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John W. Claghorn papers

Identifier: MSS 0610

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials relating to John W. Claghorn, a merchant active in the first half of the nineteenth century whose business was based first in Boston then later in Philadelphia. The range of materials covers receipts, promissory notes, contracts, account inventories, several day books, and business and personal correspondence.

The receipts in the Claghorn papers cover business transactions related to dry goods sales and purchases. Most of the receipts pertain to transactions made by John W. Claghorn, but several receipts pertain to William Prentiss, a firm Claghorn was associated with in Boston. Other notable business entities represented by receipts include Norcross & Company, George and William Hare, and Henry Reese. The promissory notes detail financial aspects of Claghorn's business activities and a contract between Claghorn and William Prentiss documents the dissolution of their partnership in 1814. The account inventories pertain to transactions dealing in dry goods. One account details the sale of five bales of New Orleans cotton to John W. Claghorn with James Andrews & Company (?) in 1814. Two day books from 1814 include inventories of sales on various accounts of dealers in dry goods. Taken together, the receipts, promissory notes, contracts, accounts, inventories, and day books are valuable documentation for understanding trade, consumer culture, and material culture in the Northeastern United States during the first half of the nineteenth century.

This collection contains business and personal correspondence. The business correspondence consists of letters from other merchants to John W. Claghorn in regards to their business transactions. The personal correspondence consists of letters to John W. Claghorn from family members as well as letters to Claghorn's relatives. Letters from relatives include letters to John W. Claghorn's wife Eliza (Crumby) Claghorn, his mother-in-law Elizabeth Crumby, and his son William C. Claghorn. This personal correspondence describes family life and external events during the first half of the nineteenth century. Several letters to John W. Claghorn from his brother-in-law John Crumby discuss the second election campaign of Andrew Jackson. Other personal letters in the collection reference the War of 1812 and the cholera epidemic in Philadelphia. Although the collection is relatively small, the correspondence provides fine examples of opinions on everyday life and external events during the first half of the nineteenth century.

For researchers interested in the history of papermaking and printing, this collection offers examples of early nineteenth century paper watermarks and early examples of printed fill-in forms with printers' ornaments, also known as "dingbats."


  • Creation: 1804-1849


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

John W. Claghorn was a merchant and auctioneer in Boston, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Claghorn was associated with the Boston firm of William Prentiss & Son, circa 1814; and with the Philadelphia firms of Jennings, Thomas Grill & Co.; Jennings and Thomas (all before 1835); and Myers and Claghorn 1836-1840. He was married first to Ann Beth (d. 1812), then Eliza Crumby (d. 1835).

Biographical information derived from the collection. Mosser, Daniel W. and Ernest W. Sullivan II. "Gravell Watermark Archive." (accessed October 22, 2009 ). Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries. "PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative." (accessed October 22, 2009 ).


1 linear foot (3 boxes)


The papers of John W. Claghorn, a nineteenth-century businessman based in Boston and Philadelphia, include materials relating to his business and his family.


Gift of the Moyerman family, 1972.

Related Materials in other Repositories

J. Claghorn business papers, Museum Library, Independence Seaport Museum.

Shelving Summary

  1. Boxes 1-3: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

OCLC Number


Processed and encoded by Natalie Baur, October 2009.

Finding aid for John W. Claghorn papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2009 October 26
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA