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COLLECTION Identifier: HUG 1411

Papers of Caleb Gannett


The papers of Caleb Gannett (1745-1818; Harvard AB 1763), Harvard College Steward from 1779 to 1818, consist of a small assortment of miscellaneous personal records including a personal account notebook used between 1768 and 1777, two pieces of correspondence, miscellaneous financial documents, and records created in the settlement of Gannett's estate. Notably, the collection includes a 1775 letter written by Gannett discussing his smallpox inoculation and news of the Revolutionary War, and detailed inventories and appraisals of Gannett's estate including listings of his furniture and personal library.


  • 1768-1820

Researcher Access

The Papers of Caleb Gannett are open for research.

Copying Restriction

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.


.26 cubic feet (1 half-legal document box)
The papers of Caleb Gannett contain a small assortment of miscellaneous personal records including estate documents. The collection is comprised of a personal accounting notebook used by Gannett between 1768 and 1777; two pieces of correspondence consisting of an undated letter from Thankful Smith to her sister Mary Dunster, and a 1775 letter written by Gannett to Harvard Professor Edward Wigglesworth discussing Gannett's smallpox inoculation and news of the Revolutionary War; and three miscellaneous financial documents. Additional records include estate papers created in the process of appraising and auctioning Gannett's estate, including lists of his furniture and personal library; and two handwritten, undated epitaphs written in remembrance of Gannett.

The collection does not include records related to his work at Harvard College.

Biographical Note

Caleb Gannett (1745-1818), Harvard College Steward from 1779 to 1818, was born August 22, 1745 in Bridgewater, Mass. He received an AB from Harvard in 1763 and an AM in 1766. Gannett was a member of the Pembroke Church and studied theology with Ebenezer Gay (Harvard AB 1714). In June 1768, Gannett traveled to Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia, and served as a minister there until September 1771. He returned briefly to Massachusetts in October 1768 to be ordained as the Cumberland minister by Gay. In 1773, the Harvard Corporation appointed Gannett a tutor of Natural Philosophy and Mathematics. In May 1775, he left Harvard to be inoculated for smallpox and then returned to aid the College in its relocation to Concord, Mass due to the Revolutionary War. During the War, Gannett served regularly as a preacher in nearby towns. In 1779, the Corporation asked Gannett to succeed Jonathan Hastings as the College Steward; he accepted and remained in the position until his death in 1818.

On January 17, 1781, Gannett married Katherine Wendell, and after her death on July 25, 1798, he married Ruth Stiles, the daughter of Yale President Ezra Stiles, on January 19, 1800. Gannett was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex County in 1804, and was involved in many local civic organizations; he was a founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Friendly Fire Society, and the Humane Society of Cambridge. His wife Ruth died in June 1808, and Gannett died on April 25, 1818. Gannett had five children: John Mico (Harvard AB 1802), Katharine Brattle Bascomb, Thomas Brattle (Harvard AB 1809), Elizabeth Latham Andrews, and Ezra Stiles (Harvard AB 1820).


The collection is arranged in five series:
  1. Notebook, 1768-1777
  2. Correspondence, ca. 1767-1775
  3. Financial documents, 1791-1801
  4. Estate papers, 1808-1820
  5. Epitaphs, undated

Acquisition information

Most items in the collection were donated by Michael R. Gannet in 1981. The documents contained in Series IV, Estate papers were donated by Michael Gannett in 1975. The receipt for certificates of funded debt (HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 4) was donated by Jeremiah Colburn in May 8, 1882. The 1792 disbursement receipt (HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 5) was originally part of the Collected Papers of the Bursar (UAI 70.6).

Online access

All of the papers have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives
  1. Harvard University. Early records of the Steward, 1650-1800.
  2. Harvard University. Steward. Records of the Steward, 1801-1875.
In the Houghton Library
  1. Diaries of Caleb Gannett, 1774-1782 (MS Am 516, 516.2, and 516.3).
  2. Gannett, Caleb. A meteorological register kept at Cambridge, 1782-1783 in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Meteorological records.
  3. Lewis Gannett Papers. (MS Am 1888-1888.4).
In the Massachusetts Historical Society
  1. Mellen family papers, 1739-1883.


  • Shipton, Clifford K. Biographical Sketches of those who attended Harvard College in the classes of 1761-1763. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1970.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2018 November 27.

Processing Information

The material was first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. The material was re-processed in 2011 and the call numbers were simplified to HUG 1411. A list of superceded call numbers is available at the end of the finding aid. Re-processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid.

Five quarter bills, one to Thomas Jones in 1805 and four to Charles Brown between 1808 and 1812, as well as an 1812 payment receipt for Brown, signed by Caleb Gannett in his capacity as College Steward were moved to the Records of the Steward, 1801-1875 (UAI 70.6).

This finding aid was created by Diann Benti in January 2011.

Preservation and description of the Papers of Caleb Gannett was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
Link to catalog
Gannett, Caleb, 1745-1818. Papers of Caleb Gannett, 1768-1820: an inventory

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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