The year 2014 finds us in the midst of our forty-second year of operation of the Danvers Archival Center. The center was first opened to researchers in October 1972, following a Danvers Town Meeting vote authorizing the establishment of the position of Town Archivist as a department head within the Peabody Institute Library. We began operations within the lower level of the brick and concrete Danvers Historical Society’s “Memorial Hall” building, located at 13 Page Street.
The Historical Society lent their entire Memorial Hall basement to the Town of Danvers’s new Archival Center at no cost and we resided there for nine years. In 1981, the town completed a major renovation and expansion of the Peabody Institute Library at 15 Sylvan Street, which included newly created Archive space in the underground addition to the library. These, our new quarters included a large public research room, a secure manuscript storage area and a walk-in vault with a 6-hour fire rated-door.
Early on we wrote up a collection policy which states that: “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, newspapers, maps, architectural drawings, photographs, prints, audio and video tapes, films, CDs and microfilms.” Our collections are stored in a secure and stable environment, and are available to all who wish to use them.
We obtain our collections through varied sources including materials deposited by Danvers town agencies and organizations, as well as material donated and purchased. Our collections boast as being one of the largest and most important documentary resources of a community of its size in the entire country. It is a collection of a seldom-found mixture of diverse municipal, corporate and private research materials gathered together through a cooperative combination from many organizations that were willing to turn over physical custody of their papers for their being conserved, preserved, properly stored, catalogued and accessible. Our commitment is to continuously upgrade our collections and protect them for use by future generations.
This report will highlight Archival Center activities during fiscal year 2014, between July 2013 and June 2014.
I want to thank Library Director Alan Thibeault, who regularly visits the Archives and gives support to our ongoing work and special projects. Assistant Director Suzanne MacLeod is also always helpful to our mission and the nitty gritty of operations. Thanks also to Jim Reardon who inputs and designs the new materials within our Archive website, and to Susan Kontos who is always patient with the convoluted ordering practices used by the Archives to obtain items through obscure personal purchases, auctions, and eBay. Thanks also to the nine-member Board of Library Trustees who are continually supportive of this department and its goals.
Eva Veilleux is a key to the smooth operations of the Archives. She has worked here for many years as just a part of her library duties. She is familiar with all facets of our archival work, and is a meticulous, skillful worker. She spends parts of three days per week in the Archives, for about 7½ hours per week.
Thomas Marsella has been volunteering his Wednesday mornings at the Archives for many years, and is a great help in cataloging, accessioning, and many other archival tasks. His personality and friendliness are appreciated by the staff and researchers alike. We are fortunate to have him with us. This past fiscal year Tom has donated over 75 hours at the Archives.
This fiscal year we obtained, accessioned, processed, and catalogued 79 items for inclusion within our Public Reading Room book collection. Twenty-eight of the volumes were acquired through gifts, while 51 were purchased.
This was a banner year for the acquiring of a large number of witchcraft volumes for our nationally known “Ellerton J. Brehaut Witchcraft Collection.” Donated books included: Andover Witchcraft Genealogy by Enders A. Robinson (2013); The Witch Frenzy (1967) and Witchcraft Hysteria (1968), in New England Journeys.
Purchased witchcraft volumes this year included: Notes on Witchcraft, by George L. Kittredge (1907); A Confirmation and Discovery of Witchcraft, by John Stearne (1684 reprint); a theatre program to The Crucible from The National Theatre (1963); John Webster, by Wm. Weeks (1923); Act to Repeal an Act ... Against Witchcraft (1821); The Witches’ Sabbath, A Play in One Act, by John W. Zorn (1966); The Witches of Salem, edited by Roger Thompson (1982); The Dreams in the Witch House, by H. P. Lovecraft (2012); Invisible World, by Suzanne Weyn (2012); Daily Life During the Salem Witch Trials, by David Goss (2012) in which several of our illustrations were used; Final Notes on Witchcraft in Massachusetts, by George H. Moore (1885); and Six Women of Salem, by Marilynne Roach (2013). Ms. Roach used our resources and several illustrations in her book.
A number of rare witchcraft books were also purchased, catalogued and shelved within our secure walk-in vault. These titles were: Demonology and Devil-Lore, 2 v. by Moncure Conway (1880); Witch Hill: A History of Salem Witchcraft, by Z. A. Mudge (1870); An Essay on Demonology, by James Thacher (1831); Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1833); The Superstitions of Witchcraft, by Howard Williams (1865); Annals of Witchcraft, by Samuel G. Drake (1869); Ecclesiastical Reminiscences of the United States, by Edward Waylen (1846); The Psychology of Salem Witchcraft, by George Miller Beard (1882); and Lights and Shadows of American History, by Samuel Griswald Goodrich (1844).
A significant rare book was acquired for our Witchcraft collection which reflects on the legal aspect of 17th & 18th century witchcraft. We purchased a 1705 edition of Michael Dalton’s The Country Justice, which was a guide to local magistrates on various felonies including witchcraft. Through the original collection gift of Mr. Ellerton J. Brehaut to the library in the 1960s we had an earlier edition, though it only discussed witchcraft in a few paragraphs. This edition includes much material, including the manner in discovering a witch.
A second major addition to our Witchcraft Rare Book collection was purchased just a few weeks from the end of the fiscal year from our friends at Weiser Antiquarian Books in York, Maine. They had been chosen to sell an extraordinary collection of 60 rare books on witchcraft and demonology originally collected by Dr. Michael Coleman. It was the end of our budget year and I was afraid there would be many books that we could use for our collection and not have any money to acquire them. I was pleased to find that most of the books within this collection were duplicates of what we already had. The exception was a rare 50-plus page 1613 volume by theologian William Perkins. The book is titled, A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft; so farre as it is Revealed in the Scriptures, and manifest by true Experience, Framed and Delivered by M. William Perkins. Published by Thomas Pickering, the volume was printed in England by Cantrell Legge, printer to the University of Cambridge.
