Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Abraham Bell Papers, 1812-1901

Finding aid created by
Erin Platte and Meg Hixon, October 2011

Summary Information
Title: Abraham Bell papers
Creator: Abraham Bell & Son Co.
Inclusive dates: 1812-1901
Bulk dates: 1830-1854
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
Abstract:
The Abraham Bell papers contain correspondence and financial documents related to Abraham Bell & Co., an early 19th-century New York City shipping firm owned by Abraham Bell.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1991-2006. M-2713.24, M-4150, M-4163.3, M-4170.1, M-4171.7, M-4175.2, M-4180.1, M-4192.4, M-4257.5, M-4293.2, M-4304.5, M-4320.1, M-4345.1, M-4368.4, M-4409.14, M-4409.16, M-4439.10, M-4507.3, M-4520.5.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Abraham Bell Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

This collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Receipts and financial papers
  • Series III: Account and receipt books
  • Series IV: Miscellaneous

Each series is arranged chronologically.


Biography

Abraham Bell was born in Ireland in March 1778, and married Mary Christy in 1812; the couple had six children. In the early 19th century, Bell, a Quaker, and his family emigrated to New York City, where he built a shipping firm, Abraham Bell & Company. The business, which operated several transatlantic routes, shipped a wide variety of goods, including linens. In 1844, Bell changed the name of his company to Abraham Bell & Son. A few years later, during the Irish famine of the late 1840s, Bell's company assisted in the transportation of émigrés to America. Bell died in New York City in 1856.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Abraham Bell papers contain correspondence and financial documents related to Abraham Bell & Co., an early 19th-century New York City shipping firm owned by Abraham Bell. The majority of material in the Correspondence series is addressed to either Abraham Bell or to his company, and relates to various business affairs, often concerning payment or delivery of goods. Many of the letters originated from European firms, including a letter from Collman, Lambert & Co. in Liverpool, written on stationery that includes a printed list of current prices for cotton and related goods (February 8, 1837).

The Receipts and financial papers series consists of non-correspondence items related to the operation of Abraham Bell & Co. throughout the early and mid-1800s. These include records of payment and lists of cargo carried aboard Bell's ships. Several early items within this series pertain to the ship Josephine .

Fifteen Account and receipt books provide information about Bell's financial endeavors throughout the period in explicit detail, covering the years 1840-1868. A letter book contains copies of letters written by Abraham Bell between October 16, 1833, and August 15, 1834.

Miscellaneous items in the collection include an indenture for land in New Jersey belonging to the Budd family (December 25, 1812), and a record of fiscal accounts between Abraham Bell & Co. and [Malionson] Bell & Co. (June 30, 1836).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Merchants--New York (State)--New York.
    • New York (N.Y.)--Commerce--19th century.
    • New York (N.Y.)--History--1775-1865.
    • Shipping--Finance.
    • Shipping--New York (State)--New York.
    • Shipping--United States--History.
    • Ships--Cargo.
    • Textile industry--United States.
    • United States--Commerce--Europe.
    Contributors:
    • Bell, Abraham, 1778-1856.
    Genre Terms:
    • Account books.
    • Letter books.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Receipts (financial records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
     
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folder   1
     January 1830-February 1834 (15 items)
    Box   1 Folder   2
     February 1834-January 1836 (23 items)
    Box   1 Folder   3
     February 1836-April 1837 (27 items)
    Box   1 Folder   4
     April 1837-June 1840 (15 items)
    Box   1 Folder   5
     July 1840-January 1841 (15 items)
    Box   1 Folder   6
     January 1841-April 1841 (17 items)
    Box   1 Folder   7
     April 1841-October 1851 (18 items)
    Box   1 Folder   8
     December 1851-March 1853 (17 items)
    Box   1 Folder   9
     March 1853-April 1853 (15 items)
    Box   1 Folder   10
     April 1853-February 1854 (15 items)
    Box   1 Folder   11
     February 1854-August 1854 (15 items)
    Box   1 Folder   12
     October 1854-November 1854 (15 items)
    Box   1 Folder   13
     November 1854-May 1877, plus 2  undated (9 items)
     
