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Phillips family papers. James Duncan Phillips (1876-1954) papers


The James Duncan Phillips (1876-1954) papers (MS047) reflect the personal, public, and professional life of James Duncan Phillips (1876-1954) of Salem, Massachusetts. The collection includes papers relating to his hobbies and pastimes; club and committee work; financial management of household activities and investments; public addresses and speeches; real estate matters; time at Salem High School in Salem, Massachusetts, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and other interests and activities. Also included in the collection are his personal writings, along with his drafts and research notes. The collection is arranged in eleven series.


In 1996, the Stephen Phillips Memorial Charitable Trust for Historic Preservation acquired the Stephen Phillips Memorial Trust for Historic Preservation House (now the Phillips House), in Salem, Massachusetts, from Bessie "Betty" Gertrude (Wright) Phillips (1906-1996), wife of Stephen "Stevie" Phillips (1907-1971). In 2006, Historic New England acquired the Stephen Phillips Memorial Trust for Historic Preservation House (now the Phillips House) at 34 Chestnut Street in Salem, Massachusetts, from the Stephen Phillips Memorial Charitable Trust for Historic Preservation. The papers contained within the house at the time of Historic New England's acquisition formed the bases of the collection: Phillips family papers (now MS051). Portions of the Phillips family papers (MS051) had been divided into smaller collections and partially processed and/or inventoried by the staff of the Stephen Phillips Memorial Trust for Historic Preservation House (now the Phillips House): Phillips Family Papers, 1770-1909: Guide to the Collection (now MS051); Anna P. Phillips Collection (now MS043); Stephen Phillips Collection (now MS044); Inventory of Stephen Willard Phillips Papers: Unprocessed Collection (now MS046); and Duncan Family Papers: Finding Aid (now MS047 and MS048).

Update: 2013-2014

In 2013-2014, through a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant (Award Number: NAR13-RH-50051-13: "Family Manuscript Collections: Expanding Online Access to New England Heritage Project"), twenty-six Historic New England manuscript collections of family papers were re-evaluated and processed/reprocessed to meet current archival standards and "best practices;" corresponding finding aids were created/updated to be DACS-compliant and converted into electronic Microsoft Word document form; and the finding aids were made accessible/searchable online through the use of the Minisis M2A archival database of the Minisis Collections Management System. The James Duncan Phillips (1876-1954) papers (MS047) were part of the grant project.

During the 2013-2014 collection processing, materials were sorted according to record types and/or topic; a rudimentary arrangement scheme was applied to the collection; folder titles were created; and the collection was housed in legal-size, acid-free folders and cartons. Most of the papers throughout the collection were removed from envelopes (if applicable), unfolded, and flattened; most oversize material was rehoused appropriately (or interleafed within file boxes, as applicable); and a few fragile and vulnerable items were placed in enclosures or interleafed within folders, as appropriate. Folders and boxes were numbered, labeled, barcoded, and stored accordingly. Scope and content notes were created; brief research was engaged to create a biographical/ historical sketch; and related collections held by Historic New England and other repositories were researched and noted. A DACS-compliant, electronic 2010-2013 Microsoft Word document finding aid was created (with corresponding paper finding aid) and entered into the collection record in the Minisis M2A online database.

NOTE: Processing/updating the collection and making the finding aid accessible online were made possible through grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (Award Number: NAR13-RH-50051-13), the Bedford Family Foundation, and an anonymous donor.


Collection Name
Phillips family papers. James Duncan Phillips (1876-1954) papers
Collection Code
1868-1989, undated
Address books; calendars; calling/visiting cards; club and committee records; correspondence; ephemera; estate records; financial records; legal documents; notebooks; passports; postcards; printed material; research; school papers; speeches; travel material; writings; etc.; reflecting the personal interests and professional life of James Duncan Phillips (1876-1954) of Salem, Massachusetts. \n
Date of Acquisition
Physical Description
17.0 linear ft. (17 cartons plus 11 oversize folders)
Finding Aid Info
An electronic finding aid is available through Historic New England's Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library and Archives.

Collection Type
Description Level
Custodial History
·2006: Acquisition of the Stephen Phillips Memorial Trust for Historic Preservation House (now the Phillips House), in Salem, Massachusetts, and all of its contents to Historic New England from the Stephen Phillips Memorial Charitable Trust for Historic Preservation

Credit Line
Acquired from the Stephen Phillips Memorial Charitable Trust for Historic Preservation, 2006
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

James Duncan Phillips (1876-1954) was born February 5, 1876, in San Francisco, California, the second son of Stephen Henry Phillips (1823-1897) and Margaret (Duncan) Phillips (1847-1926). Phillips graduated from Salem High School and Harvard College (Class of 1897). His first job after graduation was in the Dwight Manufacturing company cotton mill in Chicopee, Massachusetts, but he left after one year. Shortly thereafter, Phillips began working in the editorial department of Houghton, Mifflin and Company. He later became general manager and when the business was incorporated as Houghton Mifflin Company in 1907 he became director and a member of the executive committee. He established the publisher's educational offices in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, and Atlanta. He wrote extensively about the publishing business and did research and writing on New England's colonial history. Phillips also served as a director of the American Mutual Liability Insurance Company.

Phillips was the Chairman of the Committee of Public Safety during World War I and was captain of the Machine Gun Company, 15th Regiment, infantry, of the Massachusetts State Guard. In his twenty-fifth anniversary report to his Harvard College class, Phillips noted that his company "at the time of the police strike in Boston, served under arms longer than any state troops ever had in Massachusetts." He also served as the food and coal administrator for his area during the war.

