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Coffin Family Papers

Coffin Family Papers

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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:Coffin family
Title:Coffin Family Papers
Quantity:.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:This collection includes business and personal correspondence, shipping bills and accounts, artwork, military documents, and manufacturing plans from three generations of the Coffin family of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Collection Number:MH 60

Series List

SERIES I. David Coffin (1763-1838) Papers
SERIES II. Isaac Stone Coffin (1798-1855) Papers
SERIES III. Ebenezer Stone Coffin (1801-1870) Papers
SERIES IV. Lucy Stevens Coffin (1831-1907) Papers
SERIES IV. Edward Foster Coffin (1839-1912) Papers

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes business and personal correspondence, shipping bills and accounts, artwork, military documents, and manufacturing plans from three generations of the Coffin family of Newburyport, Massachusetts. The contents have been organized into five series.

Series I. David Coffin (1763-1838) Papers include a record of Coffin's service in the Revolutionary War as well as shipping accounts and papers from his career as a ship's captain.

Series II. Isaac Stone Coffin (1798-1855) Papers include shipping bills, accounts, and inventories for his travels as well as personal bills and accounts for his home in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Series III. Ebenezer Stone Coffin (1801-1870) Papers include plans for the improvement of ship manufacturing, business correspondence, patent applications, and correspondence related to patents for his inventions. Also in this series are records confirming Coffin as the Deputy Collector of Penobscot, Maine. Personal papers include drawings, poems, and family correspondence.

Series IV. Lucy Stevens Coffin (1831-1907) Papers include two items: a sketchbook started in 1856 filled with landscape, nature, and family scenes; and a notebook, which includes many newspaper obituaries of family members. Some of these she copied in her own handwriting and others remain in their printed form. She also included other notable clippings related to the family.

Series V. Edward Foster Coffin (1839-1912) Papers contain primarily business correspondence between Coffin and his lawyer, Richard Badger, related to the failure of Coffin's business. Other materials of note include his conscription papers from 1863. Coffin communicated to the substitute sent to war in his stead, Robert Read; this series includes a photograph of Read. The series also includes bills, accounts, and personal correspondence.

Biographical Sketch

Captain David Coffin was born on September 6, 1763 to Captain David Coffin and his wife Mary. He married Elizabeth Stone of Newburyport, Massachusetts and together they had eleven children.

Isaac Stone Coffin, son of David and Elizabeth Coffin, was born on December 26, 1798. Coffin followed in his father's footsteps and became a ship captain. Between 1821 and his death in 1855, Coffin captained the ships Columbus, Xylon, and Geneva.

His brother, Ebenezer Stone Coffin, born October 11, 1801, was an inventor and manufacturer of shipping materials as well as Master of the ship Flavio in 1841 and the Staffordshire in 1852. He created numerous plans for improved steering wheels. He applied, but was rejected, for a patent for his invention.

Isaac's daughter, Lucy Stevens Coffin, born September 24, 1831, was an artist whose sketchbook is included in this collection. Lucy suffered from deafness and married a fellow deaf person, Francis Coolidge Davis, in 1880.

Her younger brother, Edward Foster Coffin, born June 15, 1839, was conscripted in the Union army, but was relieved from duty due to medical ailments. He also owned a pyroxylin manufacturing company (a compound used to create lacquers and plastics), which was plagued with financial problems until his death in 1912.

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.

Badger, Richard C. (Richard Cogsdell), 1839-1882
Coffin family
Coffin, David, 1763-1838
Coffin, Ebenezer Stone, 1801-1870
Coffin, Edward Foster, 1839-1912
Coffin, Isaac Stone, 1798-1855
Coffin, Lucy Stevens, 1831-1907
Read, Robert
Columbus (Ship)
Letter writing
Ship captains
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Women artists
Newburyport (Mass.)
Penobscot (Me.:Town)


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

Coffin Family Papers, MH 60, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was purchased from Robert W. Lull on January 12, 1945. Materials of Lucy Stevens Coffin and Edward F. Coffin were combined with this material in 1992.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Catherine Robinson, December 2013.

Related Material

Account Book of Isaac S. Coffin, 1821-1839, MSS 1538.6

Logbook of the Ship Columbus, 1836-1839, LOG 1328

Logbook of the Ship Columbus, 1843-1845, LOG 1411

Logbook of the Ship Flavio, 1841, LOG 1409

Logbook and Journal of the Ship Geneva, 1842, LOG 1545

Logbook of the Ship Staffordshire, 1852, LOG 1984

Logbook and Journal of the Ship Xylon, 1836 LOG 1328

Pearson, Little, Leigh, and Jackson Family Papers, 1775-1944, Fam. Mss. 730a

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