1788-1966; bulk: 1817-1874

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the papers of financier and merchant Francis Cabot Lowell II (1803-1874) and includes material on Lowell family finances, the Glendon Iron Company, and the Phoenix Glass Works.

Biographical Sketch

Francis Cabot Lowell II (1803-1874), 19th-century industrialist and financier, was the second of three sons of manufacturing pioneer Francis Cabot Lowell (1775-1817). He graduated from Harvard in 1821 in the same class with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Caretaker of the substantial Lowell textile and real estate holdings and family trusts, Lowell also helped to organize the Phoenix Glass Works of South Boston and the Glendon Iron Company of Pennsylvania. Before his death at 71 in 1874, Lowell's prudent management expanded the family fortune significantly.

Collection Description

The papers of Francis Cabot Lowell II span the years 1788 to 1966 and consist of 22 boxes of loose manuscripts; 13 boxes containing 140 bound volumes, including journals, notebooks, and account books; and one box of oversize material. The collection contains primarily the correspondence and other papers of Francis Cabot Lowell II. Family members represented in the correspondence include: Lowell's wife, Mary Gardner Lowell (1802-1854); his son, George Gardner Lowell (1830-1885); his daughter, Georgina Lowell (1836-1922); his brothers, Edward Jackson Lowell (1807-1830) and John Lowell IV (1799-1836); his uncle, John Lowell III (1769-1840); his cousin, John Amory Lowell (1798-1881); and Anna Cabot Lowell (1808-1894).

Among the other correspondents and individuals represented in the collection are: Robert W. Barnwell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Everett, Samuel P. Gardner, Horace Gray, Francis Lowell Hills, Charles W. Upham, Josiah Quincy, Daniel Webster, and Robert C. Winthrop. The collection contains considerable material on Lowell family finances, the Glendon Iron Company, and the Phoenix Glass Works, as well as a small collection of Ladd family papers. Also included are diaries of Mary Gardner Lowell, Georgina Lowell, Lowell's maid Lorenza Stevens Berbineau, and family friend Susan Cornish.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Harriet Ropes Cabot, May 1967.

Other Formats

The 1851 travel diary of Lorenza Stevens Berbineau has been published as From Beacon Hill to the Crystal Palace: The 1851 Travel Diary of a Working-Class Woman, edited by Karen L. Kilcup (Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa City, 2002).

Digital facsimiles of the John Haskins Ladd diaries, 1811-1812, are available on Life at Sea, a digital publication of Adam Matthew Digital, Inc. This digital resource is available at subscribing libraries; speak to your local librarian to determine if your library has access. The MHS makes this resource available onsite; see a reference librarian for more information.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Loose manuscripts, 1791-1966

This series is divided into five subseries: A. General correspondence; B. Business correspondence; C. Miscellaneous documents and notes; D. Phoenix Glass Works papers; and E. Ladd family papers.

A. General correspondence, 1791-1878

This subseries contains general correspondence of Lowell and his family, as well as accounts, receipts, and legal documents. The letters in this subseries are, for the most part, personal, but contain considerable material on business. Among the Lowell family members prominently represented are Mary Gardner Lowell; George Gardner Lowell; Georgina Lowell; Edward Jackson Lowell; John Lowell IV; John Lowell III; John Amory Lowell; Rebecca Amory Lowell; Catherine W. Amory; Warren Dutton; Eliza C. Dutton; George Gardner; and John Lowell Gardner (1804-1883). Other notable correspondents include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Everett, Horace Gray, Timothy Pickering, Josiah Quincy, Robert C. Winthrop; Eliza Winthrop, and Lowell business associates Samuel P. Gardner and Francis Lowell Hills.

Box 1
Box 2
Box 3
Box 4

B. Business correspondence, 1793-1953

This subseries consists primarily of Lowell's business correspondence, but also includes accounts, legal documents, and miscellaneous notes, as well as family documents, material relating to both the Amoskeag Company and the Glendon Iron Company, and some personal and political correspondence. Important correspondents are: Samuel P. Gardner, George Gardner, John Lowell Gardner (1804-1883), Francis Lowell Hills, George Bancroft, Edward Everett, Horace Gray, Harrison Gray Otis, John Gorham Palfrey, George Ticknor, Daniel Webster, and Robert C. Winthrop.