In March 1907 Phillips married Nannie Jenks (Borden) (1877-1963) at her family's ancestral home at Headcorn, Kent, England. The couple traveled extensively through Canada and to Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, the West Indies, Africa, and in England and Europe. Phillips wrote that "Working appeals to me more than loafing, but I like to play as well as most men. . . . When we are at home we get a lot of fun out of the farm, where our home at Topsfield is located, and have a small herd of registered Guernseys, and some other registered stock, raised for pleasure, not for profit."

Phillips was a member of the Union Club, the Harvard Clubs of Boston and New York, the University Club of Chicago, the Eastern Yacht Club, and was secretary and vice-president of the associated Harvard Clubs and president of the North Shore Harvard Club. He was a trustee of the Governor Dummer Academy and of the Essex Institute (now the Peabody Essex Museum) in Salem. Phillips was a member of the American Antiquarian Society, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society, among others. James Duncan Phillips died in October 1954.

Harvard College Class of 1897, Fourth Report (1912) Harvard College Class of 1897, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Report (1922) Obituary, New York Times, 20 October 1954


The collection is arranged in eleven series: Series I. Clubs and organizations. Series II. Correspondence and related. Series III. Financial records. Series IV. Legal documents. Series V. Other papers. Series VI. Printed material. Series VII. School papers. Series VIII. Speeches. Series IX. Travel papers. Series X. Writings: personal works. Series XI. Writings: research.

*Collection housing/storage code: #x.x=file box (i.e., #1.2= file box 1, folder 2); C=carton; FB=folio box; FF=fragile files; MB=multi-purpose box; OB=oversize box/folder; OV=oversize volume; VF=vertical files/flat files

Record details

Phillips, James Duncan, 1876-1954
Other People
Craib, Elizabeth Wells, 1902-1991
Duncan, Caroline, 1846-1912
Duncan, James Henry, 1793-1869
Harris, Mary Duncan
Leitch, James W.
Mifflin, George Harrison, Jr., 1879-1959
Phillips, James Duncan, 1876-1954
Phillips, Jane Peele, 1833-1910
Phillips, Margaret Duncan
Phillips, Nannie Jencks (Borden), 1877-1963
Phillips, Stephen Willard, 1873-1955
Other Organizations
American Antiquarian Society
American Mutual Liability Insurance Company
Andover Newton Theological School
Boston Chamber of Commerce
Byfield Church (Byfield, Mass.)
Club of Odd Volumes
Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, Mass.)
Essex Agricultural Society (Mass.)
Essex Institute
First Baptist Church (Salem, Mass.)
First National Bank of Boston
Governor Dummer Academy
Hakluyt Society
Harvard College (1780- )
Haverhill Historical Society (Haverhill, Mass.)
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Marine Society at Salem
Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, Mass.)
Naumkeag Bank (Salem, Mass.)
Order of the Founders and Patriots of America
Peabody Museum of Salem
Plattsburgh Barracks (N.Y.)
Putnam and Allen, Architects
R. L. Day and Company
Republican Club of Massachusetts
Rollins College (Winter Park, Fla.)
Salem Chamber of Commerce (Mass.)
Salem High School (Salem, Mass.)
Sons of the American Revolution. Massachusetts Society
Spencer Trask & Co.
Topsfield Church (Topsfield, Mass.)
Washington Street Baptist Church (Lynn, Mass.)
Westminster Bank
Young Men's Christian associations
Descriptive Terms
World War I
clippings (information artifacts)
clubs (associations)
estate records
financial records
ledgers (account books)
legal documents
scripts (writing)
Material Type
personal papers
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Byfield (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Cambridge (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Central America (North and Central America) [general region]
Connecticut (United States)
Florida (United States)
Haverhill (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Lynn (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Maine (United States)
Massachusetts (United States)
New England (United States) [general region]
New Hampshire (United States)
New York state (United States)
New Zealand
Newton (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Pennsylvania (United States)
Plattsburgh (Clinton county, New York state)
Salem (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Topsfield (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Vermont (United States)
Wenham (Essex county, Massachusetts)
West Indies [archipelago]
Winter Park (Orange county, Florida)
Places (Buildings)
Donibristle Farm (Topsfield, Mass.)
Stephen Phillips House (Salem, Mass.)
·This collection is available for research. Arrangements to access the collection must be made in advance.
·Note: due to aging materials and condition of the materials, the whole of the collection requires handling with care.

Location Note
HAV-01-701-C-G-103; HAV-01-701-C-G-102; HAV-01-701-C-G-101; HAV-01-701-C-G-204; HAV-01-701-C-L-102
Related Items
Phillips family papers. Anna Pingree (Wheatland) Phillips (1870-1938) papers
Phillips family papers. Stephen "Stevie" Phillips (1907-1971) papers
Phillips family papers. Stephen Henry Phillips (1823-1897) papers
Phillips family papers. Stephen Willard Phillips (1873-1955) papers
Phillips family papers. Margaret (Duncan) Phillips (1847-1926) papers
Phillips family papers. Nannie Jencks (Borden) Phillips (1877-1963) papers
Phillips family papers. Stephen Clarendon Phillips (1801-1857) papers
Phillips family papers. Papers of other Phillips family members
Phillips family film collection, 1925-mid-1940s
Accruals Note
Accruals are not expected.
Appraisal, Destruction and Scheduling Note
The following items have been temporarily removed from the collection and will be catalogued separately at a future date:
·Bulk publications

Conservation Note
See Scope and Content
Language Note
Materials in English
Preferred Citation
[Item identification.] Phillips family papers. James Duncan Phillips papers (MS047). Historic New England, Library and Archives.

Processing Information
·2014 July: Originally processed by Alyssa Ramirez, archives assistant; with assistance from Bridgette A. Woodall, project archivist; Jeanne Gamble, Library and Archives specialist; and Jennifer Pustz, museum historian

Rules and Conventions
Finding aid is DACS-compliant

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