Table of Contents
Inventory of the Russell Family Papers
In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
The progenitor of the Russell family of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, was John Russell (1608-1694). He was one of the early settlers of Old Dartmouth from Marshfield in 1661. The name of Russell Mills in South Dartmouth was derived from his son, the first Joseph Russell (1650-1739). Joseph Russell Jr. (1679-1748), the elder Joseph's son, owned property in New Bedford between Russell Street and Spring Street, and his house was located near the head of Walnut Street. Caleb Russell Sr. (1713-1804), Joseph Jr.'s son, owned a farm situated along County Road, now called County Street. His brother, Joseph Russell 3rd (1719-1806) was one of the first merchants of New Bedford and many consider him the founder of the New Bedford whale fishery. Caleb Russell Jr. (1748-1827), son of Caleb Sr., was a yeoman who inherited his father's property.
Scope and Content Note
The Russell family papers consist primarily of legal documents including deeds, surveys of land, court records, wills, and estate records from the years 1711-1863. The majority of the papers relate to Caleb Russell Jr., 1800-1829. Included among his papers are the proceedings of the Caleb Russell vs. John Howland court case, 1806-1809, where Russell accused Howland of trespassing on his land. Also pertaining to this case are surveys of property in New Bedford belonging to the Ward family who owned more than 2600 acres of land. Many of these documents are copies of earlier recorded deeds and surveys, 1711-1789.
Also represented by materials in this collection are other Russell family members as well as relatives by marriage. Papers for Joseph Russell Sr., contain land surveys, 1711-1715 and for Joseph Russell Jr., consist of a deed, 1741. Papers of Caleb Russell Sr., consist of legal documents, 1746-1804, including a will, 1780, detailing the amount of goods and property which he owned.
Also included in this collection are the papers of Caleb Russell Jr.'s, wife and daughter, Content Gifford Russell and Sarah Russell Akin. Each of these sub-groups contain a will, 1833 and 1863, respectively. Also within the papers of Content Gifford Russell are deeds for properties owned by her father, Joseph Gifford. The papers of Timothy Akin, Sarah's husband, consist of deeds and his will, 1829-1859.
Materials in this collection have been organized into sub-groups representing individual members of the Russell family. These sub-groups have been arranged in chronological order by each person's date of birth. Papers have been organized into series by type of document and are arranged in chronological order. A final sub-group of this collection contains the probate of the will belonging to Joseph Russell of Boston, 1810. A published work which may serve as a guide to the Russell family members represented in this collection is The Descendants Of John Russell by Barrett Beard Russell (1904). Transcripts of all the documents in this collection are also available in the collection file.
Arrangement of Collection
Information for Researchers
Access to Collections
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 88, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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The materials in this collection were donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Eleanor Bowman on 28 February 1984.
Processed by: Judith M. Downey, with assistance from Diane Boisnier, 28 September 1988
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 7 April 2012
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Akin, Sarah Russell, b. 1795
Akin, Timothy, 1790-1873
Court Records--Mass.--New Bedford
Decedents' estates--Mass.--New Bedford
Russell, Caleb Jr., 1748-1827
Russell, Caleb Sr., 1713-1804
Russell, Content Gifford, d. 1835
Russell, Joseph Jr., 1679-1748
Russell, Joseph Sr., 1650-1739