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John B. Coyle Papers, 1856-1882, 1958

Identifier: MH 63

Scope and Content Note

The John B. Coyle papers consist of two items, a typescript of a personal diary, which covers the years 1856 to 1882, and a photocopy of the typescript diary pages for the years 1856 to 1860.

The personal diary is a collection of typescript pages of a personal diary kept by John B. Coyle between January 1, 1859 and December 21, 1882. The years 1857, 1877, and 1880 are not represented. The typescript was executed in 1958 by a great-granddaughter of Coyle (possibly Emily L. Graves) living in Waltham, Massachusetts, as indicated by an introductory letter to the material, which is signed "Sis." Parenthetical material that appears to be the transcriber's interpretation of annotations placed by the author is also included. The transcriber indicated that many annotations were not transcribed, particularly those containing financial information.

The bulk of the diary entries are typical of most diarists: comments about travel, weather, and health matters, with few details beyond that. Most business comments are very sketchy and lack detail. In many entries, insufficient information is presented to determine the location referenced. One of Coyle's duties, at least early in the time period represented, was to oversee construction of vessels, largely built in New York, by the Englis (or Euglis) Company. His comments in this regard are usually related to how the weather affected the progress of construction.


  • Creation: 1856-1882, 1958


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

John B. Coyle was born October 6, 1805. Coyle began his career on April 20, 1834, as an engineer aboard the steamship McDonough. He later became an executive for, and most likely owned interest in, a number of steamship companies that were centered in Portland, Maine, and active in coastal passenger and freight service. These companies included: Boston and Portland Steamship Company; New England and Nova Scotia Steamship Company; Portland Steam Packet Company; Portland and New York Steamship Company; and the International Steamship Company. His duties required frequent travel to Boston, New York, and Halifax. The text of Coyle's diary indicates that he was a member of the board of directors for each of the companies mentioned and was elected managing director and treasurer of the Portland Steam Packet Company on June 22, 1874.

Coyle was a religious man and frequently attended two church services (usually at two different churches) on a given Sunday. He had a curious interest in Spiritualism, but never embraced it. On April 18, 1830 he married Sabrina Merrill. They lived in Portland, Maine, and later in its suburb, Westbrook. John and Sabrina appear to have had two sons, George and John, and several grandchildren. John Coyle died sometime after 1882. Note: all of the above information was gleaned from Coyle's diary text.


0.75 linear feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The John B. Coyle papers consist of two items, a typescript of a personal diary, which covers the years 1856 to 1882, and a photocopy of the typescript diary pages for the years 1856 to 1860.

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This material was deposited in the library in June 1975 (accession #20,685) by Mrs. Stephen Phillips.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Robert F. Craig, December 1998. Updated by Hilary Streifer, December 2014.

JOHN B. COYLE PAPERS, 1856-1882, 1958
Processed by: Robert F. Craig; Updated by: Hilary Streifer; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA