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Putnam Family Papers Papers

Putnam Family Papers Papers

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Processing and conservation of the 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:Putnam family
Title:Putnam Family Papers Papers
Quantity:7 linear feet (12 boxes)
Abstract:The Putnam Family Papers reflect the activities of a Salem, Massachusetts, family involved in international shipping, domestic retail trade, and farming.
Collection Number:MSS 153

Series List

SERIES I. Merchant Correspondence
SERIES II. Shipping Papers
SERIES III. General Store and Pharmacy Records
SERIES IV. Family Papers
A. Edward Putnam Family
B. Charles Putnam
C. Ebenezer Putnam
SERIES V. Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Putnam Family Papers reflect the activities of a Salem, Massachusetts, family involved in international shipping, domestic retail trade, and farming. The collection features the shipping papers of Edward Putnam (1806-1852), shipmaster, South American Merchant agent and Salem merchant, and those of his brother Charles (1802-1862) and John (b. 1800). Also included are records of the general store and pharmacy owned by Charles and George Putnam (1804-1860), and personal, farming, and horticultural papers of family members. The collection is divided into five series.

Series I. Merchant Correspondence contains letterbooks containing South American and United States domestic correspondence. The bulk of the letters relate to Edward Putnam during the period he was a merchant agent in Brazil, and later when he was a merchant residing in Salem. Also briefly described are the merchant agent activities of John Putnam, and Charles Putnam's interests in international and domestic trade. Of interest is South American correspondence recounting the political unrest and revolution which wracked Brazil in the 1830s and the papers relating to the steam sugar mill (B3 F4) which Edward and Charles shipped to Brazil. South American correspondence also contains periodic mention of Brazilian steam rice mills beginning in 1836.

Series II. Shipping Papers consists of ships' papers, shipping accounts and memorandums, rubber shoe auction catalogs, and insurance papers. Included in the ships' papers are papers of the brig Curlew, of which Edward Putnam was master, and the papers of vessels owned by the Allens and T. P. Pingree of Salem, for whom Edward was Brazilian agent. John Putnam's positions as master and supercargo are recorded in the papers of the brig Heber and schooner Florence. Of interest are the papers of the brig Marion, lost at sea in 1844, which include estate papers of the vessel's master, Antonio de Costa. Additional shipping accounts for Charles Putnam's ventures may be found in General store journal Vol. 12 and account book (B8 F7).

Series III. General Store and Pharmacy Records contains account books, store and drug inventories, and medicinal recipe books. Pharmacy and store records are combined in these volumes.

Series IV. Family Papers includes personal and business papers of the Edward Putnam family, Charles Putnam, and Ebenezer Putnam. It has been divided into three subseries. Subseries A. Edward Putnam Family contains Ebenezer's wife, Margaret's, diary and correspondence generated from her 1865-1871 trips to South Carolina, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco, as well as financial papers of his father and grandfather. Subseries B. Charles Putnam includes a horticultural book of pears which exhibited at the Essex County Natural History Society (1843-1845), farm accounts and accounts of Nathaniel Stowers, of whose bankrupt estate Charles was executor. Charles' accounts kept while clerk of the Salem Light Infantry (1829) may be found in General Store daybook 1831-1832 (B7 F3). Subseries C. Ebenezer Putnam consists of horticultural, farming, and miscellaneous notebooks and account books. The miscellaneous notebooks include essays and notes on chemistry, chess, United States imports and exports, winemaking, cotton production, and slave labor. The only records which reflect Ebenezer's career as postmaster are entries in account book Volume 17. Ebenezer's family papers include correspondence concerning Putnam family genealogy received by Ebenezer Putnam, Ebenezer's grandson, and letters to Ebenezer's brother Francis (1808-1878). A letter to Ebenezer Putnam from G. P. Osgood regarding Hawthorne's appointment as postmaster and papers of Francis Putnam which contain correspondence and accounts concerning his horticultural interest were added to the collection.

Series V. Miscellaneous Papers includes 1848 reports of the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Mill, notes on the first houses of Salem, and miscellaneous school exercises.

Biographical Sketches

Charles Fisk Putnam (1802-1862) was the owner of a Salem, Massachusetts, general store. He owned the brig Heber and engaged in international and domestic wholesale trade. With his brother Edward, he purchased a United States steam sugar mill which was shipped to Brazil. Charles was also a horticulturalist and nursery worker and a clerk of the Salem Light Infantry.

Ebenezer Putnam (1797-1876) was a Salem, Massachusetts, postmaster and justice of the peace. He was also a farmer and noted horticulturalist.

Edward Putnam (1806-1852) was the master of the brig Curlew from 1834 to 1835. He also functioned as a merchant agent in Para (Belem) and Maranham (Sao Luis) Brazil, from 1835 to approximately 1839 primarily for Edward and John F. Allen of Salem. In approximately 1839 he returned to Salem where he established his own mercantile business, specializing in the rubber shoe and bulk rubber trade with Brazil. With his brother Charles, he purchased a United States steam sugar mill which was shipped to Brazil. He married Margaret Sage.

George Putnam (1804-1860) was a Salem, Massachusetts, pharmacist.

Josh Fisk Putnam (born 1800) was master of his brother, Charles' brig Heber from 1838 to 1839 and a merchant agent in Para and Maranham Brazil, serving his brother Edward and other United States merchants from 1839 to 1845. He served as the supercargo for the schooner Florence in 1845.

Frances Putnam (1808-1878) was the co-operator of a book, stationary, and fancy goods store, Ives & Putnam. He was a distinguished florist and horticulturalist.

See Appendix I for 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.

Allen, Edward, 1764-1845
Allen, John F.
Boardman, Alice Putnam, b.1840
Costa, António da.
Pingree, T. P. (Thomas P.)
Putnam, Charles Fisk, 1802-1862
Putnam, Ebenezer, 1718-1788
Putnam, Ebenezer, 1768-1826
Putnam, Ebenezer, 1797-1876
Putnam, Edward, 1806-1852
Putnam, Elizabeth Appleton
Putnam, Francis, 1808-1878
Putnam, George, 1804-1860
Putnam, John Fish, b. 1800
Putnam, Margaret Sage, 1811-1892
Curlew (Brig)
Dover (Brig)
Florence (Schooner)
Gentleman (Bark)
Heber (Brig)
Marion (Brig)
Massachusetts. Militia. Salem Light Infantry
Palm (Brig)
Virginia (Brig)
Warsaw (Sloop)
William Penn (Schooner)
Zaine (Brig)
Administration of estates
General stores
Grocery trade
Postal service
Rubber industry and trade
Sugar factories
Salem (Mass.)
Account books


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

Putnam Family Papers Papers, MSS 153, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Putnam Family Papers are a reorganization and integration of two letterbooks, one diary, one farming notebook, 32 account books, and seven boxes and several folders of manuscripts. The bulk of the collection was donated by Mrs. Ebenezer Putnam in a series of gifts from 1943 to 1958.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, October 1984. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, August 2015.

Related Material

Account book of John Sage, kept by Eben Putnam, 1860-1865, MSS 1371.

Catalogue of English, French and American books for sale by Wiley & Putnam and also Francis Putnam. Part I.

Curlew (Brig) Logbook, 1834-1835, Log 352.

Frederick Ward Putnam Papers, 1868-1915, Fam. Mss. 804.

Putnam leaflets. Salem: Eben Putnam, 1895-1897.

Appendix I-Putnam Family Tree

Appendix II

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