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Clarissa Crowninshield (1811-1907) Papers

Clarissa Crowninshield (1811-1907) Papers

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Open Finding Aid

CLARISSA CROWNINSHIELD (1811-1907) PAPERS, 1818-1908

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Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Crowninshield, Clarissa, 1811-1907
Title:Clarissa Crowninshield (1811-1907) Papers
Dates:1818-1908
Quantity:1.75 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The bulk of the collection consists of Clarissa (also called Clara) Crowninshield's personal papers, which include personal and business correspondence, receipts and accounts, legal and estate papers and stock certificates.
Collection Number:MH 67

Series List

SERIES I. Clarissa Crowninshield Thies Papers
A. Personal Correspondence
B. Business Correspondence
C. Receipts and Accounts
D. Legal Papers
E. Thies Estate Papers
F. Stock Certificates
SERIES II. Clara Thies von Ekensteen von Gladiss Papers
A. Personal Correspondence
B. Business Correspondence
C. Receipts and Accounts
D. Legal Papers
E. Estate Papers
F. Stock Certificates
SERIES III. Benjamin Nichols Papers

Scope and Content Note

The bulk of the collection consists of Clarissa (also called Clara) Crowninshield's personal papers, which include personal and business correspondence, receipts and accounts, legal and estate papers and stock certificates. The majority of her correspondence is between her and her guardian, Benjamin Nichols and later his son, Benjamin W. Nichols. In addition to being her guardian, the elder Nichols also acted as the attorney for both Clarissa and her daughter Clara. Clara Thies' papers also make up a large portion of the collection and most of her papers are similar in nature to her mother's, though the younger Nichols was her primary correspondent. The remainder of the material consists of various papers of both Benjamin and Benjamin W. Nichols, with notes concerning Clarissa's family and other clients.


Biographical Sketch

Clarissa Crowninshield (1811-1907) was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the illegitimate daughter of George Crowninshield Jr. (d. 1817) and his mistress, Elizabeth Rowell. Her father was from a prominent Salem family, who made their fortune in international trade and shipping. In 1817, George Crowninshield Jr. died aboard his pleasure yacht, Cleopatra's Barge, and in his will, named Clarissa his daughter, leaving her with $16,000 and her mother with $8,000. A local Salem attorney, Benjamin Ropes Nichols (1786-1848), took over Clarissa's care and education, becoming her guardian. Upon his death, his son, Benjamin White Nichols (b. 1823) took over the power of attorney for the women, managing their assets and finances in America while the women were living in Germany.


Clarissa attended a female boarding school in Hingham, Massachusetts where she became good friends with Mary Potter, who later became Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's first wife. In 1843, Clarissa married Louis Thies, a German art collector. A year later, Clarissa gave birth to their daughter, Clara Thies (1844-1905) and the family moved to Dresden, Germany in 1866. Louis Thies died in 1870 and two years later, in 1872, his daughter Clara married, becoming Mrs. Clara von Ekensteen. Clara's husband died in 1886 and she married Ernst von Gladiss in 1891. Clara died in 1905 and her mother Clarissa lived two more years, dying in 1907 at the age of 96.


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.

Crowninshield, Clarissa, 1811-1907
Crowninshield, George, 1766-1817
Nichols, Benjamin Ropes, 1786-1848
Nichols, Benjamin White, b.1823
Roswell, Elizabeth
Thies, Clara, 1844-1905
Administration of estates
Letter writing
Letters
Boston (Mass.)
Dresden (Germany)
Salem (Mass.)

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.


Administrative Information

Copyright

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 Museum.

Preferred Citation

Clarissa Crowninshield (1811-1907) Papers, MH 67, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Provenance

This material was a gift of Augustus P. Loring (acc. #20662).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Melanie Leung, July 2011.


Related Material

Gale, Robert L. A Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 2003

Crowninshield Family Papers, 1697-1909, MSS 4

Crowninshield Family Papers, 1697-1909, MH 15


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