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In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
The American progenitor of the Nye family of Massachusetts, Benjamin Nye, was one of the original settlers of the town of Sandwich. Papers in this collection relate to members of three branches of the family, located in Sandwich, Dartmouth, and Fairhaven, Mass. Notable among the Sandwich Nyes is Nathan Nye Jr. (1749-1826), a town official during much of his lifetime, and his son, Obed Butler Nye (1774-1864), a cabinetmaker. Gideon Nye Jr. (1812-1888), a prominent member of the Dartmouth branch of the family, went to Canton, China with a cousin, Francis S. Hathaway, in 1833 and remained there until his death. He was deeply involved with the China trade, especially that concerning tea, and served as Vice Consul from the United States at Canton. He also wrote essays, lectures and editorials, chiefly reporting his experiences in China.
The Fairhaven branch of the Nye family includes Thomas Nye (1768-1842) and his sons, William C. Nye (1792-1832), and Philip Nye (1799-1858), who were merchants, ship captains, and owners of vessels involved in foreign trade. Another son, Thomas Nye Jr., (1804-1882), became involved in the whaling industry and acted as agent in partnership with his brother Asa Russell Nye (1809-1858) for several vessels. Several more of Thomas Nye's sons also became involved in the family business.
Papers in this collection primarily reflect the life and activities of Gideon Nye Jr., between 1845-1888. These materials consist of business and personal correspondence, 1845-1888; essays and other writings by Nye concerning the China trade and China in general, 1850-1873; catalogs and art exhibition materials relating to his collection of "Old Masters", 1848-1858; obituaries of family members, friends, and contemporaries, 1869-1887; and biographical sketches, clippings, and programs, 1849-1965.
Also represented by material in this collection are other Nye family members and relatives by marriage. Nathan Nye Jr.'s papers consist of personal correspondence, ca. 1808, deeds, 1789-1792, and various types of estate records, 1825-1826. Obed Butler Nye's papers include business and personal correspondence, 1809-1826; indentures, 1802-1822; a marriage intention, 1808; bills and receipts, 1813-1827; and autographs and poems, ca. 1810-1857. Papers for Thomas, William C., and Philip Nye contain ship's papers consisting of manifests, entries of merchandise, customs inspection certificates and other records for numerous vessels in which they held an interest, 1800-1829. Most notable among these are the brigs Parthian, Fornax, and Indian Chief. Papers for Thomas Nye Jr. contain ship's papers consisting of outfitting books, a bill of sale, insurance policy and other records for several vessels for which he and his brother, Asa Russell Nye, served as agents, 1834-1860. Among these papers is a letter from the captain of the ship Herald 2nd describing a mutiny aboard the vessel, 1860, and one from Nye abandoning the insurance on the vessel.
Materials in the Nye Family Papers have been organized into sub-groups representing letters and other papers of Nyes, Tobeys, and other individuals related by marriage. These sub-groups have been listed in the inventory in alphabetical order by surname. Correspondence, whenever possible, is arranged within each year by the name of the writer. Other papers, organized into series by type of document, are arranged in chronological order except for ship's papers, which are grouped alphabetically by name of vessel. A published work which may serve as a guide to the persons represented in this collection is Genealogy of American Nyes of English origin, compiled by L. Bert Nye Jr.(1977). Materials in the Nye Family Papers have been organized into sub-groups representing letters and other papers of Nyes, Tobeys, and other individuals related by marriage. These sub-groups have been listed in the inventory in alphabetical order by surname. Correspondence, whenever possible, is arranged within each year by the name of the writer. Other papers, organized into series by type of document, are arranged in chronological order except for ship's papers, which are grouped alphabetically by name of vessel. A published work which may serve as a guide to the persons represented in this collection is A Genealogy of American Nyes of English origin, compiled by L. Bert Nye Jr. (1977).
Researchers should note that the Baker Library, Harvard University, owns daybooks and correspondence of Gideon Nye Jr., 1858-1898, presented to the library in 1932 and 1937 by James M. Henry and Sylvia H. Knowles.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to Collections
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 26, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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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:
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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.
Removed to Photographs Collection
- Photographs of Gideon Nye Jr., 1830-1835; 1863; n.d. 3 items.
- Group photograph with Gideon Nye Jr., in China, 1884.
- Photographs, probably of paintings by Clement Nye Swift. n.d. 2 items
Removed to Printed Collection
- Catalogue ... at the Gallery of the Lyceum Building, 1849. 2 copies
- Nye, Gideon, Jr., The Morning of my life in China, 1873. 2 copies.
- Some Indications of the Value and Appreciation of Mr. Nye's . . ., 1858
Materials in this collection were donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Sylvia Knowles in 1962 and 1973.
Processed by: Judith Downey, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Caitlin Hayes, 21 August 2012
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Art--Collections and collecting
Art--New York--New York City--Catalogs
Art--New York--New York City--Exhibitions
Death notices See Obituaries
Hathaway, Stephen 1743-1826
Inventories of decedents'
Inventories of decedents' estates--Mass.--Fairhaven
Nye, Abgail Tobey, 1783-1868
Nye, Asa Russell, 1809-1858
Nye, George, 1812-1847
Nye, Gideon Jr. ,1812-1888
Nye, James Sellers, 1806-1881
Nye, Jonathan, 1760-1815
Nye, Nathan Jr., 1749-1826
Nye, Nathaniel, 1803-1859
Nye, Obed Butler, 1774-1864
Nye, Obed, 1736-1815
Nye, Philip, 1799-1858
Nye, Thomas, 1768-1842
Nye, Thomas, Jr., 1804-1882
Nye, William C., 1792-1832
Opium War, 1840-1842
Opium trade--China--Addresses, essays, lectures
Taiping Rebellion, 1850-1864--Addresses, essays, lectures
Tea Trade--China--Addresses, essays, lectures
Tobey, Eliakim, 1711-1780
Tobey, Hannah, d. 1825
Tobey, Jonathan Burr, b. 1794
Tobey, William, 1751 circa-1819
Commodore Rogers (Ship)
Herald 2nd (Ship)
Indian Chief (Brig)
Maria Theresa (Ship)
New Hazard (Brig)