rotating decorative images from SCUA collections

Peck-Sisson-White Family Papers

1772-1975 (Bulk: 1830-1875)
2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 933

Perez Peck (1786-1876) and Asa Sisson (1815-1893) of the village of Anthony (Coventry), R.I., were innovative machinists and manufacturers of cotton looms. Active members of the Society of Friends, they were supporters of the antislavery struggle and sent their children to the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I.

Although the Peck-Sisson-White family collection spans three families and three generations, the bulk of material is concentrated on the lives of Asa Sisson and his wife Mary Ann (Peck) and their daughter Emily, who married Willis H. White, with an emphasis on their poetry and their time at the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I. The family also copied verse from other writers, including works from George Miller (not otherwise identified) extracting Anthony Benezet and "Remarks on encouraging slavery" and a "lamentation over New England" which touches on the execution of early Quakers in Massachusetts Bay.

See similar SCUA collections:

Background on White family

Perez Peck (1786-1876) and Asa Sisson (1815-1893) of the village of Anthony (Coventry), R.I., were innovative machinists and manufacturers of cotton looms. Shortly after Sisson married Peck's daughter Mary Ann in September 1839, the two formed the firm Perez Peck & Co., which became the purveyor of the Sisson loom, for several years a standard of the textile industry in Rhode Island.

Staunch Quakers, Peck and Sisson were supporters of the antislavery cause. Most famously, Peck's daughter Harriet became engaged in the local antislavery movement while teaching at the Friends' New Garden Boarding School in North Carolina in 1837-1839, pushing her fellow Quakers there toward an immediatist position. After her death in 1840, however, and with the impact of the Wilburite schism resonating in the New England Yearly Meeting, Perez Peck moderated his stance on antislavery for fear of fostering discord within the Meeting, although the Sissons stayed true to the more uncompromising line.

After the Civil War, Asa Sisson continued in the Rhode Island textile industry, later establishing a foundry and machine shop in Wickford with Ambrose E. Vaughn. His daughter Emily married Willis H. White, who was active in the peace movement early in the twentieth century.

Scope of collection

Although the Peck-Sisson-White family collection spans three families and three generations, the bulk of material is concentrated on the lives of Asa Sisson and his wife Mary Ann (Peck) and their daughter Emily, who married Willis H. White, with an emphasis on their poetry and their time at the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I. With a mixture of copied and original works, the poetry reflects typical Quaker themes, with an interesting (possibly not original) piece on the death of John Woolman (1:25), a laudatory poem for Joseph John Gurney (1:18), a poem on cats (1:39), and lamentations and memorials for deceased Friends (1:8, 1:9, 1:19, 1:21). Daniel Anthony wrote a number of adventurous works with a local flavor, including a long poem on a devastating gale in Rhode Island in September 1815 (1:41). The family also copied verse from other writers, including works from George Miller (not otherwise identified) extracting Anthony Benezet and "Remarks on encouraging slavery" and a "lamentation over New England" which touches on the execution of early Quakers in Massachusetts Bay, and there is a fine example of an 1830s-era recipe book (1:42).

Nine of the diaries and copy books (1:17-20, 37-28, 41-43) were originally identified as belonging to Emily Sisson White, but at least some appear instead be from a generation earlier. Although the author or authors are not explicitly identified, the diary for 1839 begins with a mention of the author being married on Sept. 11 followed by a visit to "Father Peck": Sept 11 was the date of Asa Sisson's marriage to Mary Ann Peck. It and the other diary have been tentatively attributed to Asa Sisson. These diaries and three notebooks are identical in format, having blue paper covers, but they are not (consistently) identical in handwriting, making authorship less certain. Nearly all date from the period 1835-1838 when neither Asa nor Mary Ann were students at the Boarding School and when none of their children would have been old enough to be either. As a result, these have been tentatively attributed to Mary Ann Sisson's sister Joanna Peck, who was recorded as a student at the Boarding School in 1836. One volume (1:43) has been assigned to Urania F. Southwick, a boarding school student whose name appears on the cover.

