The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Newburyport, Massachusetts Town
18.5 linear feet (28 boxes)
This collection contains papers
relating to town business and daily life in Newburyport and includes documents
dating from 1670 to 1913.
SERIES I. Town and County Records
A. Court Documents
B. Militia Records
C. Overseers of the Poor
D. Newburyport Town Records
E. Notes on History
SERIES II. Fire Department Records SERIES III. School Records
A. School Records
B. Student Work
SERIES IV. Church Records SERIES V. Other Records
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains papers relating to town business and daily life in
Newburyport and includes documents dating from 1670 to 1913. The series were
organized chronologically or alphabetically depending on contents.
Series I. Town Records is comprised of six subseries:
Court Documents, Militia Records, Overseers of the Poor; Town Records, Notes on
History and Taxes. The bulk of the collection is comprised of tax records which
include Polls and Estate for personal returns, warrants issued by the Commonwealth
to individual collectors, and shareholder lists submitted to the Assessors of
Newburyport in response to "An act requiring corporations to make returns to the
assessors of cities and towns" approved by the state Legislature on April 29, 1863.
The Town Records subseries also includes a record book dating from 1791 of "People
Warned Out of Town."
Series II. Fire Department includes records of tax
abatements for firemen and engineers, record and account books for various fire
societies and a history of the Newburyport Fire Department from 1761 to 1900 by
former Chief S. C. Reed.
Series III. Schools is organized into two subseries.
Subseries A. School Records includes attendance
registers, school record books and reports, and a bound volume of The Putnam
Experiment, the weekly school newspaper, from the 1850s and including volumes V to
IX. Subseries B. Student Work includes a large number of
penmanship books, mainly belonging to members of the Short family, sketch books and
an oversized companion exercise (including original poems) entitled "Lady Harriet"
Series IV. Church Records includes original and
transcribed records from St. Paul's Church, records from the First Religious Society
in Newburyport, records from the Christian Church, and an organ tax list. This
series also includes transcriptions from gravestones located in Newburyport.
Series V. Other Records consists of Corporations,
Societies and Miscellaneous Papers of Newburyport. Subseries A.
Corporations contains four volumes of Transfer Books for the
Essex-Merrimack Bridge Corporation, records pertaining to the bankruptcy of the
Essex Hat Manufacturing Company, a record book tracking employee time sheets and
various local bank records. Subseries B. Societies
includes records of the Adelphi Society, Declaiming and Debate Club, Knights
of Honor, Old Town Farmer's Club and correspondence of the Merrimack Humane Society.
Subseries C. Miscellaneous includes local shipping
records, the log book for the magnetic telegraph for 1848, the religious notebook of
Elizabeth Gerrish, a petition to oppose the reelection of General Butler, and
letters to Reverend Fiske from his daughter while performing mission work in
The Town of Newburyport, located in Essex County Massachusetts, was a part of an area
originally called Quascacunquen, referring specifically to the falls on the Parker
River by the Native Americans of the Pawtucket Nation. The area was initially
settled in 1635 as part of "Newberry Plantation," now Newbury. After several
petitions, the "water side" of Newbury was incorporated by an act of the General
Court of Massachusetts as the separate town of Newburyport on January 28, 1764. The
act was approved by Governor Francis Bernard seven days later. Located on the
southern bank of the Merrimack River, the town was comprised mostly of merchants,
traders, mariners and craftsmen, and flourished as a fishing, shipbuilding, and
shipping center. During the Revolutionary War, Newburyport imported clothing and
military stores for use by the Continental Army. The town also supported large
numbers of privateers during both the Revolution and the War of 1812.
On May 31, 1811 a fire began in an unoccupied stable and burned for five hours,
destroying most of the downtown. Nearly 250 shops and homes were destroyed totaling
approximately one million dollars' worth of property. Donations amounting to nearly
$130,000 were received from the surrounding towns, and from as far away as Boston
The Putnam Free School, founded by the estate of Oliver Putnam (1777-1826)
opened its doors in 1848. It was united with Brown High and the Female High in 1868.
The city of Newburyport took the building by eminent domain in 1902 when the name
was changed to Newburyport High School.
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.
Female Benevolent Society
First Religious Society (Newburyport,
Free Evening School
Knights of Honor (Newburyport,
Leonidas Fire Society
Merrimack Humane Society
Neptune Fire Association
Newburyport Union Band
Newburyport Women's Club
Ocean Mills Company
Relief Fire Society
Sons of Temperance (Newburyport,
St. Paul's Church (Newburyport,
Temperance Aid Society
Whitefield Circle Industry
Church records and registers
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Request 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
This material was donated to the library by the estate of Charles H. Hudson in 1912;
Miss Emma H. Short in 1914; The Newburyport Public Library in 1916; the Martha G.
Wheatland bequest in 1924; S. C. Reed in 1925; H. W. Belknap in 1941; Sons and
Daughters of the First Settlers of the Town of Newbury in 1946; Letitia Linsley in
1948 and the estate of J. J. Currier.
Collection processed by Jennifer Hornsby, August 2011.
Coffin, Joshua. A Sketch of the History of Newbury,
Newburyport, and West Newbury. Hampton, New Hampshire: Peter E. Randall,
Currier, John J. The History of Newburyport Massachusetts,
1764-1905. Somersworth, New Hampshire: New Hampshire Publishing Company,
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
This material was donated to the library by the estate of Charles H. Hudson in 1912; Miss Emma H. Short in 1914; The Newburyport Public Library in 1916; the Martha G. Wheatland bequest in 1924; S. C. Reed in 1925; H. W. Belknap in 1941; Sons and Daughters of the First Settlers of the Town of Newbury in 1946; Letitia Linsley in 1948 and the estate of J. J. Currier.