1646-1943; bulk: 1794-1910
Guide to the Collection
This collection consists of the papers of Massachusetts clergyman and scholar William Jenks and his family, as well as papers of the related Russell, Goldsbury, and Wright families. They include correspondence, personal and professional papers, sermons, writings, research notes, diaries, account books, genealogical papers, and printed material.
These brief biographical sketches highlight the individuals most prominently represented in the William Jenks family papers. They are listed chronologically by date of birth.
Samuel Jenks (1732-1801) was born 12 March 1732 in Lynn, Mass., the son of John Jenks and Elizabeth Berry Jenks. Trained by his father, Samuel worked as a blacksmith in Chelsea, Medford, Newton, and Boston. He served in the Provincial Army in the French and Indian War in 1758 and as a captain in the Ticonderoga campaign of 1760. He married Mary Haynes on 3 Jan. 1760 and the couple had eight children that lived past infancy: Mary "Polly" Jenks Watson (1762-1803); Susanna "Suky" Jenks Ruggles (1764-1836); Samuel Jenks (1766-1834); John Jenks (1768-1797): Francis Jenks (1770-1812); Henry Goldthwaite Jenks (1776-1801); William Jenks (1778-1866); and Sarah "Sally" Jenks Ruggles (1782-1801). After his wife Mary died in 1782, Samuel married Abigail (Fuller) Barber (1744-1828). He died in Cambridge on 8 June 1801.
William Jenks (1778-1866) was born 25 Nov. 1778 in Newton, Mass., the son of Capt. Samuel and Mary Haynes Jenks. He grew up in Boston, attending the Boston Latin School and Harvard College (A.B. 1797, A.M. 1800). He was a private tutor in Cambridge from 1799 to 1805, preparing twenty-five boys for Harvard while living at the home of Elbridge Gerry. After officiating as a reader in Christ Church, Cambridge from 1797 to 1805, he was ordained as the pastor of First Church in Bath, Maine on 26 Dec. 1805, serving until 1818. In addition to his work with the Penobscot Nation and missionary societies in Maine, Jenks was a chaplain in the Massachusetts Militia, serving during the War of 1812 as chaplain of the 1st Regiment of Lincoln Co. Militia. He became an overseer of Bowdoin College in 1805, later serving as secretary of the Board of Trustees, and as professor of Oriental languages and English literature from 1812 to 1816.
Jenks returned to Boston in 1818, opened a private school, and devoted himself to religious work among seamen, preaching at Central Wharf from August 1818 until October 1826 at a gathering that later formed the Mariners' Church and Sailors' Home. In 1823, he became secretary of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, which sponsored missionaries and charitable schools for new settlements throughout New England. Jenks also founded a chapel in the West End, the forerunner of the City Missionary Society and the Shawmut Church, and under the auspices of the Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, he preached at the Mission House on Botolph St. beginning in July 1821. Once his congregation outgrew the Mission House, the society erected the Green Street Church, where Jenks served as pastor from its date of consecration on 25 October 1826 until September 1845.
Jenks was elected chaplain of the Mass. House of Representatives from 1819 to 1827 and served on the Board of Overseers of Harvard from 1832 to 1840. He was one of the earliest members and officers of the American Antiquarian Society and the New England Historic Genealogical Society, librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1823-1832); and a founder of the American Oriental Society. As a biblical and oriental scholar, he contributed many articles to the publications of these societies. He was the author of numerous historical and literary works among which was his pseudonymous Memoir of the Northern Kingdom (1808), an anti-Jeffersonian tract, and his six-volume Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Bible (1835-1838). A bibliophile, he compiled at least two libraries during his life time, one of which he sold to Bowdoin College when he left Maine.
Jenks married Betsey Russell (1783-1850), the daughter of printer Ezekiel Russell and Sarah Wood Russell, on 22 Oct. 1797. Their sixteen children were Elizabeth Russell Jenks (1800-1800); Theodore Russell Jenks (1802 -1883); Sarah Judith Jenks Merritt (1805-1877); Frederick Craigie Jenks (1807-1821); Joseph William Jenks (1808-1884); John Henry Jenks (1810-1869); Francis Haynes Jenks (1812-1888); Russell Edward Jenks (1814-1876); Harriet Newell Jenks (1816-1894); Mary Susanna Jenks (1817-1817); Mary Elizabeth Jenks (1819-1838); Lemuel Pope Jenks (1819-1898); Cornelia Hood Jenks Wright (1821-1894); Nathaniel Frederick Jenks (1823-1830); Adeline Matilda Jenks (1825-1826); and Craigie Phillips Jenks (1827-1908). William died on 13 Nov. 1866.
Joseph William Jenks (1808-1884) was born in Bath, Maine on 23 November 1808, the fifth child of William Jenks and Betsey Russell Jenks. He studied at Boston Latin School, graduated from Amherst College in 1829, and attended the Royal School of Languages in Paris. From 1830 to 1832 he served as a schoolmaster and chaplain on the U.S.S. Concord under Matthew C. Perry. He later taught school in Boston, served as head of the Endicott School in Boston from 1851 to 1852, and was a professor of language at Urbana College in Ohio in 1854. He was an editor of his father's Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Bible and the author of The Rural Poetry of the English Language (1856). A linguist, Joseph William had a working knowledge of about thirty languages, and was a life member of the American Oriental Society. On 30 November 1842 he married Anna Maria Goldsbury (1814-1886) and the couple had two children, William Jenks (1843-1917) and Joseph Jenks (1845-1907). He died in Newtonville, Mass. on 7 June 1884.
Lemuel Pope Jenks (1819-1898) was born on 8 December 1819, the twelfth child of William Jenks and Betsey Russell Jenks. After attending the Boston Latin School, he worked in the firm of Weld and Jenks in Boston; became a general commission and forwarding merchant in New Orleans; operated an iron ore business in Baltimore; and worked in copper and chrome mining in the U.S., Canada, and Cuba. As a patent solicitor, he helped inventors find a market for products such as an improved curry-comb for sheep's wool, a cotton seed huller, and Civil War artillery, but he specialized in patents of mining equipment and machinery. He died on 24 Mar. 1898.
Cornelia Hood Jenks Wright (1821-1894) was born on 31 August 1821, the thirteenth child of William Jenks and Betsey Russell Jenks. In December 1857, she left Boston to help care for her friend, Joanna Smith Wright, and after Joanna died in July 1858, stayed on in Sing Sing, N.Y. to care for her five small children. She married Joanna's widower, Chicago real estate investor Timothy Wright (1817-1901), on 14 November 1859, and the couple had one daughter, Cornelia "Nellie" Russell Wright (1861-1943). By his first wife, Timothy Wright's children were: Rose Standish Wright Bryan (1851-1906); Lincoln Dewey Wright (1853-1881); Joanna "Annie" Wright Morgan (1855-1893); Lillie Cornelia Wright (1857-1860); and Timothy Wright (1858-1858). In her later years, Cornelia lived with her daughter Nellie and sister Harriet in Springfield, Mass., Lansingburgh, N.Y. and Providence, R.I. while her husband pursued literary interests in Chicago and New York. She died on 24 August 1894.
Cornelia Russell Wright (1861-1943) was born in 1861 in Massachusetts, the daughter of Timothy Wright and Cornelia Jenks Wright. "Nellie" as she was known, lived with her mother and aunt, Harriet Jenks, in Springfield, Mass., Lansingburgh, N.Y., and Providence, Mass. where she taught kindergarten using the Froebel method. After the death of both her mother and aunt in 1894, Nellie attended the Women's College at Brown University, and in January 1895 opened a free kindergarten in Lakewood, New Jersey. In 1914, she earned a certificate from the School for Social Work at Simmons College. She died in Brookline in June 1943.
The William Jenks family papers consist of 61 document boxes and one oversize box of manuscript and printed material spanning the years 1646 to 1943, with the bulk dating from 1794 to 1910. The collection has been divided into six series that document the lives of Massachusetts clergyman and scholar William Jenks, his wife, children, and grandchildren, as well as members of the related Russell, Goldsbury, and Wright families. It contains personal and professional papers, correspondence, financial and legal records, ministerial records, writings, account books, commonplace-books, sketchbooks, and diaries.
William Jenks's papers comprise the largest part of the collection. They reflect his work as a private tutor; a minister in Bath, Maine; an instructor and trustee of Bowdoin College; a preacher among the Penobscot Nation and later among Boston's sailors and underprivileged populations with the Marine Bible Society and American Seaman's Friend Society; the longtime minister of Boston's Green Street Church; the librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society; a Harvard University overseer; a biblical scholar; a book collector and owner of a private theological library; and a scholar of Eastern language, culture, and history. His papers contain records of various organizations with which he was affiliated, including the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and Others in North America; and the Society for Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, which includes Sunday school records for African American and immigrant communities in Boston from 1817 to 1823. Records of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge contain missionary journals with detailed descriptions of early settlements in Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Papers related to the Green Street Church, for which Jenks served as minister from 1826 to 1845, include records of its founding, building, parishioners, baptisms, funerals, and religious disputes. Additional papers include financial records; sermons; essays; publications; research; notes and memoranda; genealogical papers; and several series of diaries and journals. Among Jenks's many correspondents are John Eliot, Noah Webster, James Bowdoin, Rufus Choate, and Francis Parkman.
The collection also holds the family correspondence and papers of William Jenks's wife, Betsey Russell Jenks; his children, Theodore Russell Jenks, Sarah Judith Jenks Merritt, Frederick Craigie Jenks, Joseph William Jenks, John Henry Jenks, Francis Haynes Jenks, Russell Edward Jenks, Harriet Newell Jenks, Mary Elizabeth Jenks, Lemuel Pope Jenks, Cornelia Jenks Wright, and Craigie Jenks; and his grandchildren, William Jenks, Joseph Jenks, and Cornelia Russell Wright. Family correspondence describes daily life, events, and social activities in Bath and Boston; the academic and professional pursuits of William and Betsey's children and grandchildren; family marriages, illnesses and deaths; and financial matters. Of note are Joseph William Jenks's letters describing his 1830-1832 voyage as a schoolmaster on the U.S.S. Concord with Matthew Perry; Russell Jenks's letters and papers documenting his shipping business in the southern United States with sugar plantations in Matanzas, Cuba; and Lemuel Pope Jenks's papers related to his work with Pennsylvania mining companies and his mining machinery inventions. The papers of Rose Wright Bryan Rogers, step-daughter of Cornelia Jenks Wright, reflect her medical studies and career in the 1880s and her later mental illness and treatment. The papers of Cornelia Russell Wright document her long career in kindergarten teaching and early childhood education.
A small amount of early papers are those of William Jenks's grandfathers, John Jenks and Francis Haynes; his father, Samuel Jenks; his uncle John Jenks; and his father-in-law, Ezekiel Russell. Highlights include Samuel Jenks's 1758-1760 correspondence and military papers during his service at Crown Point in the French and Indian War and Samuel Goldbury's letters describing his 1775 seizure in Boston as a Tory sympathizer.
Gift of May Thacher Mellus of New Hampshire, ca. 1965.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. William Jenks papers, 1790-1867
Jenks's papers reflect his work as a private tutor, minister in Bath, Maine; trustee of Bowdoin College; preacher among the Penobscot Nation and later among Boston's sailors and underprivileged populations; longtime minister of Boston's Green Street Church; librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society; biblical scholar; and scholar of Eastern language, culture, and history. They include correspondence; personal and professional papers; records of various organizations with which he was affiliated, including the Society for Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; financial records; sermons; essays; publications; research; notes and memoranda; genealogical papers; and several series of diaries and journals.
A. Personal and professional papers, 1794-1867
Arranged chronologically and by format.
