teacher Mildred M. Williams (1887); 94 black & white photos of Danvers DPW projects conducted throughout town during the 1960s; 89 color photos from Alden Goodnow of the construction of his office building at 16 Park Street (1980); 19 class reunion photographs of the Holten High School Class of 1936 (1965-2008); a large, framed photograph of the Holten High School Class of 1925; 20 digital prints of the interior of 199 Hobart Street; an American Art postcard of the James Putnam House (ca. 1950); two photographs from a newspaper morgue of the Rebecca Nurse House (ca. 1890 & 1920); 8 photos of the dedication of the Archival Center at Memorial Hall (1973); two photos of 204 Locust Street (1940s & 1998); 34 color photos of the interior of 52 Centre Street (2013); 75 color photos of work on the Library addition (1980-81); portrait of Dudley Rogers (1930s); print of Harmony Grove (1853); and large matted and framed color photograph of Danvers State Hospital taken from the air (1990s).

Only a small portion of our picture collection is actually catalogued, and these tend to be of very early photographic images or collections of photographs arranged in albums or by collection. Two important deposit items were catalogued from among the collections of the Danvers Historical Society. The first was recorded on a quarter plate Ambrotype with glass cover, copper mat, and preserver picturing the 1839 Greek Revival style First Church, Congregational. Taken about 1860, this rare exterior view shows several men on the church front steps and a glimpse of the carriage sheds built to the side of the church. The second image is a 3¼ inch by 4¼ inch Ferrotype metal sheet copy of the Ambrotype of the church, with the image reproduced showing the building in the correct right to left alignment.

Robi Emerson being rocked in a Putnam family cradle in the room where Gen. Israel Putnam was born

 Among purchased photographs obtained by the Archives this past fiscal year were: two cartes-de-visite of George Peabody, in one view Peabody is sitting with pen in hand, while the other view shows the philanthropist standing (ca. 1860s); an engraving by F. H. van Hove of Judge Matthew Hale (1679); 2 stereoviews of the birthplace and grave of George Peabody (ca. 1877); a print titled “Old Wolf  [Israel] Putnam” taken from Esquire magazine (January 1950); 8 professionally photographed black & white photos of Danvers historic houses, including 6 of the Israel Putnam House (1940s); 2 Boston Herald staff photos of Civil War Centennial events in Danvers (1961) and of a local auction house on Route One; a matted and framed 10-inch by 15-inch watercolor view of Danvers Town Hall painted by Richard V. Ellery (ca. 1944); 4 professional photographic prints of the interior and exterior of the McIntire Summer House (1961); a 16-inch by 20-inch framed portrait copy of the 1760s painting of General Thomas Gage by John S. Copley; a UPI wirephoto of the Endecott Pear Tree ruined by vandals (July 30, 1965); and 2 Associated Press wire photos of the attempt to graft the vandalized Pear Tree (July & August 1964);

Attempting to graft onto the vandalized Endecott Pear Tree

 As time allows, we continue the process of looking through our huge photograph collection to select often used subject folders, such as “Danvers Town Hall,” in order to properly accession all the images within the subject folder and to place fragile items within mylar-type, neutral pH sleeves. We also processed and boxed a large group of photographs dating 1990-1998 on deposit from the Danvers Garden Club.

Within the audio-visual category we received as a gift a DVD copy of 3 short horror movies originally filmed in 8mm by Peter Bates and his High School friends around Locust Street in 1965-66, with captions and sound added by Bates in 2013 onto the DVD. We also received a VHS video tape of a talk by Fire Chief Leland Martin of “Fires of Danvers” (1994); a DVD of a telecast program on The Learning Channel titled “Four Weddings,” featuring views of Glen Magna (2013); 2 audio CDs of interviews of Andrea Daly, Charles Comeau and Callista Greenough concerning the railroad in Danvers (2012); and 2 DVD’s made by Dan Tremblay of the April 2012, archive program giving back to Virginia a group of colonial documents taken by a Danvers man during the Civil War. Dan created both a long and a short version of this program, and we thank him for his generosity and skill.