The volume is a superb folio book bound in the 17th century style in full leather by renowned London bookbinder, Bernard C. Middleton. This early English language work on witchcraft includes a carefully argued defense of the reality of witchcraft. This book was used in 1692 during the Salem events as a guide to local magistrates. A courtesy discount to the Danvers Archival Center allowed us to purchase the book for less than $800. It is a fine addition to our collection.
Rounding out the acquisitions of witchcraft items this year are two interesting little items of ephemera that were catalogued and placed within our W file collection. The first is a colorful 50-cent postal stamp issued by the island country of Grenada in 2000 commemorating the Witchcraft trials, while the second item is a Topps Trade Card from the series Topps Scoop Card #98 titled “Witch Hunt in Salem.” This card, similar to collectible baseball cards, was from a series of historic events and published in 1954.
At various times throughout the year authors will contact the Archives requesting assistance in research questions or cultural background relating to books they are writing. The subject is usually Salem witchcraft and the form usually fiction. This past year two noted historical writers, Marilynne Roach and Professor Emerson Baker, requested assistance with forthcoming books, including photo sources. I also continue to be in phone, personal and email contact with Pulitzer Prize writer Stacy Schiff who has used our resources extensively. Ms. Schiff is a meticulous researcher and a lovely person. She has now begun the writing phase of her history of the Salem witchcraft, and I await with much anticipation her interpretation of the events of 1692.
Within our “Danvers History” book collection we received as donations the following printed items which have all been processed, catalogued and put on the shelf: Hindsight: Reflections on Growing Up in Danvers, by Laura Hinds (2100); Report Upon the Repairing of the Highways in Danvers, by Henry Onion (1870); Street List of Persons in Danvers (2013); Favorite Quotations, by Ladies of the First Congregational Church (1904); Athletic Year Book, by Holten High School (1926); Mary A. Burnham School, by John E. Emerson (2003); The Ravenala: A Romantic Novel, by Jackie Zollo Brooks (2013); Our Endicott Heritage Trail, v. 7-9, by the Endecott-Endicott Family Association (2011-2014); Danvers Town Report 2013, from the Town Clerk; “The Lindens,” by Douglas Brenner, in Architectural Digest (February 2014); Heritage 2014, the Danvers High School yearbook; and a booklet I put together titled The Glories of War (2014), with a short text and about 30 reproductions of slides. The booklet describes a film my friends and I shot in Danvers in the 1960s and early 70s about the American Civil War. It was a fun project done by a bunch of enthusiastic kids.
Also donated to us were a number of extra copies of serial volumes already within our collections. These included: two separate gifts of Danvers High School yearbooks (1981, 1984, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004 and 2005); and two separate gifts of 86 volumes of the Danvers Historical Society Collections (1913-1987).
Among purchased books for our printed local history collection were: Bunker Hill, by Nathaniel Philbrick (2013); Pioneers of the Kindergarten in America, by the Committee of Nineteen (1924), including information on Danvers native Anne L. Page; The Wired City, by Dan Kennedy (2012); The Remembrancer: or Impartial Repository of Public Events (1779); The Spire, by St. John’s Preparatory School (1956 & 1958); Remembering James H. Gregory, by Shari K. Worrell (2014); Little People, by Dan Kennedy (2010); A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of Thomas Flint, by John Flint (reprint of an 1860 volume); and Discourse Delivered in Danvers, by Joseph Emerson (1823).
Much of our special John Greenleaf Whittier Collection was originally gathered by Whittier scholar and Danvers native Dr. Richard P. Zollo, and donated to the Archives. We continue to upgrade this important collection concerning the poet and abolitionist who lived for 16 years in Danvers at the Oak Knoll estate on Summer Street. Among items purchased were: Celebrating Whittier, by Pamela Fenner (2007); John Greenleaf Whittier: A Profile in Pictures, by Donald P. Wright (1983); a beautiful edition of Tent on the Beach, by Whittier (1899); first edition of The Pennsylvania Pilgrim, by Whittier (1872); the earliest book of published Whittier poems, many on the subject of abolitionism, titled, Voices of Freedom (1846); the Whittier work, In War Time (1864); and a specially bound, limited 250 copy large print edition of eighteen of Whittier’s later poems titled, At Sundown (1892), printed posthumously. Tipped into this rare book is a two-page holograph manuscript in Whittier’s hand of his poem “A Centennial Hymn,” written for the opening of the International Exhibit at Philadelphia in May 1876. The six-stanza poem is signed at the conclusion by Whittier, and dated October 1876. (See the section on manuscripts for a description of other Whittier manuscripts acquired this past year as part of our Zollo/Whittier Collection.)
Those books purchased as paperbacks or volumes whose covers are in poor shape are candidates for the bindery. This year we sent out 13 volumes to Acme Bindery for rebinding them in long-lasting buckram.
A sub-category of printed items within our collections are “broadsides.” These items are one-sided printed sheets, usually of a large format, and issued so that they could be posted on walls. One such item donated this year was a 1906 broadside notice printed in red ink announcing that the Danvers High School Class of 1908 is holding a dance party at Perry’s Hall, with tickets costing 35 cents. Also catalogued, as part of the Town of Danvers deposit collection, were three Revolutionary War broadsides sent to the Selectmen of Danvers as official notices. One broadside (September 17, 1776) is concerned with the towns consenting to “a Constitution and form of Government for this State.” The second broadside, with the same date as the first, details items relating to volunteer military service “against our unnatural enemies.” The third item is a double folio broadside issued in April 1783, by the Town of Boston concerning confiscation of the property of “Certain Ingrates,” who have been declared “traitors to their country.” Coincidentally, in June we received a “Rare Americana” catalogue from an antiquarian dealer who illustrates and lists this last broadside, not in as good a shape as ours, at $15,000. All three of these printed items had previously been conserved and put into inert Mylar folders by the Northeast Document Conservation Center. They are now included in our Danvers History catalogue.
