Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
3.5 linear feet (10 boxes)
Also includes 2 drawings by Civil War artist Charles Wellington Reed.
Biographical / Historical
Upon graduating from Harvard, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 7, 1862 and first served as a Union naval recruiting officer in Harvard Square. On April 7, 1863 he became the paymaster aboard the "Keokuk," a turreted ironclad ram ship that was later sunk during an attack on Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. His next service was in the West Gulf Squadron as paymaster on the gunboat "Granite City." This ship was involved in a blockade of the Louisiana and Texas coasts and eventually was captured during an engagement at the Calcasieu Pass, Louisianna. John Read and the other survivors were taken prisoner by the Confederate forces on May 6, 1864.
For seven and a half months Read was confined in the Confederate prison camps of Camp Felder and Camp Groce in Texas. The rate of mortality in the stockade prison camps in Texas was among the worst in the entire South. Of the 111 men captured with him, only 32 survived. He was released with the other naval prisoners on December 19, 1864, when the Confederate forces closed the camp and sent the survivors back to Union lines at Galveston, then on to New Orleans. After release, Read was assigned to the United States sloop of war "Kearsarge," but he resigned from military service on March 18, 1865 due to poor health caused by the imprisonment.
After his return from the war, Read entered his father's military and sporting goods firm in Boston and eventually became a partner with his brother under the firm name of William Read & Sons. In 1865 he married Elise Welch of Boston (d. October 22, 1913) and had three sons, J. Bertram Read, William Read II, and Harold W. Read.
Read was also active in public life. He was a Republican member of the Cambridge Common Council in 1880 and 1881, Board of Cambridge Aldermen in 1882 and 1883, Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1888, and the Massachusetts Senate in 1892 and 1893. He was also on the Board of Overseers of Harvard College in 1895, was a state commissioner of the Nautical Training School of Massachusetts from 1899 to 1913, a trustee of the National Sailor's Home, president of the Cambridge Civil Service Association from 1901 to 1906, and commander of the Massachusetts Commandery of the Naval Order of the U.S. He died in Cambridge on July 29, 1915.
- I. Correspondence
- II. Compositions by John Read
- III. Images
- ___A. Individuals
- ___B. Groups
- ___C. Other
- IV. Biographical materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
*2000M-61. Gift of Mrs. Ann H. Brace, 491 Sudbury Road, Concord, MA 01742; received: 2001.
*2001M-1. Gift of Mr. Robert Read Batchelder, 207 Ashmont Ct., Lynchburg Va. 24503; received: 2001 July 5.
*2001M-16. Gift of Mr. Robert S. Szemes in memory of Anita Read Szemes, 14 Vista Lane, New Providence, NJ 07974, and Mr. John B. Read, 18 Middle Street, Marblehead, MA 01945; received: 2001 Sept. 12.
- Read, John, 1840-1915. John Read papers: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA