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Mss:766 1847-1898 T896

Tuckerman, Gustavus, Jr., 1824-1897. Gustavus Tuckerman, Jr. Papers, 1847-1898 (inclusive); 1847-1860 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:766 1847-1898 T896
Repository: Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Gustavus Tuckerman, Jr., 1824-1897
Title: Gustavus Tuckerman, Jr. papers
Date(s): 1847-1898 (inclusive)
Date(s): 1847-1860 (bulk)
Quantity: 1.5 linear feet (11 volumes and 2 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Gustavus Tuckerman, Jr. was a Boston, Mass., commission merchant involved in the India and China trade during the mid-nineteenth century. The collection consists of business and personal correspondence.


Purchase, 2004.
Accession no.: M-04-005
Gift of Susan Lefkow Pigott and Frances E. Lefkow, 2014
Accession no.: M-14-008

Processing Information:

Processed: March 2009
By: Benjamin Johnson

Conditions Governing Access:

Appointment necessary to consult collection.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Gustavus Tuckerman, Jr. papers. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.

Biographical Note:

Gustavus Tuckerman, Jr. was a Boston, Massachusetts, merchant who was involved in the China trade and India trade during the mid-19th century. Tuckerman was born on May 15, 1824 at his grandfather's house in Edgbaston, England, the second son of Gustavus Sr. and Jane Francis Tuckerman. As a boy, he was tutored by Mr. A. Bronson Alcott, and Mr. George Ripley, and attended the Boston Latin School. Upon completing his early education, Tuckerman was expected to attend Harvard College, following his brother John Francis Tuckerman (Class of 1837). Instead, he joined the Boston merchant shipping firm of Curtis & Greenough. In 1847, he was sent to Palermo, Sicily, to represent the firm in purchasing and shipping cargoes of goods to America, including fruit, wine, linseed, licorice, cream of tartar, and other provisions. Two years later he made a second journey to Sicily to represent the firm. Upon his return to Boston in 1849 he was made partner in Curtis & Greenough. He continued as a partner in Curtis & Greenough, and also established business relations for Tuckerman, Townsend & Co. in Sicily. Tuckerman, Townsend & Co. was a partnership with Thomas Davis Townsend, also an employee of Curtis & Greenough. Located at 48 Central Wharf in Boston, Tuckerman, Townsend & Co. was heavily involved in the import trade with the Mediterranean, China, and India, especially the ports of Palermo in Sicily, Singapore and Penang in Malaysia, and Calcutta, India. Tuckerman acted as the local roving agent for the firm from 1853 to 1859. He purchased goods and coordinated shipments back to Boston. In 1859 Tuckerman, Townsend & Co. took heavy financial losses, and Tuckerman decided to dissolve the firm rather than continue with business on credit. He moved his family from Boston to New York City and took a job as the treasurer of the Hazard Powder Company, a gunpowder company that thrived during the Civil War. Tuckerman died on 11 February 1897 at his West 54th Street home in New York City.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

The Gustavus Tuckerman, Jr. papers consist of loose papers and bound letterpress copybook correspondence related to his work for the merchant house of Curtis & Greenough and later as principal of Tuckerman, Townsend, & Co., both of Boston, Massachusetts. Tuckerman represented Curtis & Greenough in Palermo, Sicily, and Naples, Italy, and as a partner in the commission merchant firm Tuckerman, Townsend & Co. in Calcutta, Batavia, Penang, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Papers pertaining to Tuckerman's business enterprises include letters written to merchant houses, forwarding agents, and his business partners regarding the current economic climate of the regions where he was operating, purchasing goods and securing ships for transporting cargoes. He also commented on currency and exchange markets and potential trade avenues, made observations on Asian and Indian culture, provided statistical information on the quality, price and variety of goods available for purchase. Loose correspondence consists of letters to Tuckerman from business partner Thomas Davis Townsend, wife Emily Lamb Tuckerman, sisters, brothers, and other family members. Letters from Townsend relate to the status of goods imported from the Asian and Indian markets, inventory and price of goods sold to clients in America, and prospective orders from clients. Letters from Tuckerman's family, especially his wife Emily, relate to family matters, news from home about friends and daily activities, the death of Tuckerman's mother, and the growth of his children. Also included are family photographs and ephemera including Tuckerman's passport, a small leather pouch, a magnifying glass, and the original leather carrying case for the letterpress copybooks.

Container List