Mss:766 1837-1867 A211
Adams Family. Adams Family Business Papers, 1837-1867: A Finding Aid
Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: Mss:766 1837-1867 A211
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Adams family business papers
Quantity: 5.5 linear feet (8 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Business papers of shipping and commission merchant brothers Calvin and William H.
Adams of Bangor, Maine and New York City.
Processed: February 2013
By: Benjamin Johnson
The crew lists were unfolded and are now stored separately from the ship's papers
in a large flat box.
Some material may be stored offsite. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Cite as: Adams Family Business Papers. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard
See also the Stetson family business records (Mss:201 1822-1880) for correspondence
of William H. Adams with Emery, Stetson, & Company.
Calvin and William H. Adams were brothers and ship captains and shipping and commission
merchants based in New York City and Bangor, Maine during the mid 18th century. Calvin
and William were born circa 1815 and 1818, respectively, in Nova Scotia and emigrated
to the United States settling in Bangor, Maine in the early 19th century. Beginning
in 1839, the Adams brothers were involved in merchant shipping as captains of the
schooner Vanda out of Bangor, Maine transporting lumber from Maine forests to St.
Thomas and Guadeloupe in the West Indies in exchange for sugar, tobacco, flour and
other general merchandise. Merchant voyages were also made to Chile, Ireland, Italy,
Cuba, the Azores, and San Francisco in various ships carrying lumber in exchange for
various goods and commodities including molasses, animal hides, and cotton. Sometime
around 1850, Calvin Adams retired from sea and began a shipping and commission merchant
business located at 29 South Street in New York City. Calvin Adams had an eye for
business and invested wisely in real estate and shipping. He held large interests
in numerous ships including the Helicon, Donati, Harry of the West and Garibaldi.
William continued to command his brother's ships on merchant voyages until at least
William married Louisa Maria Emery of Hampden, Maine in 1845. They had three children,
Ella Louisa, William Henry and George Emery. William died in 1868 in Bangor.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
- Series I. Business correspondence, 1838-1864
- Series II. Ship's papers, 1839-1864
- Series III. Financial and legal papers, 1837-1867
- Series IV. Printed nautical books, 1826-1861
The Adams family business papers contain correspondence, ship's papers, financial
records and crew lists for commission merchant shipping voyages taken by Bangor, Maine
resident and ship captain William H. Adams and his brother Calvin Adams. The collection
includes three series: Business correspondence; Ship's papers; and Financial and legal
papers. The correspondence includes letters primarily sent to William H. Adams from
his brother Calvin and others with instructions for voyages, the sale of cargo, cost
of supplies and labor, general economic health, travels and occasionally family news
and information. Much of the correspondence is of a routine nature with updates and
general discussion of daily news. The bulk of the correspondence dates from 1855 to
The ship's papers detail merchant voyages to the West Indies, Europe, the Azores,
South America, San Francisco and New Orleans from Bangor, Maine or New York City.
Included are charter parties, crew lists, receipts, bills, accounts, cargo lists,
and bills of lading pertaining to goods transported and purchased on behalf of customers.
The bulk of the material was accumulated while on a specific merchant voyage and is
organized by the name of the ship. The majority of the ships that were operated and
or owned by the Adams brothers made more than one merchant voyage. The financial and
legal papers of the Adams' include bills, receipts, accounts, powers of attorney,
passports and miscellaneous financial records that document the Adams' merchant shipping
business. This material is arranged chronologically. Also included in the Adams family
business papers are printed nautical books most likely used by Calvin and William
H. Adams when sailing to various ports. The nautical books contain piloting instructions,
general landmarks, and navigation information.
- Series I. Business correspondence
Scope and Contents: This series contains business correspondence of the Adams family of Bangor, Maine
and New York City, 1838-1864. The letters are arranged chronologically. The majority
of the letters in this series were sent primarily to ship captain William H. Adams
from his brother Calvin Adams, a shipping and commission merchant based in New York
City. Calvin's letters to William are primarily business related by nature, but also
contain family news and personal information usually discussed between brothers. Business
topics include delays in shipping, movement and prices of goods, cost of supplies
and labor and instructions for voyages. Also included are a few letters sent by Bangor
lumber merchant Emery, Stetson & Company regarding the transport of wood and business
dealings and two letters sent by Louisa Emery Adams to her husband William regarding
family news and daily activities.
- Box 1, Folder 1Correspondence, undated
- Box 1, Folder 2Correspondence, 1838-1839
- Box 1, Folder 3Correspondence, 1840-1848
- Box 1, Folder 4Correspondence, 1850
- Box 1, Folder 5Correspondence, 1851-1852
- Box 1, Folder 6Correspondence, 1853-1854
- Box 1, Folder 7Correspondence, January-June 1855
- Box 1, Folder 8Correspondence, July-September 1855
- Box 1, Folder 9Correspondence, October-December 1855
- Box 1, Folder 10Correspondence, January-February 1856
- Box 1, Folder 11Correspondence, March 1856
- Box 1, Folder 12Correspondence, April-August 1856
- Box 1, Folder 13Correspondence, 1858-1864
- Series II. Ship's papers
Scope and Contents: This series contains ship's papers including charter parties, crew lists, receipts,
bills, accounts, cargo lists and bills of lading dating from 1839 to 1864. The material
in this series relates to specific merchant shipping voyages captained by Calvin or
William H. Adams to various parts of the world including Valparaiso, Rio De Janeiro,
Wales, Liverpool, Dublin, Palermo, the Azores, West Indies, San Francisco and New
Orleans. Sometime around 1850, Calvin Adams retired from captaining voyages and conducted
business from New York City, while his brother William continued to captain voyages.
