Graham Society. Records, 1817-1831

Collection Information
Title:

Graham Society records

Creator(s):

Graham Society (Boston, Mass.)

Dates:

1817-1831 (gaps)

Extent:

0.2 linear feet, 1 box

Collection ID #:

RG 0722

Conditions Governing Access:

None

Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Graham Society records, RG 0722. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.

Language:

English

Processing information:

Processed by archive staff, October 1995

Revision History:

Last updated: 01/28/99

Acquisition Information:

Deposit. Received at an unknown date.

Historical Note

Founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1817, the Graham Society was an all-female benevolent society that provided clothing to students at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. The birth of this society reflects the growth of charitable institutions in New England between the latter part of the 18th century and the first part of the 19th century: during this period, the number of Bible societies, missionary societies, Masonic lodges, orphanages and other charitable organizations in New England grew from approximately 50 to approximately 2000 (1). These organizations were significant in women's history, since they allowed women to serve in management and leadership roles that were otherwise not permitted to them (2). It was argued during this period that women were "too frail, inexperienced, and frivolous to manage the affairs of a charitable corporation" (3); other New Englanders believed that the very nature of women made them better suited to serve those in need (4). In any case, the Graham Society was one of many women's charitable organizations.

The Graham Society essentially sought to assist those who "were reputed to be not only pious but orthodox... who are procuring an education with a view to the Christian ministry and who are recommended by those holding the same sentiments" (1-A-1). It was governed by the Board of Directors, who were selected by ballot at the annual meeting, held in December of each year. The board consisted of five directors, a treasurer, a secretary and five assistants. The first five directors of the society were: Mary Bowers, Isabella Homes, Margaret C. Welch, Martha Ropes, Abigail Salisbury and Susan Huntington. Sarah Ann Hopkins served as secretary, Harriet Moore as treasurer and Margaret Cooper, Elizabeth Hazen, Mary Perry, Abigail Phillips and Susan Moore were assistants. The founding members of the society were: Mary Bowers, Isabella Homes, Martha Ropes, Susan Huntington, Mary Perry, Lucia G. Swett, Mary Ingraham, Harriet Moore, Susan Moore, Abby Salisbury, Susan Dorr, Elizabeth Cummings, Margaret C. Welch, Phebe Cutler, Louisa Farnham, Elizabeth Hazen, Abigail B. Phillips, Lydia Hopkins, Abigail G. Vose, Abigail G. Salisbury, and Sarah Ann Hopkins. Please see the Appendix for officers from other years. Note that many of the members of the Graham Society were also members of the Corban Society.

Graham Society members paid an annual subscription fee of $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. In this way the Society accumulated funds to purchase clothing and fabric; the funds were also invested by the board of directors in "productive stock" (1-A-1). The Society held annual meetings on the last Tuesday of January; the constitution stipulated that meetings were opened with prayer and a reading of the minutes.

There is some evidence that the Society also assisted local sewing circles with donations of fabric. There is a report from an Amherst sewing circle whose purpose was to aid "pious indigent young men in the college in that town." (1-B-1). The report describes the activities of the group and discusses the number of subscribers. The report mentions a donation of 50 yards of cotton by the Graham Society.

Due to the declining size of the Society, the organization unanimously voted on February 27, 1831 to dissolve the Graham Society and "to add the fund to the Corban Society [another Boston, Massachusetts women's charitable society], and to be united in their efforts" (1-A-1).

Many of the women in the Graham Society were married to or related to founding members of the Boston Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction of the Poor. See City Missionary Society Records, 1820-1991 for biographical information on these men.

 

Scope and Content Note

Series A consists of items documenting the Graham Society's history. Series A, folder 1 appears to have been kept by the Society's secretary; the volume contains the society's raison d'être, constitution and minutes of meetings from 1817 - 1831; the minutes include lists of officers, lists of those assisted, the approximate financial amount of the annual contributions and the annual income from annual subscriptions. Although there do not appear to be any pages missing from the record book, there does not appear to be a consistent record of quarterly and annual meetings, although the latter is more complete than the former.

Series A, folder 2 consists of the Society's raison d'être, members' names from 1817-1826 (very often including their city of residence) and members' donations from 1817-1826.

Series B is a 1818 report from an Amherst sewing circle. It was originally folded and inserted in the volume titled the Graham Society Records. It briefly describes the activities and membership of the circle and thanks the Society for its gift of 50 yards of cotton. The treasurer's records and receipts are missing from the collection. There is no other correspondence, except for series B.

The Graham Society Records are recorded as being on deposit; they were stored with the Corban Society materials. They arrived at the Congregational Library at an unknown date.

 

Endnotes

(1) Wright, Conrad Edick. Transformation of Charity in Postrevolutionary New England. (Boston, Mass.: Northeastern University Press, 1992), p.5.

(2) Ibid., p. 206.

(3) Ibid., p. 156.

(4) Ibid.

 

Description/Container List

Series A. Graham Society History, 1817-1831
  Folder 1 Graham Society Records, 1817-1831
  Folder 2 Graham Society [constitution and membership list], 1817-1826
Series B. Report to Graham Society from similar organizations
  Folder 1 1818 report from an Amherst, Massachusetts sewing circle

 

Bibliographic Note

Wright, Conrad Edick. Transformation of Charity in Postrevolutionary New England. (Boston, Mass.: Northeastern University Press, 1992), p. 5.