Newspapers are another sub-category of printed materials. Donated this year was the October 15, 1813, issue of The Weekly Messenger published in Boston. A lengthy article begins on the first page by Danversite Andrew Nichols concerning “making and managing of cider,” under the title “Rural Economy.”
Since our beginning, 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. This past fiscal year we were able to sort, box and send off to California hard copies of recent years of our local newspaper, The Danvers Herald, for Heritage Archives to film them. This batch included generating 35mm negative silver halide, and positive 35mm roll copies of The Danvers Herald for the years 2008-20011.
Catalogue cards added to our Danvers History Union Catalogue numbered 190, while 237 new main entry, title and subject cards were created and interfiled into our Witchcraft catalogue.
“Ephemera” describes a class of printed paper items which are typically small, single items, pamphlets, sheets, etc., originally meant for temporary use. These point-in-time bits of history, though not typically warranting individual cataloguing within our archival collection, can be very informative. Our ephemera collection is kept within acid-free folders under appropriate subject headings and placed in vertical file cabinets in our Manuscript Storage Room.
Among items of ephemera donated to us this past year were: Schedule of the Naumkeag Street Railway (1886); Danvers Women’s Association Bulletin (1934/35); brochures from Marietta, Ohio, which was settled by Danvers and Essex County families; four scorecards from the Danvers Golf Club (1900); legal papers relating to 21 Water Street (1949-1970s); Rules and Regulations of the Trustees of the Peabody Institute Library (1930); handwritten genealogical chart forWilliam Nichols; and Family Festival news clippings (2013).
Three cachet envelopes designed by Norman R. Brown with First Day Issue John Greenleaf Whittier “Famous Americans” series commemorative stamps were donated by a Danvers resident. On February 16, 1940, the U. S. Postal Department issued a two-cent red “rose carmine” commemorative stamp featuring a portrait of the poet Whittier. Various private companies created artwork on envelopes upon which the stamp would be affixed and on the official day of issue were marked with the collectible “First Day” postal cancellation. Beginning last year, we have concentrated on gathering all the different First Day envelopes affixed with single, two or block-of-four Whittier stamps.
Items of ephemera which I purchased on-line through eBay included: an advertisement from a 1928 magazine for the American Toy Manufacturing Company in Danvers (This company was located at what is now Friend Box Company on High Street and during the 1920s and 30s made various wooden and cut-out toys); a printed 4-page menu for Landolphi’s Restaurant on Water Street (1960s); and separately, a 4-page menu for ViCliff’s Restaurant on Andover Street (1960s).
Formal gift acknowledgments were sent to 29 individuals or institutions which donated books and/or manuscripts to the Archival Center, reflecting single or multiple donations to us. Many gifts came from Danvers residents, though gifts were also sent to us from Salem, North Reading, Maine and Georgia, as well as from the Northborough Free Library and Milford Town Library.
On occasion we find within material to be catalogued items which are not related to Danvers. We attempt to place these items in appropriate collections. This past year we sent as unrestricted gifts items to the Lowell National Historic Park; Lynnfield Public Library, and Peabody Essex Museum. In mid 2013 two large cardboard boxes filled with 19th century newspapers were dropped off at the Peabody Institute Library by persons unknown. I was given this large accumulation and after going through it gleaned a few items for our Danvers collections. Several items I placed with the Lynn Historical Society, and I separated a group of 175 issues of The American Union, published in Boston. These large format, 4-page newspapers dated between 1850 and 1858, and after a bit of research I found that the American Antiquarian Society, a major research depository for 18th & 19th century American newspapers, had a small run of this paper, but was missing most of those that we had. They were shipped out to them, and almost immediately we were contacted by a researcher at the Society expressing that he was “ecstatic” about the donation, as it had greatly assisted his research. Often such newspapers are donated, processed, stored and never seen again by a human. To have made the effort to find this group of newspapers an appropriate home, for them to be useful, and for us to hear about it is very gratifying!
Items temporarily borrowed from our collections, including original or copies of photographs and documents for exhibition or research purposes, included: the Danvers Historical Society; Endicott Park; Hancock Associates; North Fork Design; Danvers Herald; Salem News; All Saints Episcopal Church; and several individual patrons representing reunion organizations, etc.
During this fiscal year we acquired 533 audio-visual items, mainly photographs, for our archival collection. Donations amounted to 503 items, while 17 were given on permanent deposit by the Danvers Historical Society, and 13 items were purchased. Though we do not catalogue each new photo or illustration, special images worthy of inclusion in our public picture catalogue of merit due to their age, rarity or significance are catalogued. In this category we added 24 cards to the picture catalogue.
Pictorial images donated to the Archives this past year included: Thirty-two color prints of the construction of the Danvers Senior Center (1998-1999); 17 color prints of the site of the old Homestead Golf Club on Locust Street (2000); a long roll photograph of the Holten High School Class of 1936; a large family portrait of the Manuel Espinola family (c 1922); a collection of 20 snapshot views of the Nurse Homestead (1939-1950s); Stereo View of the portrait of Queen Victoria at the Peabody Institute in Peabody (c1870); a copper printer’s plate of Danvers Town Hall (c 1948); and various postcards from several sources, including views of the Israel Putnam house and Landolphi’s restaurant.
Among photographs purchased this past fiscal year were: four contemporary photographs of John G. Whittier (c1880s-1890s); a real photo postcard of the original Tapleyville School (1910); two chromolithographs of the Battle of Bunker Hill and of [Israel] Putnam’s Famous Ride by Alonzo Chappel (1890); a carte-de-visite photograph of a sitting George Peabody (c 1866); a stereo view of the Israel Putnam birthplace (c1880); a mounted chromolithograph of Oak Knoll by the Detroit Photographic Company (1890); 5 color postcards relating to John G. Whittier (c 1910); 2 rare stereo views of the George Peabody funeral procession in Portland, Maine by D. W. Butterfield (1890); and a glass lantern slide of Oak Knoll (1912).
We also accessioned, catalogued and stored several deposit photographs owned by the Danvers Historical Society. Among this group were: sixteen black & white photos of interiors of the old Hunt Memorial Hospital on High Street (1950s); a 1/12th plate Daguerreotype of Dr. Jesse W. Snow (1850s); a 1/6th plate Daguerreotype of Matthew Hooper (c 1850s); a 1/6th plate Ambrotype of 3 Putnam men (c 1860) and a 1/6th plate Daguerreotype of two Mudge children.
In conjunction with this Mudge item, in my role as a member of the Executive Board of the Danvers Historical Society I took on the project with the assistance of Society Operations Manager Cathy Gareri and Board member Irene Kucinski the selecting of nine oil-on-canvas framed portraits from within the Society collections to be hung on the walls of Tapley Memorial Hall on Page Street.
One of the portraits chosen was a rendering of the original small Daguerreotype of the two Mudge children into a large painting. The story of the children’s images is quite sad. Edwin Mudge (1818-1890) was a major shoe manufacturer and a Danvers representative to the Massachusetts General Court. In 1844 he married Lydia Nichols Bryant, and in 1852 the couple built and moved to the house now at 108 Centre Street. A son, Francis Brown had been born October 4, 1846, and his sister Lydianna Bryant Mudge was born March 20, 1853. Sometime around 1854 the children were photographed on a daguerreotype plate, Lydianna moved her head during the timed exposure, slightly blurring the image. The 1/6th plate daguerreotype was set into a gutta-percha case with padded velvet cover and brass decorative frame. This Daguerreotype is among the Historical Society collections on deposit at the Danvers Archival Center.
Tragically, both brother and sister died in 1855 of what was described as “brain fever” or “dropsy in the head.” Frank, one month shy of 10 years of age, passed away on September 8, 1855, followed by little 2½-year-old Lydianna on October 8.
Desiring a more tangible remembrance of their dear children, sometime between 1856 and 1876, the Mudge’s asked talented South Danvers artist Asa Bushby (1834-1897) to paint an oil portrait of the two deceased children, utilizing the small 1854 daguerreotype. Bushby was known for his vibrant colors and careful likenesses. His only change from the daguerreotype was to place a book in Frank’s right hand. The portrait itself measures 36” x 26.”
In 1857 the couple had a third child, Sarah Wilson Mudge (1857-1938), who grew up to be a prominent citizen and one of the founders of the Danvers Historical Society. The painting remained at the Mudge homestead at 108 Centre Street till the death of daughter Sarah Mudge in 1938. Upon her death, the painting was donated that same year to the Historical Society by Miss Florence A. Mudge.
A large number of other collected images within the Danvers Archival Center photographic collection were accessioned, sorted, and placed in Mylar-type sleeves, and then stored within acid-free storage folders. Among these images were collections representing the Rebecca Nurse Homestead; Oak Knoll, the home of John G. Whittier for 16 years; and the Israel Hutchinson birthplace.
In the audio-visual category we acquired a number of Videotapes and DVDs including as gifts: DVD of the film made partially in Danvers titled Home Before Dark (1952/2014); a set of four DVDs of the 50th anniversary activities of St. Richard Parish (2013); DVD of the local access cable program Topics of the Town with Richard Trask (2014); DVD of the local access cable program Spirit of Danvers featuring former police chief Christ Bouras (2014). One purchased item was a collection of seven DVDs relating to the disposition of Danvers State Hospital (c 1993-2004). Gifts relating to Salem witchcraft included: VHS of Three Sovereigns for Sarah (1984); VHS tape of Les Sorcieres de Salem (1957); and a DVD of Haunted History: Salem Witch Trials (2012). Purchased witchcraft items included: DVD of Witch Hunt (2004); a DVD of Salem Witch Trials (2008); and a DVD of The Lords of Salem (2013). I have begun to put together a chronological calendar of the tapes and disks we have on the subject of Salem witchcraft. We were also able to obtain through eBay a 33 1/3rd phonograph record with original slipcover of Jazz Concert Presented by the Danvers High School Jazz Band (1965).
Our manuscript collections are expansive and significant. They include materials collected and owned outright by the Peabody Institute Library/Archival Center, and deposit collections including from all departments of the Town of Danvers going back to 1752, most all the churches in town, and dozens of active and defunct Danvers organizations, as well as the manuscript collections of the Danvers Historical Society. Progress was made this year in the continuing effort to process, catalogue, and store in optimum conditions the deposit manuscript collections of the Danvers Historical Society. A partial listing of newly catalogued Historical Society manuscript items is as follows: From the Emerson family collection from the Putnam house, we catalogued the transcript of a talk given by Miriam Putnam (Emerson) Peters on her “Childhood Memories” (1975), as well as the typescript recollections of Edward Everett Emerson titled “My Memories of Danvers” (1971). From the general Society collection we catalogued: Lydia (Waters) Putnam estate papers (1811-1830); a tax warrant appointing Joseph E. Hood a collector of taxes (1887); the appointment of appraisers to the estate of Jonathan Harwood (1825); and a letter from Charles Moses Endicott to his son Ingersoll describing the Endecott Pear Tree and its significance (1858).
We received a batch of manuscripts as a deposit collection from the Walnut Grove Cemetery Corporation. They were catalogued and stored with other cemetery deposit materials presented in years past. Among these new deposits were: Corporation treasurers’ reports (1909, 1913, 1920-1927, 1931-1934); cemetery endowment lot deeds (1844-1946); and voided cemetery lot deeds (1866-1976).
