Creator: John J. Babson
Dates: 1840-1860; 1886
Quantity:  1.5 linear feet (3 document boxes)
Acquisition:  Unknown. Accession #: 1997.53 (assigned at time of processing); 1038 (1886 portion)
Identification: A04 ; Archive Collection #04
Citation:  [Document Title]. The John J. Babson Papers, [Box #, Folder #, Item #], Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA.
Copyright: Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be addressed to the Librarian/Archivist.
Language: English
Finding Aid:  Mary Sibbalds, Nov. 1997; supervisor, Ellen Nelson, archivist.


John J. Babson’s History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Including the Town of Rockport was published by Procter Brothers in 1860. Babson continued his research and his revisions for the rest of his lifetime, filling many notebooks and utilizing various forms of organization. He first made numerous additions and corrections that, beginning in 1872, were published in installments by the Gloucester Telegraph. These were collected and published by M.V.B. Perley of the Telegraph Office in 1876 under the title Notes and Additions to the History of Gloucester Part First: Early Settlers. Only families who had been inhabitants of Cape Ann before 1701 were included.

In 1891 the Salem Press published Notes and Additions to the History of Gloucester, Second Series: Early Records. This included about sixty pages of the Journal of Rev. Samuel Chandler, Pastor of Gloucester’s First Church, along with historical and genealogical information from the yeas 1605 to 1745.

The Second Series was also printed, although possibly never actually published, in another format. In this version Rev. Chandler’s diary was called “II The First Church,” and the Early Records were called “III Gleanings, Chronologically Arranged.” The copy of this version at Cape Ann Historical Association bears no date or publisher’s name but does include a few handwritten notes. In this copy, Rev. Chandler’s Journal ends on May 28, 1764, whereas the edition published in 1891 continues to December 4 of that year.

Most of Babson’s manuscripts and notebooks are undated, and it is difficult to determine when they were written. The following description of his papers represents a best estimate of his “latest editions” and of his intentions in recording them.


Information about the provenance of the John J. Babson Papers at the Cape Ann Historical Association during is nonexistent. The papers no doubt came to the Association during a period when accession numbers were not assigned and when record keeping was erratic. The accession number 1997.53 was assigned when the collection was processed.

Even after the publication of his History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, including the Town of Rockport, first and second series, Babson continued his work of researching and revising. This collection of the John J. Babson Papers is the result of some of that research.

The Papers have not been arranged in series as the entire group of papers is a more or less chronological and alphabetical collection of handwritten notes about the people and events in Cape Ann’s history. Some of the material is new (not included in the published work) and some is redundant. The container list has been enlarged to include detailed information regarding the contents of the books and folders.

Included in the papers is a 55 page handwritten manuscript which was probably intended as a new part to Notes and Additions. This has been transcribed and a copy of the transcription is available.

In Box 3, Folder 27 is a booklet written by Charles C. Smith and published in Cambridge, MA in 1886 with the title, Memoir of the Hon. John J. Babson. This booklet was with the Babson papers at the time of processing but had the accession #1038. This number had been assigned, apparently in 1942, to a gift of several books given to the Association by Alfred M. Brooks. We can only speculate about how it found its way into the Babson collection, but we have left it in this collection as a useful addition.


Box 1: Manuscripts

Box 2: Notes on Genealogy, land grants, court cases, early history

Box 3: Births 1703-1767, misc notes, correspondence


Box 1

  1. Book 1 Handwritten manuscript of Babson’s History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann (The original copyright may be found in Folder #31)
  2. Folder 1 Babson’s own index to the History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann.
  3. Folder 2 Handwritten manuscript (145 pages) probably a draft of an intended revision of his Notes and Additions, Part First: Early Settlers. In addition to his new material, Babson includes sections from both his History and Early Settlers e.g. “Insert from Early Settlers p. 12 all after ‘1695’, 5th line from bottom ‘Joseph, the eldest son’ in first column to ‘Fourth Church’ after which add from History 7th line from bottom p. 68 all about John and Edward.”
  4. Much of the material is the same as in Early Settlers. But in some cases it is more detailed and in others, less.
  5. Folder 3 Manuscript (64 pages) alphabetically arranged – another revision of Notes and Additions, Part First. This contains additional material on many families, Allen through Haraden only.
  6. Folder 4 Copy of “II The First Church” and “III Gleanings” Chronologically Arranged, a revision of Notes and Additions, Second Series with handwritten additions and corrections to Gleanings and a handwritten, combined index to both parts.
  7. Folder 5 Manuscript (55 pages, unnumbered) probably intended as a new part to Notes and Additions. Much of the material appeared in the second half of Early Records, a chronological account of events on Cape Ann, but in this unpublished manuscript Babson lists alphabetically almost 200 families who arrived on Cape Ann after 1700, giving insofar as possible, the first of that name in Town, location from which he came, where he settled, maiden name of wife and first generation of Children. Most of the births, deaths and marriages are contained in the published Gloucester Vital Records (Topsfield: 1917, but here Babson has arranged the entries by family. Some entries are only two or three lines others a full page. (Typewritten transcript available)


Box 2

  1. Book 2 Large volume of handwritten genealogical notes, alphabetical.
  2. Notebooks: Six small notebooks. There is some information not used in the History or in Notes and Additions, but since the notebooks are not dated, it is impossible to tell whether the additional facts were discovered later or whether he simply had more information than he wanted to include in his final draft. There are also some relationships suggested of which he was not entirely certain. The General content of the notebooks (not all inclusive) is as follows:
      1. #1 Genealogy – indexed alphabetically for the most part. Some subjects are: Davis, Ellery, Haraden, Low, Lufkin, Parsons, New Gloucester, Lot numbers of First Proprietors, Subscribers to New Gloucester meeting House, Procter, Sargent, Sandy bay Settlers, Stevens, Tarr.
      2. #2 Mostly about land granted to and bought or sold by early settlers, alphabetically indexed: Allen, Andrews, Babson, Butman, Commoners’, Meetings, Emerson, Lane, Low, Lufkin, Millet, Marchant (genealogy), Norwood, Neutral French, Plummer (gen.), Smallpox, Schools, Sandy Bay settlement, Warnings Out, Woodbury, and List of Deaths 1834-1843.
      3. #3 Much of this material relates to Court cases complaints, inventories of estates etc.; Obadiah Bruen, Giles Barge, Deeds, Osmond Dutch, Ellery, Eveleth, Emerson, Falmouth, ME, Hill, Ingersol, Land, Millet, New Gloucester, Pool, Pirates, Robinson, Sargent, Sanders, Ship Builders, Salt, Tempest (a privateer), Tybbot, Webber, Windown, Woodbury, Wallis, York, and Population in 1840.
      4. #4 A few notes on Gloucester history in the 1600’s, a few notes on 1812-1814, Latin notes (appears to be a matching test for students), Latin declensions, German vocabulary. (Babson was Superintendent of Schools for several years.)
      5. #5 Many single dates of death, land sales, and other notes of genealogical interest, indexed alphabetically, followed by an alphabetical list of first settlers.
      6. #6 Notes on these subjects are not alphabetically arranged but are listed in a Table of Contents: Gravestone inscriptions, Probate Court Records, Rev. Daniel Fuller, Privateer Robin Hood (and others) Col. Foster, Sea Monster, Land Bank, New Gloucester, 1693 Tax List, Covenant of Fourth Church, Sloops and other Vessels, John Murray, “Sundries – small items.”
  3. Folder 6-12 Genealogical notes alphabetically arranged (A-C) (D-F) etc.
  4. Folder 13 Misc. Genealogical notes, some from a notebook once alphabetized.
  5. Folder 14 General notes on multiple families.


Box 3

  1. Book 3 Large volume of alphabetical listing of Births, 1703 - 1767, with some additional notes on marriages & deaths.
  2. Folder 15-16 Misc. historical notes
  3. Folder 17 Correspondence related to multiple families.
  4. Folder 18-24 Correspondence related to genealogy, alphabetically arranged as in folders 6-12
  5. Folder 25 Misc. Correspondence
  6. Folder 26 Papers pertaining to the Babson Family
  7. Folder 27 “Members of Babson” by Charles Smith
  8. Folder 28 Papers regarding Sawyer Library, periodicals and books, and small personal notebook
  9. Folder 29 Essays, poems etc. apparently saved by John J. Babson
  10. Folder 30 Information on historical associations
  11. Folder 31 copyright for History of the town of Gloucester, Cape Ann