Guide to the Collection
This collection consists of family papers of the interrelated Putnam, Jackson, and Lowell families of Boston, Newburyport, and Salem, Mass., including those of Jonathan Jackson (1743-1810), James Jackson (1777-1867), Samuel Putnam (1768-1853), and Elizabeth Cabot Putnam (1836-1922). It contains correspondence, personal and professional papers, speeches and writings, social welfare case studies, genealogical records, and printed material.
These brief biological sketches highlight the individuals most prominently represented in the Putnam-Jackson-Lowell family papers. They are arranged by generation within each family group.
The Jackson family
Jonathan Jackson (1743-1810) was the son of merchant and manufacturer Edward Jackson (1708-1757) and Dorothy Quincy Jackson (1709-1762). Born in Boston, he graduated from Harvard College in 1761 and apprenticed with Newburyport merchant Patrick Tracy, later becoming a shipper and importer. He was a member of the Provincial Congress in 1775, Newburyport's representative to the General Court in 1776, a representative at the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in 1779, and a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1782. He served one term in the Massachusetts Senate in 1789. Jackson was the first U.S. marshal for the district of Massachusetts from 1789 to 1791, the federal supervisor of revenue from 1792 to 1801, the third treasurer and receiver-general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1802 to 1806, and the treasurer of Harvard University from 1807 until his death in 1810.
Jackson married Hannah Tracy (1755-1797), the daughter of his mentor Patrick Tracy, in 1772. Their nine children were: Robert Jackson, Henry Jackson, Charles Jackson, Hannah Jackson Lowell, James Jackson, Sarah Jackson Gardner, Patrick Tracy Jackson, Harriett Jackson, and Mary Jackson Lee.
James Jackson (1777-1867) was the son of Jonathan Jackson and Hannah Tracy Jackson. Born in Newburyport, he attended Boston Latin School and Dummer Academy, graduating from Harvard in 1796. He later studied at Harvard Medical School and at St. Thomas's Hospital in London. One of the first to scientifically study vaccination, much of Jackson's professional work involved the treatment of cholera. He became a professor of medicine at Harvard in 1810, helping to rebuild and reorganize Harvard Medical School. After his retirement in 1836, he served as professor emeritus in the theory and practice of medicine until his death in 1867.
In March 1835, Jackson was chosen a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Medicine in France. He helped to found Massachusetts General Hospital and became its first physician in 1837. In addition to numerous articles in medical journals and periodicals, Jackson published On the Theory and Practice of Physic (1825), Memoir to James Jackson, Jr. (1834), and Letters to a Young Physician (1855). In 1801, he married Elizabeth Cabot (1776-1817), and the couple had six children: Elizabeth Cabot Jackson Putnam, James Jackson, Lydia Cabot Jackson Storrow, Harriet Jackson Minot, Francis Henry Jackson, and Susan Cabot Jackson. After his wife's death in 1817, Jackson married her sister, Sarah Cabot.
James Jackson (1810-1834) was the fourth son of James Jackson (1777-1867) and Elizabeth Cabot Jackson. He graduated from Harvard College in 1828, then studied medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Royal Academy of Medicine in France with Pierre C. A. Louis, an early proponent of clinical trials with tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and pneumonia. Jackson completed an important study on the cholera epidemic, which was published on his return to the United States in 1832. He and his father were translating Pierre Louis's published case studies at the time of his death in 1834 at the age of 24.
The Putnam family
Samuel Putnam (1768-1853) was the son of Gideon Putnam and Hannah Brown Putnam. He attended Phillips Academy at Andover, graduating from Harvard in 1787. He was admitted to the Essex Bar in 1794 and established his practice in Salem. Putnam represented Salem as a state senator in 1808, 1809, 1813, and 1814, and became a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1814, serving for 28 years. He was a member of the Committee of the North Society in Salem and was elected a trustee of Dummer Academy in 1822. In 1825, he received a doctorate from the University of Cambridge in England.
Putnam married Sarah Gooll (1772-1864) in 1795, and they had eight children: Samuel Raymond Putnam, Hannah Putnam Bancroft, Louisa Putnam Peabody, Mary Ann Putnam Loring, Charles Gideon Putnam, Elizabeth Cabot Putnam Lowell, Sarah Gooll Putnam Crowninshield, and John Pickering Putnam.
Samuel Raymond Putnam (1797-1861) was the oldest of the five children of Samuel Putnam and Sarah Gooll Putnam. He was a merchant in Europe and India before returning to Salem in 1819. In 1823, Putnam's business suffered losses, and his health declined. He married Mary Traill Spence Lowell in 1832, and they had four children: Alfred Lowell Putnam, Georgina Lowell Putnam, William Lowell Putnam, and Charles Lowell Putnam.
Elizabeth Cabot Jackson Putnam (1808-1875) was the daughter of James Jackson (1777-1867) and Elizabeth Cabot Jackson. She married Boston physician Charles Gideon Putnam in 1835, and the couple had five children: Elizabeth Cabot Putnam, Sarah Putnam, Anne Cabot Putnam, Charles Pickering Putnam, and James Jackson Putnam.
Elizabeth Cabot Putnam (1836-1922) was the oldest of the five children of Charles Gideon Putnam and Elizabeth Cabot Jackson Putnam. She worked as a schoolteacher until 1873, when she became involved in social welfare reform. She revitalized the state's guardianship and home visitation program for delinquent minors, served as secretary for the trustees of the Board of State Primary and Reform Schools, served on the board of directors of the Lyman School for Boys and the Industrial School for Girls, and was one of the principal organizers of the Massachusetts Public School Association. In her later years, Putnam became an advocate for civil rights and education for African Americans. She continued to speak, write, and lobby for her causes until shortly before her death at age 86.
James Jackson Putnam (1846-1918) was the son of Charles Gideon Putnam and Elizabeth Cabot Jackson Putnam. Born in Boston, he graduated from Harvard University in 1866 and Harvard Medical School in 1870. He interned at Massachusetts General Hospital, studying neurology in Leipzig, Vienna, and London. In 1872, Putnam started one of the first neurological clinics in the United States and later became president of the American Neurological Society. He became a lecturer at Harvard Medical School in 1874 and a professor from 1893 to 1912. In 1905, he published A Memoir of James Jackson, his grandfather. Putnam married Marion Cabot, the daughter of Francis and Louisa Higginson Cabot, in 1886.
The Lowell family
Anna Cabot Lowell (1808-1894) was the fourth child of John Lowell (1769-1840) and Rebecca Amory Lowell (1771-1842) and the sister of John Amory Lowell, Rebecca Amory Lowell, and Sarah Higginson Lowell. Her charitable activities included work with the New England Branch of the Freedmen's Union Commission, New England Freedmen's Aid Society, Rooms of the American Unitarian Association, Massachusetts Infant Asylum, The Christian Register, and the New England Hospital for Women and Children. Among her causes were the adoptions of orphaned children and fundraising for children's welfare, schools, and libraries. A lifelong resident of Roxbury, she taught Sunday School at First Church of Roxbury for over 50 years.
The Putnam-Jackson-Lowell family papers consist of 7 document boxes and 1 oversize box spanning the years 1770 to 1922. The collection has been divided into five series: Family correspondence; Jackson family papers; Putnam family papers; Lowell family papers; and Printed material.
Family correspondence, the largest series in the collection, contains the letters of the interrelated Putnam, Jackson, and Lowell families of Boston and Salem, Mass. Correspondence primarily discusses the daily activities of family and friends; births, deaths, and marriages; courtship and social gossip; and family illnesses. Letters between James Jackson and his son James Jackson discuss the latter's studies at Harvard Medical School beginning in 1828. Samuel Putnam's correspondence with his son Samuel R. Putnam describes the latter's work as a Salem merchant in European trade in the early 1800s. Elizabeth Cabot Putnam's letters chronicle her travels in Germany, Austria, and Italy in 1869 and 1870, as well as her later social work with indigent girls in Massachusetts.
Jackson family papers contain those of Newburyport importer and politician Jonathan Jackson; his son, Boston physician James Jackson (1777-1867); and his grandson, medical student James Jackson (1810-1834). Of note are Jonathan Jackson's letters related to political events in the Revolutionary War and the early days of the Republic. Papers of the elder James Jackson document his Boston medical practice and teaching at Harvard Medical School, as well as his involvement with the founding of Massachusetts General Hospital. Also included are Jackson's notes on the life of his brother, textile merchant Patrick Tracy Jackson. Papers of the younger James Jackson include letters from his mentor, Dr. Pierre C. A. Louis, and Dr. Francis Boott, as well as papers that illustrate his medical studies in London and Paris in the 1830s.