Jenks's personal and professional papers contain correspondence with Harvard classmates and professors; material related to his private teaching in Cambridge including letters from parents of pupils concerning their children's welfare and progress (1797-1805); and papers related to his association with Christ Episcopal Church in Cambridge in 1797. Jenks's ministry in Bath, Maine is documented with copies of addresses, notices, pastorate records, and correspondence (1806-1818). Papers related to Bowdoin College (1807-1818) largely pertain to Jenks's position as secretary of Bowdoin's Board of Trustees. They contain information about undergraduates; laws of the college; notes on college business; Sarah Bowdoin's letters to Jenks upon the death of her husband, college patron James Bowdoin; and papers related to the sale of Jenks's library to the college.
Many 1820s papers pertain to religious meetings for seamen initiated by Jenks on Boston's wharves; the formation of a Marine Bible Society (1820) and the American Seaman's Friend Society (1822-1825); and supplying Bibles to sailors and the needy. Jenks's participation in the Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor is reflected in letters, annual reports, Sunday School records, and accounts (1822-1828). Records of the Society for Propagating Faith Among the Indians include letters, society and mission records, and meeting notices. A large amount of papers are related to the founding of the Green Street Church (1823-1844). They include records of the founding, building, subscribers and parishioners, testimonials, baptisms and funerals, and church business. A series of 1833 letters document a schism when many members removed to other parishes. When in 1844 the Green Street Church merged with the Leyden Chapel, a sizeable correspondence indicates a dispute over authority. See also Series I.F.iii, Notes and memoranda, for prayer notes of Jenks's parishioners.
The 1830s and 1840s contain correspondence with Josiah Holbrook and publishers Fessenden and Co. regarding the publication of the Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Bible. Also included are papers related to Jenks's term as a Harvard overseer and his duties on committees, reports on the Harvard Law Library, and letters from Josiah Quincy.
Additional correspondence includes letters from Kiah Bayley about the Maine Missionary Society and organizing a school in Maine (1800-1820); Charles Lowell about preaching, Oriental studies, and Massachusetts Historical Society lectures and publications (1802-1861); Susanna Hill describing Boston and charitable societies such as the school of industry championed by Hannah Mather Crocker (1807-1816); John Eliot about literary interests and the MHS (1806-1811); Noah Webster about philology and his editions of the dictionary (1807-1843); Jacob Abbott about Bowdoin College (1806-1835); Thaddeus William Harris about the MHS and exchange of books (1807-1828); Alden Bradford about Jenks as chaplain to the Mass. General Court, the MHS, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Indians (1808-1843); Jesse Appleton about Bowdoin and literary interests (1810-1818); Sereno Edwards Dwight about preaching and editing the papers of Jonathan Edwards (1810-1827); and Peter S. DuPonceau about philology and Cochin Chinese language (1837). Other correspondence includes that of William Bentley of Salem, John Pickering, James Bowdoin, Rufus Choate, Francis Parkman, Jared Sparks, Isaiah Thomas, and George Ticknor.
i. Loose papers, 1794-1867
ii. Volumes, 1797-1828
Jenks's private teaching notebook includes the names of his students, the subjects he taught, tuition accounts, and notes about individual scholars. His 1806-1811 letterbook includes a numbered list of correspondence Jenks sent and received as well as retained copies of some of his letters, both personal and professional. His 1821-1828 letterbook contains copies of letters Jenks wrote to missionaries and colleagues in the ministry. Bowdoin College record books are Jenks's handwritten copies of the school's 1814 bylaws and a ca. 1817 catalog of the books in its library. Sunday School record books dating from 1817 to 1823 contain information about the various Boston Sunday schools supported by the Society for Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, including the Mason St. School, Fort Hill School, North Bennet St. School, African School, and others. They consist of teachers' meeting minutes that discuss individual children and families, including African American students, as well as lists of adults and children attending each school and their place of residence.
B. Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge records, 1816-1832
The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge was founded in 1803 to promote religious instruction through the distribution of religious books to the poor and to inhabitants of new settlements in Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire; and by supporting charitable schools and missionaries. Jenks was elected a member in May 1821 and became secretary of the Board of Directors in 1823. Records in this series reflect Jenks's services in that capacity. They include correspondence from committees of towns requesting a minister or missionary and from prospective or current missionaries; lists of members; missionaries' annual reports, some containing detailed information about the communities; meeting minutes; treasurer's reports; grants and aid requests; and an 1821 printed constitution. Jenks used the missionaries' reports and journals to compile detailed annual reports from 1825 through 1831.
Missionary journals chronicle ministers' daily visits with families, preaching, travel between towns, observations of new settlements, and sectarian divisions among congregations. They include Thomas Holt's missions in Raymond, Sandown, Meredith, and Centre Harbor, N.H., and Paris, Bethel, Albany, and Lowell, Me.; Stephen Bailey's mission to Raymond, N.H.; Ira Hart's mission to Rhode Island, including a short history of the religious settlement of Block Island; Jotham Sewall's missions to Wilton, Me. and Meredith Bridge and Gilmanton, N. H.; Timothy Hilliard's mission to Gorham and Bethel, Me.; and John Turner's mission to Hawk and East Kingston, N.H. Mr. Bingham's undated journal describes his work at the hospital in Charlestown and the prison in Boston, including names of prisoners, their charges, and a description of the condition of the Black women prisoners' cell.
i. Loose records, 1818-1832
ii. Missionary journals, 1816-1819
Arranged chronologically, by author.
Thomas Holt journals, Feb. 1816-Sep. 1819
Jotham Sewall journals, Sep. 1817-Dec. 1818
C. Financial records, 1795-1865
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Included in this subseries are accounts and receipts of Jenks's expenses while at Harvard, including tuition, room and board, books, clothing, and incidentals. Later records document family expenses, services, and household repairs. Family accounts consist of memoranda related to money received by Jenks from his adult children after his retirement from the ministry. Volumes include cash books, waste books, and household account books that detail the family's income and expenses.
i. Loose accounts and receipts, 1795-1865
ii. Family accounts, 1850-1864
iii. Volumes, 1796-1864
D. Sermons, 1798-1864
This subseries contains sermons preached at the First Church in Bath, Me., on Boston's wharves, at the Mariners' Church, at the Green Street Church, and at ceremonial occasions. Jenks numbered most sermons, and recorded the dates and locations where they were preached, many on multiple occasions. Some appear to be rough drafts or outlines.
i. Numbered sermons, 1805-1864
ii. Unnumbered sermons, 1798-1837
E. Writings, ca. 1793-1863
Arranged chronologically by record type.
