COLLECTION GUIDES

1637-1891; bulk: 1758-1799

Guide to the Collection


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of the papers of Jeremy Belknap, Congregational clergyman, historian, and one of the founders of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Biographical Timeline

4 June 1744
Born in Boston, Mass.
1762
Graduated from Harvard College.
1762-1766
Taught school in Milton, Mass., and Greenland, N.H.
1766
Ordained to the ministry of the Congregational Church.
1767
Began writing The History of New Hampshire.
15 June 1767
Married Ruth Eliot.
1767-1786
Pastor, Congregational Church, Dover, N.H.
1773
A Sermon on Military Duty published.
1775
Chaplain to American troops, Cambridge, Mass.
1784
Volume 1 of The History of New Hampshire published.
1787-1798
Pastor, Federal Street Church, Boston, Mass.
1791
Volume 2 of The History of New Hampshire published.
24 Jan. 1791
Founding of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
1792
The Foresters published.
Volume 3 of The History of New Hampshire published.
A Discourse, Intended to Commemorate the Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus published.
1794
Volume 1 of American Biography published.
1795
Dissertations on the Character, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Evidence of His Gospel published.
1798
Volume 2 of American Biography published posthumously.
20 June 1798
Died in Boston.

Sources

Additional detailed information on the life of Jeremy Belknap can be found in Clio's Consort: Jeremy Belknap and the Founding of the Massachusetts Historical Society, written by Louis L. Tucker, director of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and published by the MHS, 1990.

Collection Description

The Jeremy Belknap papers include both his personal papers and historical documents collected for his research and writing.

The correspondent most heavily represented in the collection is Belknap's friend and bookseller, Ebenezer Hazard. Other Belknap correspondents include Abigail Adams, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Smith Barton, Joseph Stevens Buckminster, John Eliot, William Ellery, Benjamin Franklin, Gideon Hawley, David Howell, John Jay, James Madison, Samuel Miller, William Dandridge Peck, Timothy Pickering, John Pintard, Benjamin Rush, Stephen Van Rensselaer, Earl of Warwick, George Washington, Josiah Waters, Noah Webster, John Wentworth, and Paine Wingate.

Names represented in the historical documents collected by Belknap include Jonathan Belcher, Joseph Dudley, Jeremiah Dummer, Henry Newman, Samuel Penhallow, William Pepperrell, William Shirley, Peter Warren, and John Winthrop.

Belknap's other papers include diaries, sermons, notes, drafts and manuscripts of his writings, correspondence with publishers, commonplace-books, memoranda books, genealogical and meteorological records, notes and journals of his study of the Oneida Indians, and materials related to his service as a minister and the founding of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Also included is a small collection of papers of Mary Hartford, a black woman who resided with the family since childhood.

Arrangement

The main body of the collection remains arranged by an early classification system used by the Massachusetts Historical Society. The collection has not been rearranged because most of the items are individually cataloged in the MHS manuscript catalog. Many items in this collection have also previously been cited in publications by this old classification system. The arrangement is somewhat arbitrary and does not represent any systematic, chronological, or thematic arrangement of the materials. (Two exceptions to this arrangement are the letters between Belknap and Ebenezer Hazard, which constitute 161.E, 161.F, and 161.M, and the historical documents relating to the Louisbourg Expedition during the French and Indian War, which can be found in 61.B and 61.C.)

There are several sets of old call numbers by which the collection is arranged: 61.A-C; 161.A-M; 013.9; A.1, A.2, and A.3. The main body of the collection falls into the volumes numbered 161 and 61, and for this reason, these have been placed first in the collection. Items with the remaining call numbers have been arranged by format and then by subject or date with an awareness of the old call numbers. In many cases, items in the collection have had more than one number over time due to changes in the cataloging and storing of the manuscript collections. Where known, these numbers are all listed.

While much of the collection remains tipped into volumes, some parts have been disbound and stored in acid-free folders and boxes. These boxed materials remain in their sequential numbered series despite being physically arranged in a different format. 61 and 161 contain the bulk of the loose manuscripts, but are not necessarily arranged in chronological order and overlap in dates among the several volumes. Historical documents can often be found in the same volume or box as Belknap's contemporary materials.

161.G is the John Davis papers. The location of 161.H is unknown.

Acquisition Information

The majority of the papers were donated by Elizabeth Belknap, daughter of Jeremy Belknap, in 1858. Many of these items contain book plates and notes indicating this donation.

