Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the papers, primarily correspondence, of the related Everett and Peabody families of Massachusetts.

Biographical Sketches

Alexander Hill Everett (1790-1847) was born in Boston, Mass., the son of Lucy (Hill) Everett and Oliver Everett, a minister. The youngest member of Harvard's class of 1806, Alexander taught at Phillips Exeter Academy for a year before becoming involved in diplomatic posts. He served as secretary to John Quincy Adams in Russia from 1809-1811; secretary to the American legation at the Hague, 1815-1824; and minister to Spain, 1825-1829. In 1816, he married Lucretia Orne Peabody (1786-1862), the daughter of Oliver and Frances (Bourne) Peabody of Exeter, N.H. The couple had no children. Upon Everett's return from Spain, he became editor of the North American Review, a post which he held until 1835, while also serving in the Massachusetts legislature. In 1840, he was named to a diplomatic post in Cuba, but left that post to assume the presidency of Jefferson College in Louisiana. Appointed as commissioner to China in 1845, Everett died in Canton in 1847 and is buried in the foreigners' cemetery on Changzhou Island.

William Bourn Oliver Peabody (1799-1847) was one of twin sons of Oliver and Frances (Bourne) Peabody of Exeter, N.H. His brother Oliver William Bourn Peabody (1799-1848) became a minister in Vermont. William graduated from Harvard College as a member of the class of 1816 and taught for a time at Phillips Exeter Academy. After receiving his ministerial license in 1819, he was ordained as pastor of the Springfield, Mass. Unitarian Church, where he remained for the rest of his life. He married Eliza Amelia White (1799-1843), the daughter of Moses and Eliza (Atlee) White of Rutland, Mass., and the couple had six children: Fanny (1825-1844), Howard (1827-1828), Everett (1830-1862), Francis Howard (1831-1905), and twins William Bourne (1834-1894) and Oliver White (1834-1896).

Francis Howard Peabody (1831-1905) was the fourth child of William Bourn Oliver Peabody and Eliza (White) Peabody. After the death of his father, Francis entered the banking firm of John E. Thayer & Brother in Boston as a clerk. In 1854, he married Lucy Adelaide Kinsley, with whom he had three children: Frank Everett, Fanny, and Lillian. In 1865, Francis, along with his brother Oliver and Thayer & Brother associate W. P. Kidder, founded the investment company Kidder, Peabody & Co. Francis died at Beverly, Mass. in 1905.

Oliver White Peabody (1834-1896) was the son of William Bourn Oliver Peabody and Eliza (White) Peabody. Along with his brother Francis, Oliver trained as a clerk in the office of John E. Thayer & Brother. In 1859, he married Mary Anne Lathrop, the daughter of Rev. Samuel K. Lathrop of Boston. They had a daughter Amelia, who died young. During the Civil War, Oliver served as lieutenant colonel in the 45th Massachusetts Regiment from 1862 to 1863. Following the war, he returned to John E. Thayer & Brother until he and his brother Francis, along with W. P. Kidder, founded the investment firm of Kidder, Peabody & Co. He died in Milton, Mass. in 1896.


Everett, Edward Franklin. Descendants of Richard Everett of Dedham, Mass. Boston: Privately printed, 1902.

Peabody, Selim Hobart. Peabody (Paybody, Pabody, Pabodie) Genealogy. Boston: Charles H. Pope, 1909.

White, Daniel Appleton. The Descendants of William White of Haverhill, Mass. Boston: American Printing & Engraving Co., 1889.

Collection Description

This collection contains the personal and family correspondence of the related Everett and Peabody families of Massachusetts, including Rev. William Bourn Oliver Peabody, Unitarian minister of Springfield, Mass.; Alexander Hill Everett, diplomat to Russia and Spain and editor, as well as his wife Lucretia Orne Peabody Everett; Francis H. Peabody, Boston banker and co-founder of Kidder, Peabody & Co.; Oliver William Bourn Peabody; Moses White, Revolutionary officer, and his family of Rutland, Mass.; and William S. Atlee of Philadelphia. Included are letters of Lt. Col. Oliver Peabody while serving with the 45th Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry at New Bern, N.C. in the Civil War.

