MS Am 2111
Read, John, 1840-1915. John Read papers: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Location: b, pf
Call No.: MS Am 2111
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Read, John, 1840-1915.
Title: John Read papers,
Quantity: 1 collection (10 boxes (3.5 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Papers of John Read (Harvard College A.B 1862) Civil War Union naval officer, prisoner-of-war,
Massachusetts State Senator and Representative, and partner in the family firm, William
Read & Sons. Also includes Read family memorabilia and artifacts.
*2000M-60. Gift of Mrs. Eleanor B. Read, 4 Skiff Lane, Masons Island, Mystic, Conn. 06355; received: 2001 May 7.
*2000M-61. Gift of Mrs. Ann H. Brace, 491 Sudbury Road, Concord, MA 01742; received: 2001.
*2001M-1. Gift of Mr. Robert Read Batchelder, 207 Ashmont Ct., Lynchburg Va. 24503; received: 2001 July 5.
*2001M-16. Gift of Mr. Robert S. Szemes in memory of Anita Read Szemes, 14 Vista Lane, New Providence, NJ 07974, and Mr. John B. Read, 18 Middle Street, Marblehead, MA 01945; received: 2001 Sept. 12.
Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.
John Read Papers (MS Am 2111). Houghton Library, Harvard University.
John Read was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 19, 1840, the fifth of nine children of William Read and Sarah Goodwin Atkins Read. He prepared at the Cambridge Latin High School and received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1862 and an A.M. in 1865.
Upon graduating from Harvard, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 7, 1862 and first served as a Union naval recruiting officer in Harvard
Square. On April 7, 1863 he became the paymaster aboard the "Keokuk," a turreted ironclad ram ship that was later sunk during an attack on Charleston
Harbor, South Carolina. His next service was in the West Gulf Squadron as paymaster
on the gunboat "Granite City." This ship was involved in a blockade of the Louisiana
and Texas coasts and eventually was captured during an engagement at the Calcasieu Pass, Louisianna. John Read and the other survivors were taken prisoner by the Confederate forces on
May 6, 1864.
For seven and a half months Read was confined in the Confederate prison camps of Camp
Felder and Camp Groce in Texas. The rate of mortality in the stockade prison camps
in Texas was among the worst in the entire South. Of the 111 men captured with him,
only 32 survived. He was released with the other naval prisoners on December 19, 1864,
when the Confederate forces closed the camp and sent the survivors back to Union lines
at Galveston, then on to New Orleans. After release, Read was assigned to the United
States sloop of war "Kearsarge," but he resigned from military service on March 18,
1865 due to poor health caused by the imprisonment.
After his return from the war, Read entered his father's military and sporting goods
firm in Boston and eventually became a partner with his brother under the firm name
of William Read & Sons. In 1865 he married Elise Welch of Boston (d. October 22, 1913) and had three sons,
J. Bertram Read, William Read II, and Harold W. Read.
Read was also active in public life. He was a Republican member of the Cambridge Common Council in 1880 and 1881, Board of Cambridge Aldermen in 1882 and 1883, Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1888, and the Massachusetts Senate in 1892 and 1893. He was also on the Board of Overseers of Harvard College in 1895, was a state commissioner of the Nautical Training School of Massachusetts from 1899 to 1913, a trustee of the National Sailor's Home, president of the Cambridge Civil Service Association from 1901 to 1906, and commander of the Massachusetts Commandery of the Naval Order of the U.S. He died in Cambridge on July 29, 1915.
Organized into the following series:
- I. Correspondence
- II. Compositions by John Read
- III. Images
- ___A. Individuals
- ___B. Groups
- ___C. Other
- IV. Biographical materials
The bulk of this collection centers around the life of Civil War veteran and statesman
John Read. Some materials concern the extended Read family, especially Read's son,
William Read (b.1872) who attended Harvard College's Lawrence Scientific School. The
collection includes: personal and family correspondence and letters to naval Paymaster
Read from the Auditor for the US Navy; Read's Civil War diaries (some are copies only);
autograph compositions (mostly speeches and poems) by Read; visual materials including
photographs, cartes-de-visite, and drawings; Civil War artifacts (caps, mess kit);
medals; Read's Bibles; printed biographical materials by and about Read; genealogical
materials on the Read family; and scrapbooks relating to Harvard College (covering
the years 1856-1897) and to the political career of JR in Cambridge and Massachusetts.
