Guide to the Microfilm Edition

Collection Summary


This microfilm edition consists of the papers of Elbridge Gerry, drawn from various collections at the Massachusetts Historical Society, as well as papers of Thomas R. Gerry, Samuel Russell, Samuel Russell Gerry, and Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr.

Biographical Sketch

Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814) had a long and distinguished career as a statesman. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, though he did not support the finished document. Elected to Congress in 1789, he was later sent as an emissary to Revolutionary France, where he was a central figure in the XYZ affair. He served as governor of Massachusetts for two terms, 1810-1811, and as vice president under James Madison from 1813 until his death.

Collection Description

The bulk of this microfilm edition consists of the various Elbridge Gerry collections held by the Massachusetts Historical Society, as well as relevant Gerry papers from other manuscript collections, which are inserted into the chronological sequence of correspondence on the first five reels. The collections from which these additions are drawn are identified on the film.

The microfilm also contains the papers of Gerry's son Thomas R. Gerry (1794-1845); navigation books kept in 1706 and 1710 by Samuel Russell (1687-1725); and the papers of Samuel Russell Gerry (1750-1807) and Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr. (b. ca. 1784).

Acquisition Information

Gifts of Frances Gerry Keene, Feb. 1917; Albert Gallatin, New York, N.Y., Jan. 1962; Mrs. William W. Hoppin, New York, N.Y., Feb. 1962; William Gerry Keene, Apr. 1964; and Russell W. Knight, Apr. 1965, 1966, 1967, Mar. 1979.

Other Formats

The Elbridge Gerry letterbook on Reel 5 has been published as Elbridge Gerry's Letterbook: Paris, 1797-1798 (Salem, Mass., 1966), edited by Russell W. Knight.

Black and white digital images of this collection--produced from the microfilm edition--are available as part of History Vault: Revolutionary War and Early America, a digital resource from ProQuest. This resource is available at subscribing libraries; speak to your local librarian to determine if your library has access. The MHS also provides access onsite to the Society's contributions to this resource; see a reference librarian for more information.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Elbridge Gerry correspondence, 1744-1895

Arranged chronologically.

Call numbers: Ms. N-1278; Ms. N-1279; Ms. N-1284; and items from other collections.

The bulk of the Elbridge Gerry papers consists of personal and professional correspondence. Among the many correspondents are James Warren, Mercy Otis Warren, James Sullivan, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Tristram Dalton, Joseph Trumbull, William Gordon, Francis Dana, James Lovell, John Wendell, and Joseph Hawley. Subjects include: a smallpox epidemic in Boston (1774), campaigns of the Revolutionary War, reaction to the British blockade of Boston, shipments of supplies for the American forces and the payment of soldiers, the conduct and promotion of officers, the conditions of Revolutionary War hospitals, Gen. John Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga, the Treaty of Paris, Massachusetts and national politics, the early financial troubles of the United States, debates on the Constitution, the war with France and Gerry's diplomatic mission to Paris, the Jefferson and Madison administrations, the Louisiana Purchase, and the War of 1812. The letters of Mercy Otis Warren refer to her historical research and writings, as well as to personal matters.

Family correspondents include Gerry's brothers Thomas Gerry, Jr. (b. 1735) and Samuel Russell Gerry (1750-1807). Gerry's letters to his wife Ann Thompson Gerry (1766-1849), his son Elbridge Gerry, Jr. (1793-1867), and his daughters Ann (1791-ca.1884) and Eliza (1791-1882) describe social life in Washington during his term as vice president and contain news about the War of 1812. Included are papers of Gerry's father, merchant Thomas Gerry (d. 1774) of Marblehead, Mass.

Reel 1
Reel 2
Reel 3
Reel 4
1812-Mar. 1822
Reel 5
Apr. 1822-1895

Elbridge Gerry letterbook, 1797-1801

Call number: Ms. SBd-187.

This letterbook was kept by Elbridge Gerry while serving as a U.S. minister to France, 1797-1798. Letters to his wife Ann Thompson Gerry and daughters Ann and Eliza discuss his journey to Paris, the health of various family members, and the negotiations of Gerry, John Marshall, and Charles C. Pinckney with French Foreign Minister Talleyrand. Letters to Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, 1798-1801, apparently transcribed into the book by Gerry's daughter Ann, concern the XYZ affair and the ensuing war with France.

Reel 5

Thomas R. Gerry papers, 1768-1853

Call number: Ms. N-1285.

These papers consist primarily of the correspondence of Thomas R. Gerry (1794-1845), detailing his service as a midshipman in the United States Navy onboard the frigates Congress, Constellation, and John Adams; the sloop Erie; and the ship Tarter. Papers include family correspondence concerning births, deaths, marriages, travels, and occasional comments on contemporary political figures and issues.

Reel 5

Samuel Russell Gerry and Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr. papers, 1756-1895

Call number: Ms. N-1281.

These papers of Marblehead, Mass., merchants Samuel Russell Gerry (1750-1807) and his son Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr. (b. ca.1784) contain correspondence and business accounts related to trade with Bilbao, Spain, Batavia (Jakarta), Indonesia, and other ports. Among the correspondents are various merchants, agents, and other individuals, including Joseph Gardoqui & Sons, Butlers & Mathews, Philadelphia merchant Joshua Howell, Boston merchant Samuel Parkman, John Rose Greene, and Catharine Gerry. Papers include Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr.'s orders and letters from Isaac Hull while serving as sailing master in Portland, Maine; family and business correspondence of Elbridge Gerry and Thomas Gerry; and correspondence of the William Gerry Keene family of Lynn, Mass., 1884-1895.

Reel 6

Samuel Russell navigation books, 1706, 1710

Call number: Ms. N-1278.

These illustrated notebooks were kept by Samuel Russell (1687-1725) and describe various sailing and navigating problems.

Reel 7

Samuel Russell Gerry ledger, 1769-1802

Call number: Ms. N-1282.

This account ledger, kept by Samuel Russell Gerry (1750-1807), details his personal and business transactions.

Reel 7

Samuel Russell Gerry journal, 1769-1791

Call number: Ms. N-1282.

This account journal, kept by Samuel Russell Gerry (1750-1807), details his personal and business transactions.

Reel 7

Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr., account book, 1820-1828

Call number: Ms. N-1282.

This account book of Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr. (b. ca.1784) includes invoices from his service as master of the brigs Washington and Charles & Ellen.

Reel 7

Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr., letterbook, 1831-1843

Call number: Ms. N-1282.

This letterbook of Samuel Russell Gerry, Jr. (b. ca.1784) contains copies of letters he wrote from Batavia (Jakarta) to various Massachusetts merchants concerning the sale of their cargoes, as well as letters he wrote from Marblehead, Mass., to other merchants and captains, including Capt. William G. Blackler (1803-1880).

Reel 7

Preferred Citation

Microfilm edition of the Elbridge Gerry 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.


Adams, John, 1735-1826.
Gerry family
Gerry, Ann, 1791-ca.1884.
Gerry, Ann Thompson, 1766-1849.
Gerry, Elbridge, 1793-1867.
Gerry, Samuel Russell, 1750-1807.
Gerry, Samuel Russell, b. ca. 1784.
Gerry, Thomas, d. 1774.
Gerry, Thomas, b. 1735.
Gerry, Thomas R., 1794-1845.
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Russell, Samuel, 1687-1725.
Townsend, Eliza Gerry, 1791-1882.
Warren, Mercy Otis, 1728-1814.


Family history--1700-1749.
Family history--1750-1799.
Family history--1800-1849.
Family history--1850-1899.