Annual Meeting

    November, 1955

    THE Annual Meeting of the Society was held at the Algonquin Club, No. 217 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, on Tuesday, 22 November 1955, at a quarter before seven o’clock in the evening, the President, Hon. Robert Walcott, in the chair.

    With the consent of those present, the reading of the minutes of the last Stated Meeting was omitted.

    Mr. Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe, a Resident Member since 1911, was elected an Honorary Member; Messrs. William Hall Best and William Bradford Osgood, of Boston, were elected Resident Members; Mr. Lawrence William Towner, of Williamsburg, Virginia, was elected a Non-Resident Member; and Mr. Lester Jesse Cappon, of Williamsburg, Virginia, was elected a Corresponding Member of the Society.

    The Annual Report of the Council was read by Mr. Walter Muir Whitehill.

    Report of the Council

    A YEAR ago tonight at the last Annual Meeting, Mrs. Llewellyn Howland’s generous offer to the Society of the fine Bulfinch house at 87 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, was reported by the Council. In the days immediately following that meeting, negotiations proceeded with such good will and rapidity that on 14 December 1954, Mrs. Howland’s deed of the house to the Society was recorded. We immediately took possession of the property, and before the end of the year were actively at work on its restoration. The Club of Odd Volumes was the scene of the 23 December 1954 meeting of the Society, at which Professor Bernard Bailyn read a paper on “The Will of Robert Keayne.” However, for the meeting on 24 February 1955 the handsome second-floor front rooms of 87 Mount Vernon Street were ready to accommodate us after a fashion. Workmen were still banging about. Above the second floor stepladders and paint pots were much in evidence, but fifty Harvard freshman chairs had arrived, our fellow member Charles D. Childs had lent number of large oil paintings that furnished the walls, our neighbor, Miss Evelyn Sears, had sent flowers, and there was a credible illusion that the Society was at last settled in its own house. The Reverend Palfrey Perkins asked a blessing upon the new quarters, and Vice-President Gummere read a paper on “Classical Ideas in Colonial America.” By the date of the 28 April meeting, the workmen had vanished, Miss Mary Otis had given a Venetian mirror, an Empire sofa, and an Oriental rug for the meeting room, Stephen Wheatland had presented an upholstered sofa, and Carleton R. Richmond a dining table and other furniture. Consequently Professor Ray Nash was able to speak on “American Writing Masters and Copy Books” and exhibit certain examples of colonial calligraphy in surroundings that were beginning to seem furnished. On 25 May a reception was held so that members, friends, neighbors and their families might see the house.

    When the American Academy of Arts and Sciences sold its house at 28 Newbury Street in the spring, the Council of the Colonial Society—bearing in mind the generous hospitality that it had received from the Academy from 1893 to 1899 and from 1912 to 1927—suggested that the Academy might wish to use the third floor of 87 Mount Vernon Street while seeking permanent quarters. Although this arrangement did not prove practicable, the Academy was glad to accept the offer of free storage for some of its furniture and pictures. By this means, the back room on the second floor (with the French Cupid and Psyche wallpaper) suddenly became habitable through the arrival of comfortable upholstered chairs and sofas, while two of the third-floor rooms were furnished with chairs and tables that would make them useful for committee meetings. Thus, by one of those characteristic arrangements that occur when Bostonians do business with themselves in different capacities, the Society was able to sit more comfortably and the Academy’s storage bill was appreciably reduced.

    During the summer various members and friends generously aided the furnishing of the house. Mrs. Augustus V. Tack of Deerfield gave a piano belonging to Stephen Higginson, Jr., who owned our house from 1807 to 1811, and a pastel portrait of him. Mr. and Mrs. Foster Stearns gave an English mantel clock, engraved portraits of George III and William Pitt, and some handsome table linen. Mrs. Willard G. Cogswell provided other fine tablecloths and a framed copy of the Iconographic Society’s reproduction of Christian Remick’s “Landing of the British Troops.” Mrs. Andrew Chalmers Wilson of Newport gave a large Oriental rug and a pair of Italian andirons, copied by Stanford White from a seventeenth-century model. Stewart Mitchell gave three French buhl commodes; Mrs. J. Templeman Coolidge a large mirror, various pictures and lighting fixtures; Mrs. Robert H. Haynes a silver punch bowl. While Philip P. Chase and George N. Northrop gave historical prints, Henry Beston ministered to another need of the Society by the gift of cocktail glasses bearing the arms of his “alma-mater-in-law,” Bowdoin College. Other useful and attractive furnishings were lent by Messrs. Alexander B. Porter, Livingstone Wright, Jr., Miss Mary Otis, and Mrs. Lovell Thompson.

