Processing and conservation of the collection
were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Putnam Family Papers Papers
7 linear feet (12 boxes)
The Putnam Family Papers
reflect the activities of a Salem, Massachusetts, family involved in international
shipping, domestic retail trade, and farming.
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 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.
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
Ebenezer Putnam (1797-1876) was a Salem,
Massachusetts, postmaster and justice of the peace. He was also a farmer and noted
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,
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.
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
Massachusetts. Militia. Salem Light Infantry
William Penn (Schooner)
Administration of estates
Rubber industry and trade
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
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
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.
Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, October 1984. Updated by Tamara Gaydos,
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.