1641-1904; bulk: 1790-1870
Guide to the Collection
|Creator:||Dorchester Antiquarian and
Antiquarian and Historical Society records
|Physical Description:||2 boxes
and 14 vols.
|Call Number:||Ms. N-1128
|Repository:||Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215
This collection consists of correspondence,
minutes, by-laws, incorporation papers, and donor list relating to the
organization and acquisitions of the Dorchester (Mass.) Antiquarian and
The Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society came to fruition when a
group of local residents met at Deacon Ebenezer Clapp's house on January 27,
1843. These men were concerned that the history of Dorchester, Massachusetts
needed to be recorded and remembered for future generations. In 1855, the
incorporation of the society by the Massachusetts General Court insured its
During the early years following the society's incorporation, its members
were primarily concerned with giving educational lectures on local Dorchester
history, and with publishing scholarly materials, including:
Memoirs of Roger Clapp (1844),
James Blake's Annals (1846),
Richard Mather's Journal (1859), and
The History of Dorchester (1859). With the
outbreak of the Civil War, interest in the society and its events declined,
leading to its eventual dissolution in the 1880s. One of the original founders,
William Blake Trask (1812 - 1906), deposited the society's library holdings and
collections at the New England Genealogical and Historical Society and the
Massachusetts Historical Society.
In January of 1870 the town of Dorchester was annexed to the city of Boston
and as the town grew in population, it slowly evolved into a burgeoning suburb
of the larger city. After a brief hiatus, interest in local history rebounded
leading to the reorganization of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical
Society in 1891. This attempt to organize the society saw new changes such as
the admittance of women, which nearly doubled its size. In 1893, the society
was chartered with a goal of collecting, preserving, and publishing the history
of the town of Dorchester and its parent city of Boston.
Since its original incorporation, the society remained homeless until the
city of Boston offered a permanent home at the James Blake House (c. 1648) in
1895. However, the Blake House stood on property that the city had already
devoted to something else so the building was moved across town to Richardson
Park, near Edward Everett Square. This relocation of the house would mark one
of the first times in history that preservation efforts were taken due to
historic architecture. The structure is presently the oldest standing building
in Boston, though it was not at the time of its relocation.
In 1945 the society acquired the William Clapp House and the Lemuel Clapp
House through a trust fund established by Emma M. E. Reed, the wife of a
Dorchester District Court judge and longtime resident. The Dorchester
Historical Society, its current name, continues its goal of collecting,
cataloging, and preserving the history of the town of Dorchester for present
and future generations.
David Clapp was a Boston printer who apprenticed under the supervision of
John Cotton in a Boston printing house during the years 1822-1824. He became
junior partner and owner in 1831 and 1834 respectively. The firm of D. Clapp,
Jr. & Co. was devoted to general book and job printing and publishing.
David Clapp ran the firm for more than fifty years until 1874 when it was
bought by a group of Boston medical men.
The Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society records consist of records
of the Society as well as collected historical materials. The collection spans
from 1641 - 1904, with the library holdings from 1641 - 1890, and the
institution records spanning 1843- 1904. The collection is divided into two
series: I. Institutional Records (1842-1904) and II. Collections (1641-1890).
The series in this collection represent the two purposes of the Dorchester
Antiquarian and Historical Society. The first series represents the
institutional records and includes correspondence between the acting secretary
and members, records and minutes from society meetings, library donations and
catalogs, the constitution and by-laws, copies of correspondence, records and
minutes from society meetings, and account books. The second series represents
historical materials collected by the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical
Society arranged in three sub-series: loose papers, historical essays, and
Of particular interest to this collection are the letters and volumes that
make up the library's holdings (located in series II. Collections). Prominent
religious and Revolutionary leaders, and signers of the Declaration of
Independence are represented in the library holdings. There are three letters
from Robert Morris to Nathaniel Gorham discussing land speculation in
Pennsylvania. Included are two letters, to and from President John Adams,
regarding his foreign policy stance toward France (1798). Military commissions
signed by governors of Massachusetts, the last will and testament of Rev.
