Samuel Chester Clough Research Materials Toward a Topographical History of Boston

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1630-1798; ca. 1900-1949

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of research materials collected by Samuel Chester Clough for his unfinished topographical history of property in Boston from settlement through 1798, including a series of property-ownership reconstruction maps for selected years within that period.

Biographical Sketch

Samuel Chester Clough was born in East Boston, Mass. in 1873. He graduated from Roxbury High School in 1892 and became a draftsman for the Boston Edison Company, where he worked until 1936. After leaving Boston Edison, he worked for the Boston Navy Yard in Charlestown. He married Johnina Johnson, and they had one daughter, Priscilla Clough. He died in Roxbury, Mass. on 1 Sep. 1949.

Collection Description

The Samuel Chester Clough collection consists of research materials collected by Samuel Chester Clough for his unfinished topographical history of Boston from settlement through 1798, and a series of property-ownership reconstruction maps for selected years within that period. Included in the research materials are draft tracings, city block reconstruction, manuscript, printed, and finished plate maps of areas of Boston; printed material; indexes; copies of Suffolk County deeds; and other reference materials.

Acquisition Information

Main collection acquired by purchase, 1952. Additional materials given by Sidvin Frank Tucker, May 1976.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Note: With the exception of Series I.A-C that contains secondary material created by Samuel C. Clough, the date ranges assigned to the components in this collection are based on the date of the primary materials transcribed or mapped by Clough, rather than the date he compiled or created them.

I. Maps and Atlases, 1633-1798, ca. 1930-1940

A. Topographical History of Boston, ca. 1930-1940

This box contains a brief preface by Clough detailing the intentions of his project, an explanation of Clough's map numbering system, a brief biography of Clough, and a note by former MHS director Louis L. Tucker regarding the source of the material. Also included are four chapters of the unfinished manuscript on the history of Boston. Chapter 1 describes the Shawmut Peninsula at the time of settlement. Chapter 2 identifies settlers of Boston with brief biographies to 1633. There is a description of owners in 1633 keyed to the completed plate maps of the period. Chapter 3, 1633-1638, identifies residents based on church, colony, and town records. Chapter 4 is an incomplete description of Boston based on finished plate maps.

Box 1

B. Explanation of Map Numbering System, ca. 1930-1940

This volume contains Clough's explanation of the indexes, research notebooks, card index files, tax lists, census records for 1631-1634, and his history of Boston. Clough re-used a volume that contained accounts for the Antelope and Gold Mining Company, August 1880-June 1882.

Vol. 1

C. Atlas of Boston neighborhoods based on the Direct Tax Census of 1798

Clough's atlas contains 60 pages depicting maps of 55 blocks of Boston neighborhoods with each map representing a block section showing property ownership in Boston based on the Direct Tax Census of 1798. The disbound volume also includes two studies of the accuracy of the 1722 Bonner map of Boston and a 1674 map of a North End neighborhood (block 100) based on the tax list of 1674.

Available on microfilm P-357, 1 reel. Reduced-size reference copies of the 55 block maps are also located in the reading room.

Web presentation available here (60-page atlas and overview map).

Box OS

D. Plate Maps, 1633-1798

1. Base Map Tracings, 1633 and 1638

Included are base map tracings of the city of Boston for the years 1633 and 1638.

Drawer 1Folder 1
Tracing 1: 1633 and 1638 (North End and West End)
Drawer 1Folder 2
Tracing 2: 1633 and 1638 (State Street and Town Dock)
Drawer 1Folder 3
Tracing 3: 1633 and 1638 (North End)
Drawer 1Folder 4
Tracing 4: 1633 and 1638 (Fort Hill area)
Drawer 1Folder 5
Tracing 5: 1633 and 1638 (South east of neck)
Drawer 1Folder 6
Tracing 6: 1633 and 1638 (Neck)

2. Clough's atlas 1798: property owners of the town of Boston

Included are 13 leaves (in 11 folders) of Clough's Boston property atlas based on the Direct Tax Census of 1798. Folders 1-5 contain colored plate maps; the maps in folders 6-11 are not colored. The atlas was never bound.

Photocopies of the 13 leaves are also located in the reading room.

Drawer 1Folder 1
Long Wharf
Drawer 1Folder 2
State Street and Long Wharf area (Wards 8 and 9)
Drawer 1Folder 2
Index to Clough's atlas - Plate II
Drawer 1Folder 3
Northern part of the North End (Ward 1)
Drawer 1Folder 4
Central waterfront area near North Street
Drawer 1Folder 5
Court Street area (Wards 6, 8, and 9)
Drawer 1Folder 6
Bowdoin Street to Charles River area
Drawer 1Folder 7
Statehouse area (Ward 9)
Drawer 1Folder 8
Cambridge Street area (tissue map with details)
Drawer 1Folder 8
Cambridge Street area (linen-backed map)
Drawer 1Folder 9
Central waterfront area (Fleet to Mill Street and Middle Street)
Drawer 1Folder 10
Beacon Hill development to the Charles River (Ward 7)
Drawer 1Folder 11
North End from Bennet Street to Cross Street

3. Maps of the town of Boston 1648 and 1676

Included are two maps of the town of Boston for the years 1648 and 1676 compiled as property owners' maps by Clough from the records of the colony, town, registry of deeds, Suffolk probate, and Supreme Judicial Court, Book of Possessions, Winthrop Journal, Lechford's notebook, and Aspinwall's notes and city surveys. These plate maps have been encapsulated in Mylar.