Also includes 2 drawings by Civil War artist Charles Wellington Reed.
- Series: I. Correspondence
Some of these letters may be AMs transcript copies. For additional letters to John
Read, see items (61) and (62) below. For additional William Read correspondence, see
items (68) and (69) below.
- (1). Boyden, J. Wesley. Letter to Luman Boyden, 1864 May 7. 1 folders
This is an AMs transcript (in the hand of John Read) of an extract of a letter from the surgeon of the gunboat "Wave" to his father in
East Boston, Mass. . The extract describes the account of the capture of the U.S. gunboats "Granite City" and "Wave" in Calcasieu Pass near Sabine Pass, La.
- (2). Dexter, C. Amory. Correspondence with various persons, 1864. 1 folders
Includes: letter from John Read to Dexter, 1864 July 18; and letter from Dexter to William Read, 1864 Aug. 30.
- (3). Hall, James W.? Letter to John Read, 1892 Nov. 10. 1 folders
Expresses his congratulations on Read's election to the Massachusetts Senate.
- (5). Read, Charles Coolidge, 1843-1918. Letter to John Read, 1864 June 15. 1 folders
Date: 1864 June 15.
Letter to JR from his brother C.C. Read (1843-1918).
- (6). Read, John, 1840-1915. Letters to Annie Read, 1863 Oct. 18. 1 folders
Date: 1863 Oct. 18.
Letter to his sister, who later became Mrs. William Bartlet Lambert (b.1852).
- (7). Read, John, 1840-1915. Letters to Elise Welch Read, 1863 Mar. 1-1864 May 4. 1 folders
Date: 1863 Mar. 1-1864 May 4.
Letters from John Read addressed to "Mother." Envelopes with some letters.
- (8). Read, John, 1840-1915. Letters to Sallie Read, 1863 July 1- 1864 July 13. 1 folders
Date: 1863 July 1- 1864 July 13.
Letters to his sister, possibly Sarah Atkins Read Westcott? (b.1838).
- (11). Read, John, 1840-1915. Correspondence with William Read, Jr, 1863 Feb. 23?- 1864 Dec. 21 and undated. 1 folders
Date: 1863 Feb. 23?- 1864 Dec. 21
Correspondence with his brother William Read (b.1832). Envelopes with some letters.
- (12). Read, John, 1840-1915. Envelope to Eliza P. Sumner, 1864. 1 folders
Possibly from JR? Envelope only.
- (13). United States. Auditor for Navy Dept. Letters to John Read,as paymaster of the USS "Keokuk" and USS "Granite City." 1863 Mar. 12-1866 Apr. 27. 1 v. in 1 folder.
Date: 1863 Mar. 12-1866 Apr. 27.
Letters to JR in his role as paymaster to settle accounts for these ships. Includes
one letter from Read to Navy concerning a leave of absence.
Volume in poor condition, missing front and back covers, appears to have sustained
Also includes 2 loose sheets.
- Series: II. Compositions by John Read
- (15). Read, John, 1840-1915. Address before the Harvard Memorial Society : printed pamphlet, 1900 May 30. 1 folders
Oration delivered at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, concerning the service of Harvard men in the Civil War.
Cover title: Memorial Address. Printed by request of Post 56, Grand Army of the Republic of Cambridge (G.A.R.).
Includes clipping from Cambridge Tribune, 1900 June 2 concerning the oration which contains the text of his speech.
- (16). Read, John, 1840-1915. [Campaign speech as a Republican candidate for the Massachusetts Senate] : AMs with
AMs revisions, [ca. 1891 Oct. 10]. 1 folders
Draft of speech by JR.
- (19). Read, John, 1840-1915. A Civil War diary 1864 : Ts transcript, undated. 1 folders
Incomplete copy ends on May 25th. Text varies from transcript in item (20) below.
- (20). Read, John, 1840-1915. A Civil War diary 1864 : Ts transcript, undated. 1 folders
- (21). Read, John, 1840-1915. Civil War recruiting broadside : print, 1862 Aug. 21. 1 folders
Printed signature by J. Read and William Plumer as recruiting officers looking for a "company of sharp shooters."
- (22). Read, John, 1840-1915. [Colored troops] : AMs fragment with AMs revisions, undated. 1 folders
Fragment of speech? dedicated to valor of "colored man" and Civil War "colored troops", especially mentioning
Robert Gould Shaw and Booker T. Washington.
