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Young Men's Union Records

Young Men's Union Records

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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:Young Men's Union (Salem, Mass.)
Title:Young Men's Union Records
Quantity:1.25 linear feet (3 boxes)
Abstract:The Young Men's Union records document the activities of this Salem, Massachusetts, literary association which presented lecturers, musicians, dramatists, and singers for its programs.
Collection Number:MSS 245

Series List

SERIES I. Administrative Records
SERIES II. Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

The Young Men's Union records document the activities of this Salem, Massachusetts, literary association which presented lecturers, musicians, dramatists, and singers for its programs. The collection has been divided into two series.

Series I. Administrative Records contains a complete run of the Unions' record books from its inception to the 1800. The books contain summaries of various meetings of the Union's leaders as well as elections, reports, and special campaigns, and special committees. The last record book provides information about the decline of the Union. (B1 F1-3) The volume of membership lists (B1 F4), which provides names and addresses of members, includes some famous signatures. Also included are the constitution and bylaws, and some loose records of annual reports and minutes from various meetings (B1 F5); treasurer's reports and account for lecture series (B1 F6); reports from committees and petitions from members to different committees (B1 F7); invitations to members for different events, notices of business meetings, and correspondence directed to potential lecturers (B1 F8); listing of books and papers taken by the library (B1 F9); correspondence regarding the proposed purchase of Mechanic Hall (B1 F10); and miscellaneous papers which include tributes to deceased members and especially well-receive lecturers (B1 F11). Of special note with the library papers is a letter entitled "Discovery of Paper Thief" which describes the discovery by a hidden detective that the janitor, who was also a member of the Union, was stealing the daily newspaper.

Series II. Correspondence consists of outgoing correspondence and incoming correspondence. Two letter books contain outgoing correspondence (B2 F1-2). Each volume contains an alphabetical index. Most of the outgoing correspondence consists of invitations to lectures and issues pertaining to dates and fees.

The incoming correspondence (B2 and B3) ranges from 1855 to 1877. In addition to lecturers, the Union invited musicians, dramatists, and singers to perform. The letters contains responses, acceptances, and refusals to the Corresponding Secretary from many distinguished men and women lecturers. Some mention dates and the titles of the lectures, concerts, or plays to be presented. An index of correspondents can be found in Appendix I.

Historical Sketch

The Young Men's Union was formed at Masonic Hall on November 14, 1854 in Salem, Massachusetts, by a group of 19 prominent young men. Their original intent was to form a society for debating and for reading their own writings before an audience. Its first name was the Salem Young Men's Literary Association. With the intent of increasing its members, it was decided to establish a reading room supplied with "Newspapers, Periodicals, Library Reference Materials,…" It was also hoped that the reading room would ultimately become a library for general reading as well. On February 27, 1855 a meeting was held to obtain more members by soliciting subscriptions to the Association. It was a successful drive and some forty prominent Salem merchants and professional men made donations. Among them were John Bertram, Thomas P. Pingree, Stephen C. Phillips, and Alfred Peabody. With the funds obtained, rooms were leased on the second floor of the Exchange Bank building. The rooms were furnished and first occupied on June 1, 1855. Just prior to that, the original constitution was amended to make additions important to the admission of more members. The organization was renamed the Young Men's Union. An attempt was made to purchase the Mechanic Hall in 1860, but due to lack of funds it was unsuccessful. The exact date of the Union's end is not known.; however it is estimated to have occurred in either 1882 or 1883.

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.

Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887
Chapin, Harriet Newland, d. 1881
Chase, Salmon P. (Salmon Portland), 1808-1873
Clark, Thomas M. (Thomas March), 1812-1903
Colfax, Schuyler, 1823-1885
Curtis, George William, 1824-1892
Cushing, Caleb, 1800-1879
Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932
Everett, Edward, 1794-1865
Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872
Holland, J. G. (Josiah Gilbert), 1819-1881
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894
Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice, 1820-1905
Milburn, William Henry, 1823-1903
Murdoch, James Edward, 1811-1893
Quincy, Josiah, 1772-1864
Redpath, James, 1833-1891
Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874
Taylor, Bayard, 1825-1878
Thompson, Joseph P. (Joseph Parrish), 1819-1879
Vandenhoff, George, 1813-1885
Vincent, Henry, 1813-1878
Young Men's Union (Salem, Mass.)
Letter writing
Salem (Mass.)
Salem (Mass.)--Societies and clubs
Salem (Mass.)--Societies, etc.


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

Young Men's Union Records, MSS 245, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material is from an unknown source.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Scott Baker and Daniel S. Curtis, January 1992. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, October 2015.

Related Material

Hurd, Duane Hamilton. History of Essex County: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis, 1887. p. 180

Osgood, Charles S., and H. M. Batchelder. Sketch of Salem. Boston: Wright & Potter, 1879. p. 117

Act of incorporation, constitution and by-laws, with list of officers, 1858, 1866, 1868; 1858.

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