An on-going project at the Archives is the cataloguing of the large back-log of manuscript materials, including those of 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 Salem town warrant to John Buxton for the collection of taxes (1680); genealogical correspondence to Lydia A. Hayward concerning the Prince and Putnam families (1926-1935); correspondence to Moses Prince from family in Vermont regarding family matters, including the murder of John Fuller (1867); manuscript obituaries of five members of the Danvers Historical Society (1908-1909); reminiscences of Julia A. (Putnam) Philbrick concerning life in school district number 4 (1890); early photocopy of a deed from Robert Goodell to Thomas Flint (1662); reminiscences of Adrian Lewis Putnam of Danvers in the 1840s and 1850s (1915); a manuscript of a talk given by Walter Scott Lovejoy to the Danvers Historical Society on early graveyards in Danvers, accompanied with five pencil maps (1890s); an eight-line poem written by Mary Pope Tapley (1836); memorial sentiment written about Elizabeth Gardner Putnam who died at the age of 19 (1834); and a speech given by Mellen Chamberlain about the beginning of the Revolution and Chamberlain’s talking to veteran Levi Preston (1891). Other Society items were added to the witchcraft, broadside, map and plan catalogues.

Asa Putnam letter asking for a tax abatement

Another on-going project is the cataloguing of Town of Danvers records. This year we spent some time on this effort. Among items catalogued were: School Department early school records including accounts and letters of schoolmasters, reports on the condition of schools and school regulations and petitions (1762-1810); a Town Clerk death return listing (1843-1844); a bill for making a gate for a town animal pound (1799); receipt from the town for the use of a shop owned by Jeremiah Page (1777); a copy of the act of incorporation of the Neck of Land in Danversport (1831); receipt of money from the town for providing “minutemen” in case of state or national service in response to the Whiskey Rebellion (1794); a listing of boilers in use in Danvers (1879); Fire Department specifications and bids for the building of an underground water reservoir (1854); letter to the selectmen from Asa Putnam requesting a tax abatement, due to “the frowns of Devine Prividence on me.” (1763); report on the valuation of the Danvers Carpet Factory (1871); a memorial to Town Meeting from Ezra Batchelder (1796); letter of invitation to the selectmen from Jordan Lodge of Masons for the consecration of their lodge (1810); a pew deed of Ezra Batchelder (1806); committee report to Town Meeting concerning the moving of the State Supreme Court (1810); and articles of agreement drawn up by Danvers Fence Viewers (1841-1879).

One major effort with town records was the cataloguing of Highway Department records. Not the most exciting of records, the Highway Department nonetheless was an important function of local and county government. During the 17th through mid-19th century citizens were separately taxed for local road repair, but the town gave the inhabitants the option to work off the tax themselves via manual labor on the roads or by hiring others to do so or loaning equipment to be used in the process. Local district Highway Surveyors were elected each year to collect the taxes and oversee the work performed. This cumbersome system changed after mid-19th century with the town budgeting costs and including the tax within the general property tax assessment. In 1872 the old system was swept away, taken over by appointed Road Commissioners.

Highway tax list and a copy of a warrant to collect road taxes

Volunteer Tom Marsella spent much time going through several 1930s wooden prune boxes in which the records were stored, and unfolding, cleaning, and processing the records for cataloguing. In going through this large collection of uncatalogued boxes and volumes we discovered scores of documents misfiled among highway records, and took some time to correctly place them within previously catalogued materials within the  school, Town Clerk, Overseers of the Poor, Fire Department, Town Meeting and other municipal department collections. Catalogued Highway Department records include: Highway Surveyors’ tax commitment record books (1759-1813, 1838-1888); a tax commitment copybook (1764); Highway Surveyors’ assignment of district (1772); report and warrants concerning maintenance of highways (1763-1773); 390 volumes of individual Highway Surveyors’ tax commitment booklets (1790-1870, 1880-1886); Highway Surveyors’ accounts of work performed (1762-1850); two separate court judgments of 10 & 13 pages for laying out roads in Danvers (1813 & 1816-17); and a bill from Perley Tapley to the town for the use of multiple yokes of oxen “in breaking out roads” covered with snow (1830-1831).

Also acquired this year through gift were a varied group of handwritten papers and documents relating to Danvers. Among the manuscripts donated were: a scrapbook kept by Ralph Ernest Ardiff, Sr., concerning his chairmanship of the North Shore United Church Canvass including photographs, newsclippings and telegrams; Danvers Twilight League score book recording statistics of numerous games played (1924-1930); scrapbook concerning Holten High School football gathered by Roy Milligan (1948); the cataloguing of an exceptional 1973 gift of military correspondence from Elbridge Henry Gilford during his service in the Civil War from 1861-1864; Class of 1936 Holten High School reunion papers kept by Aldene Gordon (1948, 1971-2009); a scrapbook kept by Holten High School sports star Jeff Williams of his sports heroes and personal material on his local exploits (1952);  and the charter for the establishment of Danvers Post Number 130 of the American Veterans of World War II [AMVETS] (1951).

