MSS 7:  Howland Family Papers, 1797-1890 - New Bedford Whaling Museum
Inventory of the Howland Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Judith Downey, additional material added on 25 October 1990.; machine-readable finding aid created by: Kermit DeweyFunds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.Inventory of the Howland Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Related Materials

Separations List

Administrative Information


Added Entries

Inventory of the Howland Family Papers

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Howland Family Papers
Date Span:
Howland family
Mss Number:
Mss 7
6.5 linear feet
Business records and personal papers of a New Bedford, Massachusetts, family, 1797-1890.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Phone: (508) 997-0046

Historical Note

Members of the Howland family were chiefly involved with mercantile activities and the whaling industries at New Bedford, Massachusetts, between 1797-1890. George Howland Sr. (1781-1852) began his career in the office of William Rotch Jr. (1759-1850), in 1797 and established his own firm by 1813. He also served as president of the Bedford Commercial Bank from 1816 to 1851 and operated a real estate business in Union Springs, New York, managed by two of his sons, Charles Wing Howland (1817-1896), and Robert Bowne Howland (1826-1916), and a son-in-law, William Henry Chase (1805-1877). Two other sons, George Howland Jr. (1806-1892), and Matthew Howland (1814-1884), were partners in George Howland & Sons and continued the firm after the father's death in 1852.

Susan Howland (1791-1872), who married George Howland Sr. in 1810, was a preacher of prominence in the Society of Friends who made two religious missions to Great Britain in 1848-1849 and 1856-1859. During these trips she visited and held religious services with virtually every Friends family in Great Britain.

Her brother, Edward Wing Howland (1804-1879), was engaged in the whaling industry with his brother, Cornelius Howland (1802-1865), and his nephew, George Barney (1821-1883), in which they served as agents and outfitters of numerous vessels.

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Scope and Content Note

Papers in this collection reflect the activities of members of the Howland family of New Bedford, Mass., between 1797-1890. The firm of George Howland & Sons was established by George Howland Sr. and was continued by his sons, George Jr. and Matthew after their father's death. The Howlands were primarily agents for merchant and whaling vessels. Their financial records include journals, ledgers, and cash books, dating 1797-1863, containing information regarding business dealings with John Howland Jr. (1782-1852), James Howland II (1783-1861), William Rotch Jr., the Weweantit Iron Company of Wareham, Mass., and Grinnell, Minturn, & Company of New York and its predecessors. These volumes also reflect business interests with various vessels such as George (Brig), Robert Barclay (Brig), and Elizabeth (Ship) as well as those vessels represented in the ship's papers series for the company. These volumes also contain estate records for George Howland Sr. Other financial records include invoices; accounts for ship repairs and refitting; a protest for monies owed; bills of lading and of exchange; and bills and receipts, 1818-1890. Ship's papers, 1805-1877, contain crew accounts; outfitting books; Sea Letters; protests; bills of exchange and lading; and bills and receipts. These papers represent numerous vessels including Ann Alexander (Ship), which was sunk by a whale; George Howland (Ship), which was captured by Spanish pirates off Ecuador; and Golconda (Ship), which was captured by the Confederate gunboat Florida. There are also journals concerning the guano industry at Howland Island and other matters, 1850-1874.

Also included in this collection are personal papers of George Howland Sr. and his wife, Susan Howland Howland, as well as those of other family members. The elder Howland's papers consist of incoming correspondence, 1813-1852, which includes a letter from Joshua Stanley which discusses the slave trade in North Carolina in 1846. Other papers include deeds and other legal documents, 1805-1844; and a subscription for fencing Friends Meeting House yard, 1826. Susan Howland Howland's papers consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence, 1839-1869; draft of her will, ca. 1870; travel journals, 1820-1849; "scrapbooks" including her meditations and aspirations kept on a regular basis, 1848-1869; religious meditations and scripture texts, 1841-1868; a memorial to her husband, 1852 and lists, calling cards, and clippings, ca. 1848-1868; chiefly concern religious matters.

