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Henry Fitzgilbert Waters (1833-1913) Papers

Henry Fitzgilbert Waters (1833-1913) Papers

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HENRY FITZGILBERT WATERS (1833-1913) PAPERS, 1832-1916, 1993


Processing and conservation of this collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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:Waters, Henry F. (Henry Fitz-Gilbert), 1833-1913
Title:Henry Fitzgilbert Waters (1833-1913) Papers
Dates:1832/1916, 1993
Quantity:4.25 linear feet (8.5 boxes)
Abstract:The bulk of the Henry Fitz Gilbert Waters Papers, 1850-1907, document Henry F. Waters' (1833-1913) association with the New England Historic Genealogical Society and his keen interest in genealogical research.
Collection Number:MSS 95

Series List

SERIES I. Correspondence
SERIES II. Genealogical Papers
SERIES III. Personal Papers

Scope and Content Note

The bulk of the Henry FitzGilbert Waters Papers, 1850-1907, document Henry F. Waters' (1833-1913) association with the New England Historic Genealogical Society and his keen interest in genealogical research. The collection has been divided into four series.

Series I. Correspondence is mostly comprised of letters received by Henry. Arranged alphabetically, these include genealogical, personal, and miscellaneous business letters. Of interest are letters from James Arthur Emmerton, Henry's classmate at Harvard and his subsequent genealogical research partner. Also of note are letters from John Tyler Hassam (1841-1903), an influential member of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society who helped to arrange for Henry's genealogical work in London, and John Ward Dean (1815-1902), the Society's librarian. Additional correspondence of John W. Dean regarding Henry's genealogical work may be found in box 6, folder 7.

Of interest in the single folder of letters written by Henry are those to Dr. Clayton A. Cowgill, Surgeon General of North Carolina, describing the medical procedures and organization of various North Carolina hospitals during the Civil War.

Series II. Genealogical Papers includes notes, articles, and miscellaneous papers which do not truly reflect the immense amount of genealogical research which Henry undertook. The folders of George Washington and John Harvard materials contain clippings regarding Henry's work and articles which he used as source material. The genealogical notes include notes on the Crowninshield, Pingree, Potter, Waters, and Whipple families. The legal papers contain his contracts with the New England Historical Genealogical Society to perform genealogical research in England. The folder of historical society materials includes notices and circulars from the societies of which Henry was a member, including the New England Historical Genealogical Society, the Essex Institute, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Series III. Personal Papers documents Henry's interest in music, the classics, and natural history.

Biographical Sketch

Henry FitzGilbert Waters (1833-1913), antiquarian and genealogist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Gilbert (1796-1878) and Eliza Greenleaf (Townsend) Waters (1798-1890). Upon graduating from Harvard College in 1855, Henry returned to Salem where he established a small private school for boys.

During the Civil War, Henry was assigned to clerical duty at several hospitals under Dr. Clayton A. Cowgill, Surgeon General of North Carolina. In 1864, at the expiration of his term of military service, Henry remained at Foster General Hospital to tend the victims of yellow fever. Contracting the disease himself, he returned to Salem in 1865 to convalesce.

At this time, Henry began to pursue interests in the classics, music, natural history, antiques, and genealogy. In 1879, he traveled to England with his close friend James Arthur Emmerton (1834-1888). Together they researched the genealogies of such Salem families as the Princes and Silsbees. Their abstracts, or 'gleanings,' were published in the Historical Collections of the Essex Institute (see Appendix I).

In 1883, Henry secured a position with the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He sailed for London that same year to continue his genealogical research of the English ancestry of American families. Some of the genealogies of prominent individuals researched by Henry include John Harvard, John Rogers, Roger Williams, and George Washington.

Henry's later years were spent in Salem where he died unmarried in 1913.

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.

Cowgill, Clayton A., 1826?-1901
Dean, John Ward, 1815-1902
Emmerton, James A. (James Arthur), 1834-1888
Hassam, John T. (John Tyler), 1841-1903
Waters, Charles R. (Charles Richardson), b. 1835
Waters, Clifford Crowninshield, b. 1840
Waters, Edward Stanley, 1837-1916
Waters, Eliza Greenleaf Townsend, 1798-1890
Waters, Henry F. (Henry Fitz-Gilbert), 1833-1913
Waters, James Devereux, 1832-1892
Waters, Joseph G. (Joseph Gilbert), 1796-1878
Waters, Joseph Linton, 1826-1891
Waters, Marietta Barney
Waters, William D. (William Dean), 1798-1880
Boston Music Hall
New England Historic Genealogical Society
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects


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

Henry Fitzgilbert Waters (1833-1913) Papers, MSS 95, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Henry FitzGilbert Waters Papers are a reorganization and integration of 9 boxes of manuscripts, originally processed as part of the Waters Family II Papers, papers removed from the Waters Family I Papers, and additional papers removed from a scrapbook. The Waters Family II Papers were an integration of papers donated by Lawrence Jenkins Waters in 1961 and a smaller collection from an unknown source. The Waters Family I Papers and the scrapbook were probably donated by William Crowninshield Waters in 1916.

Removed from the Henry F. Waters Papers are miscellaneous trade cards, advertisements, notices, and circulars, and his appointment as a New England Historic Genealogical Society researcher (see separation sheet).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Elizabeth Craig and Elizabeth Wenger, May 1979. Reprocessed by Sylvia B. Kennick, March 1983. Updated by Catherine Robertson, December 2014.

Related Material

Hosmer, James Kendall. "Henry FitzGilbert Waters." New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Vol.68, pp. 1-17.

Moriarty, George Andrew, Jr. "Henry FitzGilbert Waters, A.M., 1833-19193." Essex Institute Historical Collections. Vol. 50, pp. 1-5.

Waters, Henry FitzGilbert. Genealogical Gleanings in England. Boston: New England Historical Genealogical Society, 1901.

Joseph G. Waters Papers, 1759-1913, MSS 93.

Waters Family Papers, 1760-1931, MSS 92.

Joseph Linton Waters Papers, 1848-1890, MSS 94.

Appendix I

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