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Papers of James Macmaster Codman (1831-1917)


James' papers are one of the smallest in the Codman family papers. They consist of one letter and eight drawings and watercolors. The letter, written 28 January 1892 from Brookline, is to his brother, Charles Russell Codman II (1829-1918), concerning their brother Ogden. He described Ogden as "a man of the world, a man of feeling, and a gentleman [who] has never belied that character when we have met." One can only wonder about the nature of the "misunderstanding and misconception... at this time of sorrow" described in the letter. The eight drawings and watercolors are of portraits, horses, and scenes resembling France and Greece.

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Collection Name
Codman family papers
Collection Code
1892, undated
Collection Type
Description Level
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

James Macmaster Codman was born in Paris, the fourth and last child born to Charles Russell Codman by his first wife, Anne Macmaster. In 1858, James married Henrietta Gray Sargent (1839-1923). Born in Medford, she was the daughter of Ignatius and Henrietta Gray Sargent of Boston and Brookline. The biographical information available on James comes from a typescript genealogy of the Codman family compiled by Ogden Codman, Jr. Two obituaries from unidentified newspapers state that he was educated in New York and Boston, graduating from Harvard in 1851. He traveled extensively, at least in part out of his involvement with the East India trade. His study of cattle and presidency of the American Guernsey Cattle Club also took him to that island. An active citizen of Brookline, he served as selectman, as a trustee of the public library, and as a member of St. Paul's Church there. He was also a member of the Canaveral Shooting Club of Florida and the St. Botolph Club. One of his five children, James Macmaster Codman, Jr. (b. 1862) was responsible for several publications, including a collection of poems entitled ''A Few Changes" (Boston, 1893) and, as translator, Thomas de Celano's Dies Irae (Boston, 1901). James, Jr., also did extensive research on his great uncle Richard Codman's painting collection. Those notes were used by his sister, Cora Codman Wolcott (b. 1874), to compile the unpublished "A History of the Codman Collection of Pictures" (Brookline, 1935). Cora Codman was also responsible for "The Codmans of Charlestown and Boston, 1637-1929" (Brookline, 1930). Many of James's letters are held by the Massachusetts Historical Society, and they date from his travels during the 1850s, including stays in Bombay and the Crimea as well as Great Britain.


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