Inventory

Anthony, Daniel
1859
Box 1: 1
Cartland, G. W.: Letter to Perez Peck (Amesbury, Mass.)
1876
Box 1: 2
Extracts from the history of the rise and progress of Friends in Ireland
ca.1835
Box 1: 3
The following account is taken from the Western Star [broadside]
ca.1804
Box 1: 4
Harvey, E.: Letter to Asa Sisson (Ogden, Ohio)
1867
Box 1: 5
Kenyon, Sarah Adams
ca.1913
Box 1: 6
Ladd, Nathaniel: This is the Truth [poetical broadside]
ca.1856
Box 1: 7
A lamentation over New England [copy, but apparently not of John Browne (1678)]
ca.1780
Box 1: 8
M.M.: Extract of letter to E. W. on the death of Sarah Coats
1817
Box 1: 9
Miller, George: Observations on government and Extracts from notes upon taxes by Anthony Benezet
ca.1820
Box 1: 10
Miller, George: Remarks on encouraging slavery
ca.1820
Box 1: 11
Miscellaneous and ephemera
ca.1835-1945
Box 1: 12
Newspaper clippings
ca.1880-1940
Box 1: 13
Newspaper clippings and ephemera on peace
ca.1947-1967
Box 1: 14
Peck, Harriet (?): Memory book
1821-1829
Box 1: 15
Peck, Isaac: Marriage certificate with Lucy C. Brayton
1849
Box 1: 16
Peck, Joanna (?): Notes on Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History
ca.1837
Box 1: 17
Peck, Joanna (?): Poetry copybook (includes a poem on Joseph John Gurney)
1837-1839
Box 1: 18
Peck, Joanna (?): Poetry copybook (includes works by Daniel Anthony, Louis Taber, B. Barton)
ca.1835-1838
Box 1: 19
Peck, Joanna (?): School notebook
ca.1835
Box 1: 20
Poem: I'll go tomorrow to the grave...
ca.1830
Box 1: 21
Poetry: by V. Meader, James Montgomery, Louis Taber, Pliny Early, and William Roscoe
ca.1832
Box 1: 22
Contents:

All apparently student at Friends Boarding School

Poetry: miscellaneous
ca.1790-1850
Box 1: 23
Poetry notebook: mostly by E. Barton
ca.1832
Box 1: 24
Poetry: On the death of John Woolman
ca.1772
Box 1: 25
Poetry: Peck, Perez, copied at Coventry for Betsy Purington
1836
Box 1: 26
Poetry scrapbook (partially disbound)
ca.1800-1835
Box 1: 27
Poetry scrapbook (White family)
ca.1800-1836
Box 1: 28
Printed material: Arbor Day pamphlets
1893-1896
Box 1: 29
Printed material: Carrier Dove, vol. 16, no. 1 and 2
1868
Box 1: 30
Printed material: Child's World, vol. 21, no. 7
Box 1: 31
Printed material: Gleason's Pictorial, vol. 4, no. 26
1853
Box 1: 32
Printed material: Juvenile Instructor, vol. 9, no. 210
1853
Box 1: 33
Printed material: Youth's Temperance Advocate, vol. 15, no. 3
1854
Box 1: 34
Robinson, Abigail: Letter to dear friend (Newport, R.I.)
ca.1816
Box 1: 35
Contents:

Signed A. Robinson, but probably Abigail Robinson. See a letter from her in the Willis H. White Papers, Rhode Island Historical Society.

Sheldon & Mason, Boots, shows, leather, and findings [label]
ca.1830
Box 1: 36
Sisson, Asa (?): Diary and notes on natural philosophy
1837
Box 1: 37
Sisson, Asa: Diary
1839
Box 1: 38
Contents:

Although the author of the diary is not recorded, the diary begins with an entry recording the author's marriage on Sept. 11, 1839: Asa Sisson married Mary Ann Peck on that date

Sisson, Isaac: A poem on cats
ca.1870
Box 1: 39
Sisson, Mary (?): Poetry
ca.1815
Box 1: 40
Contents:

Poetry booklet signed on front Mary Sisson and internally Hannah Sisson: Mary (b.1799) and Hannah (b.1800) were sisters to Asa Sisson.