Putnam family papers contain those of Salem politician and judge Samuel Putnam; his son, merchant Samuel R. Putnam; his granddaughter, social worker Elizabeth Cabot Putnam; and his grandson, physician James Jackson Putnam. The papers of Elizabeth Cabot Putnam form the largest part of this series. They document her social welfare work with indigent minors in the Massachusetts home visitation and guardianship programs and with trade schools and reformatories, including the Massachusetts State Reform School. Included is political correspondence, case studies of individual students and minor women, speeches and writings related to public assistance and juvenile delinquency, and several memoirs of relatives and friends.
Lowell family papers primarily consist of the correspondence of Anna Cabot Lowell, describing the activities and health of her family and friends. Printed material includes newspaper clippings and obituaries related to the Putnam and Tracy families, as well as the published works of Elizabeth Cabot Putnam, including works on social welfare, letters to the editor, and copies of her speeches. The collection also contains a small amount of genealogical material.
Gift of Louise H. Putnam, Oct. 1932. Some of Dr. James Jackson correspondence was a gift of Dr. Tracy Jackson, Nov. 1926.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Family correspondence, 1801-1894
Principal correspondents include Jonathan Jackson, Hannah Jackson Lowell, James Jackson (1777-1867), James Jackson (1810-1834), Lydia Jackson Storrow, Elizabeth Cabot Jackson Putnam, Anna Cabot Lowell, Georgina Amory Higginson, Samuel Putnam, Sarah Gooll Putnam, Samuel R. Putnam, Sarah Gooll Putnam Crowninshield, Mary Ann Putnam Loring, Charles Putnam, and Elizabeth Cabot Putnam. The bulk of correspondence discusses the activities of family and friends; births, deaths, and marriages; courtships and social gossip; and family illnesses in Boston, Newburyport, and Salem. Of interest are an 11 August 1807 letter from Hannah Jackson Lowell to her brother Patrick Tracy Jackson describing her visit to Fort Niagara, and James Jackson's 13 May 1815 letter to Patrick Tracy Jackson regarding the choice of location for the future Massachusetts General Hospital. Correspondence between James Jackson (1777-1867) and his son James from 1828 to 1834 discusses the younger Jackson's medical studies at Harvard and in France, including his patients' symptoms and treatments. Correspondence between Samuel Putnam and his son Samuel R. Putnam describes the latter's work as a merchant in Marseilles, Havana, Gibraltar, and Calcutta from 1818 to 1836. A large amount of correspondence is that of Elizabeth Cabot Putnam, including six foldered volumes of letters from 1869 and 1870 describing details of her trip through Germany, Austria, and Italy with sketches of landscapes and people she met. Beginning in 1872, numerous letters from Putnam to Anna Cabot Lowell chronicle her work developing a guardianship and visitation program to place delinquent girls in private homes and educate them through reform schools.
II. Jackson family papers, 1770-1865
This series contains the papers of Jonathan Jackson (1743-1810), his son James Jackson (1777-1867), and his grandson James Jackson (1810-1834). A small amount of genealogical papers is also included.
A. Jonathan Jackson papers, 1770-1806
Jackson's papers largely consist of copies of his correspondence, most likely transcribed by Elizabeth Cabot Putnam, including a 1777 letter to Oliver Wendell about proper emergency measures to be taken in Boston, an Oct. 1781 letter to an unknown correspondent about Cornwallis's surrender, and correspondence with John Adams and Stephen Higginson related to U.S. commercial relations (1784-1786). Original letters include third-party correspondence between Paine Wingate and Timothy Pickering about the work of Congress and Hamilton's measures (1790) and an 1805 letter to John Lowell in Paris concerning the "gloomy political prospects" of the United States. Also included is a typescript of Jackson's 1806 will.
B. James Jackson (1777-1867) papers, 1807-1865
i. Personal and professional papers, 1807-1865
Included are transcripts of 1823 correspondence between Jackson and John Lowell regarding politics at Harvard College; letters from Dr. Ashbel Smith discussing the treatment of cholera (1832); an 1834 letter from former student Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. in Paris concerning the death of Jackson's son James; and letters from Dr. Pierre C.A. Louis praising the work of Jackson's son and discussing their efforts to translate Louis's work on numerical methods in clinical trials into English (1832-1839). Other correspondents include Samuel C. Thacher, John H. Cabot, Francis Boott, Francis Wayland, Samuel L. Dana, Moses Stuart, Henry Holland, and Edward Everett. A large amount of correspondence acknowledges the receipt of copies of A Memoir of James Jackson, which Jackson published as a tribute to his son in 1835.