We continue to process and catalogue the large number of backlog Town of Danvers manuscript records dating as far back as 1752. Among this class of records catalogued this past year are: a writ served upon the Town by Enoch and Aaron Putnam for non-payment of expenses in rebuilding the Waters Bridge. Included with the writ are accounts of detailed expenses for rebuilding the bridge (1771); warrant by the Selectmen for a town meeting at the request of Samuel Page to erect a dam (1802); a report on the erection of guide posts and street signs (1875-1893);documents regarding stray animals (1773-1816); formal appointment of Eben S. Upton as a tax collector (1844); deposition concerning Joseph Osborn as an assessor (c 1830); appointment of a moth supervisor (1918); appointment of special police for the protection of the Salem reservoir during World War I (1917); record of streets in Danvers (1852-1877); proposals by citizens to collect taxes for the town (1820, 1831, and 1856); documentation regarding Liberty Street (1921-1922); Highway Department records concerning the establishing, designing and maintaining of streets (1855-1871); records of the Danvers Road Commissioners (1872-1935); record books of the Board of Road Commissioners (1890-1894, 1912-1922); Highway Surveyors’ tax commitment record books, 1759-1813, 1838-1871, 1880-1889); Road Commissioners’ account books, 1890-1896); Town Treasurers’ account books, 1858-1871); and a sample copy of warrant for the presidential primary (1932).
A very significant collection of assessors’ records was also catalogued, beginning with the original printed act passed by the General Court for the collecting of provincial taxes, including the printed coat of Arms of King George II (1760). Within this grouping of assessors’ records are a collection of three sets of sheets representing 26 large sheets listing polls and estates of Danversites in 1761, 1780 and 1801. These items were restored back in 1976/77 by the Northeast Document Conservation Center. The sheets include numerous columns with headings for all manner of information including dwellings, servants for life, livestock, acreage and amounts of produce such as barrels of cider, etc., all combining to give a snapshot picture of life in Danvers during those particular years.
Among manuscripts donated as gifts to the Archives this past year were: deed for a lot of land on the corner of Weston and Lindall Streets (1896); genealogical notebook concerning the Nichols extended family; historical monograph by Rachel Lovett titled, “Governor John Endecott’s pursuits in early American horticulture” (2010); two tuition receipts for attendance at Anne Page’s school (1876); speech given by Mary Ward Nichols to the Danvers Women’s Association (1907); historical monograph by Martha Cummings titled, “Woodvale at Danvers, Massachusetts, the dismantling of Burley Farm and the creation of suburbia” (2013); personal and business receipts of Andrew Nichols (1866-1892); certificate of membership of Fred A. Rundlett to the Harvard Medical Alumni Association (c 1970); a genealogical scrapbook created by Mary Elliott Nichols (c 1920s-1930s); and a presidential commission to Frederik Rundlett as lieutenant in the Navy Medical Corps signed by Secretary of the Navy Paul H. Nitze (1964).
One attractive manuscript item donated by a prominent Danvers family was a 12” by 10” framed and matted two-piece display. Featured is a manuscript town document dated May 21, 1782, written and signed by Dr. Samuel Holten requesting of Ezra Batchelder to pay an amount to Benjamin Chase. Mounted above the document is a photographic image of a silhouette of Holten in profile.
Manuscript items purchased during FY 2013, and now processed and catalogued were: account book kept by Edward D. Kimball concerning his “Locust Lawn Estate” (1856-1866); a printed circular letter from the Danvers Selectmen to the Selectmen of Charlestown concerning highway law (1813); a cut and mounted closing sentiment and signature of George Peabody from a letter from Baltimore, MD (1840); a letter from Joseph Kidder concerning his new job as a teacher in Danvers (1939); a letter from later governor of New Hampshire Nathaniel Bradley Barker concerning his stay in Danvers at his relatives who own “The Lindens” (1845); and a notice of a school committee meeting to Augustus Mudge (1851).
A number of Whittier items were also acquired by purchase as part of our Richard P. Zollo Whittier Collection. They included the manuscript Whittier poem “A Centennial Poem” described above in the Whittier book collection, as the poem is tipped into the book. Other manuscripts were: an Autographed Letter Signed from Danvers concerning rights to use several of his poems (1878); an A.L.S. answering several literary questions (1889); an A.L.S. in which Whittier invites a “Dear Friend” to visit while he is at Gov. Claflin’s house (no date given); a great A.L.S. by Whittier at Oak Knoll giving a recommendation for a teaching position for his neighbor, Marion Spring, who lives at the mansion house, Porphory Hall, on Spring Street (1890); and an A.L.S. (1881) from Whittier to Mrs. Sara Spring thanking her for the invitation to her open house, the building of which had just been completed at an astronomical cost, but begging off due to his “bad health and deafness.” Whittier signs the letter, “thy friend and neighbor.”
A hefty number of manuscript cards were created from all this new accumulation of manuscripts, adding 475 main entry and tracing cards to the manuscript catalogue.
Maps are another area of collecting within the Danvers Archival Center. Among our map collection we include both manuscript and printed maps of the Town of Danvers, or of smaller geographical areas within the community. Among donated manuscript maps added to the collection were: a sheet executed by Andrew Nichols of a plan of house lots for sale, including numbered house lots off Conant Street for the newly created Alden, Berry, Chase, and Damon Streets laid out over the former Old Trotting Park (1890 & 1893); and a map showing meadow land east of present day Nichols Street and north of Spring Street (c 1830). Added to our map catalogue were 48 new cards.
Architectural Records is yet another collecting area within the Archival Center. Frequently referred to as “plans,” these drawings were created by architects to assist in the visualization and building of the many types of structures. Architect Robert D. Farley was asked to produce for the Archival Center collection an original sheet (81 x 58 cm.) copied from a battered blueprint copy of the originally site plan drawn in 1972 of the excavated foundation of the Salem Village Parsonage located behind 67 Centre Street. Bob did a wonderful job, and the plan and several copies are now part of our collection. In all we added 48 cards to our plan catalogue.
