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Waite Family Papers

Waite Family Papers

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Processing and conservation for 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:Waite family
Title:Waite Family Papers
Quantity:5.5 linear feet (10 boxes, 4 volumes, 1 oversize folder)
Abstract:The Waite Family Papers are comprised of the shipping, leather working, and personal papers of Aaron Waite, a Salem, Massachusetts, leather dresser and merchant.
Collection Number:MSS 88

Series List

SERIES I. Shipping Papers
SERIES II. Leather Working Papers
SERIES III. Aaron Waite Personal and Business Papers
SERIES IV. Miscellaneous Family Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Waite Family Papers are comprised of the shipping, leather working, and personal papers of Aaron Waite, a Salem, Massachusetts, leather dresser and merchant. The majority of the shipping papers constitute the records of Peirce and Waite, the partnership of Aaron Waite and Jerathmael Peirce which began in the tanning trade and expanded to include shipping and privateering. In addition, there are shipping and leather dressing papers for Aaron's brother, John, and shipping papers for his brother Samuel and daughter Harriet. The collection also contains Aaron's personal and miscellaneous business papers. The papers have been divided into four series.

Series I. Shipping Papers contains correspondence, financial and ships' papers reflecting Aaron Waite's interest in privateering and shipping to Europe and the West indies (see Appendix II). Although the bulk of the papers concern Aaron's partnership with Jerathmael Peirce, there are also ships' papers for John, Samuel, and Harriot Waite's shipping ventures. The records for each ship are few in number. However, those better documented include the schooner Grayhound, ship Friendship, schooner Harlequin, ship Roehampton, and the ship Two Brothers. Of note are spoliation papers for the claims of the schooner Jeremiah captured by Spain in 1795. Additional papers for this claim are located in the Samuel and Betsey Waite guardianship papers (B10 F2-3).

Series II. Leather Working Papers contains ledgers, daybooks, receipt books, and bills and receipts for Peirce and Waite's leather working business.

Series III. Aaron Waite Personal and Business Papers contains correspondence, financial records, legal, and estate papers. The correspondence includes letters concerning his store, leather business, the family farm run by John Waite, miscellaneous financial affairs, and family activities. Within the account books are entries for Aaron's leather and shipping businesses. The legal and estate papers include Aaron's will and inventories of his estate. Trustees' papers for the estate are located in MSS 87 (B8 F8). Harriet (Waite) Rogers' petition for her father Aaron's army pension is filed with her papers (MSS 87, B9 F2). Estate papers for Aaron's brother Samuel are included with the guardianship papers of Samuel's children Samuel and Betsey Waite. Additional accounts for the estate of Samuel Waite's spoliation claims are located in the pamphlet of Augustus D. Roger's notes on commerce (MSS 87, B6 F6). Hannah Call's estate papers contain additional papers of the Call family.

Series IV. Miscellaneous Family Papers include financial and legal papers for William, Levi, and Stephen Waite, and for Benoice Johnson.

Biographical Sketch

Aaron Waite (1742-1830) was born in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of William and Deborah (Buckman) Waite. Upon moving to Salem in 1765, Aaron established a leather dressing business with his partner Jerathmael Peirce. When Aaron returned from his service in the Continental Army in 1788, he and Peirce resumed their leather working business and began to ship their own leather goods to the American troops and along the coast. Gradually they expanded their shipping activities to include trade with Europe and the West Indies. By the War of 1812, Peirce and Waite owned or had shares in a large number of vessels, including many privateers. In addition to his shipping and leather businesses, Aaron also owned a portion of the family farm in Malden which was run by his brother, John Waite.

Aaron and his wife Elizabeth Call (1746-1826), daughter of Jonathan and Hannah (Lynde) Call, had five children who survived infancy. Their daughter Harriet (1790-1882) married Salem shipping merchant Nathaniel Leverett Rogers (1785-1858). See Appendix I for the Waite-Rogers family tree.

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.

Call family
Johnson, Benoice
Peirce, Jerathmiel, 1747-1827
Rogers family
Rogers, Harriet Waite, 1790-1882
Waite, Aaron, 1742-1830
Waite, Betsey
Waite, John, 1743-1803
Waite, Samuel, 1751-1798
Williams, Israel., b. 1772
Friendship (Ship : 1797-1827)
Grayhound (Schooner)
Harlequin (Schooner)
Jeremiah (Schooner)
Roehampton (Ship)
Two Brothers (Ship)
Waite and Peirce
Account books
Estates, administration of
Leather industry and trade
United States--History, military
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
United States--History--Spoliation Claims


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

Waite Family Papers, MSS 88, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Waite Family Papers are a reorganization and integration of materials which originally belonged to the Rogers Family Papers (MSS 87). Although the bulk of the Waite Family Papers is from an unknown source, one box of Aaron Waite's receipts (1799-1849) was purchased in 1969 and a Peirce and Waite shipping ledger (1802-1826) was purchased in 1983. In addition, papers concerning Peirce and Waite were removed from the Peirce Waite Nichols Commercial Papers.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Prudence K. Backman and Sylvia Kennick, January 1983. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, July 2015.

Related Material

Corey, Deloraine P., and Walter Kendall Watkins. The Waite Family of Malden, Mass. Cambridge: University Press, 1913.

Rogers, Augustus D. "Genealogical Memoirs of the Family of Rev. Nathaniel Rogers." New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Boston: Samuel G. Drake, Vol. 13, 1859: 61-65.

Rogers Family Papers, MSS 87

Appendix I Waite-Rogers Family Tree

Appendix II

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