Drawer 9 (XL)Folder 1
Map of the town of Boston, 1648
Drawer 9 (XL)Folder 2
Map of the town of Boston, 1676

II. Property Records, 1630-1798

A. Land Title Summaries, 1630-1798

This subseries contains Boston property notes or land title summaries arranged by block, from 100-4900, usually with a new lot beginning at the top of each page. The deeds for each lot are then arranged chronologically from the 1630s to 1798. For each deed recorded, the original Suffolk County deeds volume and page number is listed on the left side of the sheet, the date of the transaction and the names of the grantor and grantee in the center of the page, and a sketch of the lot with dimensions and abutters noted, to the right.

Box 2
Blocks 100-1800
Box 3
Blocks 1900-4200
Box 4
Blocks 4300-4900

B. Block Reconstruction Research Material

Box 5 and 6 contain block reconstruction research material for blocks numbered 300-4000. The research material consists of map tracings, numbered street charts, background research information, and reconstruction maps. The materials located in boxes 5 and 6 appear to be smaller renditions of the larger tracings located in the drawers 2-5. See block reconstruction maps (drawers 2-5) for more materials relating to specific blocks.

Box 5
Blocks 300-3000
Box 6
Blocks 3100-4000
Drawer 2
Blocks 100-1900

Included are block reconstruction maps, base maps, and map tracings for blocks 100-1900. This block section is the area that currently makes up part of the North End. Also includes a folder with block index maps.

Drawer 3
Blocks 2000-3900

Included are block reconstruction maps, base maps, and map tracings for blocks 2000-3900. Blocks 2000-2900 is the section of Boston between the Mill Pond and the Common, now Beacon Hill. Blocks 3000-3900 is the section of Boston that includes the Town Dock, Dock Square, Merchants' Row area.

Drawer 4
Blocks 4000-4900

Included are block reconstruction maps, base maps, and map tracings for blocks 4000-4900.

Drawer 5
Blocks 5000-5500

Included are block reconstruction maps, base maps, and map tracings for blocks 5000-5500. This section of Boston was the narrow spit of land called Boston Neck, now the area on either side of Washington Street.

C. Numbered Street Charts

This subseries contains an index of long numbered sheet charts, arranged by street name, where Clough collated the information from deeds and other written sources with cartographic information to create his property ownership reconstructions. The long sheets use the street frontage as their horizontal dimension and specific property lots as their vertical dimension. Vertical lots are plotted based on their researched frontage dimension. The narrow vertical dimension of the sheets represent time, deed summary based on the date of transfer, grantor, grantee, and dimensions. Also see drawers 2-5 as numerous numbered street charts can be found there, filed by block number. Not every block is represented by a numbered street chart.

Box 7

D. Index Card Boxes

This subseries contains the second round of indexing that Clough performed. The land title summary information from these cards was transcribed onto larger sheets, which can be found in boxes 2-4 (arranged by lot, then chronologically). Index card boxes 1-10 contain an index of property owners arranged alphabetically by surname. Boxes 11-22 contain an index of property block and lots arranged by lot number but not necessarily in chronological order.

IC Box 1
IC Box 2
IC Box 3
IC Box 4
IC Box 5
IC Box 6
IC Box 7
IC Box 8
IC Box 9
IC Box 10
IC Box 11
Street list
IC Box 12
IC Box 13
IC Box 14
IC Box 15
IC Box 16
IC Box 17
IC Box 18
IC Box 19
IC Box 20
IC Box 21
IC Box 22

E. Research Notebooks, 1634-1766

This subseries contains notebooks where Clough recorded his notes and transcriptions from books and repositories where he conducted his research. The majority of the volumes contain Clough's deed abstracts copied from the Suffolk County volumes. Several volumes are labeled "Town Dock" for years 1634-1656, 1661-1734, and 1743-1766, reflecting a different note-taking scheme, which Clough began, but later abandoned. The town dock information and property transfers are arranged chronologically and contain alphabetical lists of persons with biographical notes. The information in the volumes appears to have been copied onto index cards (IC boxes 1-22) and then onto larger paper, which can be found in Series II.A. Land Title Summaries (boxes 2-4).

Box 8
Vols. 1-5, 7-24, 26-31, and Town Dock records
Box 9
Vols. 35-37, 40, 42-64
Box 10
Vols. 65-105
Box 11
Vols. 106-146

III. Biographical/Genealogical Material, 1630-1798

A. Index of Boston Inhabitants, 1630-1798

This subseries contains an index to Boston inhabitants, 1630-1798, prepared by Clough for the purpose of keeping genealogical and biographical information on the first settlers of Boston from 1630 onward. The numbers in green located next to the names, mentioned in volume 4 (Clough's blue book), note the first settlers.