The earliest papers consist of correspondence between the family of William S. Atlee of Philadelphia and Moses White of Boston, 1778-1782, including correspondence between White and Eliza Atlee during his service as an Army captain during the Revolutionary War. Of interest is a letter describing the quarters of Gen. Moses Hazen at Pompton, N.J., 4 Dec. 1782.

The bulk of the collection consists of the papers of Alexander Hill Everett and his wife Lucretia Orne Peabody Everett, 1809-1862. Included is a letter from Samuel Webber, 20 July 1809, asking Everett to give the English oration at Harvard commencement. Letters written during Everett's diplomatic service include correspondence from Russia and Sweden, 1810-1811, mainly letters from John Quincy Adams, and at Holland and Belgium, 1815-1823, from Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and George Ticknor. Among Everett's correspondence while he was minister to Spain, 1825-1829, are letters from Rufus King; the Marquis de Lafayette; Martin Fernandez Navarrete on literary matters; William Hickling Prescott, 1826-1827, about his work on Spanish history; and Washington Irving, 1828-1829, concerning travel in Spain, work on the history of Columbus's voyages, and the conquest of Grenada. Scattered throughout this period are official and semi-official letters from various foreign diplomats and notables concerning diplomatic and social matters. Everett's papers while at Boston serving as editor of the North American Review, 1830-1835, include letters from James Madison, Washington Irving, John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, and Henry Clay. Among Everett's correspondents during his term as president of Jefferson College in Louisiana are Orestes A. Brownson, Jared Sparks, and John C. Calhoun. Letters concerning his appointment as U.S. commissioner to China, 1845-1847, include official State Department documents from James Buchanan and Richard Rush. A letter from John C. Calhoun, 8 Oct. 1846, contains a request for tea plant seeds to initiate tea growing in America.

Letters from Lucretia Orne Everett to her family, 1816-1847, describe in detail the activities and social life of diplomatic families in various foreign capitals and at Washington, D.C. Included are letters to her father Oliver Peabody, as well as her brothers William Bourn Oliver Peabody and Oliver William Bourn Peabody and their wives, about customs, dress, official and social functions, gossip, and family news. Her correspondents include George Ticknor, Daniel Webster, Peter Parker, Edward Everett, William Hickling Prescott, and Abbott Lawrence.

Peabody family papers, 1812-1897, include correspondence with Alexander and Lucretia Everett and correspondence of William Bourn Oliver Peabody, 1815-1847, mainly with members of the Peabody and Everett families. Letters from Amelia White Peabody describe Peabody family activities. Papers of Francis H. Peabody, 1857-1897, include letters related to investments while he worked as a clerk in the shipping firm of John E. Thayer & Brother, Boston, 1850-1862, and letters from Daniel Webster, George Bancroft, Francis Lieber, and Gov. John A. Andrew. In 1865, Peabody joined with W. P. Kidder, a fellow employee at Thayer, to found the investment firm of Kidder, Peabody and Co. The collection contains letters to the company in that year from John Andrew and Francis Lieber. Peabody's correspondence also includes letters from Edward Everett; his brother Everett Peabody while serving in the Civil War; Peter Parker on the death of Lucretia Orne Everett in 1862; George T. Shipley while serving onboard the Vandalia describing defense measures at Tybee Island and Fort Pulaski, Georgia, 1862-1863; Alexander Turner; Asa Gray; W. P. Kidder; Samuel C. Cobb; Phillips Brooks; and Julia Ward Howe. The collection also contains a copy of a letter from Peabody to President Benjamin Harrison concerning silver purchases by the United States and the president's reply. An 1896 letter from Edward Charles Pickering to Charles Francis Adams relates to Peabody's resignation from the visiting committee of the Harvard Observatory.

The collection includes papers related to William Bourn Oliver Peabody (1799-1847) and his family; correspondence of Moses and Eliza Atlee White of Rutland, Mass., 1784-1804, about family matters; a journal by Eliza A. White of a trip to New York, Nov. 1791; and letters from Judge William Atlee of Lancaster, Pa. to his daughter describing family and professional activities at Philadelphia, 1787.

Peabody family papers, 1824-1847, consist of correspondence between William Bourn Oliver Peabody, his wife Eliza Amelia White Peabody, and children Oliver, Francis H., and William B.; drafts of sermons prepared while Peabody was pastor of the Unitarian Church at Springfield, Mass.; sketches of Springfield, 1825-1827; and a book of watercolors of birds, presumably from Peabody's work on an ornithology of Massachusetts for Gov. Edward Everett around 1837. Peabody's letters to Alexander Hill Everett, 1830-1832, concern journalistic matters, his contributions to the North American Review, and his literary efforts and ambitions. Included is a collection of calling cards received by Lucretia Everett while her husband was serving at various diplomatic posts, 1820-1847.

Papers of Oliver Peabody (1834-1896) include letters written during his service as lieutenant colonel of the 45th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, 1862-1863, describing military activities at New Bern, N.C. One letter, 20 Dec. 1862, details skirmishes during the expedition against Goldsboro, N.C. Also included are letters from his wife Mary L. Peabody describing the occupation and social life of New Bern in Feb. 1863.

Correspondence of Francis H. Peabody includes letters from his brother Everett while working as an engineer in St. Louis, Mo. building a railroad for the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Co., 1850-1857. Letters from Francis to his wife Ada, 1855-1867, are primarily related to personal matters.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Amelia Peabody, Boston, Mass., 1967.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Loose papers, 1778-1908

Box 1
Undated, 1778-Mar. 1826
Box 2
Apr. 1826-1845
Box 3Folder 1-12
Box 3Folder 13-14
Chinese calling cards, 1848

These calling cards of Lucretia Everett are pieces of papers of various colors containing Chinese characters, drawings of Chinese scenes, and occasional messages or identifications written in English.

Box 3Folder 15-18
Lucretia Everett "travel log," [1820-1849]

This "travel log" consists of pages from a collection of pressed flowers, with annotations on where and when the flowers were collected.

Box 4
Typed transcriptions of letters, 1823-1847

II. Volumes, [1820]-1882

Vol. 1
Lucretia Everett calling card collection, [1820-1847]
Vol. 2
Nirvana (Ship) log book, 1882

This log of the yacht Nirvana was kept by an unidentified person while cruising from Salem, Mass. up and down the Maine coast, 21 July-7 Aug. 1882. Included are pencil and ink sketches of the yacht, as well as photographs.

Vol. 3 (XT)
Birds of New England, [1830s]

This volume contains 54 watercolor paintings of New England birds by William B. O. Peabody, accompanied by manuscript text.

Preferred Citation

Everett-Peabody family 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, Charles Francis, 1807-1886.
Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848.
Adams, Louisa Catherine, 1775-1852.
Andrew, John A. (John Albion), 1818-1867.
Atlee, William S.
Bancroft, George, 1800-1891.
Brooks, Phillips, 1835-1893.
Brownson, Orestes Augustus, 1803-1876.
Buchanan, James, 1791-1868.
Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850.
Clay, Henry, 1777-1852.
Everett, Alexander Hill, 1790-1847.
Everett, Edward, 1794-1865.
Everett, Lucretia Orne Peabody, 1786-1862.
Gray, Asa, 1810-1888.
Harrison, Benjamin, 1833-1901.
Howe, Julia Ward, 1819-1910.
Irving, Washington, 1783-1859.
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Kemble, Fanny, 1809-1893.
Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757-1834.
Lieber, Francis, 1800-1872.
Madison, James, 1751-1836.
Parker, Peter, 1804-1888.
Peabody family.
Peabody, William Bourn Oliver, 1799-1847.
Prescott, William Hickling, 1796-1859.
Stewart, Alexander Turney, 1803-1876.
Ticknor, George, 1791-1871.
Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852.
White family.


Kidder, Peabody & Co.
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 45th (1862-1863)


Investment banking--Massachusetts--Boston.
Unitarian churches--Clergy.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry, 45th Volunteers.