Elijah Hutchinson helps move a building

Purchased manuscript items are obtained through looking at sources including auction sales, autograph catalogues, on-line web sites and eBay.  Among the purchased manuscript items relating to Danvers obtained this past fiscal year were: an early Revolutionary War receipt signed by the mark of William Verry for the use of a cartridge box given him by the Danvers Selectmen (May 18, 1775); a four-page Civil War letter written by Willaim Blany Hammond of the 24th Massachusetts Regiment at St. Augustine, Florida to his father (January 7, 1864); and an account book kept by farmer and shoemaker Elijah Hutchinson, including records of items sold and work performed (1832-1859). In all, we added to the “Manuscript” card catalogue this fiscal year 356 main entries and tracing cards.

Our map collection includes both manuscript and printed maps relating to the Town of Danvers or smaller geographical areas within the community. This year we acquired several manuscript maps including a large format photocopy of the center of Salem Village drawn by Joseph Burnap (1730), the original map no longer extant. Several maps were deposit items from the Danvers Historical Society including: a plan of the land and buildings around the Village Training Field at 83 Centre Street drawn up by Raymond C. Allen (1931) and eleven maps of fields and plantings on the  Danvers State Hospital farmland (1939).

Our plan collection is another subcategory of our collections reflecting freehand or mechanical drawing of structures. A printed plan acquired as a deposit from the Historical Society is a plan of the Maple Street Congregational Church showing pew locations and numbers (1851). Two gift collections of plans included an end elevation of the Bernard Friedman leather factory located on Purchase Street (1895); and 21 sheets of plans, elevations, details, etc. of the new office for Alden Goodnow on Park Street designed by Robert D. Farley (1980).

Statistics were kept for 47 weeks this year with 778 patrons utilizing the archive collections, 706 telephone calls answered and 863 letters and emails sent.  Seven talks were presented to various civic, college, school and historical organizations including students from St. John’s Preparatory School. In partnership with Essex National Heritage Area programming, we gave a special Saturday behind-the-scenes tour and research time to a group of interested residents of Essex County. In November we were visited by a group of young people from the George Peabody Housing Complex in London who were visiting many of the local sites associated with the great American philanthropist. Alan showed the group the library and I showed them some of our collections. I half expected a bunch of teenagers who would be bored silly by more information on George, but actually found them animated and enthused throughout. In May we were visited by Professor Michele Lise Tarter, Director of Graduate Studies at the College of New Jersey, and her graduate students for an in-depth discussion of Salem witchcraft.  I gave my annual show-and-tell format talk before the Danvers Historical Society on “What’s new at the Archives” at their Tapley Memorial Hall in early October. Myrna Fearer wrote a feature story on the presentation in the Danvers Herald and DCAT, our local cable access channel, taped the talk and broadcast it half a dozen times. As what often occurs after this talk, we had an upswing in donated items to the Archives for several weeks after.

With Eva inputting the information into a Microsoft Excel program, we continue to enlarge a master list 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,” our “House Marker Program,” and materials from our house file and other miscellaneous items. The list includes the address of the dwelling, date of construction, name of builder or architect (if known), name of first owner, occupation, architectural style of the house, any significant notes such as if the house were moved, and information source. To date we have over 900 structures within our master list.

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 be demolished. Along with the entire Library staff, I completed an on-line Conflict of Interest Law training program. Noticing several errors within the Massachusetts Historical Commission Register of Historic Places booklet concerning Danvers’s listing, I communicated with them to correct the listing. In November I was awarded a 40-year employee service award at a program at Town Hall recognizing town employees.

Both The Manuscript Society Bulletin and the New England Archivist Newsletter featured illustrated articles concerning last fiscal year’s event of our giving back to Virginia a group of colonial documents “picked up” in 1862 by a Danvers soldier during the Civil War.

The Archive Special Fund was established some years ago in order to have money available in case important but expensive items came to our attention and would overwhelm our regular budget.  This past year we brought in $135 for three house markers, $88 in reference fees, $141 in donations for programs given, $93.85 for the resale of books, and $435 for the use of images in publications and displays. In all $892.85 was added to the Archive Special Fund, leaving a balance at the end of the fiscal year of $13,623.77.

