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Bryant P. Tilden (1781-1851) Papers

Bryant P. Tilden (1781-1851) Papers

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BRYANT P. TILDEN (1781-1851) PAPERS, 1842, 1915-1945, 1965-1975


Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission).

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:Tilden, Bryant P., 1781-1851
Title:Bryant P. Tilden (1781-1851) Papers
Quantity:2.75 linear feet (7 boxes)
Abstract:This collection includes travel journals, correspondence, research materials, maps, and photographs related to the life of Bryant P. Tilden.
Identification:MH 219

Series List

Series I. Bryant P. Tilden Journals
A. Bound Journals
B. Typescripts
Series II. Marion W. Ward Papers
A. Publication Edits
B. Correspondence
C. Research Materials

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes travel journals, correspondence, research materials, maps, and photographs related to the life of Bryant P. Tilden. The collection has been arranged into two series.

Series I. Bryant P. Tilden Papers contains copies of the travel journals of Bryant P. Tilden and is divided into two subseries. Subseries A. Bound Journals contains copies of the bound volumes penned by Tilden. Subseries B. Typescripts contains typescript copies of the journals created when the material was accessioned. Tilden's detailed accounts of his voyages to China, Brazil, and abroad provide insight into the life of a supercargo during the early 1800s.

Series II. Marion W. Ward Papers contains records Marion W. Ward created while working on a published version of the Tilden journals. The series is divided into three subseries. Subseries A. Publication Edits includes multiple copies of the journal volumes with penned edits by Ward, along with additional written elements created for the book, such as the forward, introduction, glossary, bibliography, and book dummy pages. Subseires B. Correspondence includes letters concerning the book's progress exchanged between Ward, Fred Sawyer of Gregg Press, Inc. and Ernest Stanley Dodge, Director of the Peabody Museum of Salem. Finally, Subseries C. Research Materials includes research that Ward conducted for the book project on Bryant P. Tilden, the Tilden family, and sea travel in China during the 1800s. Despite these efforts on the part of Ward, the book appears not to have been published.

Biographical Sketch

Bryant P. Tilden was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 24, 1781, to Joseph Tilden (1753-1800) and Sarah Parker (1761-1827). He married Zebiah Cravath Brown (1783-1842) on October 23, 1803, and the couple had ten children: William (1804-1805); Elizabeth Isabella (1806-1884); Catherine Brown (1807-1882); Sarah Storrow (1809-1867); Anna Linzee (1811-1846); Maria Dall (1813-1889); Mary Appleton (1815-1885); Bryant Parrott (1817-1859); Zebiah Brown (1820-1847); and Harriet Parkman (1824-1825).

Tilden traveled as a supercargo on ships out of Salem, Massachusetts, managing the sale of cargo at port and buying and receiving goods for the return voyage. He kept detailed journals of his travels around the globe, accumulating more than ten volumes of writings from his voyages to Brazil, Trieste and China. By 1838, after more than forty years at sea, his family moved him to Brattleboro Retreat, in Brattleboro, Vermont. He died in Brattleboro on October 7, 1851.

Marion W. Ward (b. 1930, née Solly) received her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1960. In 1967, she was employed by the Australian National University as a Research Fellow in the New Guinea Research Unit and subsequently became Field Director of the New Guinea Research Unit. Ward has been a member of the Australian Centre for Maritime Studies for many years. Her research and publications focus on trade, transport issues, urbanization and economic development in Asia and abroad. She married R. Gerard Ward, a fellow geographer and Emeritus Professor at the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, on August 7, 1959.

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.

Dodge, Ernest Stanley, 1913-1980
Sawyer, Fred
Tilden, Bryant P. (Bryant Parrot), 1781-1851
Ward, Marion W. (Marion Wybourn)
Bolivar (Brig)
Canton (Ship)
Constitution (Ship)
Crusoe (Ship)
Nabob (Brig)
Pembroke (Brig)
Surat (Ship)
Warren (Ship)
Guangzhou (China)
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Salem (Mass.)
Trieste (Italy)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Request 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

Bryant P. Tilden Papers, MH 219, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


Two volumes of the copied journals were purchased in 1929 from William C. Endicott (acc #8385); another copy was donated in 1962 by John R. Chapin (acc # 15,774). Marion W. Ward’s papers were donated by R. Gerard and Marion W. Ward in 1976 (acc # 20,935).

From Box 5 Folder 3, Marion W. Ward’s notes on the origin of manuscripts: Bryant P. Tilden apparently recopied his original journal at least twice. The original seems to have been lost, and Tilden himself states that the original record of at least the Smyrna voyage was destroyed by fire at Brattleboro. Of the two known copies, one came into possession of the Peabody Museum in 1929 by purchase from a San Francisco bookseller who obtained it through an acquaintance of Gertrude Tilden Millard, great-granddaughter of the author. A careful typewritten copy was made by the Peabody Museum about 1930.

A second manuscript copy of the journals (also in Bryant P. Tilden’s handwriting) was donated to the Peabody Museum in 1962 by John R. Chapin, a descendant of the author’s brother, Joseph Tilden, through his daughter Susan Linzee Tilden. This copy had been given to Mr. Chapin’s mother in 1915 by Louisa Wells, a great-granddaughter of Bryant P. Tilden though his daughter Anna Linzee Tilden (Mrs. Ezra S. Gannett). It appears that the “Chapin version” may have been the earlier copy since, in this copy at the end of the fourth voyage to China in 1831-32, a letter in Bryant P. Tilden’s handwriting , indicates that he himself regarded the other copy as a revised version.

Processing Information

Collection processed and cataloged by Halley Grogan, December 2011. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, November 2017.

Related Material

"Bryant P. Tilden." Web. 23 Dec 2011.

"Distinguished New Zealand Geographer Medal Recipients" Web. 23 Dec 2011.

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