Box 5
Correspondence, etc., including letters to the Boston Daily Advertiser and notes for essays and speeches on private schools, taxation, emancipation, and capital, 1793-1827
Box 6
Correspondence, etc., including notes for speeches and the wills of Edward Jackson Lowell (Folder 4) and John Lowell IV (Folder 6), 1828-1839
Box 7
Correspondence, etc., including the wills of William Cabot Gorham (Folder 8) and Samuel Pickering Gardner (Folder 9), 1840-1845
Box 8
Correspondence, etc., 1846-1853
Box 9
Correspondence, etc., including extracts of the will of Benjamin Gorham (Folder 2), the depositions of Lowell and Charles Jackson, Jr., concerning the financial mismanagement of the Glendon Iron Company (Folder 12), and the will of Eliza C. Dutton (Folder 13), 1854-1861
Box 10
Correspondence, etc., 1862-1866
Box 11
Correspondence, etc., including Lowell's essay, "Pirate or Hero?" (Folder 3), 1867-1870
Box 12
Correspondence, etc., including notes on labor and trade unions, 1871-1876
Box 13
Trust accounts and documents relating to Lowell's will, as well as the wills of Benjamin Gorham, William Cabot Gorham, the Jackson family, and Edward Jackson Lowell, 1830-1876
Box 14
Trust accounts under the will of John Lowell, Jr., for Lowell and John Amory Lowell, including the will of John Lowell IV (Folder 12) and an inventory and appraisal of the Lowell estate (Folder 14), 1835-1878
Box 15
Lowell's notes for a letter to the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company concerning gold and silver currency valuation (Folders 1-6) and his essay "Treatise on War and Martial Law" (Folder 7), as well as printed material, handwritten notes on legislation, and miscellaneous newspaper clippings, 1817-1953

C. Miscellaneous documents and notes, 1820-1875

This subseries contains miscellaneous notes and documents, most of which relate to the life of Edward Jackson Lowell and his estate. Items include Harvard themes and book lists, anonymous notes on the Boston Moot Court, documents of the Pemberton Mill, deeds to Mt. Auburn Cemetery, an anonymous essay on French author Ange Guepin, and printed material.

Box 16

D. Phoenix Glass Works papers, 1867-1966

This subseries consists of papers pertaining to the operation of the Phoenix Glass Works, South Boston, Mass., including accounts, receipts, inventories, legal documents, notes, printed material, and a small amount of correspondence. This subseries also contains two letters of Kenneth M. Wilson, curator of the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, N.Y., and Harriet Ropes Cabot, Jan.-Feb. 1966.

Box 17
1867-Feb. 1870
Box 18
Mar.-Apr. 1870
Box 19
May-Dec. 1870
Box 20
1871-1966, including a report, "The Name and Family of Coolidge," compiled by the Media Research Bureau (Folder 4)

E. Ladd family papers, 1804-1866

This subseries contains correspondence of the Ladd family and the related Greenough, Haskins, Ropes, Sewall, Shepard, and Wyer families. Also included are two small sea diaries of John Haskins Ladd and two journals which probably belonged to William Ladd Ropes.

Box 21
Correspondence, etc., including two pocket almanacs/diaries kept by John Haskins Ladd on his sea travels (Folders 8-9), 1804-1818

Digital facsimiles of the John Haskins Ladd diaries, 1811-1812, are available on Life at Sea, a digital publication of Adam Matthew Digital, Inc. This digital resource is available at subscribing libraries; speak to your local librarian to determine if your library has access. The MHS makes this resource available onsite; see a reference librarian for more information.

Box 22
Correspondence, etc., including one journal of William Ladd Ropes and another assumed to belong to him (Folder 11), 1821-1866

II. Bound volumes, 1788-1919

The volumes in this series have been divided into six subseries, arranged by the individual to whom they belonged: A. Francis Cabot Lowell II; B. Georgina Lowell; C. Mary Gardner Lowell; D. Lorenza Stevens Berbineau; E. Susan Cornish; and F. Anonymous.

A. Francis Cabot Lowell II, 1807-1875

This subseries contains the journals, letterbooks, account books, and miscellaneous volumes of Francis Cabot Lowell II. Items were written by Lowell unless otherwise noted.

Box 23Vol. 1
Small almanac/diary of Frances Augusta Amory and John Lowell, Jr., 1807
Box 23Vol. 2
Journal thought to have belonged to Mary Gardner Lowell (Mrs. Francis Cabot Lowell II), 1818-1850

The bulk of the entries in this journal were written between 1823 and 1828, with scattered entries for earlier and later years.

