Processing and rehousing of this collection
were funded by a grant from the Topsfield Historical Society.
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Topsfield Historical Society
Topsfield Historical Society
3 linear feet (4 boxes, 1 volume)
The Topsfield Historical
Society Collection contains civic, military, legal, personal, and business papers of
individuals and organizations in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
SERIES I. Public Records SERIES II. Private Papers SERIES III. Non-Topsfield Documents
Scope and Content Note
The Topsfield Historical Society Collection contains civic, military, legal,
personal, and business papers of individuals and organizations in Topsfield,
Massachusetts. Also included are papers from individuals not living in Topsfield.
The collection has been organized into three series.
Series I. Public Records contains records generated
from governmental activities (primarily local, but also state or county). Within the
civic records (B1 F1), documents may be found which reflect official activities of
the town of Topsfield, including state election returns for 1799, 1810, and 1812; a
1758 petition to separate a group of families from the Ipswich parish and join
Topsfield; a circa 1828 list of scholars at the North School; petitions for building
new roads, appointments of Zaccheus Gould as field driver and Samuel McKenzie as
sealer of weights and measures and as measurer of wood and bark; an 1833 return of
the town poor which lists name, age, occupation, and ailment; disbursements of aid
to disabled soldiers and widows; and the number of church members in 1772. Also
included are warrants to collect taxes, personal tax receipts (B1 F2), and tax lists
(B1 F3). The common land records (B1 F4) contain agreements, warrants, and accounts
of its division into lots.
The bulk of the military records (B1 F5-6) concern the Topsfield Warren Blues.
These include a muster list, rules and regulations, and newspaper clippings on the
history of the company. Other military documents consist of letters, orders, and
notes from Topsfield-related troops.
The folders of legal documents (B1 F7-11) contain correspondence on a case of
larceny against Henry E. Lake; a petition to widen the road to Boxford;
correspondence regarding the case of Mrs. Francis D. Peabody; an unidentified book
of legal cases; notice of appointments for estate administrators (1886-1893); and
petitions to the Land Court regarding Ipswich land.
Series II. Private Papers consists of correspondence,
diary fragments, personal papers, business and financial records, and genealogical
notes of Topsfield residents. The bulk of this series was removed and separately
cataloged (see separation sheet). Records which remain include a series of 1842
letters from the Topsfield Academy class of R. Putnam to the editor of the Register about a math puzzler; an 1876 letter discussing
the election of Dr. Loring; a letter from Abigail Adams to her granddaughter; an
1832 diary fragment which discusses the writer's activities as a school teacher,
events in the town, and political elections; an 1859 diary attributed to Deacon
Bixby regarding cutting of lumber; shoemaking (?) production accounts of Rebekah
Gould, Mehitable Peabody, and Anna Brown, 1837; land and produce inventory of Samuel
Bradstreet's farm; a eulogy of Isaac Averill Jr.; and a poem by Ellen Moody
The folder on music (B2 F2) includes manuscript music of Jacob Kimball and an
unidentified author; the constitution and by-laws of the Beethoven Society; a
newspaper article by Henry K. Oliver; and clippings about Kimball. The Revolutionary
War-era accounts (B2 F3) contain mostly unidentified mathematical calculations. The
genealogical notes (B2 F4) include lists of Topsfield residents in 1865, and notes
on births, deaths, and marriages. Within the broadside scrapbook (Volume 1) are an
array of broadsides, tickets, programs, and advertisements for Topsfield local
businesses, theater and concert events, meetings and lectures, and celebrations.
Box 3 contains 3 reel-to-reel tapes containing interviews with Topsfield
residents conducted from 1967 to 1973. The interviewees include Alice Lake, R.N.,
Charles Pethybridge, Elizabeth Smith, Ruth Houston, Horton Bradstreet, and Herbert
Series III. Non-Topsfield Documents consists of
correspondence, petitions, deeds, wills, and legal and financial records of people
from Boston, Middleton, Salem, Danvers, Boxford, and Newburyport.
The Topsfield Historical Society was incorporated in 1894.
Its mission has been the study and preservation of the history of Topsfield,
Massachusetts, and the preservation and publishing of the records contained in the
Town Hall archives. Much of this material was published in the early volumes of the
Society's Historical Collections. The society is also organized to preserve the
historical artifacts of Topsfield history, in particular, the 1683 Parson Capen
Historical House and the Gould Barn.
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.
Adams, Abigail, 1744-1818
Averill, Issac, Jr.
Kimball, Jacob, 1761-1826
Lake, Henry E.
Oliver, Henry K., 1800-1885
Peabody, Mrs. Francis D.
S. B. (Samuel Bradstreet), d. 1682
Beethoven Society (Topsfield, Mass.)
Massachusetts. Militia. Topsfield Warren Blues
Administration of estates
Footwear--Trade and manufacture
Public schools--Massachusetts--Topsfield--North School
Public schools--Massachusetts--Topsfield--Topsfield Academy
Topsfield (Mass.)--Politics and government
Topsfield (Mass.)--Town records
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
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
This collection of 35 volumes, 1 scrapbook, and 4 boxes was placed on permanent
deposit by the Society under a contract of November 11, 1969. Portions of the
collection have been removed and are separately cataloged (see separation
Collection processed by Prudence K. Backman, December 1987. Updated by Tamara Gaydos,
The Topsfield Historical Society Collection contains civic, military, legal, personal, and business papers of individuals and organizations in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
Beethoven Society (Topsfield, Mass.); Massachusetts. Militia. Topsfield Warren Blues; Account books; Boston (Mass.); Boxford (Mass.); Danvers (Mass.); Middleton (Mass.); Newburyport (Mass.); Salem (Mass.); Topsfield (Mass.); Topsfield (Mass.)--History; Topsfield (Mass.)--Poor; Topsfield (Mass.)--Politics and government; Topsfield (Mass.)--Taxation; Topsfield (Mass.)--Town records; United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783; Adams, Abigail, 1744-1818; Averill, Issac, Jr.; Bixby, Deacon; S. B. (Samuel Bradstreet), d. 1682; Kimball, Jacob, 1761-1826; Lake, Henry E.; Peabody, Mrs. Francis D.; Oliver, Henry K., 1800-1885; Administration of estates; Auctions; Broadsides; Church buildings--Massachusetts--Topsfield; Deeds; Diaries; Elections; Fairs; Farms; Footwear--Trade and manufacture; Genealogy; Lumber trade; Military history; Music--Societies, etc.; Musicians; Poetry; Political posters; Teachers; Public schools--Massachusetts--Topsfield--North School; Schools--Massachusetts--Topsfield--North School; Public schools--Massachusetts--Topsfield--Topsfield Academy; Schools--Massachusetts--Topsfield--Topsfield Academy
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.