The volumes of tipped-in papers known as 61.A-C were donated by Jeremy Belknap, presumably at the time of the founding of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Folders 161.K and 161.L were donated by Mrs. Jules Marcou in 1886 and 1887, as well as some of the loose manuscripts (including genealogical material), which can be found in Box 5.

Philippe Marcou donated most of the volumes now located in Boxes 6 and 7, as well as most of the items now interfiled in Box 5, in 1919.

Charles Deane donated 35 manuscript copies of letters from Jeremy Belknap to Ebenezer Hazard (in Folder 161.M) in 1880.

Mrs. William W. Frances and John I. Coddington donated a small booklet entitled "Articles communicated to Jeremy Belknap for his History of New Hampshire" in memory of Edward Goodwin Wesson in March of 1938. This item can be found in Box 5.

Mary Lincoln Eliot donated a small collection of letters from Jeremy Belknap to John Eliot (1777-1786) in May 1922. These letters (013.2) are now in Box 5.

A small collection of papers (eight items) related to Belknap's ministries were purchased in April 1991 and can be found in Folder 13 in Box 5.

Other Formats

Many of the volumes in this collection have been microfilmed. Use the table below to locate microfilm copies of individual volumes.

Volume Location
61.A, 013.9 P-380, Reel 1
61.B, 013.9 P-380, Reel 2
61.C, 013.9 P-380, Reel 3
161.A, 013.2 P-380, Reel 4
161.B, 013.2 P-380, Reel 5-6
161.C, 013.3 P-380, Reel 6-7
161.F, 013.5 P-380, Reel 8-9
A.1.8 P-363, Reel 2; P-380, Reel 10
A.1.9 P-363, Reel 2; P-380, Reel 10
A.1.10 P-380, Reel 10
013.9i, A.1.16 P-380, Reel 11

Some of the items in this collection have also been published. Correspondence between Ebenezer Hazard and Jeremy Belknap has been published in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th series, vols. II-III. Belknap's journal of his trip to Dartmouth College has been published as Jeremy Belknap's Journey to Dartmouth in 1774, edited by Edward C. Lathem (Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth Publications, 1950).

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Numbered volumes I, 1637-1872

This series consists of volumes of tipped-in manuscripts containing historical documents collected by Jeremy Belknap, including the correspondence of several well-known historical figures. Subjects represented in this series include: the slave trade, the rights of Indians, the history of New Hampshire and Cape Cod, the establishment of the Massachusetts Historical Society, weather and climate, Boston harbor issues, the Sons of Liberty, the Society for Propagating the Gospel, and the Stamp Act. Among the many important correspondents are: George Washington, John Adams, Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, John Cotton, Cotton Mather, Noah Webster, John Winthrop, Benjamin Rush, William Ellery, Timothy Pickering, Gideon Hawley, John Eliot, and others. The series also contains extensive correspondence between Belknap and his friend and bookseller Ebenezer Hazard, 1779-1804.

Other items of interest include: a document from King George III; handbills from George Washington to the House regarding treaty papers; the freedom papers of a former slave; and the personal and family papers of Mary Hartford, a black woman who lived with the Belknap family from the time she was a child. The series also contains a significant amount of material about the Louisbourg Expedition of 1745, including correspondence, a "Resolve of a Council of war," a list of French vessels taken, an inventory of ordnance at Louisbourg, and a register of army commissions.

Some of the volumes have been disbound and the documents rehoused in boxes. A few include indexes. Some volumes have been microfilmed, and larger items have been removed to oversize materials.

161.A, 013.2
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1637-1784

Part I of II. This volume contains "Questions agreen upon by the Elders of the Bay in 1637," "A Draught of the Harbour of Boston and Adjacent Towns and Roads 1755," John Wheelock's appointment as president of Dartmouth College, and the last act of the administration of Governor John Wentworth. Also included are letters from John Cotton and John Winthrop and correspondence between Belknap and Benjamin Franklin.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

161.A, 013.2
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1745-1788

Part II of II. This volume contains letters from John Winthrop, as well as correspondence between Belknap and Benjamin Franklin, John Winthrop, George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Rush, and Noah Webster.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

161.B, 013.2
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1789-1790

Part I of II. This volume contains documents to the Senate concerning the rights of Indians; reports to Congress about the slave trade; and correspondence between Jeremy Belknap and Noah Webster, John Adams, John Winthrop, Joseph Stevens Buckminster, John Wentworth, John Pintard, and David Howell.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