Box 23Vol. 3
Journal, 1822-1825
Box 23Vol. 4
Letterbook of outgoing business correspondence, 1840-1842
Box 23Vol. 5
Letterbook of correspondence with R.W. Barnwell and miscellaneous letters to the editor, 1846-1869
Box 23-28Vol. 6-37
Personal account books and account books of various family trusts, 1817-1875

Volumes 6 and 9 are accounts of the estate of Francis Cabot Lowell, 1817-1821.

Box 28Vol. 38-40
Passports, 1851-1858
Box 28Vol. 41
List of stockholders of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, May 1838
Box 28Vol. 42-44
Address books, 1850
Box 28Vol. 45
Packing list, n.d.
Box 28Vol. 46
Blank volume, 1826
Box 28Vol. 47
A Treatise on Life Assurance, by George Farren, 1823
Box 28Vol. 48-49
Published sermons by Rev. Charles Cleveland and Edward Everett Hale, 1847, 1852
Box 29Vol. 50
On the Action of Water on Lead Pipes and the Diseases Proceeding from it, by Dr. Horatio Adams, 1852

B. Georgina Lowell, 1851-1919

Box 29Vol. 51-54
European journals, 1851-1852
Box 29Vol. 55-57
Personal journals, 1856-1875
Box 29Vol. 57A
Journey and stay in New Marlboro, Mass., 1882
Box 30Vol. 58-74
Small daily journals, 1901-1919

Every year is represented except 1902 and 1912.

Box 30Vol. 75
Notebook containing miscellaneous menus, 1892-1899

C. Mary Gardner Lowell, 1814-1853

Box 31Vol. 76-89
Personal journals, 1830-1853
Box 32Vol. 90-109
Small line-a-day diaries, 1825-1849

There are no volumes for the years 1827-1829, 1840, and 1848.

Box 32Vol. 110-112
Notebooks, 1814-1844
Box 32Vol. 113
Account book, 1851-1852
Box 32Vol. 114
Address book with miscellaneous business cards, bills, etc., inserted, 1852
Box 32Vol. 115
Invitation list, 1840
Box 32Vol. 116
Recipe book, 1826

D. Lorenza Stevens Berbineau, 1851-1869

Box 33Vol. 117-119
Personal journals of a trip to Europe with members of the Lowell family, 1851-1852
Box 33Vol. 120-128
Small almanacs/diaries, 1851-1869

E. Susan Cornish, 1878, 1886

This subseries consists of small line-a-day journals written by Susan Cornish, a Lowell family friend.

Box 34Vol. 129-130

F. Anonymous, 1788-1850

The owner of these volumes has not been determined.

Box 34Vol. 131-133
Small notebooks of extracts, poetry, etc., 1788-1818
Box 34-35Vol. 134-139
Account books, 1817-1850

III. Oversize material, 1785-1864

This series consists of oversize legal documents; Harvard diplomas for Lowell (1821) and Edward Jackson Lowell (1825); passports for Lowell (1823) and Edward Jackson Lowell (1826-1827); galley proofs for an essay, "Treatise on War and Martial Law," by Lowell; and miscellaneous newspapers.

Box OS

Preferred Citation

Francis Cabot Lowell (1803-1874) 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.


Barnwell, Robert W.
Berbineau, Lorenza Stevens, 1806-1869.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882.
Everett, Edward, 1794-1865.
Gardner, Samuel P.
Gray, Horace, 1828-1902.
Hills, Francis Lowell.
Ladd, John Haskins, 1794-1856.
Ladd, William.
Lowell family.
Lowell, Anna Cabot, 1808-1894.
Lowell, Edward Jackson, 1845-1894.
Lowell, George, 1830-1882.
Lowell, George Gardner, 1830-1885.
Lowell, Georgina, 1836-1922.
Lowell, John, 1769-1840.
Lowell, John, 1799-1836.
Lowell, John Amory, 1798-1881.
Lowell, Mary Gardner, 1802-1854
Quincy, Josiah, 1802-1882.
Ropes, William Ladd, 1825-1912.
Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852.
Winthrop, Robert C. (Robert Charles), 1809-1894.
Upham, Charles Wentworth, 1802-1875.


Amoskeag Manufacturing Company.
Glendon Iron Company.
Massachusetts General Hospital Life Insurance Company (Boston, Mass.).
Merrimac Manufacturing Company (Lowell, Mass.).
Phoenix Glass Works.


Account books.
Capitalists and financiers.
Merchants--New Hampshire--Manchester.
Textile industry--Massachusetts--Lowell.
Textile industry--New Hampshire--Manchester.

Materials Removed from the Collection

One photograph of an unidentified member of the Lowell family has been removed to Portraits small (Photo. 9.21).