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Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877) Family Papers

Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877) Family Papers

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Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-948-6012
Creator:Crowninshield, F. B. (Francis Boardman), 1809-1877
Title:Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877) Family Papers
Quantity:18 linear feet (29 boxes, 11 volumes)
Abstract:The Francis Boardman Crowninshield Family Papers are a collection of business records and family papers created by Francis Boardman Crowninshield, his immediate family and other relatives.
Collection Number:MSS 402

Series List

SERIES I. Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877) PapersSERIES II. Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1837-1892) PapersSERIES III. Katherine May Crowninshield (1844-1892) PapersSERIES IV. Bradlee Family Correspondence
SERIES V. Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1869-1958) and Louise Dupont Crowninshield (1877-1958) PapersSERIES VI. Theodore Chase (1832-1895) and Alice Bradlee Chase (1846-1925) PapersSERIES VII. Related Family Papers
SERIES VIII. Photographs
SERIES IX. Oversize Materials

Scope and Content Note

The Francis Boardman Crowninshield Family Papers are a collection of business records and family papers created by Francis Boardman Crowninshield, his immediate family and other relatives.

Series I. Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877) Papers are comprised of four subseries. Subseries A. Business Papers and Correspondence focuses on three separate business operations in the life of Francis Boardman Crowninshield. This subseries include bills, receipts, and correspondence relating to the Bay State Mills, of which Crowninshield was a shareholder. He also belonged to the law firm of Choate and Crowninshield, represented in this collection by bills and "executions" ranging from the mid 1830s to 1850. Lastly, Francis Boardman Crowninshield purchased arms during the Civil War for regiments in Massachusetts and Ohio. This business was conducted mostly from London, England, and the series includes correspondence as well as bills and receipts.

Subseries B. Legal Records includes a number of estates for which Crowninshield was named executor, as well as papers for the cases of Derby v. Sanford and Curtis v. Francis.

Subseries C. Personal and Family Correspondence is comprised of letters written to and from Francis Boardman Crowninshield. Personal correspondence addresses many different subjects, from fire insurance to invitations to business and political social opportunities. The family correspondence consists of letters to Crowninshield from his father Ben, his mother Mary, as well as his siblings. In the letterbooks, Crowninshield addresses his letters to individuals such as his son Ben, Nathaniel Silsbee, other members of the Crowninshield and Bradlee families, and he responds to requests from autograph seekers.

Subseries D. Personal Papers includes documentation of Francis Boardman Crowninshield's estate, a cookbook compiled by his wife dating from 1834, as well as diaries covering 1861-1865.

Series II. Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1837-1892) Papers contain five subseries. Subseries A. Bills and Receipts includes many bills and receipts addressed to the "Estate of F.B. Crowninshield" and are dated 1877, the year of Francis Boardman Crowninshield's death. Many of these bills are for funeral expenses.

Subseries B. Personal Correspondence includes invitations from various clubs in the Boston area, including the Porcellian Club, and the Harvard Alumni organization. Other topics discussed in the letters include bills paid, club matters and events, insurance, the sale of the yacht Tomahawk, real estate matters, and social engagements. Notable names represented in this series include: Caleb W. Loring; George Peabody; Amory Lawrence; Eben Jordan of the department store Jordan Marsh; George W. Weld; and Frederick Law Olmsted. Undated letters have been filed alphabetically by last name at the end of this series.

Subseries C. Family Correspondence contains letters written to Benjamin Williams Crowninshield by his mother and father, his wife Katherine, his sisters Louisa, Emily, and Alice, his sons Francis and Bowdoin, his daughter Emily, his cousins Arent and John, and other family members including Mary Gaillard and Theodore Chase. The majority of letters written by Benjamin Williams Crowninshield from 1860 to 1864 describes Crowninshield's experiences during the Civil War.

Subseries D. Personal Papers and Ephemera contains a great number of diaries spanning over 30 years. Other items of interest include: a sketchbook containing Germanic military uniform sketches as well as pencil rubbings of pfennigs; a copy of the Atlantic Monthly from 1878 including an article by Crowninshield; a passport book and a notebook from 1864 entitled "Inquisition Book of Rebel Prisoners, Valley of the Shenandoah Virginia."

Subseries E. Genealogical Research contains the large volume of research compiled by Benjamin Williams Crowninshield on his family heritage. Boxes 17 and 18 were processed as volumes because the material was found as two distinct items; however, since they were not bound, they were separated into folders for preservation purposes. Most of Box 19 was organized by generation. The research consists of forms Crowninshield sent out to relatives, who then filled out the form and returned it to Crowninshield. Crowninshield was aided by Ellery Harrison, a professional genealogist who also compiled the Pickering genealogy. Correspondence addressed to Harrison can be found in the records themselves, as well as in a separate folder at the end of the series.

Series III. Katherine May Crowninshield (1844-1892) Papers consist of three subseries. Subseries A. Financial Records contain several account books and cancelled checks.

Subseries B. Correspondence includes letters written to Crowninshield by her husband and her children. There are a few letters from Benjamin Williams Crowninshield before they were married, and one in particular speaks to Benjamin Williams's desire to be married. Most of the letters from the children are from Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1869-1958) and Bowdoin Bradlee Crowninshield (b. 1867). The letters from Francis Boardman are written while he was at boarding school. The letters to Benjamin Williams from Katherine Crowninshield contain mostly daily household events.

Subseries C. Personal Papers contains one folder, consisting of Katherine May Crowninshield's last will and testament, as well as dance cards from 1865.

Series IV. Bradlee Family Correspondence contains letters between Alice Crowninshield Bradlee and her son, Francis, and her daughter, Sarah. The letters from Alice Bradlee to Francis Bradlee detail her travels in Italy, Germany, France, as well as a stay in Dublin, New Hampshire. Sarah Bradlee accompanied her mother on these trips, and her letters to her brother are on similar subjects. Letters from Sarah and Francis to their mother were written during their stays in Jamaica, Cuba, England, France, and on board the ship the Orca.

Series V. Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1869-1958) and Louise Dupont Crowninshield (1877-1958) Papers consists of three subseries. Subseries A. Financial Records include cancelled checks, receipts, and account books for Francis and Louise covering the period between 1899 and 1903.

Subseries B. Correspondence includes letters written to and from Francis and Louise Crowninshield. Included in Francis's correspondence are a number of letters written to Ogden Codman, a relative of the family.

Subseries C. Personal Papers include: newspaper clippings, in which are found notices of the death of Theodore Chase; photographs; a postcard of Cleopatra's Barge, the family yacht; poetry on loose-leaf paper; business cards; and a number of labels for "fine old imported port."

Series VI. Theodore Chase (1832-1895) and Alice Bradlee Chase (1846-1925) Papers includes two subseries. Subseries A. Correspondence includes many condolence letters from the time of Theodore Chase's death. Subseries B. Ephemera contains a wallet and passport (in French) belonging to Theodore Chase. Ephemera belonging to Alice Bradlee Chase includes a wedding invitation for Francis B. Crowninshield and Louise DuPont Crowninshield, programs, and prescriptions for eye treatments written in French. Notes to burn papers upon the events of their deaths were found among the papers of Theodore and Alice. However, the Phillips Library made the decision to keep the collection unrestricted for the following reasons: the notes with instructions to destroy the materials were not signed; it was unclear as to which materials were to be destroyed; and a significant part of the collection had previously been processed and made available to researchers.

Series VII. Related Family Papers includes material that does not fit with the general scope and content of the collection. Items pertaining to other Crowninshield generations (such as John Crowninshield or Charles B. Crowninshield) are included in this series. Material pertaining to John Crowninshield includes typewritten transcriptions of letters and preparations for lectures given by Howard Corning in the 1940s. A copy of the obituary for Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1773-1851) is also included in this series. Bowdoin Bradlee Crowninshield, son of Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1837-1892), is represented by four account books and a report card. Also included is an address book labeled Cleopatra's Barge, and papers relating to "French indemnity." Box 28 contains three-dimensional objects such as a clay mold for a medal commemorating the Erie Canal, a "pocket oiler," and a pocket watch. It is unclear to whom the objects pertain, but they were kept in the same grouping in which they were originally placed.

Series VIII. Photographs includes images of nearly every person included in this collection: Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877); Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1837-1892); Alice Crowninshield Bradlee; Emily Crowninshield; Katherine May Crowninshield; Francis Boardman Crownishield Bradlee; and Sarah Crowninshield Bradlee. Also included is one photograph of four New York "Cops" from Troop K, taken in May of 1898.

Series IX. Oversize Materials consists of muster rolls from the Mexican War of 1846-1848 filled out by Charles B. Crowninshield, diplomas and maps belonging to Francis Boardman (1809-1877) and Benjamin Williams (1837-1892), and a photograph of Benjamin Williams taken during the Civil War.

Biographical Sketches

Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1773-1851) and Mary Boardman Crowninshield (1778-1840). He graduated from Harvard University in 1829. He married Sarah Gool Putnam (1810-1880) in 1832, and they had seven children: Mary, Sarah, Benjamin Williams, Alice, Louisa, Francis, and Emily. He was admitted to the Middlesex Bar in 1832, and was a partner of Rufus Choate. He also served as Speaker of the House of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1848 and 1849. During the Civil War, he purchased arms in London on behalf of Union army companies from Ohio and Massachusetts. He also served as president of the Old Colony Railroad, and was president of the Boston, Lowell, and Nashua Railroad from 1855 until his death. He died May 8, 1877 in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1837-1892) was the son of Francis Boardman Crowninshield and Sarah Putnam Crowninshield. Graduating from Harvard College in 1858, he fought in the Civil War, rising to the rank of Captain in the First Massachusetts Cavalry. He eventually rose to the rank of Brevet Colonel. After marrying Katherine May Bradlee in 1866, Crowninshield entered the dry-goods business, becoming a member of the firm Sprague and Colburn in New York City, then later Wheelwright, Anderson and Co of Boston. He retired in 1876. He died in Rome, Italy, and was buried there in 1892.

Katherine May Crowninshield (1844-1902) was born to James Bowdoin Bradlee and Mary Perrin May. She married Benjamin Williams Crowninshield on December 15, 1866, and they had five children together: Bowdoin Bradlee, Francis Boardman, Benjamin Williams, Katherine May, and Emily.

Alice Crowninshield Bradlee (b. 1839) was the daughter of Francis Boardman Crowninshield and Sarah Putnam Crowninshield. She married Josiah Bradlee (1837-1902) in 1864, and they had four children: Sarah Crowninshield, Frederic Josiah, James Bowdoin, and Francis Crowninshield.

Louisa Crowninshield Bacon (1842-1927) was the daughter of Francis Boardman Crowninshield and Sarah Putnam Crowninshield. She married Francis Edward Bacon (b. 1835) in King's Chapel, Boston, on October 8, 1860. Their children were Mary Louisa, Alice Crowninshield, Francis Edward, Susan Gorham, Alice Putnam, and Louis.

Alice Bradlee Chase (1846-1925) was the sister of Katherine May (Bradlee) Crowninshield (1844-1902). She married Theodore Chase in 1868.

Theodore Chase (1832-1895) was the great-grandson of Colonel Timothy Bigelow, a Worcester, Massachusetts, blacksmith, who, in 1775, had been instrumental in removing the Massachusetts Spy and its editor, Isaiah Thomas, from Boston and went on to distinguish himself in the Revolution. Chase was in Paris during the Paris Commune of 1871, and his brother-in-law, Louis Gaillard, was with the nationalist forces attempting to reclaim the city from the communards.

Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1869-1950) was born in New York to Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1837-1892) and Katherine May Crowninshield (1844-1902). He attended the St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and Harvard University. He joined Troop K of the Rough Riders in 1898 and saw the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American War. Francis and his wife owned houses in Boston, Boca Grande, and outside of Wilmington, Delaware.

Louise Evelina DuPont Crowninshield (1877-1958) was the daughter of Col. Henry Algernon du Pont and Mary Pauline Foster, and grew up at the family home of Winterthur in Delaware. She married Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1869-1950) in 1900. She was a founding member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and in 1955 Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her to the Boston National Historic Sites Commission.

Bowdoin Bradlee Crowninshield (b. 1867) was a well-known naval architect, who designed the Thomas W. Lawson, a seven-masted, steel-hulled schooner. He attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and graduated from Harvard University in 1889. He married Priscilla Janet MacPhail in 1901.

Charles B. Crowninshield (b. 1824) was born to Captain John and Maria Crowninshield. He was a cousin to Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877). He graduated from Norwich University in 1842 and entered the First Massachusetts Infantry in 1841. He was promoted to captain and saw action in the Mexican War. He was mustered out of service in 1848. He died, unmarried, in Boston, Massachusetts.

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.

Crowninshield, B.B. (Bowdoin Bradlee), 1867-1948
Crowninshield, Benjamin W. (Benjamin William), 1837-1892
Crowninshield, F.B. (Francis Boardman), 1809-1877
Crowninshield, Francis Boardman, b. 1869
Crowninshield, Louise du Pont, 1877-1958
Bay State Mills
Cleopatra's Barge (Yacht)
United States. Army--Firearms
Account books
Crowninshield family
Harvard University--Porcellian Club
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865


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

Francis Boardman Crowninshield (1809-1877) Family Papers, MSS 402, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


Gift, 1971, from Sargent Bradlee and 1964, from Mrs. James R. Hammond and Mrs. Eugene E. Record. Both gifts originally located in Family Manuscripts. Material from MH 68 and MH 69 has been incorporated into the collection, as well as material from the Bradlee collection in Family Manuscripts.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Rachel Jirka, October 2009.

Related Material


Bacon, Louisa Crowninshield. Reminiscences. Salem, MA: Newcomb and Gauss, 1922.

Davis, William Thomas. Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Volume 1. Boston: The Boston History Company, 1895.

Dodge, Grenville M., and William Arba Ellis. Norwich University, 1819-1911: Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor, Volume 2. Montpelier, VT: Capital City Press, 1911.

Harvard College. Class of 1858: Report of the Secretary. Cambridge: Press of John Wilson and Son, 1878.

Harvard University. "Roll of Honor." Harvard University. (10) Cambridge: Sever and Francis, 1864.

Harvard University. Report of the Class of 1858. Boston: Alfred Mudge and Son, printers, 1898.

Howie, Robert L., Jr. "Codman Connections: Portrait of a Family and its Papers." Old Time New England. Boston: SPNEA. accessed October 21, 2009.

Related Collections

Benjamin Crowninshield (1758-1836) Family Papers, MH-16 and MSS 0.37

Bowdoin Bradlee Crowninshield Papers, 1870-1946, MH-19

Francis Welch Crowninshield Papers, 1861-1874, MH 70

Crowninshield Family Papers, 1697-1909, MH 15 and MSS 4

Clarissa Crowninshield Papers, 1818-1908, MH 67

Clifford Crowninshield (1762-1809) Papers, 1692-1861, MH 17 and MSS 97

F.B.C. Bradlee Collection, 1797-1881, MH 45

Endicott Family Papers, 1692-1861, MSS 159

Derby Family Papers, 1716-1921, MSS 37

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