Also included in Jackson's papers are 1813 medical case notes, an 1815 committee report on the selection of a location for Massachusetts General Hospital, and a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes in honor of Jackson's 80th birthday on 3 Oct. 1857.
ii. Jenner monument records, 1851-1852
Jackson was a member of a Boston committee to raise subscriptions for erecting a statue of Dr. Edward Jenner, creator of the smallpox vaccination, by William Calder Marshall in London. The monument was unveiled by Prince Albert at Trafalgar Square in 1858, and moved to Kensington Gardens in 1862. Records include subscription papers, correspondence related to the collection of donations, lists of donor names and contributions, and a report to Suffolk District Medical Society.
iii. Patrick Tracy Jackson memoir, undated
Papers include James Jackson's notes on the life and character of his younger brother, written in several drafts. Patrick Tracy Jackson (1780-1847) was a Boston merchant specializing in the East and West India trade, who later helped to develop the New England textile industry and the Boston and Lowell Railroad.
C. James Jackson (1810-1834) papers, 1828-1834
Jackson's papers include letters of introduction to various people in Germany and Edinburgh in 1831 and 1832, letters from his mentor, Dr. Pierre C.A. Louis, in English and French, and frequent correspondence with Dr. Francis Boott and his children about medicine, Jackson's visits with the family, and the Boott children's activities. Other correspondents include Charles Emerson, Stephen Higginson, Benjamin Vaughan, William W. Gerhard, Ashbel Smith, Henry I. Bowditch, and Jonathan Mason Warren. Jackson's letters largely discuss friends and family activities, local events, American politics, and his studies and life in Paris. Also in his papers are lecture and course schedules for the University of London School of Medicine, Guy's Hospital, and other London hospitals in 1832.
D. Jackson family genealogical papers, undated
Included is a typed transcript of court records related to Jackson family ancestors, including Jonathan Jackson. Designed as an appendix to a family genealogy, it was most likely created by Elizabeth Cabot Putnam and James Jackson Putnam. Also in this subseries are family pedigrees, charts, and miscellaneous genealogical notes.
III. Putnam family papers, 1798-1922
This series includes the papers of Samuel Putnam (1768-1853); his son, Samuel Raymond Putnam (1797-1861); his grandson, James Jackson Putnam (1846-1918); and his granddaughter, Elizabeth Cabot Putnam (1836-1922), including Elizabeth Putnam's professional papers, speeches, and writings. Also in this series are Putnam family genealogical papers including correspondence, family pedigrees, copies of wills, and biographical material.
A. Samuel Putnam papers, 1798-1853
Papers include correspondence and documents related to Putnam's petition for damages against the Essex Railroad; papers related to the "Committee of the North Society of Salem," dated from 1818 to 1819; reminiscences of General Israel Putnam; some professional papers related to Putnam's capacity as a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court judge; letters of congratulation upon Putnam's retirement from the bench in 1841; a contract with Benjamin Lane to manage Putnam's farm in Danvers; and several pieces of genealogical correspondence. Of note are an August 1798 letter from Samuel Sewall discussing the legal rights of African American servants; an 1839 letter from Leverett Saltonstall describing his attitude toward the Aroostook War; and a March 1848 draft to Edward Everett containing Putnam's reminiscences of John Quincy Adams at Harvard. Other correspondents include John Lowell, Eliza C. Boardman, Abiel Abbot, Hezekiah Packard, and William Cranch.
B. Samuel R. Putnam correspondence, 1823-1829
The bulk of Putnam's correspondence consists of his letters from Antwerp to his brother-in-law Augustus Peabody discussing his unsuccessful trading voyage to Batavia in 1823, the downturn in his business, and his declining health.
C. James Jackson Putnam papers, 1866-1904
James J. Putnam's papers largely consist of correspondence related to genealogy and the memoirs of his grandfather, James Jackson (1777-1867). An 1870 letter from Oliver Wendell Holmes discusses Putnam's dissertation. Also included are medical notes (ca. 1866) and an 1869 certificate of election as a Medical House pupil at Massachusetts General Hospital.
D. Elizabeth Cabot Putnam papers, 1879-1922
i. Personal and professional papers, 1879-1922
Putnam's papers are largely related to her social welfare work with indigent minors within the Massachusetts home visitation and guardianship programs; her work with various state primary and reform schools; and her positions on other state charity boards. The bulk of Putnam's correspondence pertains to committee business related to resolutions, meetings, membership, and finances and well as correspondence with numerous state politicians and officials, including Gov. George Robinson, 1884; Gov. Oliver Ames, 1887; Gov. William Russell, 1891-1894; Gov. Roger Wolcott, 1897-1900; Gov. Murray Crane, 1901; and Gov. Channing Fox, 1921. Also included is correspondence with other legislators and state boards; and letters received in her capacity as secretary of the trustees of State Primary and Reform Schools, and later, as trustee of the Lyman School for Boys and the Industrial School. Topics included state schools, education, hospitals, board member suggestions, and case histories of individual students, often in great detail. Other correspondence includes that with Rev. Phillips Brooks, 1887; Edward Everett Hale, 1890; Sen. George F. Hoar, 1897; Booker T. Washington, 1905-1908; Henry Cabot Lodge, 1915; and Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1915.