Richard Mather, and correspondence between Conn. and Mass. colonial governors
regarding the incorporation of a mail service are also included. The bound
volumes include a Massachusetts colonial tax book, an orderly book from the
Massachusetts Militia, notebooks of David Clapp, containing prayers and
sermons, and Samuel Proctor's almshouse receipt book.
Additional Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society records, 1635 -
1874 (bulk: 1720 - 1870), are located at the New England Historic Genealogical
Part of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society collection was
donated by the estate of Henry G. Denny, a long-time member of the society and
its last surviving member at the time of his death; William Blake Trask
deposited the remainder at the MHS in the late 1880s.
The collection is organized into the following series:
|I. Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society Institutional records,
1842 - 1904
|A. Loose records, 1842 - 1904
|i. Correspondence, 1843 - 1904
|ii. Administrative, 1842 - 1891
|iii. Library, 1843 - 1881
|B. Bound volumes, 1843 - 1881
|i. Constitution, by-laws, and member list, 1865
|ii. Correspondence, 1843 - 1860
|iii. Administrative records, 1843 - 1881
|iv. Financial (account books), 1843 - 1881
|v. Library records, 1855 -1871
|II. Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society collections, 1641 -
|A. Loose papers, 1641 - 1855
|B. Historical essays, 1840 - 1890
|C. Bound volumes, 1703 - 1793
|i. Massachusetts Bay Colony tax receipt book, 1772 - 1775
|ii. Orderly book of the 6th Regiment, 1st Militia Brigade of
Massachusetts, 31 March 1790 to 12 February 1793
|iii. David Clapp volumes, 30 May 1703 - 17 May 1761 (use microfilm,
|I. Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society Institutional
|A. Loose records,1842 -
These records cover a period from the incorporation of the Dorchester
Antiquarian and Historical Society (DAHS) in 1842 to 1904. Included in these
records are correspondence between Ebenezer Clapp, Jr., one of the founding
members, and potential corresponding members of the DAHS. The DAHS was offered
many donations by Dorchester residents, which are described in the letters.
Also included are loose meeting minutes, receipts for donations and membership
dues paid. There is also one small pamphlet containing meeting minutes, dues
paid, and proceedings. The library records of the DAHS include donation lists
with books titles, publishing dates, and donation dates. There are also library
book catalogs describing the holdings of the DAHS library. Individual items to
note include a signed list of members, and the incorporation certificate by the
Massachusetts General Court in 1855.
|Box 1||Folder 1-9||Correspondence,
1843 - 1904
|Box 1||Folder 10-12|| Administrative,
1842 - 1891
|Box 1||Folder 13-17||Library,
1843 - 1879
|B. Bound records,
1843 - 1881
These eight bound volumes include the institutional records of the
Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society.
|Vol. 1||Constitution, by-laws, member list,
Includes the Constitution, by-laws, a manuscript copy of the act of
incorporation (originally located in box 1), and membership list of Dorchester
Antiquarian and Historical Society.
23 January 1843 - 5 November 1860
Includes copies of correspondence between Ebenezer Clapp, Jr.,
corresponding secretary, and newly elected corresponding members. Letters
received and sent by the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society are
copied into this volume, including a manuscript copy of the constitution and
bylaws. The volume also includes records and minutes of DAHS meetings.
28 April 1843 - 3 November 1865
Includes minutes and records from Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical
Society meetings, discussions about date, time and location of meetings and the
election of officers. Also included is a manuscript copy of the constitution
and by-laws, signed by the eight founding members.
16 February 1854 - 19 January 1872
Includes records of Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society meeting
minutes. Present in this volume are a manuscript copy of the DAHS constitution
and by-laws and a passage about the collections and preservation of the
19 January 1872 to 30 December 1881
Includes records and minutes of Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical
Society meetings. This volume is a continuation of volume four.
2 Jan. 1843 - 30 Dec. 1881
Account book of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society updated
annually with entries for membership dues paid, donations, and purchases.
|Vol. 7||Library records, 22 May 1871
A selection of titles, arranged alphabetically, from the catalog of the
library of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society in need of
|Vol. 8||Library records,
23 November 1855 to 4 November 1870
Library logbook of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society
containing patron names and title and dates of book checked out and
|II. Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society collections,
1641 - 1890
|Box 1||Folder 18-26||A. Loose records,
1641 - 1855
These papers encompass the manuscript collection of the Dorchester
Antiquarian and Historical Society. Papers in this sub-series were collected
from Dorchester residents or donated by them to the DAHS. Many of the papers do
not directly relate to the town of Dorchester; rather they focus on a broader
aspect of American History. Included in this series are wills, commission
appointments, correspondence, and town records.
Individual items to note include two letters to President John Adams and
responses from him regarding foreign policy with France (1798); three letters
from Robert Morris to Nathaniel Gorham discussing land speculation and sale;
correspondence from Gov. Francis Lovelace to Gov. John Winthrop concerning the
establishment of mail service between New York and Boston; the last will and
testament of Reverend Richard Mather; the deed of sale of land to Josiah
Quincy; Royal commissions signed by Governors William Stoughton, Joseph Dudley,
William Phips, and the Earl of Bellomont; Robert Auchmuty's appointment as the
judge co-missionary deputy of the Court of Vice Admiralty by Francis Bernard
and a document allowing Boston to annex Thompson's Island.
|Box 1||Folder 27-31||B. Historical essays,
1840 - 1890
This sub-series is composed of compiled histories, biographies, and
genealogies of Dorchester residents, prominent people, and events in American
history. These histories were written for the Dorchester Antiquarian and
Historical Society to preserve the history in an institution that would
acknowledge its importance. Individual items to note in this series include:
Richard and John Mather's influence in the Westminster Abbey assembly, a
history of Plimoth Plantation, and the history of the Methodist Episcopal
Church in Dorchester.
|C. Bound volumes,
1703 - 1881
These bound volumes were collected by the society with the intent on
preserving the past and disseminating historical information to the future. A
receipt book recording colony taxes in the Mass. Bay from 1772-1775 includes
resident's name, date tax was paid, and how much was owed. The author of the
book is unknown and there are sporadic entries for different years with no
discernable order. Volume 10, 31 March 1790 to 12 February 1793 is an orderly
book of the 6th regiment, 1st Militia Brigade of Massachusetts. The Brigade was
commissioned on 6 May 1789 led by Captain Ebenezer Clarke. Listed in the
orderly book are general orders, regimental and division orders, a court
martial list, and lists of supplies. Also included in this volume are a list of
the 1772 and 1774 Militia companies of Ward 7 commonly called the New Boston
Company and a list of fines paid by militiamen.
Three volumes of David Clapp's include his prayer book (30 May 1703-27 July
1707), and two sermon notebooks (1740's and 1742 - 1758) containing passages
from the Bible and written sermons, and the almshouse receipt book kept by
Samuel Proctor, 20 September 1756 - 17 May 1761 is also included here as it was
formerly attributed to David Clapp. The Clapp and Proctor volumes are available
on microfilm (P-680, 1 reel).
|Vol. 9||Massachusetts Bay Colony Receipt Book, 1772 -
|Vol. 10||The 6th Regiment, 1st Militia Brigade of Massachusetts orderly book,
31 March 1790 to 12 February 1793.
|Vol. 11||David Clapp prayer book,
30 May 1703 - 27 July 1707.
Available on microfilm, P-680.
|Vol. 12||David Clapp sermon notebook,
Available on microfilm, P-680
|Vol. 13||David Clapp sermon book,
1742 - 1758.
Available on microfilm, P-680.
|Vol. 14||Samuel Proctor almshouse receipt book,
20 September 1756 - 17 May 1761.
Available on microfilm, P-680.
Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, Massachusetts Historical
This collection is indexed under the following headings in
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.
|Clapp, David, 1806-1893.
|Cotton, John, 1584-1652.
|Lovelace, Francis, 1621-ca.1683.
|Mather, Richard, 1596-1669.
|Morris, Robert, 1734-1806.
|Stoughton, William, 1632-1701.
|Winthrop, John, 1606-1676.
|Massachusetts. Militia. Regiment, 6th (Suffolk
|Methodist Episcopal Church (Dorchester,
|Westminster Assembly (1643-1652)
|Dorchester (Boston, Mass.)--History.
|Thompson's Island (Boston, Mass.).
|United States--Foreign relations--France.