- (23). Read, John, 1840-1915. [Diary while on the U.S.S. Granite City West Gulf Squadron] : AMsS in the hand of John Read, 1863 July 8-1864 May 6. 1v. in 1 folder.
Date: 1863 July 8-1864 May 6.
This is the original diary that John Read kept from the time he left home on July
8, 1863, served aboard the ship "Granite City", until he was captured on May 6, 1864.
He began using the diary in the middle, finished the entries to Dec. 31, 1863, then
went back to the beginning of the book, changed 1863 to 1864, and continued to make
entries until he was taken prisoner. Some entries were added after his release on
parole on Dec. 10, 1864.
Inside front cover includes: clipping illustration of his first "cruise" on the iron-clad
vessel, the "Keokuk," with notes on same; and with notes on 2nd "cruise" on the "Granite City." Also includes
clipping on "Keokuk."
In the "memoranda" pages at rear of volume is a detailed account of the Sept. 8-9,
1863 naval battle involving the "Clifton," "Sachem," "Arizona," and the "Granite City"
at Sabine City, Texas.
Inside the rear cover is a list of the officers aboard the U.S.S. "Granite City" and
dates of important events involving her.
Volume has printed title page with title: "A counting-house diary for 1863, containing
a calendar, [etc...]" published byJ.G. Shaw & Co., New York.
- (25). Read, John, 1840-1915. Fragments : AMss, Mss, Tss (carbon), undated. 1 folders
Fragments of text and notes some in the hand of John Read and some in unidentified
hand (possibly JR?). One page annotated: Paper on prisons read at Naval Association.
- (26). Read, John, 1840-1915. [Massachusetts Nautical Training School] : AMs and print with AMs revisions, [after 1892]. 1 folders
Date: [after 1892].
Draft of article by JR who was a state commissioner of the school from 1899 to 1913.
- (27). Read, John, 1840-1915. [Massachusetts Nautical Training School] : Ts transcript, Ts transcripts (photocopy), [after 1892]. 1 folders
Date: [after 1892].
Article by JR who was a state commissioner of the school from 1899 to 1913.
- (28). Read, John, 1840-1915. Poems, various dates. 1 folders
- Dedicated to little Auntie Ria : AMs, written at Hull,
Date: 1880 Sept. 8;
- Homeward tending [first line] : AMs, undated;
- Night of equinoctial gale : AMsS (J.R.), written at Hull,
Date: 1880 -Sept. 8;
- Sweet bells are ringing [first line] : TsS (J.R.),
Date: 1906 Jan. 1.
- You see I was sent to the hospital in town [first line] : AMs, undated.
- (29). Read, John, 1840-1915. Reply to Dr. Wyeth on prisons : AMs with AMs revisions, undated. 1 folders
Draft marked: unpublished.
- (30). Read, John, 1840-1915. [Reply to Dr. Wyeth on prisons] : Ts transcript, undated. 1 folders
- (31). Read, John, 1840-1915. [Senator Read's address at Memorial Hall] : Ts with AMs corrections, 1892 June 4. 1 folders
Draft for Read's address for the Memorial Day commemoration given at Harvard University's Memorial Hall. This text varies from printed clipping in item (32) below.
- (32). Read, John, 1840-1915. Senator Read's address at Memorial Hall : printed clipping, 1892 June 4. 1 folders
Clipping from the Cambridge Chronicle concerning Read's address for the Memorial Day commemoration given at Harvard University's Memorial Hall. Article includes text of his address as well as that of Henry L. Higginson.
- (33). Read, John, 1840-1915. [Statement on the death of James G. Blaine] : print, 1893 Feb. 1. 1 folders
Published by the Senate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- (34). Read, John, 1840-1915. Statement to Congressional Committee appointed to take testimony on treatment of Union
prisoners : print, 1865. 1 folders
- (35). Read, John, 1840-1915. Texas prisons and a comparison of Northern and Southern prison camps : TsS (carbon) with AMs revisions, 1907 Apr. 1 folders
Subtitled: Read before the Military Order of the Loyal Legion April, 1907. Signed: John Read, late U.S.N. Both lines of text are crossed-out.
- Series: III. Images
- A. Individuals
- (36). Elise Welch Read : copy print (of photograph), undated. 1 folders
[No photographer], bust portrait of John Read's wife, Elise Welch Read, depicting older woman.
- (37). John Read : cartes-de-visite, [ca. 1862-1865]. 3 items in 1 folder.
Depicts three variant views of John Read in military uniform. Includes:
- [No photographer], three quarter torso view with right hand on belt;
- Sheldon, J.A., photographer (New Orleans), same image as item () below, seated with right hand inside uniform;
- Whipple, J.A., photographer (Boston), seated three quarter torso view with right hand resting in lap and left hand holding
sword near body.
- (38). Kurtz, William.,photographer (New York). John Read : photograph, undated. 1 folders
Bust portrait depicting John Read in civilian dress as young man.
- (39). Marceau, photographer (Boston). Uncle Jack Read : photograph, undated. 1 folders
Bust portrait of John Read (seated) as older man in civilian dress. Shows Read holding book with right hand and
slight smile on face. See also item (40) below.
- (40). Marceau, photographer (Boston). Uncle Jack Read : copy prints, photocopy, undated. 1 folders
Bust portraits of John Read (seated) as older man in civilian dress. Depicts two variant views taken with same
clothing. One shows Read holding book with right hand with slight smile on face. See
also item (39) above.
- (41). Notman Photo Co., photographer (Boston and Cambridge). John Read : photocopy, undated. 1 folders
Bust portrait depicting John Read in civilian dress as middle aged man.
- (42). Sheldon, J.A., photographer (New Orleans). John Read : copy print (of photograph), undated. 1 folders
Half torso seated portrait of John Read as young man in military uniform, with right hand inserted inside front portion of
uniform. Same image as original in item (37) above.
- (43). Whipple, J.A., photographer (Boston). William Read : carte-de-visite, undated. 1 folders
Depicts three-quarter torso view of William Read as older man, with right arm bent and fist on waist.
- B. Groups
- (44). John Read and grandson : copy print (of photograph), undated. 1 folders
Depicts John Read as older man with his grandson, Harold Wilson Read Jr.
- (47). John Read as marshal of parade : copy print (of photograph), undated. 1 folders
Depicts close-up view (from items (46) or (45) above) of John Read and other men in military uniform on horseback in parade. Possibly same parade, though
not same image, as item (49) below.
- (48). John Read with others bicycling in Cambridge : copy print (of photograph), undated. 1 folders
Depicts John Read and a group of other young men (as young Navy recruits?) with bicycles in Cambridge, Mass., ca. 1862?.
- (49). Smith & Miller, photographers (Boston). Parade passing through Harvard Square : photograph, 1896 June 3. 1 folders
Date: 1896 June 3.
Photograph depicts men in military uniform on horseback parading through Harvard Square, Cambridge, Ma; including John Read. JR was chief marshal for the parade celebrating the 50th anniversary of the incorporation
of the city of Cambridge.
- (50). Wedding party of Read and Parker : copy print (of photograph), undated. 1 folders
Depicts group wedding photograph of 1906 June 6, for the wedding of Harold Wilson Read and May Clement Parker. Photograph includes John Read. Also includes list of names of those in photograph.
- (51). William Read & Co. : photomechanical image, undated. 1 folders
Clipping cut from newspaper and pasted on cardboard depicting image of "Read men" including
individual bust portraits of: William Read, Sr., J. Bertram Read, and John Read.
- C. Other images
- (53). Read family associated items : photographs, 2000-2001. 1 folders
Includes photographs of:
- Civil war cap, mess kit, medals;
- Civil war caps;
- Civil war cup used at Camp Groce;
- Silver tea set with Read crest;
- Read crest;
- Read genealogy;
- Photographs of Read family;
- John Read (then Harold W. Read) house, 55 Appleton St., Cambridge, Ma;
- William Read house, Appleton St., Cambridge, Mass.
- Series: IV. Biographical material
- (56). Artifacts related to John Read. 3 boxesShelved at end of collection.
Date: 1912 June 18,
- 1. 1 Civil War cap,
Date: 1862-1865; navy blue wool with blue and white cording, two gold insignia buttons, and label:
A DREZ, 89 & 91 Canal St., New Orleans;
- 2. 1 Civil War cap,
Date: 1862-1865; navy blue wool with blue cording, insignia badge at front, two gold insignia buttons,
and label: Bent & Bush, Boston;
- 3. 1 cap,
Date: ; navy blue wool with red piping, two gold insignia buttons of Royal Mariners Infantry, and label: Gilbertson,London, S.W.,12 Norris St., Haymarket, S.W.;
- 4. Scraps of paper used as stiffner in JR's Ensign's cap (sewed inside lining), ca.