Also represented by personal correspondence in this collection are Matthew Howland, Charles Wing Howland, Robert Bowne Howland, and Susan's sister, Lydia Howland Congdon (1793-1877). Papers for Edward Wing Howland contain ship's papers consisting of Whalemen’s Shipping Papers, customs and consular records, and bills and receipts, 1846-1871, for such vessels as Cornelius Howland (Ship) and Onward (Ship).

Materials in the Howland collection are arranged into sub-groups representing the business records and personal papers of family members. Records of George Howland & Sons comprise Sub-group 1. Sub-groups 2-8, containing papers relating to individual Howlands, are arranged chronologically by each person’s date of birth. All incoming correspondence is arranged first by year, then by the writer. Other papers, organized into series by type of document, are arranged in chronological order except for the ship's papers, which are grouped alphabetically by name of vessel. Published works which may serve as a guide to the persons represented in this collection include The Howland Heirs, by William M. Emery (1919), and A Brief Genealogical And Biographical History Of Arthur, Henry And John Howland..., by Franklyn Howland (1885).

Arrangement of Collection

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Access to the Collection

Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.

Preferred Citation

New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 7 [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 Manuscript Collections

Mss 63: Howland Family Papers
Mss 65: Howland Family Papers
Mss 135: Howland Family Papers

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Removed to Printed Collection

Poetry, verses of a religious nature mostly from Great Britain, 10 items.

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The majority of the material in this collection was donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Waldo and Llewellyn Howland in 1973. Additional materials were donated to the Society by Frank M. Taylor on 26 September 1950 and the estate of William H. Tripp on 2 April 1960. Additional materials were donated by Llewellyn Howland III on 24 March 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by: Judith Downey, additional material added on 25 October 1990, ca. 1982

Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 8 June 2011; box list amended by Mark Procknik, 01 July 2011