Papers also contain case studies that follow the progress of indigent, initially minor, women, from 1879 until 1889, as well as correspondence and reports related to her investigations into suitable homes for abandoned and neglected children, largely dating from the 1880s. Also included are letters to the editor of the Springfield Republican and to various politicians expressing Putnam's political views, as well as a small amount of personal and genealogical correspondence.
ii. Speeches and writings, ca. 1889-1919
Putnam's writings reflect her views on education and social welfare and document her volunteer work in public service. They include several drafts of speeches about the history of public service in England and France, her views on the role the state should play in public assistance, and what New England needs to accomplish in the education of its African American population. Other speeches document how Putnam became involved in social welfare, her visitations with formerly delinquent girls who had been placed in "normal" homes, and the state of the Lyman School for Boys in the 1880s. Also included are memorials to Josephine Shaw Lowell and Charles G. Putnam, and miscellaneous writings and speeches.
iii. Remembrances of Dr. James Jackson, 1872
Included are diary excerpts, notes, drafts, and excerpts from letters containing reminiscences about James Jackson (1777-1867), Elizabeth C. Putnam's grandfather, compiled by Putnam in 1872.
E. Miscellaneous Putnam family papers, 1828-1867
This subseries includes the correspondence of various Putnam family members, including Sarah Gooll Putnam, the wife of Judge Samuel Putnam. Also included is George Putnam's 1835 sermon "Essentials and Desirables."
F. Putnam family genealogical material, ca. 1871-ca. 1887
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
This subseries contains genealogical correspondence, family trees, copies of wills from various Putnams in England from 1492 to 1613, and notebooks with commentary about the wills. Also included is information about the Putnam family's immigration to America, biographical information about various Putnam family ancestors, notes from the diary of Rev. Joseph Green referring to the Putnam family genealogy, and notes on the Puttenhams of Penn Parish in Buckingham Co., England.
IV. Lowell family papers, 1800-1856
This series contains the papers of Anna Cabot Lowell (1808-1894), a small amount of correspondence of her father John Lowell (1769-1840), and letters to various Lowell family members.
A. Anna Cabot Lowell papers, 1852-1856
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
Anna Lowell's correspondence largely discusses the activities and health of her family and friends. A detailed 1853 letter describes memories of her childhood, her cousin Mary (Lowell) Putnam, and many family reminiscences. A typescript of excerpts from Lowell's diary describes her acquaintance with Stephen Thuolt of Hungary, a former Austrian cavalry officer who fled to Boston in exile with his wife and family in 1853.
B. Miscellaneous family papers, 1800-1824
This subseries contains a small amount of the correspondence of John Lowell (1769-1840), including an 1824 letter from John Pickering about Lowell's pamphlet Further Remarks. Also included are letters to various Lowell family members, William Wilde's financial account with the brig Albatross for two Mediterranean voyages in 1805, unsigned correspondence, and pen-and-ink sketches of 18th-century American bank notes.
V. Printed material, 1775-1919
Printed material includes a 3 June 1775 edition of the newspaper Merrimack Packet; obituaries of Samuel Putnam, Samuel R. Putnam, and William Lowell Putnam; a Putnam family register; newspaper clippings related to the history of the Putnam and Tracy families; and bookplates.
Published works of Elizabeth Cabot Putnam include an 1875 poem "Songs of Gladness"; Real and Fancied Hardships of Working-Girls (1887); The Care of Children: Dependent and Delinquent Children in this Country and Abroad (1890); letters to the editor, including at the Boston Journal concerning the care of the state's children (1897), the Springfield Daily Republican concerning the rights of individuals to lobby for legislation (1897), and the Springfield Daily Republican concerning segregation and discrimination against African Americans (1913). Also included are copies of speeches Lowell delivered at conferences for the care of neglected children from 1887 to 1905, as well as a 1915 speech at the Boston branch of the NAACP at a dinner held in her honor.
Putnam-Jackson-Lowell 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.