School essays and orations include Jenks's 1793 Latin valedictory oration, a 1796 Hasty Pudding oration, and 1797 divinity dissertations. Jenks's poetry includes some verses written in college and in Bath, although most were written in his later years, some signed as "Basil." They include sonnets, poems to family members, religious and patriotic odes, and published verses.
Among Jenks's many speeches are addresses to the militia and the Masonic Order in Bath, an 1809 address to the Theological Society of Bowdoin College, a first anniversary address to the American Antiquarian Society in 1813, a speech at the formation of the Marine Bible Society in 1820, and addresses at numerous religious ordinations and local cultural and historical organizations. Eulogies and memorials written by Jenks include those for James Bowdoin (1812), Abiel Holmes (1837), Thomas Winthrop (1840), Charles Lowell (1861), and his wife, Betsey Russell Jenks (1852).
Jenks's essays and publications include religious and genealogical works as well as drafts of his New Testament Concordance (1833) and New England Gazetteer (1845-1851). Miscellaneous writings and drafts consist of religious essays and proposed addresses, memoirs, prayers, and book reviews.
F. Research papers and memoranda, 1790-1866
Jenks's research papers and notebooks reflect his lifelong interests in Eastern languages, religious studies, and history. They include alphabets and inscriptions in Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Sanskrit, and Persian; translations of the Koran; Arabic grammar notebooks; and collections of "Orientalia." Religious studies include extracts and indices of religious texts, catalogs of religious publications, and study notes. Historical research consists of notes and extracts from Welsh, British, and French historical works as well as New England topics including early Boston schools and the histories of Bath and Lincoln Co., Me.
Notes and memoranda primarily consist of small scraps of paper on which Jenks recorded information about religion, history, Eastern languages, and book collection. In many instances, notes on multiple subjects are written on the same scrap of paper. Some lists and notes are related to his teaching and ministry, such as "prayer requests" which include the names of individual parishioners and their requests for prayers on behalf of deceased or sick family members. Most memoranda are individually dated, the bulk from 1827 to 1830.
i. Loose papers, 1792-1866
Arranged chronologically and by subject.
ii. Volumes, 1790-1857
iii. Notes and memoranda, 1797-1866
G. Genealogical papers, 1798-1867
Arranged chronologically and by format.
This series includes pedigrees, genealogical charts, extracts of genealogical works, biographical sketches of ancestors, handwritten facsimiles of vital records and other documents, and Jenks's volumes of genealogical research related to the Jenks and Russell families and their Welsh ancestors.
See also Series I.J., Oversize papers.
i. Loose papers, 1798-1867
ii. Volumes, 1805-1866
iii. Rolled documents, n.d.
H. Diaries and journals, 1798-1866
Throughout his life Jenks kept several series of diaries and journals. Unique journals include his "Somnia" or dream journal, kept sporadically between 1798 and 1810, and his journal "Private devotions." Others include his "Journal during a visit to Boston and its neighborhoods" (1806) recording daily activities, people met, and books purchased; "Journal of a trip to Portland" (1809); and "Visit to Indians" (1811) which describes his missionary work in Maine with the Penobscot Nation, including copies of letters sent to Indian agents, lists of families, and his experiences with the Penobscot. "Journal of the Lord's work in Boston" (1822) describes his visits with the underprivileged, among them Black and Chinese families. Jenks's "Journal of Evangelical Labors" (1824-1827) contains occasional entries describing his ministerial work. "Reminiscences," begun in 1850, includes several pages describing his youth in Boston.
The series of Jenks's numbered diaries is incomplete, beginning with #6, missing #7, and stopping briefly in the 1830s before resuming (using the numbers 14-18 a second time) in 1838. They contain detailed daily entries of activities, visitors, ministerial calls, travels, and thoughts related to Jenks's personal and professional life, including some retained copies of correspondence and records of letters sent, sermons preached, and meetings attended. After the 1830s, diaries are smaller and contain more abbreviated entries, including genealogical information.
Jenks's almanac diaries run from 1838 to 1864, written in Robert B. Thomas's Farmer's Almanac (published in Boston by Jenks's son, John Henry Jenks). They contain brief annotations including the activities of family members, birthdays, letters written and received, and other daily activities. Entries after 1856 are sparse.
See also Joseph William Jenks's indices to his father's diaries from 1844 to 1866, Series III. F. vi. (Joseph William Jenks papers -Indices to William Jenks's diaries, ca. 1883.)
See also additional volumes 1797-1828 in Series I.A. ii (William Jenks-Personal and professional papers-volumes.)
I. Papers related to William Jenks's death, 1866-1868
Papers include letters from Jenks's family announcing his death in Nov. 1866, letters of condolence, and material related to his funeral. Estate papers consist of inventories, a copy of his will, and other legal documents. Papers related to the auction of Jenks's library on 12 December 1867 include a bound catalog of his books listed by shelf number. Also included are newspaper obituaries and articles about Jenks's funeral, a manuscript memorial by Robert C. Winthrop, and a printed memoir by George W. Blagden.
J. Oversize papers, 1797-1863
Oversize material includes Jenks's 1797 Harvard diploma, as well as those of classmates Jabez Kimball, Joshua Bracket, Nymphas Hatch, William Emerson, Jacob Richardson, and John Shirley Williams. Also included are hand-drawn maps of Syria and Wales, a chronology of Boston ministers, samples of eastern writings and inscriptions, Jenks's 1806 certificate of appointment as chaplain of the eighth division of Massachusetts Militia, and membership certificates for numerous religious, educational, and historical organizations. Oversize genealogical papers include pedigree charts of the Jenks, Russell, Haynes, and related families, as well as charts of French, Norman, Saxon, and Welch ancestors.