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

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Sub-group 1: George Howland & Sons Records, 1797-1890 [5 linear feet]
Sub-group 1 contains the financial records, ship's papers, journals, and correspondence of George Howland & Sons.
Series A: Financial Records, 1797-1890
Sub-series 1: Journals, 1797-1862
Box 1
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Index to Volume 4
Volume 6
Volume 7
Volume 8
Index to Volume 7
Sub-series 2: Ledgers, 1797-1863
Box 2
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Index to Volume 2
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6
Index to Volume 5
Sub-series 3: Cash Books, 1801-1843
Volume 1
Also includes invoices and sales records, 1801-1806
Volume 2
Box 3
Volume 3
Also includes day book, 1809-1821
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6
Sub-series 4: Invoices, 1839-1868
Volume 1
Folder 1
ca. 1855
Sub-series 5: Ship Repairs and Refitting, 1830-1862
Box 4
Volume 1
Contains accounts and descriptions
Sub-series 6: Protest, 1842
Folder 1
Concerning monies owed to J. B. White, 1842
Sub-series 7: Bills of Lading, 1835
Folder 1
Sub-series 8: Bills of Exchange, 1839-1842
Folder 1
Sub-series 9: Bills and Receipts, 1818-1890
Folder 1
1818, 1847, 1849, 1885, 1890
Series B: Ship's Papers, 1805-1877
Sub-series 1: Ann Alexander (Ship) Records, 1838-1851
Box 5
Folder 1
Crew Accounts, 1845-1851
Includes photocopies of crew list
Folder 2
Consular Records, 1851
Protest concerning destruction of vessel by a whale
Folder 3
Bills of Lading, 1838-1843
Sub-series 2: Concordia (Bark) Records, 1871
Folder 1
Letter regarding loss of vessel and insurance, 1871
Sub-series 3: Corinthian (Ship) records, 1842-1866
Volume 1-3
Outfitting Books, 1854, 1866, undated
Folder 1
Bills of Exchange, 1842-1843
Sub-series 4: Cortes (Ship) Records, 1834-1857
Volume 1-3
Outfitting Books, 1853, 1857, undated
Folder 1
Bills of Exchange, 1839-1841
Folder 2
Bills of Lading, 1834
Sub-series 5: Desdemona (Bark) Records, 1866-1873
Volume 1-3
Outfitting Books, 1866, 1869, 1873
Folder 1
Receipts, 1871
Sub-series 6: George and Susan (Ship) Records, 1817-1877
Folder 1
Customs Records, 1817, 1865
Volume 1-4
Outfitting Books, 1857, 1871, 1874, 1877
Folder 2
Bills of Exchange, 1839-1844
Sub-series 7: George Howland (Ship) Records, 1839-1858
Folder 1
Agent/Owner Accounts, 1851-1852
Folder 2
Crew Papers, 1852
Folder 3
Sea Letter, 1851
Folder 4-5
Correspondence, testimony, and court records for damages and loss of vessel when captured by Spanish pirates off Ecuador, 1852-1858
Folder 1
Bills of Exchange, 1839-1841, 1852
Folder 7
Bills and Receipts, 1852
Sub-series 8: Golconda (Ship/Bark) Records, 1838-1864
Box 6
Folder 1-2
Correspondence, 1838, 1862-1865
Folder 3
Agent/Owner Accounts, 1862-1863
Volume 1
Outfitting Book, 1855
Volume 2
Crew Accounts, 1827-1851
Folder 4
Sea Letter, 1843
Folder 5
Customs Records, 1864
Account of capture by Confederate gunboat Florida
Folder 6
Insurance Policy, 1848
Folder 7
Bills of Exchange and Lading, 1838-1864
Folder 8
Bill of Sale, 1845
Folder 9
Bills and Receipts, 1839-1840
Sub-series 9: Hope (Ship) Records, 1834-1850
Folder 1
Agent/Owner Accounts, 1849-1850
Folder 2
Consular Records, 1848-1850
Correspondence and protest against H. M. S. Calliope on salvage of cargo
Folder 3
Bills of Exchange, 1846-1847
Folder 4
Bills of Lading, 1834, 1842
Sub-series 10: Java (Ship) Records, 1839-1874
Volume 1-2
Outfitting Books, 1855, 1869
Folder 1
Sea Letters, 1839, 1841, 1869
Folder 2
Bills of Exchange, 1839-1842
Folder 3
Bills and Receipts, 1874
Sub-series 11: Maria (Sloop) Records, 1833-1835
Folder 1
Bills and Receipts, 1833-1835
Sub-series 12: Onward (Bark) Records, 1872
Volume 1
Outfitting Book, 1872
Sub-series 13: Rousseau (Ship) Records, 1839-1875
Volume 1-4
Outfitting Books, 1853, 1857, 1866, 1875
Folder 1
Crew Accounts, 1841-1845
Folder 2
Bills of Exchange, 1839-1841
Sub-series 14: St. George (Ship) Records, 1872
Volume 1
Outfitting Book, 1872
Sub-series 15: Savage (Ship) Records, 1805
Folder 1
Register Bond, 1805
Series C: Journals, 1850-1872
Box 7
Volume 1
Journal of Washington Alliston (Ship) on voyage to East Indies, July 1850-Oct. 1851
Volume 2
Journal kept on Chisholm's Island relating to mining rock phosphorite from 1869-1872
Also includes accounts of various voyages from 1855-1872
Volume 3
Journal of two voyages from San Francisco to Howland Island and surrounding islands for guano, Oct. 1860-July 1861
Also includes remarks at Howland Island, Oct. 1861-1862
Volume 4-5
Journals kept on Howland Island regarding guano industry, Aug. 1862-April 1867
Volume 6