- 5. Tin plate used by JR at Camp Groce, Texas, ca.
Date: 1864 ;
- 6. Hand-carved wooden fork (with initials J.R.) used by JR at Camp Groce, Texas, ca.
Date: 1864 ;
- 7. Metal blade and carved handle knife (with initials J.R. and inscription: Camp Groce,
Texas) used by JR at Camp Groce, Texas, ca.
Date: 1864 ;
- 8. Medal for Massachusetts representative at the Republican National Convention,
Date: 1912 June 18, in Chicago, Ill.;
- 9. Medal belonging to John Read (with J.R. inscribed on face) for Pierian Sodality at Harvard College;
- 10. Medal for Hasty Pudding Club at Harvard College; This item was not found at time of end-processing, June 2010.
- (57). Biographical clippings and articles on John Read and the Read family. 1 folders
Includes materials in the form of clippings, typescript notes assembled by Read family, and photocopies.
Includes information on: the Read houses in Cambridge, Mass.; Read's imprisonment
in Texas at Camp Groce; the Battle of Charleston, S.C. and the Federal ship "Keokuk"; Harvard College Board of Overseers, 1895; Cambridge, Mass. ; and William Read & Sons Co.
- (59). Pamphlets : print, various dates. 1 folders
- Grand Army of the Republic, Edward W. Kinsley, Post No. 113, Dept. Massachusetts.
- Harvard College. Order of exercises for Commencement 1862 [includes John Read as A.B recipient];
- (60). Read family genealogical material. 1 folders
AMs, AMs (photocopy), Ts, Ts (carbon) lists of names and dates relating to the Read
family. Includes material photocopied from family Bibles.
- (62). Read, John, 1840-1915. Scrapbook, 1875-1908. 1v.
Scrapbook composed mostly of political memorabilia from Read's career. Includes clippings, programs, circulars, invitations, voting ballots, and memorial cards.
Pages numbered in repository.
Letters to John Read are from the following correspondents:
- City of Boston, p. 4b;
- Civil Service Reform Association (Cambridge, Mass.),p. 11a;
- Grand Army of the Republic. Charles Beck, Post No. 56 (Boston, Mass.), p. 9a;
- Harvard Memorial Society, p. 9a;
- Harvard University. Board of Overseers, p. 15b;
- Institute of 1770 (Harvard University), p. 25a;
- Library Hall Association of Cambridge, p. 14a;
- Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Commandery of the State of
Massachusetts, pp. 3b, 4a;
- National Civil Service Reform League (U.S.), p. 31b;
- National Sailors' Homes, p. 8a;
- Naval Order of the United States. Massachusetts Commandery, p. 10;
- Republican Party (Mass.), pp. 5b, 6a;
- St. Botolph Club (Boston, Mass.), p. 27a;
- Weeks, John W., p. 28a.
Also includes 1 item from 1859.
See also items (63) - (66) below for loose items removed from this scrapbook.
- (68). Read, William, 1872-. Scrapbook, 1893-1897. 1v.Shelved at end of collection.
Scrapbook of William Read II (the son of John Read) compiled while attending the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard College (attended 1893-1897). Cover has pasted-on "Veritas" seal; spine missing. Includes
Harvard-related ephemera: ticket stubs, clippings, announcements, articles, programs for the Hasty Pudding Club, Cercle Français, Class of 1897 Class Day, , and many others.
Also includes: telegrams and letters from John Reed to WR; WR's diary from 1895 Apr. concerning his visit to Washington, D.C.; WR's passport from 1896; some items relating to John Read's speeches, and letters from friends and from Harvard College.
Included loose material removed to item (69) below.
- (69). Read, William, 1872-. Scrapbook: loose materials : print, 1893-1897. 3 folders
Includes similar ephemera materials as are found in bound scrapbook.
Also includes William Read correspondence
Date: (1896) with Charles C. Read, and John Read, and letter from William Read, Jr. (brother of John Read) to Elise Welch Read.
This material was found loose inside item (68) above.
- (70). Saunders, George E. In memory of Hon. John Read : print, 1915 Nov. 15. 1 folders
Obituary with image (Read seated with book).