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In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
George Kirby (1794-1882) owned a farm in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and was active in state and local politics. He served in the state legislature for ten years and as selectman, treasurer and collector for the town of Dartmouth for twenty-three years. In 1821, he married Abigail H. Smith (1798-1861). Their daughter, Rebecca Kirby (1825-1895), married Weston Howland (1815-ca. 1901), a prominent New Bedford, Mass., merchant and businessman, who resided in Fairhaven, Mass. Among their children were Weston Howland Jr. (1852-1878), who worked in his father's office and in the Pennsylvania oil fields; Rachel Howland (1853-1934); Abby S. Howland (1861-1950); and Alice H. Howland Garrett (b. 1867).
The bulk of material in this collection consists of personal diaries kept by members of the Howland family and by Abigail H. Smith Kirby between 1820-1890. These volumes generally contain observations on the weather; comments on social activities such as balls, Poor Society meetings, clubs, and visits with friends; and comments on family and daily activities, trips, and Friends meetings. Abby S. Howland's diaries, 1877-1890, include a description of her trip to New York City, N.Y., and Washington D.C., in 1888. The diaries of Rachel Howland, 1874-1891, include comments on women preaching at Friend's meetings, on President Garfield's assassination, and on her brother Weston's death. Weston Howland Jr. included notes on the arrival of whalers in the port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, a description of the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge controversy in 1869, and comments on the Chicago fire and on a speech about women's rights in his diaries, dating 1868-1872. Abigail H. Smith Kirby wrote numerous philosophical, religious, and moral observations as well as notes concerning her in involvement in the Dartmouth, Mass., Friends Meeting in her diaries, 1820-1860. Typescripts and photocopies exist for most of these volumes; the former are arranged after the originals, while the latter can be found in the Collection File for Mss 65.
Weston Howland's papers consist of incoming and outgoing personal correspondence, 1845-1899, some of which are typescripts, and includes a letter from William James Rotch (1819-1893), concerning the use of a revenue boat for pleasure sailing, 1866. Alice H. Howland Garrett, Rebecca Kirby Howland, and Weston Howland's mother, Abigail Hathaway Howland (1774-1867) are represented by a diary, a book of poems, notes on property, and incoming and outgoing personal correspondence, 1844-1890. George Kirby's papers chiefly consist of photocopies of original documents. Of primary importance are Dartmouth town records, 1827-1849, which include receipts from Kirby as town treasurer, orders to and from assessors concerning the division of Dartmouth into two towns, and an agreement to run the almshouse. This material is supplemented by legal documents, 1818-1838, 1882, including records of his and his father's estates; financial records, 1830-1852, including an original account book form farm labor; and a letter from his granddaughter, Rachel Howland, and one to his daughter, 1881. Photocopies of legal documents and financial records of various Kirby family members comprise the miscellaneous Kirby family papers, 1798-1823, ca. 1850. Genealogical material, 1836, ca. 1860, 1895, ca. 1973, includes an original, although incorrect, Howland family genealogy and a holograph volume and photocopied notes on the Kirby family genealogy
Printed works which provide additional information on the Howland and Kirby families are The Howland Heirs by William M. Emery (1919), A Brief Genealogical and Biographical History of Arthur, Henry, and John Howland and Their Descendants by Franklyn Howland (1885) and Kirbys of New England by Melatiah E. Dwight (ca. 1899).
Arrangement of Collection
Access to the Collection
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 65 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Related Manuscript Collections
Mss 7: Howland Family Papers
Mss 63: Howland Family Papers
Materials in this collection were given to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Mrs. Weston Howland on 22 June 1977, 12 May 1982, 25 June 1982, and 22 November 1982.
Processed by: Barbara E. Austen, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 19 August 2011
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Account books--Dartmouth, Mass.--1830-1852
Dartmouth, Mass.--Officials and employees
Dartmouth, Mass.--Social life and customs
Fairhaven, Mass.--Social life and customs
Friends, Society of--Mass.--Dartmouth
Friends, Society of--Mass.--Fairhaven
Garrett, Alice H. Howland, b. 1867
Girls--Societies and clubs--Mass.--Fairhaven
Howland, Abby S. 1861-1950
Howland, Abigail Hathaway, 1774-1867
Howland, Rachel, 1853-1934
Howland, Rebecca Kirby, 1825-1895
Howland, Weston Jr., 1852-1878
Howland, Weston, 1815-ca. 1901
Kirby, Abigail H. Smith, 1798-1861
Kirby, George, 1794-1882
Municipal officials and employees--Mass.--Dartmouth
New Bedford & Fairhaven Bridge Company, New Bedford, Mass.
New York (City)--Description
Women and religion
Women in church work--Mass.--Dartmouth
Women--Mass--Fairhaven--Societies and clubs