Journal of voyage of Hippogriffe to and from Howland Island shipping guano, April 1867-Dec. 1867
Includes crew accounts
Volume 7
Journal of voyage from San Francisco to Pascamayo, Peru, for guano, May 1871-April 1872
Includes journal, possibly kept by Charles Atkinson on Peru (Ship) which also contains entries concerning voyage from Newburyport, Mass., to Liverpool, England, on Tennyson (Ship), Aug. 1865
Series D: Correspondence, 1803-1856
This series contains 4 letter books consisting of outgoing correspondence. Researchers should note that the letters in this series have been indexed, and a digital copy of the full index is available through the Museum's website by clicking here: FULL INDEX TO SERIES D. Online transcriptions are also available through the Whaling Museum's website:
Box 8
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Contains two entries dated August 30, 1870
Folder 1
ca. 1850
Sub-group 2: George Howland Sr. Papers, 1813-1852 [3 inches]
Sub-group 2 contains correspondence, legal documents, and a subscription relating to George Howland Sr.
Series A: Correspondence, 1813-1852
Box 9
Folder 1
1813, 1834, 1838, 1842-1845
Folder 2
Folder 3-4
Folder 5
Series B: Legal Documents, 1805-1844
Folder 1
Deeds, 1805-1839, 1844
Folder 2
Autopsy report of Abigail Howland, 1833
Series C: Subscription, 1826
Folder 1
Subscription for fencing Friends Meeting House yard, 1826
Sub-group 3: Susan Howland Howland Papers, 1839-1870 [12.5 inches]
Sub-group 3 contains the correspondence, legal documents, travel journals, “scrapbooks,” religious meditations and scripture texts, memorials, lists, calling cards, and clippings of Susan Howland Howland.
Series A: Correspondence, 1839-1869
Box 10
Folder 1
1839, 1844-1846
Folder 2
Folder 3
ca. 1848
Folder 4-5
Folder 6
Folder 7
Folder 8
Folder 9
Folder 10
Folder 11
Folder 12
Includes letters to Matthew and Rachel
Folder 13-14
Folder 15
Folder 16
Folder 17
Folder 18
Folder 19
Extracts from letters, 1849-1859
Series B: Legal Documents, ca. 1870
Folder 1
Draft of will, ca. 1870
Series C: Travel Journals, 1820-1849
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Series D: "Scrapbooks," 1848-1869
Box 11
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6
Volume 7
1857, 1867
Volume 8
Volume 9
Volume 10
Volume 11
Volume 12
Volume 13
Volume 14
Volume 15
Volume 16
Volume 17
Volume 18
Volume 19
Volume 20
Volume 21
Series E: Religious Meditations and Scripture Texts, 1841-1868
Box 12
Folder 1-3
Poems, verses, 1841-1868
Some relate to deaths of individuals
Volume 1
Scripture texts, 1852-1855
Volume 2
Scripture Question Book, 1860
Series F: Memorials, 1852
Folder 1
Memorial to George Howland Sr. by his wife, Susan, 1852
Series G: Lists, Calling Cards, and Clippings, ca. 1848-1868
Folder 1
Lists of members of English Congregations of Friends, ca. 1848-1868
Folder 2
Calling cards, ca. 1848-1868
Folder 3
Photocopy of newspaper article on estate of Sylvia Ann Howland, ca. 1848-1868
Folder 4
Clippings, 1848-ca. 1850
Sub-group 4: Lydia Howland Congdon Papers, 1858 [1 item]
Sub-group 4 consists of a letter to Lydia Howland Congdon's sister, Susan Howland Howland.
Series A: Correspondence, 1858
Box 13
Folder 1
Sub-group 5: Edward Wing Howland Papers, 1846-1871 [2 inches]
Sub-group 5 consists of ship’s papers.
Series A: Ship's Papers, 1846-1871
Sub-series 1: Alpha (Ship) Records, 1865-1866
Folder 1
Crew papers, 1865-1866
Includes Whalemens' Shipping Papers
Folder 2
Bill of sale, 1865
Sub-series 2: Cornelius Howland (Ship) Records, 1851-1858
Folder 1
Insurance policy, 1858
Folder 2
Bills and receipts, 1851
Sub-series 3: Euphrates (Ship) Records, 1846-1857
Folder 1
Crew papers, 1846-1857
Includes Whalemens' Shipping Papers
Sub-series 4: Ohio (Ship) Records, 1866
Folder 1
List of sails, 1866
Sub-series 5: Onward (Ship) Records, 1867-1870
Folder 1
Crew papers, 1868-1869
Includes Whalemens' Shipping Papers
Folder 2
List of sails, 1867
Folder 3
Consular records, 1868-1870
Folder 4
Customs records, 1870
Sub-series 6: Reindeer (Ship) Records, 1856-1871
Folder 1
Letters regarding loss of vessel and insurance, 1871
Folder 2
Crew papers, 1856-1859
Sub-group 6: Matthew Howland Papers, 1838, 1849, 1851 [3 items]
Sub-group 6 contains the correspondence of Matthew Howland.
Series A: Correspondence, 1838, 1849, 1851
Folder 1
1838, 1849, 1851
Sub-group 7: Charles Wing Howland Papers, 1847 [1 item]
Sub-group 7 consists of a single letter written to Charles Wing Howland's father, George Howland Sr.
Series A: Correspondence, 1847
Folder 1
Sub-group 8: Robert Bowne Howland Papers, 1854 [1 item]
Sub-group 8 consists of a single letter to Robert Bowne Howland's brother, Matthew Howland.
Series A: Correspondence, 1854
Folder 1

