Skip to main content

Joseph Story (1779-1845) Papers

Joseph Story (1779-1845) Papers

1 of 2
Open Finding Aid
small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
Extra Large
large ( > 500x500)
Full Resolution

JOSEPH STORY (1779-1845) PAPERS, 1803-1845, 1967

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:Story, Joseph, 1779-1845
Title:Joseph Story (1779-1845) Papers
Dates:1803/1845, 1967
Quantity:0.5 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:The Joseph Story papers are comprised of correspondence to and from Joseph Story as well as legal documents, accounts, receipts, commercial papers, and portraits and silhouettes of Story.
Collection Number:MSS 329

Series List

Scope and Content Note

The Joseph Story papers are comprised of correspondence to and from Joseph Story as well as legal documents, accounts, receipts, commercial papers, and portraits and silhouettes of Story. The letters are arranged chronologically. Of particular importance is a draft of a federal bankruptcy law (folder 10) dated 1815, with Story's hand-written notes in the margins. Folder 11 contains an address before the Regimental Officers in Salem delivered by Story on July 4, 1808, reflecting his views on the maintenance of a strong military for the new nation.

Biographical Sketch

Joseph Story was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on September 18, 1779, the son of Elisha Story, a physician, and his second wife, Mehitable Pedrick Story. He was one of eleven children by this second marriage. He graduated from Harvard College in 1798 and studied law with Samuel Sewall and then with Samuel Putnam. He was admitted to the bar in 1822. Despite his political leanings at the time, he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1805, 1806, and 1807, and in 1808 gained a seat in Congress upon the death of Jacob Crowninshield.

After leaving Congress, having refused to run for another term in 1809, he was reelected to the Massachusetts legislature, and by 1811, was chosen as Speaker of the House. In 1811, while still in the House of Representatives, he was appointed Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, on which he served for 34 years until his death on September 10, 1845.

In addition to his years on the bench, he was a prolific writer of legal treatises and commentaries. He taught at the Harvard Law School for many years and was inaugurated as Dane Professor of Law at Harvard in 1829.

Story married Mary Lynde Oliver in 1804, but his wife lived only one year after the marriage. In 1808 Story married Sarah Wetmore. There were seven children born of the marriage, but only two, William Wetmore and Mary Oliver, survived their father. Sarah Wetmore Story died in 1855.

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.

Story, Joseph, 1779-1845
Harvard University
Anti-Catholicism--United States
Common law
Nativistic movements--United States
Tariff--United States
United States--Supreme Court


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

Joseph Story (1779-1845) Papers, MSS 329, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


A photocopy of a letter written to Joseph Story dated February 3, 1844 was purchased on November 20, 1999 (acc # 1999.043). The provenance of the remainder of the collection is unknown.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Frances Malamy, October 2003. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, March 2015.

Related Material

Dunne, Gerald T. Justice Joseph Story and the Rise of the Supreme Court. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971.

McClellan, James. Joseph Story and the American Constitution; a Study in Political and Legal Thought with Selected Writings. Norman: U of Oklahoma, 1971.

Newmyer, R. Kent. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story: Statesman of the Old Republic. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1985.

Story, Joseph. Joseph Story; a Collection of Writings by and about an Eminent American Jurist. Ed. Mortimer D. Schwartz and John C. Hogan. New York: Oceana Publications, 1959.

Story, William Wetmore. Life and Letters of Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Dane Professor of Law at Harvard University. Boston: C.C. Little and J. Brown, 1851.

Crowninshield Family Papers, MH 15

you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search