852: Rare – Mysteries of Personal Papers

The Garrison Family is fairly well known in the Boston area, boasting a 19th century abolitionist in William Lloyd Garrison; a literary editor in Wendell Philips Garrison; an esteemed writer in Lloyd McKim Garrison; and a well-respected lawyer in Lloyd Kirkham Garrison.

I am sure the list goes on of the accomplished, and Harvard educated Garrisons who have made great waves, but these four generations are of primary focus in the recently-processed Garrison Family Papers. The collection provides a glimpse into the family life enjoyed by these men, their wives and children.

Being a personal collection, as one might expect, it primarily consists of correspondence between family members. Such as this October 18, 1919 letter from Lloyd Kirkham Garrison to his wife Ellen, in which he describes “the one lovely spot anywhere around Cambridge.”


However, being a personal collection, there are also a few pieces of miscellany that don’t quite fit with the rest of the collection. One such piece in the Garrison family’s case is this shipping receipt:


As you can see, it is dated 1766 and bears the signature of John Hancock. While this item certainly caught our attention, we are left wondering how it fell into the hands of the Garrisons. Certainly Hancock was another well-known Bostonian, but his life preceded William Lloyd Garrison, whose parents were not prominent Bostonians, and therefore would not have rubbed shoulders with Hancock. So, the shipping receipt remains both a mystery, and a rare gem in an already fascinating collection.

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