Inventory of the Paul Cuffe Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Barbara E. Austen; machine-readable finding aid created by: Kermit DeweyFunds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.Inventory of the Paul Cuffe Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Related Materials

Separations List

Administrative Information

Description

Added Entries

Inventory of the Paul Cuffe Papers

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library



Title:
Paul Cuffe Papers
Date Span:
1811-1828
Creator:
Paul Cuffe, 1759-1817
Mss Number:
Mss 10
Extent:
5 inches
Abstract:
Business and personal papers of a Westport, Massachusetts, African-American merchant and philanthropist, 1811-1828.
Repository:
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Whaling Museum: (508) 997-0046
Maritime Curator/Librarian: (508) 717-6837

Biographical Note

Paul Cuffe was born in 1759 on the island of Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts, and later became a resident of Westport, Mass. He was the son of a black slave who had purchased his own freedom. Despite racial prejudice, Cuffe became a successful whaleman, merchant, and ship's captain as well as a respected citizen of Westport, joining the Society of Friends and establishing the first free school in the town. Although he was accepted in white society, he was acutely aware of the poor social conditions of slave and free blacks in America. This concern led to his first voyage to Sierra Leone, Africa, in 1811, to assess the British colony as a resettlement area for freed American slaves. Before his death in 1817, Cuffe managed to transport thirty-eight free blacks to Africa and establish several abolitionist and colonization societies in America.

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Scope and Content Note

Materials in this collection reflect the involvement of Paul Cuffe in the resettlement of freed American slaves in Sierra Leone, Africa, dating between 1811-1828. The majority of the material consists of business, personal, family, legal, and financial correspondence dating from 1812-1816. The business correspondence concerns mercantile ventures, primarily those related to his trip to Sierra Leone in 1816, and includes letters from William Rotch Jr., of New Bedford, Mass., John James, a Quaker merchant of Philadelphia, and Peter Williams Jr., who was instrumental in starting the New York African Institute. Of particular note is the personal correspondence which includes requests from freed slaves for passage to Africa, letters from William Allen of London regarding Cuffe's safe passage to Sierra Leone and the resettlement issue in general, and perhaps most important, several letters from settlers of Sierra Leone describing conditions in their new home. A letter book of Cuffe's includes copies of letters to Representative Laban Wheaton of Mass., Hannah Little, a good friend of First Lady Dolley Madison, and a letter of petition to the President, Senate, and House of the United States.

Other papers in the collection consist of addresses, ca. 1816; provision lists for passengers, 1816; pledges, ca. 1816; receipts, 1815-1816; lists and clippings, 1816-1817; and a small number of personal papers of Paul Cuffe's brother, John Cuffe, and Paul's son, William Cuffe, dating from 1811-1828.

Researchers should note that the bulk of Paul Cuffe's papers are in the collection of the New Bedford Free Public Library.

Arrangement of Collection

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Information for Researchers

Access to the Collection

Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.

Preferred Citation

New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 10 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]

Copyright Notice

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 United States Code 552a) governs the use of materials that document private individuals, groups, and corporations.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction if the document does not infringe the privacy rights of an individual, group, or corporation. These specified conditions of authorized use include:

- non-commercial and non-profit study, scholarship, research, or teaching
- criticism or commentary
- as a NBWM archives preservation or security copy for research use
- as a research copy for deposit in another institution

If the researcher later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the researcher is personally liable for copyright. privacy, or publicity infringement and agrees to indemnify the New Bedford Whaling Museum from any legal action as a result of the error. Permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document does not indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from the document without permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.

Permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, prepare derivative works from, sell, or otherwise distribute the item must be obtained separately in writing from the holder of the original copyright (or if the creator is dead, from his/her heirs) as well as from any individual(s), groups, or corporations whose name, image, recorded words, or private information (e.g. employment information) may be reproduced in the source material. The holder of the original copyright is not necessarily the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is not legally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement when materials are wrongfully used after being provided to researchers for "fair use."

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if fulfillment of the order is judged in violation of copyright or federal or state privacy law. This institution also places restrictions on the use of cameras, photocopiers, and scanners in the research room.

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Related Materials

Related Manuscript Collections

Mss 101: Sarah Loomis Papers

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Separations List

Removed to Printed Collection

Boston Recorder, October 21, 1817

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Existing records reveal neither the source nor the accession date of this collection. The materials were probably acquired as a gift to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society before 1960.

Processing Information

Processed by: Barbara E. Austen, ca. 1982

Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 18 June 2011; box list appended by Mark Procknik, 12 December 2011

Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Description

Series A: Correspondence, 1812-1816 [92 items]
Series A contains Paul Cuffe's business, personal, family, legal, and financial correspondence.
Sub-series 1: Incoming, 1812, 1815-1816
Box 1
Folder 1
1812
Folder 2-6
1815
Folder 7-11
1816
Sub-series 2: Outgoing, 1813-1815
Volume 1
1813-1815
Folder 1
1814-1815
Series B: Addresses, ca.1816 [1 item]
Folder 1
Address to settlers of Sierra Leone, ca. 1816
Series C: Provision Lists, 1816 [6 items]
Folder 1
Provisions for passengers to Sierra Leone, 1816
Series D: Pledges, 1815 [1 item]
Folder 1
Pledge of passengers to repay travel expenses, 1815
Series E: Receipts, 1815-1816 [4 items]
Folder 1
1815-1816
Series F: Lists, Clippings, and Miscellany, 1811-1828 [13 items]
Folder 1
Passenger list to Sierra Leone, 1816
Folder 2
Newspaper clippings on life and death of Paul Cuffe, 1817
Folder 3
Correspondence of John Cuffe, 1811, 1827-1828
Folder 4
Receipt of William Cuffe, 1814
Pledge of William Cuffe, 1827

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Added Entries

African American Friends
African American business enterprises--Mass.--Westport
African American merchant seamen
African Americans
African Americans in business--Mass.--Westport
African Americans--Biography
African Americans--Mass.--Westport
African Americans--Mass.--Westport--History--To 1863
African Americans--Mass.--Westport--Social Conditions--To 1964
African Americans--colonization--Africa--Sierra Leone
Allen, William, 1770-1843
Back to Africa movement
Colonies in Africa
Colonization
Cuffe, John, 1757-1836
Cuffe, William, 1799-ca. 1845
Philanthropists--Mass.--Westport
Shipmasters--Mass.--Westport
Sierra Leone, Africa--Colonization
United States--Race relations
Westport, Mass.--Biography
Wheaton, Laban, fl.1834
Williams, Peter Jr., ca. 1780-1840

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Vessel Names

Traveller (Brig)

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