II. Family correspondence, 1758-1910
Early Jenks family correspondence consists of letters between William's father, Samuel Jenks; Samuel's brother, John Jenks of Medford; Samuel's sister Sarah Jenks Sargent; and Sarah's husband, Nathaniel Sargent of Lynn. From 1758 to 1760, Samuel and John, who both served in the French and Indian War, write from the camps at Schenectady and Crown Point in New York. Correspondence of the Goldsbury family, related to the Jenks through the marriage of William's son Joseph William to Anna Maria Goldsbury in 1842, includes the letters of Samuel Goldsbury describing his 1775 seizure in Boston as a Tory sympathizer, his imprisonment in New York, and his subsequent exile in Edinburgh in 1787.
Jenks family correspondence in the 1780s and 1790s contains letters between Samuel Jenks and his children, and between William's siblings Francis Jenks, Susanna Jenks Ruggles, Henry Goldthwaite Jenks, Mary "Polly" Jenks Watson, Samuel Jenks, and John Jenks. Included are letters from Samuel, Jr. to his father describing the coastal shipping trade in Philadelphia (1793); letters to William at Harvard from his father and his brothers Francis and Samuel advising him on his career plans (1794-1797); and letters from Polly in New York describing land grant practices and Native American threats along the Mohawk River (1780-1808).
William Jenks's courtship letters to Betsey Russell date from 1797 to the time of their marriage in 1800. Other correspondence between the couple include letters about his trip to Maine exploring possibilities of ministerial work (1805-1807), letters about James Bowdoin, and a Dec. 1817 letter describing William's activities in Boston and his intentions to make it their residence and open a school. Correspondence between the couple and the Russell family in Boston includes that of Betsey's sister and brother-in-law Sally and Lemuel Pope, her brother Nathaniel Russell, and Nathaniel's wife, Judith. By the early 1800s, family correspondence includes that of many Jenks and Russell cousins, nieces, and nephews discussing family events and travels. Of interest is a Feb. 1811 letter from William's nephew Samuel Haynes Jenks describing his observations of sales of enslaved people in Charleston, S.C. and a March 1814 letter from his nephew Robert W. Jenks in Nantucket describing his 29-month whaling voyage in the Pacific on the ship Lima.
Letters from William and Betsy's children begin in 1810, with the bulk from 1824 to 1866. There is extensive correspondence from Theodore at school in Boston in 1813 and in Switzerland and France in 1824; from Joseph William at Amherst College in 1828; and from Mary Elizabeth in school at Andover from 1834 to 1836. Joseph William's letters describe his experience as schoolmaster on the U.S.S. Concord with Matthew Perry on a voyage to Europe from 1830 to 1832, and as a scholar in Paris in 1833. Family correspondence from 1835 through the 1850s includes letters from Russell discussing his shipping business in Charleston, Louisville, and New Orleans, with detailed descriptions of his work as a merchant with the sugar plantations of Matanzas, Cuba; letters from Craigie describing his farming experiences in Illinois; letters from Joseph William chronicling his western travels, including descriptions of Detroit, Chicago, Ottawa, Peoria, and St. Louis; letters from Lemuel discussing his family and business in Baltimore, as well as his impressions of New Orleans in 1842; and letters from Cornelia and Harriet, writing primarily from Boston. In 1857, Cornelia left Boston to care for the children of her friend, Joanna H. Wright, and family correspondence centers around her efforts, the death of Joanna, and Cornelia's subsequent marriage to Joanna's widower, Timothy Wright, in 1859. Letters include those between Cornelia in Sing Sing, N.Y. and Timothy in Chicago, and between Timothy and William Jenks,discussing the couple's engagement and marriage in 1859. Correspondence from 1860 through 1867 largely concerns the physical and financial care of William Jenks in his old age, and the settlement of his affairs after his death in Nov. 1866, including the sale of his extensive library.
After 1880, correspondence is primarily that of the Wright family, including Cornelia, Timothy, Cornelia's step-daughters Rose Wright Bryan and Joanna "Annie" Wright Morgan, and her daughter Cornelia "Nellie" Russell Wright. Letters chronicle the 1881 death of Cornelia's step-son Lincoln in St. Louis; the business and literary pursuits of Timothy in Chicago and New York; Cornelia and Nellie's move from Springfield, Mass. to Lansingburgh, N.Y. for Nellie's kindergarten teaching career, and their later move to Providence, R.I; Harriet Jenks's move to Providence to care for her sister, Cornelia; Rose's medical education and career and her mental breakdown after the death of her daughter in 1891; Annie's death in childbirth in 1893; and the deaths of Harriet and Cornelia in 1894. Other correspondents include Ann E. Webster, sister of Timothy Wright; W. Rogers Morgan, husband of Annie Wright Morgan; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
A small amount of correspondence is that of the Joseph William Jenks family of Newtonville, Mass., including that of Joseph William's wife, Anna Maria Goldsbury Jenks, and their two sons, William and Joseph. A Nov. 1907 letter to William from Joseph's daughter, Agnes B. Jenks, tells of her father's death. Undated correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the name of the sender.
III. Jenks family papers, 1646-1939
This series contains the papers of the family of William Jenks, including those of his wife, Betsey Russell Jenks; his children, Theodore Russell Jenks, Sarah Judith Jenks Merritt, Frederick Craigie Jenks, Joseph William Jenks, John Henry Jenks, Francis Haynes Jenks, Russell Edward Jenks, Harriet Newell Jenks, Mary Elizabeth Jenks, Lemuel Pope Jenks, and Craigie Jenks; and his grandchildren, William Jenks and Joseph Jenks. A small amount of early papers are those of William Jenks's grandfathers, John Jenks and Francis Haynes; his father, Samuel Jenks; his uncle John Jenks; and his father-in-law, Ezekiel Russell. Included are personal and professional papers, account books, legal documents, writings, research notes, sketchbooks, commonplace books, and diaries.
