Family papers

Collection Type

  • Manuscripts


1774-1907, undated, predominant 1820-1889



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This series includes the personal papers of Barrett family members and other individuals associated with the family, including members of the Ames family (Frances Hall Ames married George Barrett) and the Barr family (Elizabeth Barr married George Robert Barrett). Many other individuals are included, some who were related to the Barrett family and others whose connection is unknown. Please consult the Barrett family genealogy for more detailed information about the families. The materials include correspondence, legal documents, and personal and business financial records.


Physical Description

1.05 linear feet (45 folders) plus 17 volumes

Collection Code


Collection Name

Barrett family papers

Reference Code


Record Details

Description Level


Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

Charles Barrett, Sr., had the Barrett House built in 1800 as a wedding gift for his son, Charles Barrett, Jr., and his son's wife, Martha Minot Barrett. Martha's father, Jonas Minot, furnished the home for the couple. Soon after graduating from Dartmouth College in 1794, Charles, Jr., became a business partner of Samuel Appleton (an ancestor of William Sumner Appleton). Charles and Martha maintained an elegant lifestyle at Barrett House. They entertained guests, at times in their third floor ballroom, and surrounded themselves with fine furniture and decorative pieces. After Martha's death in 1842, her second eldest son, Charles III, lived at Barrett House with his family for several years before moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to pursue a career as a book dealer. In 1848, George Barrett, the eldest son of Charles and Martha, and his wife Frances Ames Barrett, took up residence in the Barrett House. In 1862, George Barrett died, leaving Frances the house. To accommodate the growth of her extended family, Frances built an adjoining ell for her son Edward and his family. She maintained residence in the main house with her younger son George Robert. After Frances's death in 1887, George Robert Barrett took ownership of Barrett House. He and his wife, Elizabeth Barr Barrett, were living in Boston at the time. In an effort to make Barrett House their comfortable country summer retreat, they undertook several renovations, including the addition of two luxurious bathrooms.

George Robert and Elizabeth's renovation of Barrett House took several years and was never completed. Elizabeth died in 1911 and George Robert in 1916, leaving renovation and redecoration of some rooms unfinished. Crates of furniture and fixtures, still in their original packaging, are in the house today. At George Robert's death, the house and its contents were left to his stepdaughter, Caroline Barr Wade. She never made Barrett House her home. Instead, she boarded up the house and its contents and it sat unoccupied for more than forty years. In 1948, Caroline Barr Wade donated Barrett House to Historic New England (then the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities or SPNEA) as a memorial to the Barrett family.



The materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by family member name.

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