The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Nichols, J. Howard, 1838-1905
J. Howard Nichols (1838-1905)
2.75 linear feet (3 boxes)
The J. Howard Nichols papers
contain correspondence and financial documents about the China trade in which
Nichols was involved.
SERIES I. Correspondence SERIES II. Financial Papers SERIES III. Other
Scope and Content Note
The J. Howard Nichols papers contain correspondence and financial documents about the
China trade in which Nichols was involved. This collection has been divided into
Series I. Correspondence contains business related
correspondence. The majority of the correspondence is dated during Nichols' time in
the China trade business.
Series II. Financial Papers contains adventure
accounts from ships, account currents, memos, statements, and prices current.
Series III. Other contains miscellaneous items found
in the collection, such as circulars about imports and exports from merchants, pages
from what appears to be a day planner, and a newspaper with a mention of Nichols and
John Howard Nichols was born in 1838, in Kingston, New
Hampshire, to Nicholas and Mary Jewett (Barstow) Nichols. He grew up in Exeter, New
Hampshire, where he attended Phillips Academy. After graduation, he taught at a
school in Stratham, New Hampshire for a year, before moving to Boston to work as a
clerk for a tea importing house on Central Wharf. It was there that Nichols was
noticed by John L. Gardner, who hired him as a supercargo on the bark Arthur, which was bound for China in 1858. Once he
arrived in China, Gardner requested that Nichols remain in China to act as an agent.
He accepted the position and remained in China for ten years, returning to America
once during this time (Foster 337).
Upon returning to America in 1868, he imported Japanese and Chinese teas, until
he took the position of treasurer for the Boston, Massachusetts textile firm Dwight
Manufacturing Company, in 1876. Under Nichols' management, Dwight Manufacturing
"became one of the most profitable textile [factories] in New England" (Foster 338).
Nichols later established a branch cotton mill in Alabama City, Alabama, which added
to the company's earnings. In 1905, Nichols became president of the company, a
position he held until his death. He also served as treasurer of the Great Falls
Manufacturing Company, and as president of Lyman Mills and Manchester Mills (Foster
On March 15, 1870, Nichols married Charlotte Peabody Kimball, the daughter of
Daniel B. and Charlotte C. Kimball, in Bradford, Massachusetts. The couple had four
children: Howard Gardner, Eleanor Marcey, Grace, and Charlotte Greene. He died in
Newton, Massachusetts, at the age of 67 on September 15, 1905.
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.
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
J. Howard Nichols (1838-1905) Papers, MH 169, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum,
The bulk of this collection was purchased on March 14, 1961 (accession #15,402). The
remainder of this collection was purchased on June 21, 1961 (accession #15,513).
Collection processed by Hilary Streifer, January 2017.
Foster, E. Everton ed. Lamb's Textile Industries of the
United States: Embracing Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Historical
Resume of the Progress of Textile Manufacture from the Earliest Records to the
Present Time. Boston: James H. Lamb, 1916.
Account book of J. Howard Nichols, 1850-1863. MSS
Account book of J. Howard Nichols, 1868-1873. MSS
Cash book of J. Howard Nichols, 1867-1868. MSS