For the papers of William's daughter Cornelia Hood Jenks Wright, see Series IV. Wright family papers.
For family correspondence, see Series II.
A. Early family papers, 1646-1801
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
This series contains papers related to early family members of William Jenks and his wife, Betsey Russell Jenks. They include manuscript copies of the 1646 and 1655 patents of Joseph Jenks of Lynn, William's great-grandfather, to build saw mills and grass-cutting engines; court testimony of William's grandfather, John Jenks of Lynn in 1678; papers of William's uncle, John Jenks of Lynn, including military warrants, property deeds, and receipts (1746-1755); the 1764 will of William's grandfather, New York mariner Francis Haynes; and papers related to the settlement of Haynes's estate by his widow, Hannah Haynes. The correspondence of printer Ezekiel Russell of Boston, father of Betsey Russell Jenks, includes a 1767 letter from Newport in which Russell refers to himself as a "son of liberty."
The papers of William's father, Samuel Jenks, include 1759 rights to land in Nova Scotia, Jenks's 1760 military appointments of others to the Mass. 1st Battalion, Regiment of Foot at Crown Point; a muster roll of a company of miners with the Royal Regiment of Artillery (1760); papers related to the protracted administration of the estate of Samuel's father, John Jenks (1764-1796); a subscription for the Medford meeting house with a 1769 floorplan; warrants for the town of Medford; and bonds related to the payment of William's Harvard tuition in 1798. Also included is a typescript of Samuel's 1740 French and Indian War diary. MHS holds the original of this diary, Ms. SBd-101, and it has been published in the MHS Proceedings, 2nd series, Vol. 5, pp. 352-391, 1890. Samuel's Crown Point account book includes a payroll account of the men who died, deserted, or who were discharged in the campaign, as well as an account of men who returned their arms and an inventory of clothing.
B. Betsey Russell Jenks papers, 1796-1850
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Betsey Russell Jenks (1783-1850) was the daughter of Ezekiel Russell and Sarah Hood Russell, and the wife of William Jenks. Her papers contain personal correspondence with friends including Harriett Hilliard and Elizabeth Boynton in Boston, largely with news of family and friends while Betsey lived in Bath. After 1818, many of her letters were from friends in Bath with news of the community, particularly the religious society. Also included are invitations, letters of thanks for her charitable assistance, and correspondence related to the education of her daughters. Many letters are undated. Volumes include a 1796 school copy book; an account book listing receipts, donations, and parishioners called on, with sporadic entries from 1836 through 1850; and an account book of household expenses from 1843 to 1845.
C. Theodore Russell Jenks papers, 1805-1883
Theodore Russell Jenks (1802-1883) was the eldest son of William and Betsey Russell Jenks, and the husband of Mary E. Mann Jenks. His papers include financial correspondence, letters related to Theodore's interest in establishing the Industrial Institute for the Education of Children, a proposal for a textbook about agriculture, and Theodore's 1883 obituary and estate papers.
D. Sarah Judith Jenks Merritt papers, 1823-1871
Sarah Judith Jenks Merritt (1805-1877) was the daughter of William and Betsey Russell Jenks and the wife of Jerome Merritt. Included in her papers are personal correspondence, invitations, poetry, and landscape sketches.
E. Frederick Craigie Jenks papers, 1818-1819
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Frederick Craigie Jenks (1807-1821), the son of William and Betsey Russell Jenks, died at the age of 14. His papers include children's correspondence, a notebook of school arithmetic studies and exercises, and a copy book of writing exercises.
F. Joseph William Jenks papers, 1827-1884
Joseph William Jenks (1808-1884) was the son of William and Betsey Russell Jenks and the husband of Anna Maria Goldsbury Jenks. His papers document his service as schoolmaster with Matthew Perry's expedition on the U.S.S. Concord, his studies and travel throughout Europe and the Middle East, his career in teaching and in biblical and linguistic scholarship; and his family's financial and legal affairs. They consist of professional papers, legal and financial documents, writings, research notes, indices to his father's extensive diaries, and personal correspondence, including letters and poetry from Newtonville neighbor Celia Thaxter.
i. Personal and professional papers, 1828-1884
Correspondence consists of letters from friends and classmates; applications for teaching positions, including an application to the Secretary of the Navy for a position as schoolmaster on the sloop of war Concord (1830); and letters discussing Matthew Perry's expedition to the Mediterranean aboard the Concord from 1830 to 1832, including descriptions of Syracuse, Alexandria, and Paris. Also in this subseries are letters related to Jenks's study of eastern languages and literature and his attempts to teach and publish in the field, including those from colleagues, college educators, and publishers. Many 1836-1839 letters are from Brattleboro publishers John C. Holbrooke and William Fessenden as Joseph William worked with his father to publish his Bible commentary. Later correspondence reflects his pursuit of a position as a schoolmaster and librarian in the Midwest, including an 1852 letter of reference from Horace Mann, an 1853 letter discussing his work on the catalog of the Library of Congress, and letters related to his position as professor of languages at Urbana University in Ohio. Later correspondence, after his return to Newtonville in 1854, is largely concerned with genealogical research. A small amount of correspondence is that of Jenks's wife, Anna Maria Goldsbury Jenks. Also included is correspondence from their Newtonville neighbor, Celia Thaxter (1877 and undated), as well as two poems in Thaxter's hand: "The Robin," published in 1877, and "Love's Jest."