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Added Entries

Account books--New Bedford,Mass.--1797-1863
Alabama claims
Barney, George, 1821-1883
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Businessmen--Mass.--New Bedford
Capture at sea
Chase, William Henry, 1805-1877
Collisions at sea
Congdon, Lydia Howland, 1793-1877
Decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Dying declarations--Mass.--New Bedford
Fertilizer industry--Mass.--New Bedford
Friends in Great Britain
Friends in Massachusetts
Friends, Society of--Mass.--New Bedford
George Howland & Sons, New Bedford, Mass.
Great Britain--Description and travel--1801-1900
Grinnell, Minturn & Company, New York City, New York
Howland Collection
Howland, Charles Wing, 1817-1896
Howland, Cornelius, 1802-1865
Howland, Edward Wing, 1804-1879
Howland, George Jr.,1806-1892
Howland, George Sr., 1781-1852
Howland, James 2nd, 1783-1861
Howland, John Jr., 1782-1852
Howland, Matthew, 1814-1884
Howland, Robert Bowne, 1826-1916
Howland, Susan Howland, 1791-1872
Last words
Marine protests
Merchants--Mass.--New Bedford
New Bedford, Mass.--Commerce
New Bedford, Mass.--Economic conditions
Pirates--Mass.--New Bedford
Preaching, Lay
Privateering--Mass.--New Bedford
Religious poetry--Mass.--New Bedford
Rotch, William Jr., 1759-1850
Salvage--Mass.--New Bedford
Seizures of vessels and cargos
Ship's papers
Shipping--Mass.--New Bedford
Ships--Equipment and supplies
Ships--Maintenance and repair
Shipwrecks--Mass.--New Bedford
Slave keeping
Slave-trade--North Carolina--New Garden
Slavery in the United States
Slaves--North Carolina--New Garden
Travelers, Women—-Mass.--New Bedford
United States--Claims against Great Britain
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Claims
Weweantit Iron Company, [Wareham, Mass.]
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford--Agents
Wills--Mass.--New Bedford
Women and religion
Women clergy--Mass.--New Bedford
Women in church work--Mass.--New Bedford
Women--Mass.--New Bedford--Prayer books and devotions
Women--Mass.--New Bedford--Religious life
Women--Mass.--New Bedford--Social conditions

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Vessel Names

Alpha (Ship)
Ann Alexander (Ship)
Concordia (Bark)
Corinthian (Ship)
Cornelius Howland (Ship)
Cortes (Ship)
Desdemona (Bark)
Elizabeth (Ship)
Euphrates (Ship)
George (Brig)
George Howland (Ship)
George and Susan (Ship)
Golconda (Bark)
Golconda (Ship)
Hippogriffe (Ship)
Hope (Ship)
Java (Ship)
Maria (Sloop)
Ohio (Ship)
Onward (Bark)
Onward (Ship)
Peru (Ship)
Reindeer (Ship)
Robert Barclay (Brig)
Rousseau (Ship)
Savage (Ship)
St. George (Ship)
Tennyson (Ship)
Washington Allston (Ship)

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