COLLECTION GUIDES

1762-1994

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

There are restrictions on the use of this collection. Users must sign an agreement stating that they understand these restrictions before they will be given access to the collection.


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of the records of the Massachusetts Charitable Society (formerly the Massachusetts Society), an organization formed in 1762 to aid widows, orphans, and the poor, 1762-1994. The collection consists of correspondence, meeting records, financial records, biographical materials on members, files relating to the Society's bid for non-profit status, and files concerning real estate held by the Society.

Historical Sketch

The Massachusetts Charitable Society was organized by a group of men in Boston in 1762 as a society for "mutually aiding and assisting each other, their families, widows and orphans who may be reduced by the adverse accidents of life?" (from the 1779 charter). Founded as the "Massachusetts Society," the organization changed its name to the "Massachusetts Charitable Society" at its incorporation in 1779. The Society originally met at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston, later frequenting the "Bunch of Grapes" and other local landmarks. The founding members of the Society were John Tileston (a writing school master), Ephraim Copeland, Barnabas Webb, Habijah Savage, and John Perkins, Jr. The membership consisted primarily of artisans and tradesmen. The Massachusetts Charitable Society was the first society of its type to enroll members without regard to religion, trade, or national derivation.

The Society remains in existence today. The organization continues to fund needy members and their families, and supplies grants to support education, community service, historical scholarship, and the arts.

Collection Description

The records date from the Society's founding through 1994, and contain loose papers and bound volumes. The loose papers include correspondence, receipts, meeting records, financial statements, payment vouchers, cancelled checks, bank statements, biographical materials on members, files relating to the Society's bid for non-profit status, and two files concerning real estate held by the Society. The bound volumes include six meeting record books with minutes of meetings, 1762-1994, with three volumes of photocopies of the earliest records (1762-1857); and ten volumes of financial records covering the years 1762-1939.

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited by the Massachusetts Charitable Society in September and October, 1977.

Restrictions on Access

There are restrictions on the use of this collection. Users must sign an agreement stating that they understand these restrictions before they will be given access to the collection.

Restrictions on Use

The Massachusetts Charitable Society records have been placed on deposit at the Historical Society by the Massachusetts Charitable Society. The Massachusetts Historical Society does not claim ownership to the literary rights (copyright) to this collection. This collection contains modern records of charitable contributions to individuals, including their names and the amounts awarded. Users should be aware that access to the material does not assume permission to publish. Any requests for permission to publish should be directed to the board of directors of the Massachusetts Charitable Society.

Photocopies are for personal use only. Personal use photocopies may not be donated or deposited in other libraries or archives, or made available to other researchers without the written permission of the donor.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. General Records, 1780-1983

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains loose records regarding the general workings of the Society. Among the records are correspondence regarding appeals for aid, membership, and financial matters; records of votes; committee reports; meeting announcements; financial statements; bills and receipts; materials related to the 150th (1912) and 200th (1962) anniversaries of the Society, and other miscellaneous items. See Also Series VI, Bound Volumes, for other general records.

Charter of incorporation, 15 Mar. 1780

Located in Mss. X-Large.
Box 1
General records, 1827-1898
Box 2
General records, 1899-1934
Box 3
General records, 1935-1949
Box 4
General records, 1950-1983

II. Members' Records, compiled ca. 1900-1980

Arranged alphabetically.

This series contains biographical information gathered about many of its members, including obituaries and Society memoirs, arranged in alphabetical order by member. There are also genealogical notes for some members. There are two files at the beginning of the section that contain various lists of members.

Box 5
Members' records, A-Q
Box 6
Members' records, R-Z

III. Vouchers, Cancelled Checks, and Bank Statements, 1830-1965

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains payment vouchers for donations, 1930-1914, 1928-1951, 1964-1965; cancelled checks for donations and other payments, 1926-1951; bank statements, 1938-1951; and bank books for 1948-1957 (Franklin Savings Bank) and 1959-1963 (Suffolk Franklin Savings Bank). See also Series VI, Bound Volumes, for bound financial records.