Though the Archival Center does not collect objects as such, one category in which we do collect an occasional object is if the object relates to George Peabody or the Peabody Institute Library. Through eBay I was able to obtain a 7 1/2” parian bisque porcelain bust of George Peabody dated 1870, the year after his death. Probably manufactured in England as a memento of the well-known philanthropist, the very attractive bust is perched on the end of one of our book shelves in the Archive Reading Room.
Statistics on the public use of the Archives were kept for 49 weeks this year. Some 868 patrons physically visited the Archives and used our resources. We logged 725 telephone calls answered, as well as 881 letters and emails sent out in answer to queries. I also gave talks and presentations either here in the Archives or outside the building to 6 groups representing various civic, college, school, genealogical and historical organizations. Among the groups given talks were a regional Kiwanis meeting in Danvers, the Danvers Historical Society, a genealogical group, and several visiting students and teachers from out of state.
Though I do not belong to facebook, several weeks ago I was given a copy of a facebook message that had been sent out concerning the Archives. “I wanted to share this with everyone – a couple of months ago I had emailed the town archivist at the library about the house I grew up at to see if he had any resources for me. He emailed me back a lengthy response within a couple days filled with really great information about the home and neighborhood (and even about the person who built it and their Life!) based on the records he had. So I highly recommend going down to the library and visiting the archive center. For those interested in history or nostalgia, it would be so worth your time. Great job on their part!” ( I want to thank my mother for those kind remarks!)
I participated in several broadcast and taped programs this past year including an independent documentary being done about the Danvers State Hospital and a local cable access program being put together by a college student on Danvers history. I went to DCAT studios at 87 Elm Street in early June to participate in a program series “Topics of the Town,” hosted by Mark Zuberek and John Zavaglia. The hour long program included discussion about Danvers history, current events and the Archival Center. We even had several phone calls by viewers.
On June 17th I participated in a program at Salem Access Television (SATV) along with witchcraft scholars Professor Emerson W. Baker, Marilynne K. Roach and New York Times best selling author Katherine Howe discussing little known and mistaken “facts” concerning the Salem witchcraft events. Assisting in production and background were Tina Jordan, Alison D’Amario, Elizabeth Peterson and Kate Fox. This program, co-sponsored by the Salem Witch Museum and the City of Salem, will be offered to other cable markets for rebroadcast use.
The June 17th taping in Salem came together partly as a result of a broadcast documentary project that several of us were involved in earlier in the year. Back in December 2013, I was contacted by representatives of 8th St. Productions of Hermosa Beach, California asking if they could use our witchcraft resources for a documentary on Salem witchcraft. I was also asked if I would be willing to be interviewed. Similar requests come in each year, some of the resulting television programs being good, others pretty bad. This particular one-hour documentary would be directed by Oscar nominated director/producer Matthew Cooke and tell the true story of Salem witchcraft. It would also be used as an introduction to a new fictional series being filmed in Shreveport, Louisiana called Salem. Being a public institution, the Danvers Archival resources are open to everyone, and I usually try to be helpful with such requests. Also agreeing to be interviewed for the documentary were historians Tad Baker, Marilynne K. Roach and author Katherine Howe.
In January 2014, the production crew began filming in the area, including a full day shooting at the Archives, with an interview of Katherine and me. The Archival Center received $500 for its use. For such a small production, they brought a large crew of technical and production people numbering about a dozen. Set-up took quite a while, and for the life of me I don’t understand why they wanted to use the Archive space, as the final product only saw nebulous boarding as a background during our interviews. The interviews were shot using two cameras, and with both body and boom microphones. The lighting and film quality of all our interviews was very crisp and colorful.
The resulting program titled, The Real Witchcraft of Salem, began to be aired on WGN America Cable Company, a channel most Danversites don’t receive. And I’m glad that is the case! The words of the “experts” were used, or partially used, while the rest of the program featured a long promo about the episodic soap-opera, Salem, showing clips of the program itself. One could readily see that history was only an accidental visitor to the serial. After viewing the initial documentary, several people questioned if we should do something to describe the inaccuracies in the series.
I replied in an email: “Had recently heard the series was a soap opera. After seeing just a few minutes of scenes from the production, I can say that it would be much easier to point out the accuracies (as there are so few) vs. the inaccuracies. It appears the production company had neither an alive nor dead historian on the set. Clothing, objects, buildings, and everything in between is wrong and often silly. One scene shows Rev. Cotton Mather with a beard in a room that has more candles lit than what would be used by a Puritan in a year. The bible I saw is a large, tooled 19th century Catholic volume, and the minister is preaching in a silly looking church, acting like a frantic, modern televangelist. The actors speak about the production [in the documentary] with real enthusiasm and like they are getting to the meat of the subject, but after seeing how the production treated the material culture, I am afraid to think what they will have done to the history. The documentary (?) crew of what seemed like 50 people did make us “talking-heads” look pretty good, with their lighting and sound. The way it was put together, however, blending us with the forthcoming soap opera program does seem to inflict upon us a “guilty by association.” But I can take solace in the fact that Tad, Marilynne and several others interviewed are on the executioner's cart right along with me.”
The series itself began to air in April, and after awhile I was able to see several episodes. It was so over-the-top, merging witchcraft, sex, violence and fantasy that I did not worry that people would get a false impression about the real facts, as no one could confuse this with reality. It was so “bad,” it was fun to watch, except I could only get through two episodes before I tired of it. One quote I saw described the series as being “Darkly sexual, Salem is Wuthering Heights meets The Exorcist, where witches run the trials.” It was picked up for a second season to begin in April 2015!