We have a small area devoted to the resale of books and other small items. Some of the items belong to the Danvers Historical Society and Rebecca Nurse Homestead, for which we give them their proceeds. Several of the items are duplicate copies of our Archive books given to us for resale. Richard Zollo has been very generous with donating copies of many of his writings, while I also have a couple of mine, the proceeds of which go to the Archive Special Fund. This year we were given by Timothy Kendall of Salem 40 copies of his beautifully done Salem Witch Trials Calendar that has a great historic text and stunning color illustrations. We are selling these for $5 each, the money going to our special fund.

Among supplies purchased this past year were Hollinger archive boxes of several sizes, and large format acid-free map folders.  We had to reorder the first time in 15 years our distinctive bookplates which we attach to the front inside cover of each new accessioned book, as well as 2 First Day Cover stamp albums to store our rapidly growing John Greenleaf Whittier 1940 first day covers with various artwork on the envelopes themselves. After personally purchasing a new 35mm digital camera, in May I donated my old Nikon Coolpix 4300 digital camera for use in the archives.  In turn, we donated to the Danvers Historical Society a group of 9 archival boxes different from the ones we use, as well as some duplicate books for use by the Society.

52 Centre Street

The Archival Center continues to act as a resource for town agencies needing historic or background information. Among municipal departments assisted this past year were the Town Manager’s office, Town Clerk, Planning Department, Recreation Department, Building Inspector, Historic District Commission, and Preservation Commission.  The Preservation Commission also requested of the Archives historical and architectural reports on several local structures, as part of the Danvers Demolition Delay By-Law procedure.  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. Reference services were provided to the Northshore Bank during its renovation of the historic 1844 Fellows-Masury House at 48 Elm Street. I also assisted with reference materials, wrote a letter of support, and had a site visit including photographing the interior and exterior of the “First Period” half-house at 52 Centre Street, which historic structure is presently abandoned. With the support of Susan Fletcher of the Planning Department, the Building Inspector, Town Counsel, the Historic District Commission, and the Department of Public Works windows were boarded up and a tarp placed on the roof of the structure to protect it from environmental damage, while plans are made to find ownership and preserve the house as an important structure within the Salem Village National Register Historic District.

In order to better serve patrons of the Peabody Institute Library, Alan, our Director, instituted a project of updating and expanding our library website (, so that it is more user-friendly, attractive, and useful. Talented and technically-savvy staff members, including Jim Riordan, Michelle Deschene, and Jennifer McGeorge did yeoman’s work, and the revamped site is proving very popular. At the same time we decided to upgrade and expand our Archival Center site, which is part of the library site, but includes more research content such as history articles and illustrations relating to our work and Danvers history. We met a number of times beginning in October 2012, making decisions on redesigning and standardizing the site to make it as simple, attractive and useful as possible.  The new home page gives the basics, including a 12-image slide program sampling the types of items we collect, location information, and a brief welcome paragraph. The site is divided into major topics of (1) “The Archival Center” concerning our services, a brief illustrated guide to our collections, reprints of our annual reports, etc. (2) “Danvers History” featuring history articles, including a large and brand new section on the history of Danvers State Hospital and a photo gallery of illustrations of this large complex. (3) “Salem Witchcraft” including a newly illustrated brief guide to the topic, and description of the Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial on Hobart Street. (4) “Other Resources” linking the Archive site to such helpful sites as the Danvers Historical Society, Nurse Homestead, Essex Heritage National Area, and the Sutton Room of the Peabody Institute Library in Peabody.

Home Page of Archive Web Site

For many weeks Eva Veilleux typed and copied text, I scanned illustrations and documents at home, and we read and re-read text for accuracy. Jim Riordan took all this material and skillfully put it into the website itself, including cutting in, sizing and cleaning-up all the illustrations. We also established a general layout design for future additions.  On August 1, 2013, the site went on line. Plans call for expanding the site as time allows to include a video presentation, several book reprints, digital copies of several witchcraft sources, an architectural listing of Danvers structures, one or more photo and document galleries, etc. Thanks to all the staff who made the new Archive Web Site a reality!

This has been a good year for gathering new materials for our collection, and for cataloguing a significant number of back-log materials. Many people have been served in various ways, and we continue to take seriously our role as the institutional memory of the town.

                                                                                                Richard B. Trask

                                                                                                Town Archivist

                                                                                                August 2013  


New England Frugality
This 1831 Highway Surveyor’s tax committment booklet was put together using as its cover an old 1829 Town of Danvers Annual Report Broadside. When the cover ripped; it was crudely sewn-up

Print Friendly, PDF & Email