    Receipts and Financial Papers [series]
    Box   1 Folder   14
     August 1815-July 1829 (18 items)
    Box   1 Folder   15
     July 1829-September 1831 (16 items)
    Box   1 Folder   16
     September 1831-April 1832 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   17
     September 1832-July 1834 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   18
     October 1834-January 1835 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   19
     January 1835-September 1835 (22 items)
    Box   1 Folder   20
     September 1835-March 1836 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   21
     March 1836-December 1836 (22 items)
    Box   1 Folder   22
     February 1836-January 1837 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   23
     January 1837-February 1837 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   24
     February 1837-April 1837 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   25
     April 1837-June 1837 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   26
     June 1837-September 1837 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   27
     September 1837-December 1837 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   28
     December 1837-March 1839 (24 items)
    Box   1 Folder   29
     March 1839-May 1839 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   30
     May 1839-July 1839 (21 items)
    Box   1 Folder   31
     July 1839-September 1839 (20 items)
    Box   1 Folder   32
     September 1839-December 1839 (19 items)
    Box   2 Folder   1
     January 1840-April 1841 (20 items)
    Box   2 Folder   2
     April 1841-January 1846 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   3
     February 1846-May 1846 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   4
     May 1846-September 1846 (20 items)
    Box   2 Folder   5
     September 1846-December 1846 (20 items)
    Box   2 Folder   6
     January 1847-November 1848 (34 items)
    Box   2 Folder   7
     December 1848-February 1849 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   8
     February 1849-March 1849 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   9
     March 1849-May 1849 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   10
     May 1849-September 1849 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   11
     September 1849-October 1849 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   12
     October 1849-May 1851 (26 items)
    Box   2 Folder   13
     May 1851-October 1851 (26 items)
    Box   2 Folder   14
     October 1851-February 1852 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   15
     February 1852-May 1852 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   16
     May 1852 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   17
     May 1852-June 1852 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   18
     June 1852-August 1852 (30 items)
    Box   2 Folder   19
     August 1852-November 1852 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   20
     November 1852-December 1852 (30 items)
    Box   2 Folder   21
     December 1852-March 1853 (30 items)
    Box   2 Folder   22
     March 1853-May 1853 (30 items)
    Box   2 Folder   23
     May 1853-June 1853 (60 items)
    Box   2 Folder   24
     June 1853-July 1853 (60 items)
    Box   2 Folder   25
     July 1853-February 1854 (26 items)
    Box   2 Folder   26
     February 1854-April 1854 (25 items)
    Box   2 Folder   27
     April 1854-November 1854 (31 items)
    Box   2 Folder   28
     November 1854-February 1901 (21 items)
    Box   2 Folder   29
     Undated (16 items)
     
    Account and receipt books [series]
     
     November 1848-April 1850
     
     January 1857-August 1857
    Box   3  
    Account book: Sample Office Custom House of New York,   February 1840-November 1840
     
    Account book: City Bank,  October 1840-March 1850
     
    Account book: Tradesmen’s Bank,  January 1842-March 1847
     
    Account book: City Bank,  June 1846-March 1847
     
    Account book: City Bank,  January 1848-October 1849
     
    Account book: Drafts,  May 1, 1852-September 1, 1852
     
    Account book: Metropolitan Bank,  October 1851-February 1852
     
    Account book: Metropolitan Bank,  October 1851-September 1852
     
    Account book: City Bank,  July 1852-December 1852
     
    Account book: City Bank,  May 1852-June 1852
     
    Account book: Cash,  January 1853-May 1853
     
    Account book: Cash,  December 1853-March 1854
     
    Account book: City Bank of New York,  February 1854-October 1854
     
    Account book: Nassau Bank,  April 1854-September 1854
     
    Account book: Creditors,  July 1856-July 1868
     
    Account book: Acker, Edgar, & Co, James C. Bell,  November 1859-January 1864
     
    Account book for "Ware and Tare" and "Groceries,"  1864-1866
     
    Letter book,  October 16, 1833-August 15, 1834
     
    Miscellaneous [series]
    Box   3 Folder   1
     December 1812-1836 (2 items)
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Several repositories hold additional collections of Abraham Bell material:

    • Baker Library, Harvard Business School
    • William R. Perkins Library, Duke University
    • Archives and Special Collections Department, Northeastern University
    • South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina
    • Special Collections, State University of New York at Albany
    • Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Winterthur Library, Winterthur, Delaware
    • New Jersey Historical Society Library
    Bibliography

    Bell, Daniel E. "Abraham Bell, Merchant and Ship Builder (1778-1856). Evan Bell's Great Great Grandfather." PBase.com. 2002.