161.B, 013.2
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1790-1796

Part II of II. This volume contains letters to the public about the establishment of the Massachusetts Historical Society and letters about the history of Cape Cod and Indian affairs. Also included is correspondence between Belknap and Paine Wingate, John Jay, James Madison, John Wentworth, Benjamin Rush, James Bowdoin, George Washington, Samuel Miller, Benjamin Smith Barton, and William Dandridge Peck.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

161.C, 013.3
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1791-1797

Part I of II. This volume contains correspondence between Belknap and Stephen Van Rensselaer, Abigail Adams, Noah Webster, William Ellery, James Winthrop, Timothy Pickering, Gideon Hawley, John Jay, and George Washington. Also included are handbills from George Washington to the House in answer to demands for treaty papers and papers concerning the Society for Propagating the Gospel.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

161.C, 013.3
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1749-1796

Part II of II. This volume contains registers of inhabitants of Connecticut; deeds; correspondence between Belknap and John Elliot, the Earl of Warwick, and Josiah Waters; and "Papers relative to the Difficulties subsisting between me and the Parish in Dover [N.H.] 1785, 6, & 7."

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

Box 1161.D, 013.4
Loose manuscripts, 1723-1799

This box contains letters from Issac Watts to Benjamin Colman and between Belknap and John Eliot, as well as papers relating to New Hampshire and Belknap's history, freedom papers of a former slave, maps, and notes concerning climate, weather, fishing, plants, crops, and longevity. Includes an index.

Items in this box are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

Box 2161.E, 013.5
Loose manuscripts, 1779-1798

This box contains letters from Jeremy Belknap in Dover, N.H., to Ebenezer Hazard. Includes an index.

Items in this box are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

161.F, 013.5
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1779-1804

Part I of II. This volume contains letters from Ebenezer Hazard to Jeremy Belknap. Includes an index.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

161.F, 013.5
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1788-1804

Part II of II. This volume contains letters from Ebenezer Hazard to Jeremy Belknap, as well as letters sent to Belknap in response to his queries about the history of slavery in Massachusetts on behalf of St. George Tucker.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

Box 3161.F.127-141
Documents related to slavery in Massachusetts, 1773-1796

This box contains documents removed from Volume 161.F.

Items in this box are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

Box 4161.I, 013.6
Meteorological journal, 1798

Items in this box are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

Box 5161.J, 013.7
Loose manuscripts, 1682-1858

This box contain deeds from Joseph Belknap to Jeremy Belknap and correspondence between Belknap and Jeremiah Dummer, William White, Ebenezer Hazard, Timothy Pickering, and John Eliot. Also included is correspondence about the "system of education in Boston," medical outbreaks, and meteor showers.

Items in this box are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

Folder 1161.K
Loose manuscripts, 1774-1798

This folder contains a letter and responses to a covenant by the Committee of the Correspondence of Portsmouth Protesting the Boston Port Bill; queries for Captain [Benjamin] Magee; and letters from William Emerson, John Fisher, and Oliver Whipple.

Items in this folder are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

Box 6161.L
Mary Hartford papers, 1752-1872

This box contains the personal and family papers of Mary Hartford, a "colored woman who lived in the Belknap family from a child."

Items in this box are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

Folder 2161.M
Loose manuscripts, 1783-1792

This folder contains manuscript copies of letters to Ebenezer Hazard from Belknap at Dover, N.H., and Boston.

Items in this folder are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

II. Numbered volumes II, 1655-1770

61.A, 013.9
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1655-1745

This volume contains items relating to the Louisbourg Expedition, the Sons of Liberty, a document from King George III, a New Hampshire boundary dispute, and the Stamp Act. Among the writers of letters are Cotton Mather, Henry Newman, and Joseph Dudley.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

61.B, 013.9
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1744-1745

Part I of II. This entire volume consists of historical documents relating to the Louisbourg Expedition. Among the correspondents are John Barnard, John Wentworth, William Pepperrell, Robert Auchmuty, Peter Warren, Samuel Waldo, and John Broadstreet.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

61.B, 013.9
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1745

Part II of II. This entire volume consists of historical documents and letters relating to the Louisbourg Expedition. Among the writers are Peter Warren, William Shirley, Samuel Waldo, Benjamin Colman, John Wentworth, Robert Auchmuty, Jonathan Belcher, Thomas Cushing, James Bowdoin, Benjamin Lyde, and William Pepperrell. Documents include a "Resolve of a Council of war aboard his Majesty's ship 'Superbe' off Louisbourg."

