Charles Deane collection (1840-1909, bulk 1848-1889)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Cheney J. Schopieray, 2004, and Meg Hixon, February 2012
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Charles Deane collection
Creator: Deane, Charles, 1813-1889
Inclusive dates: 1840-1909
Bulk dates: 1848-1889
Extent: 0.25 linear feet
This collection contains correspondence that Charles Deane, a merchant and historian based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received in the mid-19th century. Deane's correspondents included ministers, historians, and politicians, who discussed American history, contemporary historiography, and the activities of historical societies in the Boston area.
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:

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1994. M-2999.5.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


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

Charles Deane Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:
  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Gift Acknowledgments
  • Series III: Engraved Portraits
  • Series IV: Photographs

The first two series are arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Charles Deane was born in Biddeford, present-day Maine, on November 10, 1813, the son of Ezra Deane, a physician. He attended local schools before moving to Boston, where he worked for merchants Waterston, Pray & Company; he became a partner in 1840. In 1856, he published an annotated transcription of William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation and received an honorary master's degree from Harvard University. After his retirement in 1864, Deane devoted his time to historical studies, traveling throughout the United States and Europe. In 1871, he received an honorary law degree from Bowdoin College. Deane married Helen Waterston in 1841, and they had six children: Lucy, Mary, Charles, Walter, Ruthven, and George. Charles Deane died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 13, 1889.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, gift acknowledgements, engraved portraits, and photographs related to Charles Deane, a merchant and historian based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Deane's correspondents included ministers, historians, and politicians, who discussed American history, contemporary historiography, and the activities of Boston-area historical societies.

The Correspondence series (165 items) contains 146 letters to Charles Deane, 5 letters to Robert C. Waterston, 4 letters to Helen Waterston Deane, and 10 letters to Deane's children and other recipients. Charles Deane's correspondents provided news of social events in Boston and Cambridge, particularly related to local historical and antiquarian societies. Many writers offered opinions on Deane's writings, acknowledged the receipt of his publications, or thanked Deane for reviewing their own material. Others discussed topics in American history. One partially printed invitation regards a "Popham Celebration" in honor of the founding of the first English colony in North America (August 10, 1869). Additional items include a condolence letter from Thomas Wentworth to Helen Deane after Charles Deane's death (November 14, 1889).

Charles Deane received 8 Gift Acknowledgements between April 17, 1845, and October 13, 1864, thanking him for contributions to the Harvard University Library (6 items), the Boston Public Library (1 item), and the Boston Athenaeum (1 item). The documents are signed by Josiah Quincy, John Langdon Sibley, and other library affiliates. Two Engraved Portraits depict William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) and Amos Lawrence (1786-1852).

The Photographs series contains 3 carte-de-visite studio portraits depicting William Ellery Channing, Ezra Stiles Gannett, and George Livermore.

Subject Terms

  • Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
  • Boston Athenaeum.
  • Boston Public Library.
  • Cambridge (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
  • Gifts.
  • Harvard University. Library.
  • Historians--United States--Correspondence.
  • History Societies, etc.
  • Learned institutions and societies--Massachusetts.
  • Philanthropists--Charitable contributions.
  • United States--Historiography.
  • United States--History.
Subjects - Visual Materials:
  • Channing, William Ellery, 1780-1842.
  • Gannett, Ezra S. (Ezra Stiles), 1801-1871.
  • Lawrence, Amos, 1786-1852.
  • Livermore, George, 1809-1865.
  • Abbot, Ezra, 1819-1884.
  • Adams, Charles Francis, 1807-1886.
  • Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915.
  • Arnold, Isaac Newton, 1815-1884.
  • Bancroft, George, 1800-1891.
  • Child, Francis James, 1825-1896.
  • Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888.
  • Convers, Francis, 1795-1863.
  • Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926.
  • Ford, Worthington Chauncey, 1858-1941.
  • French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931.
  • Frothingham, Richard, 1812-1880.
  • Garnett, George.
  • Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911.
  • Hoar, E. R. (Ebenezer Rockwood), 1816-1895.
  • Hoar, George Frisbie, 1826-1904.
  • Lawrence, Abbott, 1792-1855.
  • Lawrence, Amos Adams, 1814-1886.
  • Lenox, James, 1800-1880.
  • Lincoln, Levi, 1782-1868.
  • Livermore, George, 1809-1865.
  • Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908.
  • Peabody, Andrew P. (Andrew Preston), 1811-1893.
  • Waterston, R. C. (Robert Cassie), 1812-1893.
  • Winthrop, Robert C. (Robert Charles), 1809-1894.
Genre Terms:
  • Acknowledgments.
  • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
  • Engravings (prints)
  • Invitations.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Portraits.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Correspondence [series]
Box   1 Folders   1-13
 July 1, 1840-Mary 14, 1909, and  undated
Gift Acknowledgments [series]
Box   1 Folder   14
 April 17, 1845-October 13, 1864
Engraved Portraits [series]
Box   1 Folder   15
Photographs [series]
Box   : C.3.17 (Graphics Division)  
 [19th century]

Additional Descriptive Data

An inventory of the collection and brief additional information about contributors is available in the Manuscripts Division.

Alternate Locations

The cartes-de-visite are housed in the Graphics Division (C.3.17).

Related Materials

Additional Charles Deane manuscripts may be found in the Book Collectors collection and the Peter Force papers.

Four manuscripts related to Charles Deane are laid into books held by the William L. Clements Library: Charles Deane contributed to many published works, including the following items held by the Clements Library:


Crompton, Samuel Willard. "Deane, Charles." American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press, 2000. DOI: 14-00137.