Papers also contain an 1834 contract with Fessenden and Co. to publish the Comprehensive Commentary; teacher recommendations; notes on developing college curricula; lists of books, furniture and household items; receipts for goods and services; an 1865 copy of Anna Maria's will; and Joseph William's 1884 obituary and memorials.
ii. Papers related to J. W. James estate, 1837-1860
Papers in this subseries are related to Joseph William's legal efforts on behalf of his wife, Anna Maria Goldsbury Jenks, to receive rents from a property left to her by her parents, including accounts, memos, copies of legal documents, and probate records.
iii. Lectures and articles, 1841-1867
Included are essays, college lectures, and articles on teaching, biblical archaeology and geography, history, and languages. An 1841 essay describes Jenks's visit to Mt. Vesuvius.
iv. Drafts, notes, and memoranda, 1830-1884
Drafts, notes, and memoranda reflect Joseph Williams varied interests in language, history, Biblical geography, literature, and genealogy.
v. Indices to William Jenks's diaries, ca. 1883
Arranged by diary number.
This draft of an index to the diaries of Joseph William's father, William Jenks, includes an alphabetical topic index and a list of the diaries in numerical order. The index includes the sender, recipient, and subjects of Jenks's correspondence detailed in diaries #30-50, 1844 through 1866. The draft appears to be incomplete.
vi. Volumes, 1827-1869
Volumes include account books, school notebooks, and teaching notebooks containing curriculum outlines and lectures for Biblical history. The inventory and account book lists Joseph William's property and books upon his marriage in 1842 as well as household expenses, accounts, cash balances, and various memoranda.
G. John Henry Jenks papers, 1823-1861
John Henry Jenks (1810-1869) was the son of William and Betsey Russell Jenks and the husband of Mary Rand Fitch Jenks. His papers include correspondence related to the collection of debt for subscriptions to his publication, the U.S. Literary Gazette and other publishing business (1830); mortgage deeds, interest payments, and other papers related to a trust account of his wife; papers related to inventions and patents for a locomotive "spark catcher" (1847), a ventilating flue (1848), and a coal fastener (1851); plans to develop the Boston Biblical and Theological Library; and papers related to the sale of his father's library in the 1860s.
H. Francis Haynes Jenks papers, 1829-1876
Francis "Frank" Haynes Jenks (1812-1888) was the son of William and Betsey Russell Jenks and the husband of Nancy Gardner Mankin. The bulk of Frank's correspondence is related to his work as a debt collector for subscriptions to the U.S. Literary Gazette for his brother, John Henry Jenks. His papers also include those related to his commercial shipping agency in Baltimore and New York.
I. Russell Edward Jenks papers, 1825-1876
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Russell Edward Jenks (1814-1876) was the son of William and Betsey Russell Jenks and the husband of Louisa Goodwin Jenks. His papers are related to his work in shipping and commission trade in Havana and Matanzas, Cuba; Charleston; and New Orleans. They include business correspondence, shipping papers, advertising circulars, and property leases. 1870s papers include various poems.
J. Harriet Newell Jenks papers, 1832-1921
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Harriet Newell Jenks (1816-1894) was the daughter of William Jenks and Betsey Russell Jenks. Included in Harriet's papers are childhood correspondence, accounts and receipts, memoranda, sermon notes, 1892 correspondence related to a portrait of her father, poetry, invitations, and sketches. Volumes include several sketchbooks with landscapes, family portraits, and copies of works of art; commonplace and memoranda books containing original and copied poetry, botanical observations, Christmas lists, family birthdays, and other notes; a bank book, later maintained by Harriet's niece, Cornelia Russell Wright; and several pages of an undated diary discussing daily activities and thoughts.
K. Mary Elizabeth Jenks papers, 1834-1837
Mary Elizabeth Jenks (1819-1838), the daughter of William and Betsey Russell Jenks, died at the age of 18. Her papers include school essays, writings, and personal correspondence with classmates from her boarding school in Andover.
L. Lemuel Pope Jenks papers, 1841-1878
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Lemuel Pope Jenks (1819-1898) was the son of William and Betsey Russell Jenks. Included in his papers are letters of introduction; 1845 contracts to extract iron ore in Pennsylvania; correspondence with mining companies, iron works, and furnaces; and articles of agreement, stock certificates, meeting minutes, and correspondence related to the Susquehanna Copper Mining Co. (1846-1847). Lemuel's papers also include correspondence and contracts about the inventions and patents for a rock-drilling machine, water meter, and polishing box; and improvements in mining and textile machinery. Other papers are related to the Belvedere Copper Mine in Virginia (1853-1854) including the sales of mining rights and inspection papers. The bulk of later correspondence is related to the extension of a patent on a rock driller, largely with G. A. Gardner. Papers also include a small amount of personal correspondence and an account book with a few non-specific entries.
M. Craigie Phillips Jenks papers, 1840-1882
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Craigie Phillips Jenks (1827-1908) was the youngest son of William and Betsey Russell Jenks. Craigie's papers largely consist of his writings and poems. 1850s correspondence is related to his position as a schoolteacher in Andover, Illinois. Writings include an essay describing Moline, Ill. (ca. 1854), and essays written for The Workman and Gleason's Pictorial describing the difference between life in the eastern and western U.S. Also included are papers related to Boston's Tremont St. Baptist Church, also known as "Tremont Temple," including an 1859 list of members. Craigie's commonplace books contain original and transcribed poetry as well as newspaper clippings.
N. William Jenks papers, 1854-1925
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
William Jenks (1843-1917) was the elder son of Joseph William Jenks of Newtonville, and the grandson of William Jenks (1788-1866). His papers include sketches for a patent design for a lever faucet (1867); papers related to the settlement of his father's estate (1884); poetry about politics and nature (1871-1894); political writings and letters to the editor, largely on taxes and socialism (1894-1898); miscellaneous essays and short stories, some written for publication; an undated essay "Notes from the history of Old Boston"; and various genealogical papers. His 1860 and 1904 farming diaries, the latter kept at Newtonville, contain information about plantings, egg collection, crops, care of livestock, and weather. Also in this subseries are a small amount of the papers of William's daughter, Louise M. Jenks, including personal correspondence and genealogical papers.