    The greatest advance toward the furnishing of 87 Mount Vernon Street has been made in the past month through the generosity of the grandchildren of Francis Parkman, Mrs. John Forbes Perkins, Mrs. Alexander S. Neilson, Mrs. Daniel Sargent, and Mr. John T. Coolidge. Although Parkman died sixty-two years ago, the contents of his attic study at 50 Chestnut Street, Boston, had stayed relatively undisturbed because of the occupancy of the house by his niece, Miss Elizabeth P. Cordner. While his manuscripts had been bequeathed to the Massachusetts Historical Society and his historical library and maps to Harvard, his desks, wheel chair, Indian trophies and favorite pictures remained strikingly as he had left them. Several years ago the Parkman grandchildren had indicated their willingness to give the contents of this singularly touching little study to the Massachusetts Historical Society. At that time, George M. Cushing, Jr., photographed the room and Robert Peabody Bellows made measured drawings of it, so that the Historical Society might someday be able to reconstruct it. As Miss Cordner died in August, 1955, 50 Chestnut Street, which contained not only the study but much of the handsome and solid Empire furniture that Parkman had inherited from his father and grandfather, was this autumn being broken up. Eleven fifty-four Boylston Street being already so overcrowded that any reconstruction of the Parkman study there would have occurred far in the future, Stewart Mitchell suggested that it might more appropriately be installed at once in one of the vacant rooms on the fourth floor of 87 Mount Vernon Street. In the generous spirit that prevails among local institutions, the Council of the Massachusetts Historical Society readily agreed that the study should instead be given to the Colonial Society, of which Francis Parkman had also been a Resident Member. Consequently late in October the contents of this room were moved, lock, stock and barrel, to 87 Mount Vernon Street. During the course of the winter an attic room is to be rebuilt in such manner that the shade of Francis Parkman, should he honor one of our meetings by his presence, could, after the paper, go upstairs and settle down to work in familiar surroundings. He would pass many landmarks on his way to the attic, for his grandchildren have, in addition, given the Society so much of his household furniture that the reading of a detailed list would unduly hinder the progress of this meeting. Our dining room now contains his sideboard, serving table and china cabinet, complete with blue and white Canton platters and dishes, and the front hall a console table and sofa. In the second-floor meeting room a gigantic secretary-bookcase has slipped into place as if built for the room. A third-floor bedroom is completely equipped with appropriate Empire furniture, and in many odd corners of the house objects from 50 Chestnut Street have made themselves very much at home.

    The repairs to 87 Mount Vernon Street have been carried out from accumulated income. Consequently the Treasurer will invest as the beginning of an endowment fund the gift of $20,000 received in October, 1955, from Mrs. Llewellyn Howland and her sister, Mrs. Frederick Winsor. Further gifts that are promised in the future will, it is confidently believed, provide an endowment the income of which will cover the ordinary annual expenses of maintenance and repair, thus leaving the Society’s publication funds unimpaired.

    The April meeting of the American Antiquarian Society was held at 87 Mount Vernon Street, and in July and October the History Department of Harvard University held receptions there. These early uses of the house suggest that others, of a suitable historical character, will develop in the intervals between the Society’s own meetings. It is also possible that the Society may wish to meet more frequently than in the past now that it has agreeable quarters in which to do so. When one recalls the laments of earlier Councils that “a most pressing need of the Society is a permanent, convenient and comfortable abiding place” and that the Society was “a homeless body, having no where to lay our head, but dependent on the indulgence of friends for a place of meeting,” the present Council cannot stint its thanks to Mrs. Llewellyn Howland for having provided the Society with so handsome and appropriate a home, and to the grandchildren of Francis Parkman for their valiant efforts towards its furnishing.

    Although material for volumes 38 and 39 of the Society’s Publications is largely standing in galleys, with considerable composition being done during the year, the Editor’s time has been too largely occupied with contractors and moving vans to permit the publication of either of these volumes, which will contain Transactions. Copying of the records of the First Church in Boston has progressed, and our fellow member, the Reverend Richard D. Pierce, is editing a text for our future publication.

    The Society, by a subsidy of $3,200, has not only continued the support of the New England Quarterly, of which it is copublisher, but has made a second and final grant of $750 to The American Neptune: A Quarterly Journal of Maritime History which, in the fifteen years of its highly noncommercial and otherwise unaided efforts to stay afloat, has published a number of studies on colonial subjects. The New England Quarterly’s Book Review Editor, Mrs. Lovell Thompson, has established an office in the library at 87 Mount Vernon Street, in which she attends to her duties without the inconvenience previously caused by the lack of a fixed address to which publishers might send books for review.

    In April at a meeting called at Columbia University by our Corresponding Member, Professor Lawrence H. Gipson, Messrs. Whitehill and Shipton from the Colonial Society’s Council were appointed to a committee of ten charged with planning a new organization to further the study of American colonial history. This committee, meeting at Princeton in September, evolved a plan for a highly unbureaucratic Conference on Early American History that, with informal assistance from the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg and from this Society, might meet from time to time in various parts of the country. The first Conference will take place in Philadelphia on 3 December 1955 by invitation of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; a second might very appropriately be held in 1956 in our House with consideration of Francis Parkman’s work as an obvious theme.

