Guide to the Microfilm Edition
This collection consists of the papers of Thomas Wallcut, Boston antiquarian, copier of documents, and writer.
One of the founding members of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Thomas Wallcut was born in Boston on 16 August 1758. At the age of twelve, Wallcut was sent for missionary training to Moor's Indian Charity School in Hanover, N.H., and he later lived at a Native American village near Montreal.
At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Wallcut returned to Boston to enlist, and he spent most of the war serving as steward and wardmaster at a military hospital in Albany, N.Y. After the war, back in Boston, Wallcut began writing political articles and editorials for several local periodicals. He invested most of his savings in an unfruitful land venture in Ohio, which he was forced to sell bit by bit for taxes.
In 1780, Wallcut became an engrossing clerk at the Massachusetts State House, where he was employed for over forty years copying documents. In his spare time, besides writing letters and articles on a wide variety of subjects, he began accumulating a large and valuable collection of historically important books and manuscripts. It was this antiquarian hobby, as well as his liberal ideals and literary interests, which led to his joining the other founders of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He eventually donated his collection to the Historical Society and to Bowdoin College.
Wallcut never married. Impoverished, he died at the McLean Asylum on 5 June 1840, at 82, and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass.
A memoir of Thomas Wallcut by his nephew, Robert F. Wallcut, was published in the MHS Proceedings, vol. 2, 1841, pp. 193-208.
The Thomas Wallcut papers consist of personal correspondence, mainly on family matters; miscellaneous historical documents; notes, essays, and rough drafts of articles; and letters on various topics (some in duplicate). Also included are two small account books, 1834-1840, and a 1790 diary kept by Wallcut at Marietta, Ohio.
Subjects include: the topographical history and boundaries of New England states, Native American affairs, town and street place names, U.S. history, genealogy, legislative boundaries and town voting laws, religion and the Bible, plants and gardens, statistics relating to states' histories, and patriotism. The collection also contains calendars and lists of miscellaneous facts, dates, and ideas.
The items in this collection were formerly arranged in scrapbooks in no particular order. These scrapbooks have been disbound and the items arranged in chronological order. Undated items are located on Reel 1. Index numbers found on cards referring to old volumes should be disregarded.
Many items are individually described in the MHS manuscript catalog.
Gift of Robert F. Wallcut, Sep. 1879.
Thomas Wallcut's 1790 diary, kept at Marietta, Ohio, was published in the MHS Proceedings, vol. 17, 1879, pp. 174-206.
Reel List to the Collection
I. Undated papers
Most of the undated papers are scraps, drafts, and notes of essays, some in duplicate. Undated oversize items are located at the end of the reel.
II. Dated papers, 1671-1866
Arranged chronologically. Dated oversize papers are incorporated into the chronological sequence.
II. Volumes, 1790-1840
Thomas Wallcut 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.