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Guide to the Samuel Adams Journal and Papers, 1849-1901
MS 1 (Vault)  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Statement
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Samuel Adams Journal and Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1849-1901
    Collection number: MS 1 (Vault)
    Creator: Adams, Samuel, 1810-1888
    Extent: 1 box (6 folders)

    ca 40 items (.42 linear ft.)
    Repository: California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
    678 Mission Street
    San Francisco, California 94105-4014
    Abstract: Two original journals cover the voyage to California and Adam's first months in San Francisco (4/1/1849 - 3/18/1850). The bulk of the Adams papers comprises letters from Adams to his wife, business correspondence, and Mrs. Adams' letters to her son Samuel G.
    Physical location: Consult repository
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to California Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Research Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of California historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Samuel Adams Journal and Papers. MS 1 (Vault), California Historical Society, Manuscript Collections.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of A.T. Shine, 3/14/1949

    Biographical Statement

    Samuel Adams arrived in California aboard the Barque Mazeppa on December 3, 1849 after a ten-month voyage at sea. He had left New York on January 27, 1849 with a carge of merchandise which he had been commissioned to sell for the firm of Rowland and Whitehouse of Brooklyn, N.Y. Adams had previously managed a drugstore in Brooklyn for Rowland, but when it and the house he had been preparing for his family burned, he agreed to act as a commercial factor in order to support his family. The voyage of the Mazeppa was plagued by storms, lengthy repairs to the ship after it was forced to return to Rio de Janeiro, and long delays in navigating around Cape Horn. Adams helped to pass the time by writing a journal for his wife and children living in Winthrop, Me. Some sections are addressed to the children and in them he describes details of life at sea--what the sailors ate, where they slept, and how they were disciplined; how to reckon the speed of the ship in knots, and the awesome responsibilities of the captain.
    Adams' arrival in San Francisco, at the height of the gold rush, began with a concentrated period of bargaining and selling the merchandise in his cargo. By March 15 he had disposed of the bulk of the goods, had purchased some small parcels of land, and had set up his own drug store. (From other sources it has been determined that the store was located on Washington St. below Kearny; that he was burned out every year until he started his fourth store in 1853.) Adams returned to Winthrop, Me. in 1853 (probably after having been awarded free passage to New York as an agent of the Postoffice Dept.) and returned to San Francisco later that year with his family.
    Adams was married to Philemela Johnson. They had three children--Eve, Samuel, and George Russell Adams, who became the youngest member of the Exploring Expedition in Russian America, 1865-1867, as described in an article by Harold F, Taggart, CHS Quarterly, 35, 291

    Scope and Content

    The Adams collection includes five bound journals. Two volumes the original journal; the remaining three volumes contain typewritten or longhand copies of the original volumes. The first volume of the original journal covers the period 4/1/49 to 6/8/49 and is entirely devoted to the voyage. It is prefaced by a compass rose and a sketch of the Barque Mazeppa by George E. Young, a shipmate and later a California state senator. Volume 2 covers the period 7/14/49 to 3/18/50 and describes the end of the voyage and Adams' first months in San Francisco. The names of the officers, crew, and passengers of the ship appear in the back of Volume 2. Tables of latitude and longitude of the Mazeppa from May 1, 1849 to Nov. 4, 1849 are recorded in the back of Volume 2.
    The bulk of the Adams papers comprises letters from Adams to his wife and Mrs. Adams' letters to her son Samuel; documents relating to Adams' agreement to work for Whitehouse and Rowland and to his attempt to become a government mail agent; and various notes and clippings relating to family matters. Two copies of addresses by George E. Young are included.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Girdler, John Captain
    Adams, Samuel G.
    Voyages to the Pacific coast
    San Francisco (Calif.)--History
    Adams, Philemela

    Related Material

    California Historical Society Photograph Collection contains a photograph of his nephew George Adams and his aunt, Sarah Adams.