Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the Davenport, Peters Company records is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Collection Summary


This collection consists of records of the Davenport, Peters Co., a Boston-based lumber company founded in 1811. It includes historical materials, business records, product and price lists, financial records, legal documents, and scrapbooks.

Historical Sketch

The Davenport, Peters Co. was founded in 1811 by Edward D. Peters. Peters was sent by Maine lumber manufacturers, unhappy with the prices they were getting by using ship captains to sell their lumber, to serve as their agent in Boston. For fifty years, Edward D. Peters and E. D. Ellicott operated the firm as a wholesale lumber business. In 1877, the company fell into tough economic times "and the original company went out of business, the entity later to survive as the George H. Peters Company. This later became Davenport & Peters, a partnership," finally incorporating in 1903. In control of the corporation in March of 1990, Mr. H. Pratt and Mr. D. Mittell changed the name to Alan, Watson Co., Inc., allowing Mr. Richard Clasby to cause Lawrence R. McCoy and Co. of Worcester, Massachusetts to use the name as a division of their company. The Lawrence R. McCoy & Co. is a large wholesaler in the United States.

The Davenport, Peters Co. is an example of how the lumber industry developed in the United States. When the company was organized in 1811, business was conducted largely by water on small coastal schooners. Although the company saw financial hardship at times, the business grew and the mode of transportation of lumber changed to large vessels and rail cars. Railroads bypassed water transportation by 1950. The growth of the business was also due to the owners' expertise in marketing and financing, thus: enabling the company to become the key supplier of the major industrial companies in New England.

As of 1992, the Davenport, Peters Co. remains a Boston-based marketer of domestic and imported forest products, such as wood gutters, white cedar shingles, oak flooring, stair parts, and specialty plywood. The company distributes products primarily to specialized lumber buyers: i.e., industrial, dealer or wholesaler in the Northeast, though its scope has become wider in recent years. The Bailey & Delano Lumber Company of Boston became an affiliate of the Davenport, Peters Co. in 1965.


August 21, 1986 letter to David Mittell. The Davenport, Peters Co. records.

December 18, 1990 letter by David Mittell. The Davenport, Peters Co. records.

Collection Description

The records of the Davenport, Peters Co. are divided into four series: Historical materials, 1935-1991; Business records, 1811-1986; Scrapbooks, 1876-1928; and Bound volumes, 1875-1959. Photographs, which were interspersed within the collection, have been removed to be housed with the MHS photograph collection. Photocopies have been left in place of the original photographs. Copies of logging photographs, housed at the Forest History Society at Duke University, are included with the historical materials.


Files that consisted solely of Dun & Bradstreet financial reports were removed from the collection. A list of these companies, along with the city, state, and years of the reports that were contained in the file, has been placed at the beginning of the credit correspondence files. The files were removed because the information contained in Dun & Bradstreet financial reports is readily accessible in published format.

Acquisition Information

The records were deposited at the society by David Mittell in June 1991. Additional materials were transferred from the Forest History Society in December 1991. The records were donated to the society in December 1992.

Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the Davenport, Peters Company records is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Historical materials, 1935-1991

Includes historical publications produced by the Davenport, Peters Co. in 1971 and 1981. Correspondence, 1935-1991, provides historical information about the company and its respective families. Additional historical materials may be found in the scrapbooks.

Carton 1SH 13F3 O

II. Business records, 1811-1986

The general business records, 1811-1986, consist of personal correspondence by Edward D. Peters and George H. Peters; product and price lists, 1811-1964; and credit correspondence. There is one file folder that contains general credit information from the years 1926-1934, however the bulk of the files, 1965-1986, are arranged alphabetically by company name. Correspondence with Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts discussing the general business climate of the mid 1970s is located in the Standard Sash and Door Company file. Financial documents consist of audit reports, 1924-1930. Legal documents, 1906-1964, include personnel files such as employee contracts, resignations, and commission agreements. Also included in the legal document section are the papers of the Bailey & Delano Lumber Corporation. The Davenport, Peters Co. purchased the stock of the company in 1965. Items pertaining to the Bailey & Delano Lumber Corp. are also included within the scrapbooks.

A. General business records, 1811-1986

Carton 1SH 13F3 O
Edward D. Peters correspondence, 1824
Carton 1SH 13F3 O
George H. Peters correspondence, 1883
Carton 1SH 13F3 O
Lists, prices & products, 1811-1964
Carton 1SH 13F3 O
Credit correspondence, A-E
Carton 2SH 13F4 P
Credit correspondence, F-M
Carton 3SH 13F5 Q
Credit correspondence, N-Y

B. Financial documents, 1924-1964

Carton 4SH 13F6 R
Audit reports, 1924-1930, 1959-1960, 1963-1964

C. Legal documents, 1906-1972

Carton 4SH 13F6 R
Indemnity agreement, 1906
Carton 4SH 13F6 R
Personnel files, 1929-1961
Carton 4SH 13F6 R
Will of G. Gorham Peters, 1936
Carton 4SH 13F6 R
Stock Purchase plan, 1963
Carton 4SH 13F6 R
Bailey & Delano Lumber Corp. papers, 1949-1972

III. Scrapbooks, 1876-1989

Consists of three scrapbooks, 1876-1989. The contents of these scrapbooks are quite diversified and some overlapping of information occurs. Scrapbook one dates from 1876-1928. Of interest are signed but mass-produced letters from members of the House of Representatives in 1910, including Henry C. Lodge and the Gov. of Louisiana, J. Y. Sanders. These are all connected with the site of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The second and third scrapbooks were compiled in the 1970s and 1980s respectively, but do contain earlier information, as well.

Carton 4SH 13F6 R

IV. Bound volumes, 1875-1959

Includes the letterbook of Edward D. Peters, 1876-1881, Board of Director and stockholder records, ledgers, and other financial records.

Carton 4SH 13F6 R
Edward D. Peters letterbook, 1876-1881
Carton 5SH 13F7 S
Order/shipment ledger, 1905-1920
Carton 5SH 13F7 S
Cash ledger, 1875-1894
Carton 5SH 13F7 S
Records: Board of Directors, 1906-1943
Carton 5SH 13F7 S
Records: Stockholder, 1906-1959
Carton 5SH 13F7 S
Financial ledger, 1920-1941
Carton 5SH 13F7 S
Salesmen figures, 1923-1934
Carton 5SH 13F7 S
Employee commissions, 1926-1929
XT Vol. 1
Accounts receivable, 1932-19431 extra tall volumeStored ONSITE at Ms. N-232 (XT)

Photographs Removed from the Collection

Photographs have been removed from this collection to the Davenport, Peters Company photographs, ca. 1915-1983. Photo. Coll. 130.

Preferred Citation

Davenport, Peters Company records, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Peters, Edward Dyer.


Edward D. Peters and Company (Boston, Mass.).


Account books.
Business enterprises--Massachusetts--Boston.
Lumber trade--Massachusetts--Boston.