Palfrey family papers
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Extent60 linear feet (130 boxes and 9 volumes)
The papers of William Palfrey include letters between John Wilkes and the Sons of Liberty and William Palfrey's personal correspondence with Wilkes at the time of the latter's imprisonment in 1769-1770, including Palfrey's description of the Boston Massacre. William Palfrey's business account and financial papers are extensive and range in subject from accounts of trade with Virginia in 1763 to the disposition of funds of the Continental Army during the time Palfrey was Pay Master General. His close association and correspondence with John Hancock should be noted. Several interesting items pertain to the dispute between Hancock and the Boston printer, John Mein, which resulted in Thomas Longman's suit against Mein and the latter's imprisonment.
The papers of John Palfrey deal mainly with his business affairs and the management of his plantation at Attakapas. However, several letters by his sons, Edward, William Taylor, and Henry William give first-hand accounts of battles in the war of 1812.
An almost complete set of MSS for the North American Review for the years of John Gorham Palfrey's editorship was retained among his papers and is catalogued under the signature bMS Am 1704.10. The catalogue sheets for these MSS are bound in a separate volume.
Letters to John Gorham Palfrey from over 1000 corespondents form the largest single section in the collection. Of special importance are 377 letters from Jared Sparks and 148 letters from Charles Sumner. Additional letters to J. G. Palfrey, which came to light after the catalogue was completed, are listed in bMS Am 1704a, directly following the main list of letters in this group. Among the compositions of J. G. Palfrey are certain items with notable co-authors. Principle among these are the Faneuil Hall Resolutions of November 4th, 1845, signed by J. G. Palfrey, Stephen C. Phillips and Charles Francis Adams, but written largely in the hand of Charles Sumner, bMS Am 1704.13 (130). Compositions and political resolutions by Richard Henry Dana, jr., Charles Sumner, Jared Sparks and others are grouped under bMS Am 1704.15.
Biographical / Historical
- I. bMS Am 11703-1704.8: Correspondence of the Palfrey Family
- ___bMS Am 1704: Part I. a) Letters to John Gorham Palfrey:
- ___bMS Am 1704a: Additional Letters to John Gorham Palfrey
- ___bMS Am 1704.1: Part I. b) Letters from John Gorham Palfrey
- ___bMS Am 1704.2: Part I. c) Other letters relating to the John Gorham Palfrey Family
- ___bMS Am 1704.3: Part II. a) Letters to William Palfrey, 1741-1781
- ___bMS Am 1704.4: Part II. b) Letters from William Palfrey; 1741-1781
- ___bMS Am 1704.5: Part II. c) Sheets with Letters by William Palfrey; 1741-1781
- ___bMS Am 1704.6: Part II. d) Other letters from the papers of William Palfrey
- ___bMS Am 1704.7: Part III. a) Letters to John Palfrey; 1768-1843
- ___bMS Am 1704.8: Part III. b) Letters from John Palfrey, 1768-1843
- ___bMS Am 1704.9: Part III. c) Other letters from the papers of John Palfrey
- II. bMS Am 1704.11-1704.17: John Gorham Palfrey Papers
- ___bMS Am 1704.11: Sermons and Lectures
- ___bMS Am 1704.12: MSS., Proofs and Annotated Copies of Palfrey's Histories of New England
- ___bMS Am 1704.13: Compositions of John Gorham Palfrey
- ___bMS Am 1704.14: John Gorham Palfrey; Journals and Autobiographical Material
- ___bMS Am 1704.15: Miscellaneous Compositions and MS Documents from the Papers of John Gorham Palfrey
- ___bMS Am 1704.16: Miscellaneous Diaries, Journals and Notebooks from the Papers of John Gorham Palfrey
- ___bMS Am 1704.17: Miscellaneous MSS., Printed Matter, Clippings and Memorabilia from the Papers of John Gorham Palfrey
- III. bMS Am 1704.18: Miscellaneous MSS. from the Papers of William Palfrey
- IV. bMS Am 1704.19: MS Books not in boxes
- V. bMS Am 1704.20: Miscellaneous Sets of Proof Sheets
- VI. bMS Am 1704.21: Additional Palfrey family papers
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The main part of the papers of the Palfrey family (bMS Am 1704 -1704.20) was given to Harvard University in 1941 by Dr. and Mrs. James B. Ayer. Additional correspondence, largely from the period of the children and grandchildren of John Gorham Palfrey, the historian, was received in 1964 as the gift of Mrs. Charles Woodrow. This latter material was catalogued separately and placed at the end of the collection (bMS Am 1704.21).
- Palfrey family. Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- EAD ID
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