Box 6
Vouchers, cancelled checks, bank statements, 1830-1878
Box 7
Vouchers, cancelled checks, bank statements, 1879-1934
Box 8
Vouchers, cancelled checks, bank statements, 1935-1946
Box 9
Vouchers, cancelled checks, bank statements, 1947-1965

IV. Miscellaneous Financial Matter, 1883-1906

This series contains a large file of materials concerning the Society's failed bid for non-profit status, between 1934 and 1940. There is also one folder of papers concerning the Society's Glen Road Estate (1893-1904) and one folder concerning the Palmer Estate (1883-1906).

Box 9
Income tax case, 1934-1940
Box 9
Glen Road Estate, 1893-1904
Box 9
Palmer Estate, 1883-1906

V. Annotated Printed Matter

This series contains printed items about the Massachusetts Charitable Society that were annotated by Society members or officers: Charter and By-Laws of the Massachusetts Charitable Society of Boston? (Boston, 1907) two copies of the By-Laws of the Massachusetts Charitable Society? (Boston, 1931), and three copies of the Charter and By-Laws of the Massachusetts Charitable Society? (Cambridge, 1962). Also, a 1962 pamphlet (not annotated) by Katharine D. Hardwick, As Long as Charity Shall Be a Virtue: Boston Private Charities from 1657 to 1800.

Box 10

VI. Volumes, 1762-1994

Arranged in two sections: Meeting records (vols. 1-9), and Treasurers' records (vols. 10-19).

There are 19 bound volumes of records of the Massachusetts Charitable Society, all concerning their meetings and finances. These include six volumes of meeting records (minutes), 1762-1994, with three volumes of photocopies of the earliest records (1762-1857); three general account books (1814-1939), two receipt books (1762-1895); two cash books (1762-1881); two "members' assessments" books (accounts of money collected from members), 1809-1887; one volume of grants and donations (1815-1861) and 4 volumes of photocopied records, all made from the earliest record book, 1762-1857.

Note: Researchers should use photocopies (vols. 7-9) of the earliest records of the Society.

Vol. 1
Records of meetings, 1762-1857

Includes charter and by-laws of the Society.

Use photocopies, vols. 7-9.

Vol. 2 (XT)
Records of meetings, 1857-1916Extra Tall
Vol. 3 (XT)
Records of meetings, 1917-1959Extra Tall
Vol. 4 (XT)
Records of meetings, 1960-1976Extra Tall
Vol. 5
Records of meetings, 1976-1984
Vol. 6
Records of meetings, 1984-1994
Vol. 7 (XT)
Photocopy of early meeting records, 1762-1796Extra Tall
Vol. 8 (XT)
Photocopy of early meeting records, 1796-1825Extra Tall
Vol. 9 (XT)
Photocopy of early meeting records, 1825-1857Extra Tall
Vol. 10
Treasurers' account book, 1814-1847
Vol. 11
Treasurers' account book, 1847-1896
Vol. 12
Treasurers' account book, 1896-1939
Vol. 13
Treasurers' receipt book, 1762-1862
Vol. 14
Treasurers' receipt book, 1862-1895
Vol. 15
Treasurers' cash book, 1762-1858
Vol. 16
Treasurers' cash book, 1859-1881
Vol. 17
Accounts of money collected from members, 1809-1857
Vol. 18
Accounts of money collected from members, 1857-1887
Vol. 19
Grants and donations, 1815-1861

Oversize Material

Oversize items removed from the series arrangement and stored in oversize box

Oversize Box

Photographs Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Massachusetts Charitable Society photographs, ca. 1858-1962. Photo. Coll. 159.

Preferred Citation

Massachusetts Charitable Society records, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Subjects:

Charities--Massachusetts--Societies, etc.
Philanthropists--Massachusetts.