To change the subject, our Danvers Archival Center website, www.danverslibrary.org/archive is progressing quite well. Back in late 2012, Library Director Alan Thibeault instituted a project of updating and expanding our library website (Danverslibrary.org), so that it is more user-friendly, attractive, and useful. With the assistance of our talented and technically-savvy staff members, including Jim Riordan, Michelle Deschene, Jennifer McGeorge, and Eva Veilleux, our upgraded and expanded Archival Center web site went public just a year ago, on August 1, 2013.
The site is divided into major topics of: (1) “The Archival Center” concerning our services, a brief illustrated guide to our collections, annual reports, etc.; (2) “Danvers History” featuring history articles; (3) “Salem Witchcraft;” and (4) “Other Resources” linking the Archive site to other helpful sites.
Working with Jim Riordan of the Reference Department, I added extensively to the site this past fiscal year including: (1) a 30-minute video presentation created by Explore. org., a signature project of the Annenberg Foundation. Titled Salem Witch Hunt, the program was filmed extensively at the Archival Center and elsewhere and is a great visual introduction to Salem witchcraft. We thank explore.org for permission to use this program in our web site. (2) What a Pear, a brief illustrated history of the world famous Endecott Pear Tree located off Endicott Street and thriving through five centuries of existence. (3) Along with the history of the tree we also put together a photographic gallery of illustrations on the pear tree and its history. (4) A selection of six facsimile copies of essential books on Danvers history dating from 1847 through 1923, and including Harriet Tapley’s fine volume, Chronicles of Danvers, as well as a biography of George Peabody. Our link to these resources is through the Internet Archive. (5) Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny, being the story of the discovery within the Archive collections of deposit materials from the Emerson-Putnam collection originally at the Israel Putnam birthplace of a group of historically rare 17th century Virginia legal documents. How these documents ended up in Danvers, and what became of them is chronicled in this illustrated article. (6) A revamping of the article on ordering an Historic House Marker for houses and buildings located in Danvers. (7) An expanded article on the history of the Salem Village Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial located on Hobart Street in Danvers. (8) A facsimile copy of the 1693 London edition of two important contemporary writings on Salem witchcraft. The first part of the book is titled A Further Account and is a reprint of Rev. Deodat Lawson’s A Brief and True Narrative, being an eyewitness account of events in Salem Village up through April 1692. The second section of the book, with a separate title page, is Increase Mather’s essay Cases of Conscience, which volume helped bring an end to the witchcraft events in Massachusetts. An introduction to this book is part of the site. (9) The final addition to the site, input just at the end of the fiscal year, is titled Historian on the Set, being a history of the making of the film Three Sovereigns for Sarah. This 1984 movie was filmed primarily in Danvers, and is included on the 30th anniversary of its production in 1984 and airing in 1985 to describe the work of historical consultants in its creation. The film is about Rebecca Nurse’s sister, Sarah Cloyce of Salem Village. Academy award actress Vanessa Redgrave stared as Sarah Cloyce in this film, and the article includes many photos from the “shoot.”
We are attempting to include content that is often in demand by researchers of local Danvers history or Salem witchcraft. We are pleased with the reaction to our new Archive web site and find it fun to see that many people from afar happen onto it. During one day in September 2013, there were over 1,000 hits on our site, and during one sample week the site was visited by viewers from six continents, including countries such as Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, France and the Russian Federation.
In outside activities related to history and preservation, I continue to serve as a Commissioner in the Essex County National Heritage Area as Danvers Town Archivist. I also serve as a member of the Town of Danvers Salem Village Historic District Commission, which typically meets in the Archival Center for public meetings, a trustee of the Danvers Historical Society. I also act as a resource person for the Danvers Preservation Commission.
The Archives continues to serve as a resource for citizens and town agencies needing historic or background information. Among departments assisted this past fiscal year were: the Town Clerk, Endicott Park, Department of Public Works, Senior Citizen Center, Planning Department, Building Inspector, School Department and Superintendent of Schools, Town Manager, Historic District Commission, and Preservation Commission.
As part of the Danvers Demolition Delay By-Law, each year we receive requests for reports by the Preservation Commission on local buildings for which application has been made for demolition. Unfortunately more and more requests are made each year, and a simple 6-month delay without the Commission and/or others coming up with a possible solution to demolition does not protect the building.
Within the Salem Village Historic District was a dwelling located at 52 Centre Street. The house was in deplorable condition. Little maintenance had been done on the house for much of a decade, and with the death of the owner, it was abandoned for about two years. The house was unheated, open to the elements, and suffered from serious vandalism and water infiltration. Ownership was unclear and the structure was living on borrowed time, with many believing it would be torn down and the lot resold.
In 2012 I made a site visit, including photographing the interior and exterior of the old half-house at 52 Centre Street. 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, the Town took it upon itself to eject squatters using the house, have the windows boarded up and a tarp placed on the roof of the structure to protect it from further environmental damage, while attempting to determine ownership and hopefully preserve the house as an important structure within the Salem Village National Register Historic District. But the future seemed grim.
Using resources in the Archives, I determined that the house might possibly be a First Period half-house (dating before 1730) within our Historic District. First Period houses are very rare in America, with possibly only about 400 left in the entire country. As Town Archivist, I wrote up a statement about the significance of the structure and its importance to the Historic District.
Finally identifying the bank which owned the property and explaining that the house was important, and owners would have to abide by Historic District restrictions, the bank decided to auction the property, which eventually came to Mr. Michael Panzero of MJP Properties in Middleton. I met with Mr. Panzero, told him of the significance of the house and, touring him through my own First Period home, suggested some possible exterior renovations. Following several meetings with the Commission, Mr. Panzero finally decided to renovate it for resale. He was very flexible in listening to and willing to follow some of our guideline requests not only to renovate an old, decrepit structure into a very livable home, but also to bring out and restore the best features of the exterior. Once he began to reveal the ceilings of the dwelling, I was able to confirm that this original oak framed structure with exposed and whitewashed ceiling joists and summer beam was an actual “First Period” structure.