The ship's papers document commerce with international markets and trade for various
goods including animal hides, lumber, sugar, tea, tobacco, flour, molasses, butter,
soap and wine. The crew lists document sailors names, rank, ages, height, hair color
and wage earned during the voyage.
Processing Information: The material in this series is boxed by size.
- Box 2, Folder 1-4Schooner Vanda, 1839-1840
- Box 2, Folder 5Bark Adario, 1840
- Box 2, Folder 6-10Brig Edward Blake, 1841-1843
- Box 3, Folder 1-8Bark Herschell, 1843-1847
- Box 3, Folder 9-10Bark Channing, 1847-1859
- Box 3, Folder 11-13Ship Julia, 1848-1849
- Box 4, Folder 1-6Bark Helicon, 1850-1858
- Box 4, Folder 7-9Ship Sunnyside, 1854
- Box 4, Folder 10-15Ship Harry of the West, 1855-1863
- Box 5, Folder 1-12Ship Donati, 1858-1862
- Box 5, Folder 13-16Ship Garabaldi, 1860-1861
- Box 5, Folder 17Bark Egeria, 1863-1864
- Box 7, Folder 1Brig Jewess, 1841
- Box 7, Folder 2Brig Edward Blake crew lists, 1842
- Box 7, Folder 3Bark Herschell crew lists, 1843-1846
- Box 7, Folder 4Bark Channing crew lists, 1850
- Box 7, Folder 5Ship Julia crew lists, 1849
- Box 7, Folder 6Bark Helicon crew lists, 1850-1853
- Box 7, Folder 7Ship Sunnyside crew lists, 1854
- Box 7, Folder 8Ship Harry of the West crew lists, 1857
- Box 7, Folder 9Ship Donati crew lists, 1858-1862
- Box 7, Folder 10Ship Garabaldi crew lists, 1860-1861
- Series III. Financial and legal papers
Scope and Contents: This series contains financial and legal papers relating to the personal and business
activities of Calvin and William H. Adams. Included in the financial and legal records
are invoices, bills, cancelled checks, receipts and accounts documenting the shipping
and merchant activities of the Adams brothers while on merchant voyages. Much of the
material in this series does not have any identifying information, but is most likely
related to specific ship's papers located in Series II. The receipts and accounts
show the amount and type of merchandise the Adams brothers were shipping and in some
instances where the transaction was made. Some of the financial and legal material
is of a personal nature including household accounts and invoices. William H. Adams
built a house in Bangor and a number of the financial and legal papers were produced
there. Also included are powers of attorney, deeds, sales agreements, passports and
other legal documents. A small account book kept by William H. Adams contains entries
with names of crew members, wage paid on various voyages, cargo carried and a record
of payment to him from the ship.
- Box 6, Folder 1Financial and legal papers, 1837-1839
- Box 6, Folder 2-3Financial and legal papers, 1840-1849
- Box 6, Folder 4-9Financial and legal papers, 1850-1859
- Box 6, Folder 10-13Financial and legal papers, 1860-1867
- Box 6, Folder 14Financial and legal papers, undated
- Box 6, Folder 15William H. Adams account book, 1856-1858
- Box 7, Folder 11William H. Adams passports, 1850-1862
- Series IV. Printed nautical books
Scope and Contents: This series contains printed nautical books most likely used by the Adams brothers
when sailing through new and foreign waters. The books contain navigating instructions,
piloting directions, tide information and general landmarks, among other nautical
information useful for ship captains when traveling a new route or entering a new
port. The books in this series were published between 1826 and 1850 by hydrographers,
mainly in London, England. The books are arranged chronologically.
- Box 8, Folder 1New and Extensive Sailing Directions for the Navigation of The North Sea, arranged
and written by J.W. Norie, 1826
- Box 8, Folder 2Piloting Directions for the Cattegat and Baltic, or East Sea, by J.W. Norie, 1826
- Box 8, Folder 3Piloting Directions for the Gulf of Finland, by J.W. Norie, 1826
- Box 8, Folder 4The British Channel Pilot, by J.W. Norie, 1839
- Box 8, Folder 4West India Directions, by M. Blachford, 1839
- Box 8, Folder 5New and Extensive Sailing Directions for the Navigation of The North Sea, arranged
and written by J.W. Norie, 1840
- Box 8, Folder 6New Sailing Directions for the Mediterranean Seas, by J.S. Hobbs, 1847
- Box 8, Folder 7Sailing Directions for the Gulf of Florida, the Bahama Banks and Islands, by J.S.
- Box 8, Folder 8A Sailing Directory for the English Channel and Southern Coasts of Ireland, by R.H.
- Box 8, Folder 9Sailing Directions for the Bristol & St. Georges Channels, by James Imray, 1850
- Box 8, Folder 10General Directions to all Masters of American Ships trading to Cronstandt, 1850
- Box 8, Folder 11Fargher's Standard Edition of Jefferson's Almanack and Tide Tables, 1861
Commission merchants--New York (State)--New York City.
Merchants--New York (State)--New York City.
South America--Commerce--United States
West Indies--Commerce--United States
United States--Commerce--South America
United States--Commerce--West Indies
Adams, William H.,
Emery, Stetson & Company.
Edward Blake (Brig)
Harry of the West (Ship).