Box 12

B. Index of Families and Family Heads of Boston from 1630

This subseries contains an index of every known resident in Boston from 1630. The numbers in green represent residents who lived in Boston prior to 1655 (there are about 1200 of these). The figures in fraction form (i.e. 116/4) represent the page and volume where the information was found in the Suffolk County deeds, with the top number representing the page and the bottom number representing the volume. Also included is the first known date the person was cited in the Suffolk County deeds.

Vol. 2

C. First Church Records, 1636-1755

This subseries contains records of the First Church of Boston, 1636-1755, copied by Clough, consisting of a list of church members and three corresponding numbers (green, black, and red). The green numbers represent citizens of Boston prior to 1655. The red and black numbers appear to be a count of residents listed in the volume.

Vol. 3

IV. Research Material, 1630-1841

A. Miscellaneous Research Notes

This subseries contains miscellaneous research notes and notebooks. These include an alphabetical list of property owners; volume 1 of the Massachusetts Bay Colony records; a notebook entitled "Miscellaneous B" containing property notes and possibly taken from Suffolk County deed or Colony records; a notebook entitled "O" containing descriptive information about places in Boston, listed alphabetically; "Notebook 1" containing Clough family genealogy; "Book 29" containing an alphabetical list of property owners with two sets of unidentifiable index numbers; "Notes" containing research material with street names, property numbers, owners, and years of ownership; notebook fragments containing research materials for blocks 100-600 and miscellaneous research material. In a notebook containing information on people buried at King's Chapel in Boston, Mass., Clough notes the shapes of some gravestones, person interred, life dates, age, and the burial plot number, which correlates to a small map of King's Chapel in the notebook. Also contains a folder titled "Notes on Lynn Street" and a newspaper clipping with genealogical queries.

Box 13

B. Miscellaneous Maps, 1722-1841

This subseries contains miscellaneous maps drawn and collected by Clough for his research.

Drawer 6Folder 1
Town Dock and Dock Square reconstruction and base maps
Drawer 6Folder 2
Old State House, Faneuil Hall, and Market Square area

This area is comprised of many blocks that are not in the same numbering section and therefore was given a subject-oriented designation rather than numerical.

Drawer 6Folder 3-4
Manuscript base map tracings of portions of Boston
Drawer 6Folder 5
Manuscript base map tracings of the entire peninsula of Boston
Drawer 6Folder 6-7
Unidentifiable map tracings of Boston
Drawer 7Folder 1
Commonwealth Avenue
Drawer 7Folder 2
Summer Street sewer plan, 1841; Cambridge Street (on reverse)
Drawer 7Folder 3
South Street (Boston), ca. 1805; Rowe's, Harris's, and Foster's Wharves, 1816
Drawer 7Folder 4
1722/1798 - King Street/State Street
Drawer 7Folder 5-6
Printed maps
Drawer 8Folder 1-2
Printed maps
Drawer 8Folder 3
Miscellaneous Boston blueprints
Drawer 8Folder 4
Book of Possessions

C. Printed Material, 1634-1798

This subseries includes Clough's annotated volumes of the Boston Record Commissioners publications, which contain Boston Records, 1634-1701, the Books of Possessions, Suffolk Deeds, Direct Tax of 1798, and the U.S. Census of 1790.

Box 14

D. Clough's Boston Blue Book, 1699-1823

Clough's blue book contains an index of property lots with owner's name, index page number, valuation, and description of land for plates 1-11 of his 1798 atlas (located in oversize drawers). The volume also includes a list of children baptized, 1699-1733, and the ownership history of Clough family property, 1744-1823.

Vol. 4

E. Index of Names

This subseries contains an index of property owners with plot numbers and of ownership.

Vol. 5

F. Index of Deeds

This subseries contains an index of deeds copied in four volumes as they appear in the volumes of the Suffolk Registry. The first column of red figures indicates the corresponding notebook and page number where the property abstract can be found in boxes 8-11. The second column of figures indicates the property numbers on the text maps or plates drawn by Clough.

Vol. 6-9

G. Miscellaneous Deed Research from 1630

This subseries contains a miscellaneous notebook (formerly "order book") of preliminary work on the history of Boston estates and the inhabitants of Boston from 1630. There is no discernible order to this list of names, dates, biographical information, estate information, and copied notes from Boston and Suffolk County registers of deeds.

Vol. 10

H. Miscellaneous Notes

This subseries contains a miscellaneous notebook of approximately 3300 names, organized alphabetically. Each name has two different sets of unidentifiable index numbers.

Vol. 11

V. Personal Account Book, 1880-1886, 1924-1933

This series contains Samuel Chester Clough's personal account book of financial information, including lists of accounts and stocks, with monies paid and received, 1880-1886; and yearly expense and tax estimates, 1885 and 1924-1933.

Vol. 12

Preferred Citation

Samuel Chester Clough research materials toward a topographical history of Boston, 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.


Maps, Manuscript.
Real property--Massachusetts--Boston.
Vital statistics--Massachusetts--Boston.
Boston (Mass.)--Maps.
Boston (Mass.)--Maps, Manuscript.
Boston (Mass.)--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.