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Finding Aids

To search this website for a term or keyword, use the search box in the top right corner of the page. The Finding Aids on the Cape Ann Museum's website represent only a minute fraction of what is available in the Museum's Library & Archives; for further assistance with items in the collection, please contact the Library & Archives at (978) 283-0455, x19 or email

More about finding aids


• First Church of Gloucester   /   Archives Collection A03
• James G. Tarr & Bro. Wholesale Fish Dealers   /   Archives Collection A06

Scope and Content: This collection provides a vignette on the everyday operation of the Gloucester wholesale fish dealer, James G. Tarr & Bro., from 1894 to 1901.   This collection was received in a weathered cardboard carton containing papers haphazardly scattered and two full, moldy commercial organizers. The organizers were labeled “B” and “C” but the material stuffed into them and the other papers in the box had no apparent relationship to these letters. The names of all the firms and individuals represented in the carton fall between the letters “A” and “N” of the alphabet and the dates range from 1894 to 1901 with one exception. This indicates that this group of papers is a small part of the Tarr Company’s complete office filing system and it also indicates that the Tarr Company probably used and alphabetical, chronological filing system.    We have arranged these papers in subject series which may or may not have been used by the Tarr Company while at the same time trying to maintain an alphabetical, chronological arrangement within each series.

• Captain Ben Pine Papers   /  Archives Collection A08

Scope and Content: This collection provides a unique insight into the business world of Captain Ben Pine, renown Gloucester fisherman and internationally know racing skipper. He was a real Gloucesterman famed for his sailing ability and participation in the International Fishermen’s Races.   The collection was received from the Gloucester Fishermen’s Institute were it had been stored in three cardboard boxes for some years. There was no organization of the material comprising the collection, each box contained a variety of newspaper clippings, correspondence, brochures and pamphlets, photographs, glass plate negatives and other items generally related to Ben Pine and his position of national prominence in the fishing industry. For example, some of the newspaper clippings were pasted in scrapbooks while others were loosely scattered throughout the material, many without date or publication data. While some of the photographs were in good condition, many others were creased, curled or in deteriorating condition.   The correspondence and telegrams have been arranged in subject series and, as appropriate, in an alphabetical and/or chronological arrangement within each series.

• Samuel D. Hanscomb—Letters and Papers of a Civil War Soldier, 1861–1865   /  Archives Collection A14

Scope and Content: The collection contains letters, military service records, miscellaneous papers, artifacts, and photographs. Transcriptions and an abstract of the letters are contained in the Appendices.   The bulk of this collection consists of 40 letters from Samuel D. Hanscomb of the Annisquam section of Gloucester, Massachusetts to his wife, Adelia P. Hanscomb, covering the period of Samuel D. Hanscomb’s Civil War military service, May 19, 1861 to May 12, 1865. Matters addressed in the letters include financial difficulties, family planning issues, dissatisfaction with Lincoln, racial attitudes and general domestic affairs. There are two letters to Samuel, one from his wife dated October 9, 1864 and one from a niece, Lizzie G. Winn, dated August 6, 1863. One letter written by Samuel on May 19, 1861, is in “mirror writing” because of a non combat wound incurred when he was loading his pistol. He had injured his right hand and, therefore, wrote this letter with his left hand, back-hand.   Of great importance are the papers of Adelia P. Hanscomb pertaining to her application to the U.S. Government for a widow’s pension as the wife of a deceased veteran.   Some items mentioned in the letters are included in the artifacts collection, such as the locket and mat hook. Many of the artifacts provide an insight into the lives of Samuel D. and Adelia P. Hanscomb as well as into the Civil War era in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The notebook of Adelia P. Hanscomb is important in this respect. A partial transcription of the notebook is in the Appendices.   Of the fifteen photographs, eight have been identified by Caroline S. Wheeler, whose husband was the grandson of Samuel D. Hanscomb.   Caroline S. Wheeler had worked on the collection before donating it to the Association providing abstracts and chronological listings of the letters and an index of names. These papers are included in the Appendices.

Irving L. Morris, Letters and papers of a World War I soldier   /   Archives Collection A20

Scope and Content: The diary, letters, commendations and other papers of World War I soldier Irving L. Morris were donated to the Cape Ann Historical Association by his daughter Elizabeth Morris Sampson.

Folly Cove Designers, 1938–1982   /   Archives Collection A78

Scope and Content: The heart of this collection lies not in one particular area of the files, but in the entirety of the collection itself. The letters, advertisements, bills, and other documents of the Folly Cove Designers were graciously donated to the Cape Ann Museum by multiple sources. Included are both donations by family members of Virginia Lee Burton and the Folly Cove Designers, as well as the Folly Cove Designers themselves.

WWII Women’s Defense Corps. — Natalie Hays Hammond   /   Archives Collection A74

Scope and Content: In 1939, at the outbreak of WWII, Natalie Hays Hammond (1904–1985), the only daughter of millionaire adventurer, businessman and philanthropist John Hayes Hammond, founded the Gloucester Civic Patrol to train young townswomen in air raid precautions and communications. Ahead of its time, this enterprise failed to attract much attention so she established the Women’s Civilian Defense School in Boston, which then became the Massachusetts Women’s Defense Corps. with herself as colonel. This eventually gave way to the more popular WACs, Waves and Spars. The collection contains photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and miscellaneous printed material, mostly about the paramilitary Massachusetts Women’s Defense Corps. from 1941 and 1942.

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