    The following members have been elected during the past year:


    • Bernard Bailyn
    • William Bentinck Smith
    • Claude Moore Fuess
    • Ebenezer Gay
    • Llewellyn Howland


    • Waldo Gifford Leland

    The Society has lost by death the following members:

    Herbert Putnam, Corresponding, 1904, died 14 August 1955. The senior Corresponding Member, he was only elected to this Society five years after he had entered upon a distinguished career as Librarian of Congress that was to extend over four decades. During the years 1895 to 1899 he brought the Boston Public Library back to the place that it had held before political shortsightedness caused Justin Winsor to migrate to Cambridge.

    Allan Forbes, Resident, 1913, died 9 July 1955. A modest, humorous and lovable sportsman, he combined the past and present of Boston in a mixture peculiarly his own. His keen nose for game brought furniture, whaling prints, and maritime trophies to his own collection with the same success that it brought business to the State Street Trust Company. The historical publications of that bank are his permanent and unique memorial.

    Stephen Willard Phillips, Resident, 1915, died 6 July 1955. An outstanding collector of Pacific voyages and President of the Essex Institute, his historical and literary interests were of great breadth. At the approach of Jeffersonians, he seemed the reincarnation of the Essex Junto. Few of our speakers, save Dr. Park, earned his unqualified approval. Our future meetings will be less amusing without his energetic dissent from the opinions of academic historians.

    Roger Ernst, Resident, 1943, died 1 April 1955. A Boston lawyer whose duties often took him to Europe, he combined enthusiasms for the bird life of New England and the Romanesque and Gothic art of France and Spain. As a Trustee for many years of the Roxbury Latin School, he presided at the Tercentenary of that colonial institution.

    Willard Goodrich Cogswell, Resident, 1943, died 20 May 1955. A Haverhill lawyer who made northern Essex County a better place for his neighbors, he roamed the woods and climbed the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont with singular observation and affection. Those who benefited by his rare gift for friendship soon found that his knowledge of letters, music and local history rivaled his intimate relationship with the New England countryside.

    The Treasurer submitted his Annual Report as follows:

    Report of the Treasurer

    In accordance with the requirements of the By-laws, the Treasurer submits his Annual Report for the year ending 14 November 1955.

    Statement of Assets and Funds, 14 November 1955








    Investments at Book Value:

    Bonds (Market value $124,801.30)


    Stocks (Market value $332,915.88)


    Savings Bank Deposit


    Savings and Loan Association Deposits



    Total Assets





    Unexpended Income


    Total Funds


    Income Cash Receipts and Disbursements

    Balance, 14 November 1954







    Annual Assessments


    Sales of Publications



    Total Receipts of Income




    New England Quarterly


    The American Neptune


    Volumes 36–37


    Volumes 39–41



    Expenses of 87 Mount Vernon Street Property:

    Renovations, maintenance and furnishings






    Telephone and telegraph









    Editor’s Salary


    Annual Dinner


    Notices and Expenses of Meetings


    Secretarial Expenses


    Postage, Office Supplies and Miscellaneous


    Auditing and Legal Services




    Interest on Sarah Louisa Edes Fund added to



    Interest on Albert Matthews Fund added to



    Total Disbursements of Income


    Income Cash Overdraft, 14 November 1955


    Mr. Arthur S. Pier reported that the Auditing Committee had employed Messrs. Stewart, Watts and Bollong, Public Accountants and Auditors, to make an audit of the accounts and to examine the securities, and presented the report of that firm to the meeting.

    The several reports were accepted and referred to the Committee on Publication.

    On behalf of the committee appointed to nominate officers for the ensuing year the following list was presented; and a ballot having been taken, these gentlemen were unanimously elected:


    • Robert Walcott


    • Samuel Eliot Morison
    • Richard Mott Gummere

    Recording Secretary

    • Robert Earle Moody

    Corresponding Secretary

    • David Britton Little


    • Carleton Rubira Richmond

    Member of the Council for Three Years

    • Lyman Henry Butterfield

    By a unanimous vote, the Society extended the members’ enthusiastic thanks to Mr. Whitehill for the tremendous amount of skilful and imaginative work that he has done in connection with the acquisition, restoration, and furnishing of the Society’s newly occupied House.

    After the meeting was dissolved, dinner was served. The Reverend Henry Wilder Foote said grace.

    After dinner Mr. Samuel Eliot Morison read the Mayflower Compact, Mr. David McCord read several of his poems, and Mr. Myron Piper Gilmore, Professor of History at Harvard University, addressed the Society on the subject “Anachronism.”

    With this evening ended the long practice of holding the Annual Meeting at the Algonquin Club, for twelve months later the Society’s own House was sufficiently equipped to permit dining there.