O. Joseph Jenks papers, 1862-1939
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Joseph Jenks (1845-1907) was the younger son of Joseph William Jenks of Newtonville, and the grandson of William Jenks (1788-1866). His papers include letters of introduction, applications for entering the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church and aid from the Evangelical Aid Society (1869-1871), personal correspondence, and religious writings. His theology notebook contains class notes, drafts, and memos from his 1870-1872 divinity school classes. Also in this subseries are the papers of Joseph's daughter, Agnes Blake Jenks, including an 1876 baptismal card, Wellesley College records (1895-1898), diplomas, and various receipts.
IV. Wright family papers, 1839-1943
This series contains the papers of the family of Cornelia Hood Jenks Wright, daughter of William Jenks and Betsey Russell Jenks. It includes those of Cornelia; her husband Timothy Wright; Timothy's sisters, Ann Wright Webster and Sarah L. Wright; Timothy's children by a previous marriage, Rose Wright Bryan Rogers, Lincoln Dewey Wright, and Joanna "Annie" Wright Morgan; Cornelia and Timothy's daughter, Cornelia "Nellie" Russell Wright; and various nieces, nephews, and cousins. It contains correspondence, personal and professional papers, financial and legal records, diaries, and commonplace books.
For family correspondence, see Series II.
A. Loose papers, 1860-1943
Arranged chronologically; undated papers arranged by individual.
Correspondence and other papers in this series document Cornelia's marriage to Timothy Wright in 1859; the education of Cornelia's stepchildren, Rose, Lincoln, and Annie; the career of Rose's husband, Dr. Joseph Bryan; the family's financial difficulties beginning in 1873, including the sale of assets and efforts to recover property; Lincoln's death in St. Louis in 1881; Timothy Wright's move to New York and his literary submissions to publishers; Rose's medical studies at the University of Michigan in 1886 and her medical practice; the death of Rose's daughter Katherine and Rose's mental instability (1889); Rose's correspondence with William Q. Judge of the Theosophical Society in 1890; Rose's hospitalization and care at the Hudson River State Hospital; the deaths of Annie Wright Morgan (1893), Cornelia Jenks Wright (1894), and Harriet N. Jenks (1894); and the settlement of Cornelia's estate (1898-1899).
The papers of Cornelia Russell Wright include those related to her kindergartens at Lansingburg, N.Y. and Providence, R.I., including correspondence, inventories, and advertisements; personal correspondence; correspondence with medical staff regarding Rose's care; personal and kindergarten accounts and receipts; notes and writings related to kindergarten teaching (1894-1898); letters from parents and students; and papers related to the death of Timothy Wright in 1901.
B. Volumes, 1839-1905
i. Cornelia Jenks Wright volumes, 1839-1890
Cornelia's 1839-1845 commonplace book was, according to the note on its cover, "designed for extracts, compositions, and so forth for instruction, improvement, convenience and advancement of good taste." Like her 1881 commonplace book, it contains poetry and excerpts from various writings. Her 1852-1853 diary contains religious thoughts and notes on her daily life. Her various memo and account books list expenses for clothing, food, and sundries.
ii. Rose Wright Bryan Rogers volumes, 1842-1892
Rose Wright Bryan Rogers (1851-1906) was the daughter of Timothy Wright and Joanna Smith Wright and the stepdaughter of Cornelia Jenks Wright. She was married first to Joseph Bryan, and second, to Oscar Wentworth Rogers. Rose's poetry/commonplace book, originally owned by her mother, was continued by Rose after her mother's death in 1858. It contains poetry and excerpts in several hands. Her memoir, written over the course of many years, contains recollections of her mother and her childhood with some genealogical records, primarily related to the Smith family. Her 1891-1892 memo book contains lists of medical books, a moving inventory of household items, and expenses.
iii. Cornelia Russell Wright volumes, 1884-1905
Nellie's account books and check registers detail both personal and kindergarten expenses. Her 1888 memo book lists books read, calls made, church days missed, and other notes. A ca. 1894 memo book contains several pages labeled "Aunt H's letters destroyed." Other 1894 volumes contain an inventory of the estate of Nellie's mother, Cornelia Jenks Wright, and an account of the estate's finances. Later memo books contain medical notes, Christmas presents, and books received. Two kindergarten record books (1904-1905) include lists of songs and stories, curriculum outlines, and teachers' names and addresses.
V. Miscellaneous family papers, 1752-1932
A. Poetry, 1821-1870
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
This subseries contains two poetry volumes written in the hands of multiple family members, including original poetry and extracts from other authors. Original poets represented here include William Jenks, Joseph William Jenks, John Henry Jenks, Russell E. Jenks, Francis H. Jenks, Sarah J. Jenks Merritt, Harriet N. Jenks, Lemuel P. Jenks, Cornelia H. Jenks Wright, Craigie P. Jenks, and Theodore R. Jenks. Loose poems are largely unidentified.
B. Genealogical papers, 1819-1902
Included in this subseries are genealogical records and pedigree charts of the Jenks, Smith, Goldsbury, Haynes, Wright, and other related families.
For genealogical material specifically collected and researched by William Jenks, see Series I.G., William Jenks--Genealogical papers.
C. Unidentified/unrelated papers, 1752-1932
This subseries contains papers that have unidentified authors or are unrelated to the Jenks and Wright families. They include letters to Sarah Morse Rogers from L. Whiting of Ann Arbor, Mich. (1848-1850); a diplomatic dispatch from Canton, China responding to a request for a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Robert M. McLane (1854); and an abstract log of the ship City of Canton between Glasgow, Calcutta, and London (1860-1861). Unidentified material includes correspondence, writings, memos, and sketches.
VI. Printed material, 1809-1935
Printed material includes programs, maps, calling cards, invitations, brochures, newsletters, church bulletins, advertisements, undated Massachusetts Historical Society circulars, tickets, and other material. Much of the material is related to kindergartens and educational associations.
Newspaper clippings consist of obituaries, writings, and articles on subjects of interest to the Jenks and Wright families.
William Jenks family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
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.
Materials Removed from the Collection
Photographs from this collection have been removed to the William Jenks family photographs (Photo. Coll. 277).