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Reeves family diaries

Collection MS-2012-003: Reeves family diaries


  • Creation: 1869-1905

Scope and Contents

Diaries of a South Boston father and son.

Dexter Reeves, Sr. chronicled the last fifteen years of his life (1869-1884), including daily notes on weather; management of his household; reading, book purchases, and borrowing habits; attendance at lectures at the Lowell Institute, Mechanics Istitute, Woman's Suffrage Baazar, and Universalist Church; leisure activities with family; and significant Boston area events such as the 250th Year of the Settlement of Boston, Great Boston Peace Jubilee celebration, and the Boston Fire of 1872.

The diaries of Dexter Reeves, Jr. begin in 1870, when he was 35, and continue until the time of his death at age 70. His entries document his Universalist faith; interest in spiritualism, including attendence at seances; passion for music, both as an organist/pianist and a "Life Member" of the Handel and Haydn Society; participation in fraternal societies (Adelphi Lodge, Roxbury Council of Royal and Select Masters, and the St. Omer Commandery of the Knights Templar); visits to Boston cultural events; book culture; travel in the northeastern United States; and political activities comprising Democratic, Republican, temperance, and suffrage events.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research; digital version also available.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note: Dexter Reeves, Sr. (1800-1885)

Dexter Reeves, Sr. was born in East Sudbury, Massachusetts (now Wayland) on October 2, 1800, to Jacob Reeves and Elizabeth Robinson. The Reeves family ran a tavern and farmed. Dexter moved to Boston where he married Margaret Perry Trofater on June 27, 1833. She was born in Salem, Massachusetts about 1813. Dexter was employed in Boston as a clerk. Dexter and Margaret’s son Dexter Reeves, Jr. was born in Boston September 19, 1834. The family lived on Silver Street in South Boston in the 1840s-1850s, at the corner of 2nd and P Streets from 1863-1872, and finally at 760 East Broadway from 1875 to 1905. Dexter Sr. died in 1885 and Margaret in 1905.


Boston City Directories, 1855-1905.

Toomey, John J. and Edward P. B, Rankin. History of South Boston. Boston: 1901.

Biographical note: Dexter Reeves, Jr. (1835-1905)

Dexter Reeves, Jr. was born to Dexter Reeves, Sr. and Margaret Trofater Reeves on September 19, 1834. Dexter Jr. married Maria Grindle, who was born in 1840 in Blue Hill, Maine. Maria, a tailor, was living in the Reeves's home in Boston in 1860 according to the US census. He and Maria had one son, Marcellus, born in South Boston March 31, 1863. Maria died of tuberculosis later that year, and Marcellus continued to live in his grandparents’ home in South Boston with his father. Dexter Jr. worked as a bank teller and superintendent of the Foreign Money Department at the National Bank of Redemption on Devonshire St. in Boston. He was a member of South Boston's Broadway Universalist Church, interested in spiritualism, and was a life member of the Boston Handel and Haydn Society. He died July 3, 1905 in Boston.


Boston City Directories, 1855-1905.

Toomey, John J. and Edward P. B, Rankin. History of South Boston. Boston: 1901.


6 Linear Feet (9 containers)

Language of Materials



Diaries of a South Boston father and son. Included are accounts of the weather; household, garden, and neighborhood happenings; attendance at community, religious, music, lecture, and seance events; local and national news; reading habits; health, births, deaths, and marriages; visitors; as well as correspondence sent and received.


Arranged in two series. I. Dexter Reeves, Sr., and II. Dexter Reeves, Jr.


Purchased from American Historical Manuscripts in 2012.

Existence of digital copies

Portions of this collection are available digitally. Links are included in the inventory.

Reeves Family Diaries
Lynn Moulton
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States