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City Upon a Hill: Colonists as Reformers Primary Sources

Theme: Social Changes and Social Reform
City Upon a Hill: Colonists as Reformers
March, 2004

Primary Sources from Partner Collections
Primary Sources from Other Local Archives and Collections
Additional Primary Sources Used in Content and Follow-up Sessions

Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff.

Primary Sources from Partner Collections

Fireback "IPA," 1660
The Saugus Ironworks (Hammersmith, (1648-1677))
Saugus, Mass.
Cast Iron
Gift of John Pickering, 1874
Peabody Essex Museum 1808

"Installed at the rear of a hearth, a fireback protected the bricks while reflecting heat into the room. The intials of John and Alice Pickering appear on this fine example, suggesting the object's place of honor in a colonial home. The spindles, bosses, and moldings are design elements also found on furntiture of the period."

Quoted from ARTscape entry on the Peabody Essex Museum website:


Thomas Dennis (1638-1706)
Great Chair
, 1670-1690
Ipswich, Mass.
Gift of Robert Brookhouse, 1821
Peabody Essex Museum 108886

"Great chairs were reserved for the male head of the house, a symbol of authority and power not unlike a royal throne. Carved by the maker for his own use, this chair ranks as one of the most elaborate American chairs to survive from the 17th century."

For a full account of this chair and its artistic importance see New England Begins...(MFA, Boston), 515-516. Literature: Nathaniel Hawthorne describes this chair in his novel, The House of Seven Gables.

Quoted from ARTscape entry on the Peabody Essex Museum website:


Painted Cradle, 1710-1740
Essex County, Mass.
Wood, paint
Gift of Mrs. Jacob C.R. Peabody
Peabody Essex Museum 120447

"In the colonial period, rocking was deemed an essential activity to establish a newborn baby's sleeping pattern. In a harsh world with a high infant mortality rate, sleep was key to survival. A hooded cradle with high sides also provided protection from drafts."

Kevill-Davies, Yesterday's Children, 106-110; Dean Fales, American Painted Furniture, 78.

Quoted from ARTscape entry on the Peabody Essex Museum website:


Valuables Cabinet, 1679
James Symonds (1633 - 1714)
Salem, Mass.
Oak, maple, iron, paint
Museum Purchase
Peabody Essex Museum

"The initials and date carved on this cabinet celebrate the marriage of Joseph and Bathsheba Pope, prominent members of the Quaker community in Salem Village (now Danvers). The box contains 10 small drawers for storage and retains its original paint and decorative elements, making it one of the best-preserved examples of 17th-century American furniture."

John T. Kirk, "The Tradition of English Painted Furniture Part 1: The experience in colonial New England" Antiques CXVII No. 5, May 1980; 1078; Christie's: The Joseph and Bathsheba Pope Valuables Cabinet (New York, 2000); American Furniture, 2001.

Quoted from ARTscape entry on the Peabody Essex Museum website:


Chest, 1675-1700
Salem, MA or region
Oak, maple, pine
Peabody Essex Museum

Furniture from this period exhibits a strong architectural presence enhanced by lively geometric patterns and multiple woods for contrasting color.


Additional View

Narbonne House
Salem, MA
c. 1670
Salem Maritime National Historic Site

"The part of the house with the high peaked roof was built by butcher Thomas Ives in 1675. Ives added a lean-to to the south side of the house and a kitchen lean-to to the back of the house. After his death the house was sold to Simon Willard, who around 1740 replaced the southern lean-to with the gambrel-roofed addition that stands today. From 1750 to 1780, the house was owned by Capt. Joseph Hodges, and in 1780 the house was purchased by tanner Jonathan Andrew. The house was lived in by descendents of the Andrew family from 1780 to 1964, when the house was sold to the National Park Service. The Narbonne House (named for Andrew's great-niece Sarah Narbonne, who lived in the house from 1823 to 1890 and her daughter Mary, who lived here until 1905) is a remarkable example of a middle-class home of the 17th and 18th centuries."

Quoted from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site website:


Additional View

John Ward House
Salem, MA
c. 1684
Peabody Essex Museum

"The John Ward House, ca. 1684, is one of the finest surviving seventeenth-century buildings in New England. It originally stood on a one-acre plot with a kitchen garden, an outhouse, and a well—opposite the jail used during the witchcraft trials. The house was moved to the museum campus in 1910. The style of this house is often called First Period or Post-Medieval—characterized by the extremely steep pitch of the gables, large central chimney, asymmetrical façade, batten door, diamond-paned leaded casement windows, and second-story overhang. One of the earliest buildings to be relocated and restored for historic interpretation in the United States, the house is a National Historic Landmark."

Quoted from the Peabody Essex Museum website, "Historic Houses."



Moran, Geoffrey, P., Edward F. Zimmer, and Anne E. Yentsch. A report of Archaeological Investigations at the Narbonne House, 1986. Salem Maritime National Historic Site Archives.

This report includes probate records related to occupants of the Narbonne house.


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Primary Sources from Other Local Archives and Collections



Fairbanks House
Dedham, MA

Fairbanks House Historical Site

Built for Jonathan and Grace Fairebanke in 1636, this home was continuously occupied by members of the Fairbanks family until the twentieth century. It is considered one of the most important early examples of first-period architecture due to the condition of its structure.


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Additional Primary Sources Used in Content and Follow-up Sessions

--None currently listed--


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