Guide to the Collection

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Representative digitized documents from this collection:

Restrictions on Access

Use of the originals is restricted. This collection is available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Black and white microfilm is also available for use in the library, P-767.

Collection Summary


This collection consists of 5 document boxes of volumes and loose items created by Charles Edward French.

Biographical Sketch

Charles Edward French (1837-1904), son of John Allen French and Lucy Perkins (Spear) French, was a Boston broker, hardware merchant, and drug merchant.

Collection Description

This collection consists of the diaries of Charles Edward French, 1851-1904 (with gaps). Entries include French's descriptions of family activities, school attendance at the Adams School in East Boston, work at the hardware store of George H. Gray and Company early in his career, his ownership of a hardware store and brokerage firm, work selling drugs including opium, sexual attractions to others, views on local politics and the Civil War, autograph collecting, his father John French's interest in preserving public gardens, his own interest in preserving the Boston Common and other public gardens and cemeteries, and the weather.

Also included in the collection are cash accounts (1858-1861 and 1864-1866), reminiscences of his childhood, poetry, and estate papers (1905-1907).

Acquisition Information

Gift of Charles Stratton French, Sep. 1923.

Restrictions on Access

Use of the originals is restricted. This collection is available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Black and white microfilm is also available for use in the library, P-767.

Other Formats

The collection is also available as color digital facsimiles and on microfilm, P-787, 6 reels.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1Reel 1Vol. 1digitized
Diary, 1 Feb.-21 Sep. 1851
Box 1Reel 1Vol. 2digitized
Diary, 22 Sep. 1851-31 July 1852
Box 1Reel 1Vol. 3digitized
Diary, 1 Aug. 1852-9 Sep. 1855
Box 1Reel 1Vol. 4digitized
Diary, 10 Sep. 1855-27 Apr. 1857
Box 2Reel 2Vol. 5digitized
Diary, 7 May 1857-24 Apr. 1859
Box 2Reel 2Vol. 6digitized
Diary, 22 May 1859-30 Sep. 1864
Box 2Reel 2Vol. 7digitized
Diary, 1 Oct. 1864-11 Jan. 1866
Box 2Reel 2Vol. 8digitized
Diary, 12 Jan. 1866-31 Oct. 1867
Box 2Reel 3Vol. 9digitized
Diary, 1 Nov. 1867-28 Mar. 1870
Box 3Reel 3Vol. 10digitized
Diary, 29 Mar. 1870-31 Mar. 1872
Box 3Reel 3Vol. 11digitized
Diary, 1 Apr. 1872-20 Nov. 1874
Box 3Reel 4Vol. 12digitized
Diary, 21 Nov. 1874-1 July 1877
Box 3Reel 4Vol. 13digitized
Diary, 10 July 1877-23 Mar. 1883
Box 4Reel 4Vol. 14digitized
Diary, 24 Mar. 1883-8 June 1887
Box 4Reel 5Vol. 15digitized
Diary, 9 June 1887-4 June 1892
Box 4Reel 5Vol. 16digitized
Diary, 5 June 1892-12 Nov. 1897
Box 4Reel 5Vol. 17digitized
Diary, 13 Nov. 1897-2 July 1901
Box 5Reel 5Vol. 18digitized
Diary, 3 July 1901-26 Nov. 1904
Box 5Reel 6Folder 1digitized
"Prior diary of early reminiscences/ Early Memories/ Autobiography of Charles E. French from 1837 to 1851 at which latter date my diary was commenced"
Box 5Reel 6Folder 2digitized
"Verses and sentiments composed by C. E. French/ Begun 1887-"
Box 5Reel 6Folder 3digitized
"C. E. F. Poems and sentiments," 1897
Box 5Reel 6Folder 4digitized
"Original Verses/ written by Charles E. French - ('Cephus')" and cash accounts, 5 Jan. 1864-5 Jan. 1866
Box 5Reel 6Folder 5digitized
"Excerpts/ Nuggets from the poets - Vol. 2/ Begun Mch - 1894/ selected by C. E. French"

There is no apparent vol. 1 of excerpts in this collection.

Box 5Reel 6Folder 6digitized
Cash account book, 1 Jan. 1858-1 Jan. 1861
Box 5Reel 6Folder 7digitized
Loose papers relating to the estate of C. E. French, 1905-1907

Preferred Citation

Charles Edward French diaries, 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 School (East Boston, Mass.).
George H. Gray and Company (Boston, Mass.).


Account books--1856-1861.
Autographs--Massachusetts--Collectors and collecting.
Boston Common (Boston, Mass.).
Boston (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century.
Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs--19th century.
Descendents' estates--Massachusetts--Boston.
Hardware stores--Massachusetts--Boston.
Opium trade.
Public Garden (Boston, Mass.).
Sexual attraction.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Public opinion.

Items Removed from the Collection

French's autograph collection was removed from this collection to the Charles Edward French autograph collection, 1337-1897.