The exterior of the dwelling has been transformed into a signature house within the Historic District. We and the neighbors are grateful to Mr. Panzero. And through wonderful Town of Danvers inter-department cooperation, an important, historic dwelling has been saved from the jaws of destruction!
At the beginning of this past fiscal year our Archive Special Fund had a balance of $13,645.77. This fund was established in order to have money available in case important but expensive items came to our attention and would overwhelm our regular budget. This year the Archival Center brought in reference and certified copy fees amounting to $263. This was a busy year for our Historic House Marker Program, and we researched 15 signs and brought in $675. Other monies generated included several donations, a check given for a talk, fees requested for use of archival illustrations in publications, use of the Archives for a documentary, and books sold. This amounted to $811.95, for a total of $1749.95 being added to our special fund.
No major items of equipment were purchased this year, though each year we must replenish our supplies of archival polyester envelopes, Epson archival paper for copying images, permalife bond paper and Hollinger acid-free boxes and file folders. About half a dozen times each year I am pleased to assist patrons who request advice in preserve their valuable family papers and photographs by looking them over and suggesting storage methods and containers for their family collections.
Our independent HVAC unit which regulates temperature and humidity has never been worry-free since its original installation. For over five weeks at the beginning of the summer season the unit was not functioning well, with temperature generally in the high 70s and with the humidity also elevated. The problem seemed solved just into the new fiscal year.
Back in 2010, on two separate occasions, sprinkler heads within the Library’s water sprinkler system failed for no apparent reason and seriously damaged library equipment and collections. Seeing this as a potential devastating situation if it ever occurred in the Archival Center area with our valuable collection of manuscripts and rare books, it was determined to seek an alternative system. That same year we were able to commit the use of the majority of the first year’s grant of $12,000, given by the Annenberg Foundation to the Archival Center, toward a new fire suppression system. Other action followed at the May 2011 Danvers Annual Town Meeting, when it was voted to fund $18,000 toward this project. Unfortunately, the town did not quickly follow-through on the project, but fortunately the Annenberg Foundation was very amenable for us to encumber and not expend this first half of the grant money until the work is completed. In 2012 our old Haylon gas system, originally installed in 1981 in Archive Walk-In-Vault, was declared in need of replacement, while Haylon itself was no longer allowed for such application. This project could be incorporated into the major fire suppression project, but as an increase in cost.
Following meetings with DPW representatives and the Danvers Fire Chief, research, and a November 2013 consulting report by Firepro, Inc. commissioned by the Library Board of Trustees, we were able to recommend that the two Archive rooms and the Walk-In-Vault be installed with a Novec 1230 Fire Suppression System composed of gas canisters which, if set off, would suppress a fire, but not produce by-products of decomposition that could damage our historic records. This would also alleviate the water damage associated with an accidental fire-suppression discharge of the water-charged sprinklers.
Meanwhile the original heating system for the library as a whole completely broke-down. As part of a total replacement of the Library environmental system, article 21 of the Danvers Annual Town Meeting requested $2.1 million for the replacement of the Library HVAC system, and updating the “fire suppression system for the archive section.” It is hoped that the accumulated money from the 2010 Annenberg Grant, the 2011 Town of Danvers Archive appropriation, and the positive action by the May 19, 2014, annual town meeting for library improvements will be accomplished during this fiscal year and bring much-needed protection to the Archival Center.
Another traumatic event besides the sprinkler failure had occurred at the Library in 2010. On July 30 of that year Richard Provencher knocked the massive bronze George A. Peabody Memorial Urn, fabricated in 1890 by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York City, and located on the Library grounds, off its pedestal and into a truck. He then stole this public art-work to sell for scrap metal. An employee at the scrap metal yard called police concerning several suspicious items brought there, and Provencher was subsequently arrested and served a term in jail, but with no recompense given the Library. The urn remains in dead storage, is cracked, stove-in on one side and has a handle broken off.
Mr. Peabody had served for twenty-five years as a trustee of the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers, being its President from 1896 to 1916. Following Peabody’s death, in 1930 the estate gave the urn to the Trustees of the Library, moving it to the library ground as a memorial to Peabody. Craftsmen at Cassidy Bros. Forge in Rowley, Massachusetts committed to be able to carefully restore the urn at an estimated cost of $16,880, with an additional $2,400 for its reinstallation with the use of a crane. It will be secured from future theft.
This year the Peabody Institute Library Board of Trustees, after all avenues of acquiring restitution were exhausted, decided to take on the project of restoring and placing the memorial urn in a new location and appropriately marking it as to its significance. Trustee Charles Desmond was made chairman of the sub-committee, with President Michael Hagen and member Julie Curtis also serving. Through the George Peabody Society, $10,000 was initially pledged for the work, while all the trustees and some of the Library staff have already donated to the fund. Tentative location for the restored urn will be near the Childrens’ Room entrance, with a plaque mounted to the granite base.
Our library patrons and the public are urged to assist in the preservation of this public work-of-art through a tax-deductible donation to the George Peabody Society Urn Fund.
Thanks to the Friends President Christine Watson, during the Friends of the Library Annual Book Sale the Archival Center had a book truck filled with witchcraft and local history books offered for sale at bargain prices, with the proceeds going to the Urn Fund. Books are still available for sale in the Archives on a special book truck, with the proceeds going to the Urn Fund.
This monumental and artistically significant 700-pound bronze piece has served generations as a silent tribute to longtime Library Trustee President and donor George Augustus Peabody, as well as a lovely public ornamental art work to be enjoyed on the grounds of Peabody Park. The forces of darkness should not be allowed to get away with destroying our heritage and our memorials.
Richard B. Trask
July 30, 2014