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

61.C, 013.9
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1745-1746

Part I of II. This entire volume consists of historical documents and letters relating to the Louisbourg Expedition. Among the writers are William Shirley, Benjamin Colman, John Wentworth, Jonathan Belcher, John Read, and William Pepperrell. Documents include a "List of Vessels Taken from the French from the Time of the Expedition to Cape Breton."

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

61.C, 013.9
Volume of tipped-in manuscripts, 1746-1770

Part II of II. The majority of this volume relates to the Louisbourg Expedition. Documents include an "Inventory of Ordnance at Louisbourg, including stores from New England, New York, and Annapolis Royal," "A Register of all the commissions in the Army under the Command of the Hon. General Pepperrell in the Expedition against Cape Breton," proclamations and correspondence of the Sons of Liberty, papers concerning the Stamp Act, and an example of stamped paper. Also included are letters from William Shirley, Elihu Palmer, John Winthrop, William Hubbard, and Benjamin Franklin.

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

III. Volumes in cases, 1758-1798

This series contains the diaries of Jeremy Belknap, 1758-1798, and his writings and notes on various topics, as well as drafts of his works The History of New Hampshire and American Biography. Of particular interest are his observations about the Oneida Indians, including a personal journal he kept after visiting the Oneida in 1796.

The volumes which follow do not appear in exact order according to their old shelf numbers. A rough order, where possible, was used to keep related volumes together, i.e. The History of New Hampshire and American Biography materials. Some of the volumes have been microfilmed.

A. Diaries, 1758-1798

A.1.8
Diaries, 1758-1769
A.1.9
Diaries, 1770-1775

For Belknap's 1774 diary of a trip to Dartmouth College, see Box 5, Folder 14.

A.1.10
Diaries, 1776-1778
A.1.10-11
Diaries, 1786-1789
A.1.11, B.3.27
Diaries, 1791-1793
A.1.12
Diaries, 1794-1798

B. Writings and notes, 1758-1793

013.9c, A.1.9
The History of New Hampshire, memorandum books 1
013.9d, A.1.5
The History of New Hampshire, memorandum books 2
013.9e, A.1.6
The History of New Hampshire, memorandum books 3

Belknap's 1774 diary of a trip to Dartmouth College has been removed from this volume to Box 5, Folder 14.

013.9g, A.1.14
The History of New Hampshire, vol. I
013.9g, A.1.14
The History of New Hampshire, notes and drafts
013.9h, A.1.15
American Biography, vol. I, no. 1-6
013.9h, A.1.15
American Biography, vol. I, no. 7-14
013.9a, A.1.1
American Biography, vol. II
013.9f, A.1.13, B.1.22
American Biography, vol. III
013.9f, A.1.13
American Biography, vol. IV
013.9i, A.1.16
Oneida Indians I

Documents in this volume include: "Detached Remarks Mason Claim"; "Detached Remarks Chronology of Ann's War"; "Notes and Memoranda related to the Propagation of the Gospel," tour to Oneida, etc.; and a personal journal entitled "Belknap's tour to Oneida 1796."

013.9i, A.1.16
Oneida Indians II

This volume contains queries, answers, and observations concerning the Oneida Indians.

013.9j-k, A.1.18
Miscellanea, vol. I

Documents in this volume include: notes for The History of New Hampshire, "Answer to Peace," miscellanea 1788, and Harvard College early graduates.

161.Ja
Miscellanea, vol. II, 1758-1793

Documents in this volume include: "The Nature and Marks of a Credible Profession," "American Antiquities," "For Museum," "Journal of a Tour to Philadelphia 1785," "Youthful Sobriety," and "Captain's journal 1793."

Items in this volume are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.

013.9l-n, A.1.17
Commonplace-books
013.9o, A.1.17
Letterbook, 1768-1788

IV. Sermons, 1762-1798

Arranged chronologically.

