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Edward D. Ropes (1838-1902) Papers

Edward D. Ropes (1838-1902) Papers

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EDWARD D. ROPES (1838-1902) PAPERS, 1855-1901

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-948-6012
Creator:Ropes, Edward D. (Edward Dehonde), 1838-1902
Title:Edward D. Ropes (1838-1902) Papers
Quantity:3.5 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The Edward D. Ropes papers document the activities of this Salem, Massachusetts, merchant and United States Consul to Zanzibar and his son, Edward D. Ropes, Jr. The collection has been divided into two series.
Collection Number:MH 201

Series List

SERIES I. Edward D. Ropes (1838-1902) Papers
SERIES II. Edward D. Ropes (1864-1903) Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Edward D. Ropes papers document the activities of this Salem, Massachusetts, merchant and United States Consul to Zanzibar and his son, Edward D. Ropes, Jr. The collection has been divided into two series. Each series is arranged in chronological order.

Series I. Edward D. Ropes (1838-1902) Papers contains letters, passports, and accounts. It includes documentation relating to the formation of Ropes, Emmerton & Company, and a letter from his father, Timothy Ropes. Correspondents in "letters from others" (box 1, folder 9) include A. S. Peabody, William H. Nichols III, J. Orne Ryder, Henry N. Austin, N. A. Bachelder, R. M. Whitney, F. M. Cheney, Henry Curwen, and Joseph A. Jones.

Series II. Edward D. Ropes, Jr. (1864-1903) Papers contains mainly letters from Ropes to his parents. These letters were transcribed and annotated in the book The Zanzibar Letters of Edward D. Ropes, Jr. 1882-1883 by Norman Robert Bennett in 1972. The letters are not necessarily personal, but contain descriptions of the commercial life of Zanzibar including the social conditions. This series also contains The Brooklyn Eagle, a newsletter published by The Neptune Publishing Company on board the USFS Brooklyn and contains articles on Zanzibar.

Biographical Sketches

Edward Delhonde Ropes was born on April 3, 1838, in Salem, Massachusetts, to Timothy (1797-1873) and Mary (Silver) Ropes. He attended local schools and in 1853, accepted a position with a Boston commission house. In the next year he joined John Bertram's firm and soon left for East Africa on one of the firm's vessels. Ropes continued in the Zanzibar trade for over a decade, serving as acting consul on the island during 1859 to 1860 and as consul from 1865 to 1867. During the latter period Ropes worked successfully to rebuild the war-damaged American position. Poor health caused Ropes to return to Salem in 1867. He never returned to East Africa, although he remained a member of the Bertram organization until John Bertram's death in 1882. He then became a principal partner of the successor firm, Ropes, Emmerton and Company.

Ropes married Mary Goodhue (1840-1915) of Salem in 1862 and they had a son, Edward D. Ropes, Jr. Ropes died in Salem on August 8, 1902 of stomach cancer.

Edward D. Ropes was born on September 5, 1864, in Salem, Massachusetts, to Edward D. (1838-1902) and Mary (Goodhue) (1840-1915) Ropes. He was educated in Salem's public schools. After graduating from high school at age 17, he went to Zanzibar to work for John Bertram's agency. He left Zanzibar in March 1885 at the expiration of his original contract. He returned in July 1886 as the firm's chief agent at age 22. He left Zanzibar for Salem sometime in 1889, but he was appointed as American consul in mid-1890 and returned to Zanzibar. He was forced to leave Zanzibar for the last time in February 1892 due to ill health.

In Salem, he entered the employ of Arnold, Cheney and Company, the successor firm to Arnold, Hines, and Company. Later Ropes worked for William E. Hutton and Company, a firm of New York brokers. Poor health increasingly plagued him and he died in Salem on October 30, 1903.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Bachelder, Leonard A.
Bertram, John, 1796-1882
Emmerton, E. Augustus (Ephraim Augustus), 1827-1901
Hathorne, W. H.
Hines, William E.
Kharas, Rustomjee Sorabjee
Lodge, Henry Cabot, 1850-1924
Ropes, Edward D., 1864-1903
Ropes, Timothy, 1797-1873
Sparhawk, Augustus
Spaulding, H.
Tharia, Jaffer
Tharia, Moosa
Toppan, Thariah
Webb, Francis Ropes
Webb, John Felt
Webb, William George, 1821-1890
Williams, James S.
Dossabhoy Merwanjee & Co.
Glide (Ship)
Maclean Maris Company
Ropes, Emmerton & Co.
Salem (Mass.)
United States--Commerce--Tanzania--Zanzibar


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Edward D. Ropes (1838-1902) Papers, MH 201, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated by Ruth Rogers on October 24, 1947 (acc #11,840) and the Lucia P. Ropes estate on January 20, 1948 (acc #11,884).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Tamara Gaydos, November 2016.

Related Material

Bennett, Norman Robert, ed. The Zanzibar Letters of Edward D. Ropes, Jr., 1882-1892. Boston: African Studies Center, Boston University, 1973.

Ebenezer and William Hollingsworth Hathorne Papers, 1818-1886, MH 119

Ropes Emmerton and Company Records, 1873-1902, MSS 103

Papers of Edward Delhonde Ropes, 1870-1876, MSS 0.031

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