Sisson, Mary Ann (Peck): Notebook and poetry
ca.1838
Box 1: 41
Sisson, Mary Ann (Peck): Recipe book
ca.1839
Box 1: 42
Southwick, Urania F.: Notebook
1836
Box 1: 43
Contents:

Southwick was listed as a student at the Friends' Boarding School in 1837, along with Isaac Peck and Joanna Peck.

White, Emily (Sisson): Commonplace book
1874
Box 2: 1
Contents:

Kept while a student at the Friends' Boarding School.

White, Emily (Sisson): Composition book
1874
Box 2: 2
Contents:

Kept while a student at the Friends' Boarding School.

White, Emily (Sisson): Composition book
ca.1874
Box : 3
Contents:

Probably kept while a student at the Friends' Boarding School.

White, Emily (Sisson): Composition book, poetry
1875
Box 2: 4
Contents:

Kept while a student at the Friends' Boarding School.

White, Emily (Sisson): Notebooks
1874
Box 2: 5
Contents:

Kept while a student at the Friends' Boarding School.

White family correspondence
1946-1975
Box 2: 6
White family scrapbook
ca.1830-1862
Box 2: 7
William Hampton of Rahway, East New Jersey (memorial)
ca.1781
Box 2: 8

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Part of the New England Yearly Meeting Collection, April 2016.

Related Material

SCUA houses a collection of papers for the Willis H. White (MS 929) as part of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records.

Bibliography

See Deborah Bingham Van Broekhoven, The Devotion of These Women: Rhode Island in the Antislavery Network. Amherst, Mass. : UMass Press, 2002.

Separated Material

A miniature book was transferred to Rare Books: Elizabeth Fry, Texts for every day in the year, principally practical and devotional. New York : Mahlon Day, 1839.

Peck-Sisson-White family

  • Perez Peck (1747-1825) m. Experience Smith (1747-1803)
    • Arnold Peck (1768-1784)
    • Isaac Peck (1773-1787)
    • Cromwell Peck (1774-1838)
    • Noah Peck (1776-1778)
    • Arnold Peck (1778-1784)
    • Noah Peck (1780-1781)
    • Anna Peck (1782-1852) m. Chaffee
    • Sabra Peck (1783-1803)
    • Perez Peck (1786-1876) m. Joanna Brown (1786-1867)
      • Harriet Peck (1815-1840)
      • Mary Ann Peck (1816-1882) m. 1839 to Asa Sisson (1815-1893)
        • Harriet P. Sisson (1845-1846)
        • Charles Sisson (1847-1910)
        • Emily A. Sisson (1856-1945) m. Willis H. White (1862-1946)
          • Mary H. White (b. 1884)
          • Charles Howard White (1885-1975)
          • Louisa White (b. 1894)
          • Edward A. White (b. 1897)
      • Lydia Wicks Peck (1817-1888)
      • Sarah Peck (1820-1821)
      • Joanna Peck (1821-1899)
      • Isaac Peck (1824-1875) m. Lucy C. Brayton (b. 1821)
      Cynthia S. Peck (1789-1854)

Asa Sisson family

  • Asa Sisson (1770-1852) m. Mercy Mary Dennis (1772-1816)
    • Hannah Sisson (b. 1799)
    • Mary Sisson (1800-1821)
    • Isaac I. Sisson (1802-1803)
    • Joseph B. Sisson (1803-1884)
    • Robert Sisson (1805-1822)
    • Isaac Sisson (1807-1808)
    • Ruth Sisson (1808-1885)
    • Lydia Sisson (1813-1883)
    • Asa Sisson (1815-1893) m. Mary Ann Peck (1816-1882)

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Aug. 2016.

Language:

English

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Peck-Sisson-White Family Papers (MS 933). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
  • Friends Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
  • Quakers--Rhode Island

Contributors

  • Peck-Sisson-White Family [main entry]

Genres and formats

  • Diaries
  • Poetry

Link to similar SCUA collections