013.9p, A.2.10
Changes, ordination sermon, etc., undated
013.9p, A.2.4
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.2.5
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.2.7
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.2.8
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.2.9
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.2.12
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.2.14
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.2.15
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.2.16
Sermons, undated
013.9p, A.3.1
Sermons, 1762-1766
013.9p, A.2.13
Journal, etc., including places preached and sermon notes, [1766-1786]
013.9p, A.3.2
Sermons, 1767
013.9p, A.2.6
Sermons on Acts, [1767]
013.9p, A.3.3
Sermons, 1768
013.9p, A.3.4
Sermons, 1769
013.9p, A.3.5
Sermons, 1770
013.9p, A.3.6
Sermons, 1771
013.9p, A.3.7
Sermons, 1772
013.9p, A.2.3
Sermons on Matthew, [1772-1788]
013.9p, A.3.8
Sermons, 1773
013.9p, A.3.9
Sermons, 1774
013.9p, A.2.11
Sermons during the Revolution, [1774-1789]
013.9p, A.3.10
Sermons, 1775
013.9p, A.3.11
Sermons, 1776
013.9p, A.3.12
Sermons, 1777
013.9p, A.3.13
Sermons, 1778
013.9p, A.3.14
Sermons, 1779
013.9p, A.3.15
Sermons, 1780
013.9p, A.3.16
Sermons, 1781
013.9p, A.3.17
Sermons, 1782
013.9p, A.3.18
Sermons, 1783
013.9p, A.3.19
Sermons, 1784
013.9p, A.3.20
Sermons, 1785-1787
013.9p, A.2.1
Sermons, 1788
013.9p, A.2.2
Sermons, 1790-1798

V. Miscellaneous manuscripts and volumes, 1724-1891

This series consists of miscellaneous essays, journals, correspondence, poems, memoranda books, account books, and other papers of Jeremy Belknap. Larger items have been removed to oversize materials. Also included in this series are photocopies of records related to the Sons of Liberty, 1766-1770. The originals of the Sons of Liberty records are housed in oversize.

A. Loose manuscripts, 1758-1891

Box 7Folder 1
Essay on military duty, early 1770s
Box 7Folder 2013.2
Letters from Jeremy Belknap to John Eliot, 1777-1786
Box 7Folder 3-4
Genealogical materials, undated
Box 7Folder 5-12
Loose manuscripts, 1758-1891
Box 7Folder 13
Papers related to Belknap's ministries, 1766-1798
Box 7Folder 14A.1.6
Belknap's journal of a trip to Dartmouth College, 18-31 Aug. 1774

This journal includes a few historical notes on the White Mountains, N.H.

B. Volumes, 1724-1855

Box 8
Poems, undated
Box 8
Jeremiah Belknap, dealer in sheepskins, receipt book, 1744-1784, with loose papers, 1724-1780
Box 8
Poems, 1757
Box 8
Memoranda book, 1759
Box 8
Memoranda book, 1760-1764
Box 8
"Quotidiana Miscellanea," 1760-1764
Box 8
Memoranda book, 1762-1764
Box 8
Poems, 1764
Box 8013.b
Correspondence between Jeremy Belknap and Samuel MacClintock, 1767-1768
Box 841.2.18, 29.4
Tables of baptisms and deaths in Hampton collected from the church records of Rev'd Ward Cotton by Jeremy Belknap, with a letter from Wentworth Chiswell and a copy of a poem by William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, 1791
Box 9
Commonplace-book, 1796-1798
Box 9
Unidentified account book, 1829-1855

See also: Oversize materials.

C. Sons of Liberty records (photocopies), 1766-1770

Items in this box are individually cataloged in the MHS catalog.
See also: Oversize materials.

Box 10

VI. Oversize materials, 1748-1812

This series consists of oversize items removed from Series I-V. Descriptions of the items appear above. When an oversize item has been removed from a series, the description of that item reads: "See also: Oversize materials."

Box OS 1
Oversize documents removed from 161.A-F, 161.J, and 61.A-C
Box OS 261.C.108-61.C.144
Sons of Liberty records, 1766-1770
1.1.1
Joseph Belknap account book, 1748-1785, and accounts of the estate of Abijah Belknap, 1811-1812

Preferred Citation

Jeremy Belknap papers, 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.

Persons:

Belknap family--Genealogy.
Belknap, Joseph.
Dudley, Joseph, 1647-1720.
Dummer, Jeremiah, 1681-1739.
Eliot, John, 1754-1813.
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
Hazard, Ebenezer, 1744-1817.
Pepperrell, William, Sir, 1696-1759.
Shirley, William, 1694-1771.
Washington, George, 1732-1799.
Webster, Noah, 1758-1843.

Organizations:

Arlington Street Church (Boston, Mass.).
First Church (Dover, N.H.).
Massachusetts Historical Society.
Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and Others in North America.

Subjects:

Account books--1748-1812.
Account books--1829-1855.
Commonplace-books.
Congregational churches--Clergy.
Historians.
Louisbourg (N.S.).
New Hampshire--History.
Oneida Indians.
Poetry.
Sermons--1762-1798.
Slavery--Massachusetts.
United States--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763--Campaigns.
Weather.