See p. 270-276 for a listing of other primary sources relating charitable organizations in New England.
See p. 228-269 for a Census of Charitable Organizations.

 

Appendix A -- Officers of the Graham Society

The record book does not appear to list the minutes for the 1819 annual meeting.

Officers for 1820:  
Mary Bowers first director
Isabella Homes second director
Margaret C. Welch third director
Martha Ropes fourth director
Susan Huntington fifth director
Abby B. Phillips sixth director
Sarah Ann Hopkins secretary
Eliza Russell treasurer
Margaret Cooper, Elizabeth Hazen, Mary Perry, Susan Moore and Abigail Armstrong assistants
   
Officers for 1821:  
Mary Bowers director
Isabella Homes director
Margaret C. Welch director
Martha Ropes director
Susan Huntington director
Abby B. Phillips director
Sarah Ann Hopkins secretary
Eliza Russell treasurer
Margaret Cooper, Elizabeth Hazen, Mary Perry, Abigail Armstrong, Susan Eustis assistants
   
Officers for 1822:  
Mary Bowers first director
Isabella Homes second director
Margaret C. Welch third director
Martha Ropes fourth director
Susan Huntington fifth director
Abby B. Phillips sixth director
Eliza Russell treasurer
Sarah Ann Hopkins secretary
Margaret Cooper, Elizabeth Hazen, Abigail Armstrong, Susan Eustis and Nancy Brown assistants
   
Officers for 1823:  
Mary Bowers first director
Isabella Homes second director
Martha Ropes third director
Susan Huntington fourth director
Margaret Cooper fifth director
Mrs. Wisner sixth director
Laura P. Hill secretary
Eliza Russell treasurer
Mary Perry, Susan Eustis, Abigail Armstrong, Celia Parker, Francis Erving assistants
   
Officers for 1824:  
Mary Bowers director
Isabella Homes director
Abigail Armstrong director
Mary Perry director
Margaret Cooper director
Mrs. Wisner director
Laura P. Hill secretary
Louisa Willis assistant secretary
Maria C. Odiorne treasurer
Mrs. Houston, Celia Parker, Francis Erving, Mrs. Pliny Cutler, Susan Dorr, Mrs. William A. Jenkins assistants
   
Officers for 1825:  
Mary Bowers director
Isabella Homes director
Abigail Armstrong director
Margaret Cooper director
Mrs. Wisner director
Laura P. Hill secretary
Louisa Dwight assistant secretary
Mary Evarts treasurer
Mrs. Houston, Celia Parker, Mrs. Pliny Cutler, Susan Dorr, Mrs. William A. Jenkins assistants
   
Officers for 1826:  
Mrs. Isaac [Mary] Bowers director
Mrs. Henry [Isabella] Homes director
Abigail Armstrong director
Mary Perry director
Mrs. Wisner director
Mrs. Houston director
Nancy Brown secretary
Mary Evarts treasurer
Celia Parker, Susan Dorr, Mrs. Pliny Cutler, Mrs. Joseph Jenkins, Francis Erving assistants
   
Officers for 1827:  
Mrs. Isaac [Mary] Bowers first director
Mrs. Henry [Isabella] Homes second director
Mrs. B. B. Wisner third director
Mary Perry fourth director
Susan Dorr fifth director
Mrs. Pliny Cutler sixth director
Nancy Brown secretary
Mary Evarts treasurer
Mrs. S. T. [Abigail] Armstrong, Mrs. William A. Jenkins, Francis Erving, Mrs. E. [Celia] Parker, Mrs. J. Clap assistants
   
Officers for 1828:  
Mrs. Isaac [Mary] Bowers first director
Mrs. Henry [Isabella] Homes second director
Mrs. B. B. Wisner third director
Mary Perry fourth director
Susan Dorr fifth director
Mrs. Pliny Cutler sixth director
Nancy Brown secretary
Mary Evarts treasurer
Mrs. William J. Jenkins, Francis Erving, Mrs. E. [Celia] Parker, Mrs. J. Clap, Mrs. Proctor assistants
   
Officers for 1829:  
Mrs. Isaac [Mary] Bowers first director
Mrs. Henry [Isabella] Homes second director
Mrs. B. B. Wisner third director
Mary Perry fourth director
Susan Dorr fifth director
Mrs. Pliny Cutler sixth director
Nancy Brown secretary
Mary Evarts treasurer
Mrs. William J. Jenkins, Mrs. E. [Celia] Parker, Francis Erving, Mrs. Proctor, Mrs. J. Clap, Mrs. S. Greene assistants
   
Officers for 1830:  
Mrs. Isaac [Mary] Bowers first director
Mrs. Henry [Isabella] Homes second director
Mrs. B. B. Wisner third director
Susan Dorr fourth director
Mrs. Pliny Cutler fifth director
Mrs. Proctor sixth director
Mrs. M. E. Greene secretary
Mrs. S. Cushing treasurer
Mrs. William J. Jenkins, Mrs. E. [Celia] Parker, Francis Erving, Mrs. E. Beecher, Miss L. Proctor assistants

 

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