Henry Grinnell Letters

Manuscripts Collection 8

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Grinnell, Henry, 1799-1874
Title: Henry Grinnell Letters
Dates: 1860-1871 (bulk 1870-1871)
Extent: 44 items
Abstract: The collection is limited to an 11 year period, primarily to the years 1860-1871 and the Charles F. Hall polar expedition. Included are letters to Grinnell from C. F. Hall in New London, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., regarding Arctic exploration and Hall’s work in obtaining a Congressional appropriation for an expedition. Included also is a list of donations to the Hall Franklin expedition of 1860.
Identification: Coll. 8

Biography of Henry Grinnell

Henry Grinnell was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1799 and in 1818 went to New York City where he became a clerk in the commission house of H. D. & E. B. Sewell. In 1825 Henry joined his brother Joseph Grinnell and formed Fish, Grinnell & Company. A few years later this became Grinnell, Minturn & Company, a firm whose operations were greatly expanded by its entry into the general shipping business. This company became one of the strongest mercantile houses in New York City. Henry Grinnell retired in 1850, the same year in which he financed the outfitting of two vessels, the Advance and the Rescue, to search the Arctic for the lost Franklin Polar Expedition. He also helped finance a second rescue expedition three years later. On later occasions Grinnell manifested his unabated interest in polar exploration by contributing to the voyage of Isaac I. Hayes in 1860, and to the Polaris venture of Charles F. Hall in 1871. He was also one of the founders of the American Geographical and Statistical Society. Henry Grinnell died in 1874.

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.


Franklin, John, 1786-1847
Hall, Charles Francis, 1821-1871

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Polaris (Ship)


Arctic regions–Discovery and exploration
North Pole–Discovery and exploration–American


United States North Polar Expedition (1871-1873)


Capitalists and financiers–New York (State)–New York Merchants–New York (State)–New York

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 8, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Index to Personal and Corporate Names

NOTE: The fraction(s) indicate the Box and Folder numbers where that particular reference can be found. For example, the researcher will find information about Brevoort, L. Carson (Esquimaux) in Box 1, Folder 1 of the collection.
?, Hannah 1/2, 1/3
?, Joe 1/2, 1/3
B. Curry & Co. 1/1
Brevoort, L. Carson 1/1, 1/4
Budington, Sidney (Captain) 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
Chapel, Edward A. 1/1, 1/2, 1/3
Chapell, Richard H. 1/1
Dawes, H. L. 1/2
Erin, ? (Mr.) 1/1
Franklin Hall Expedition 1/1, 1/2
Grant, Ulysses S. 1/2
Grinnell Expedition 1/1
Grinnell, Henry 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
Grinnell, Sylvia 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
Grinnell, Walter 1/3, 1/4
Hall, C. F. 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
Harris, J. N. 1/1
Heavne, Samuel 1/1
Hempstead, I. B. 1/1
Henry, ? (Prof.) 1/2
Jenckes, ? (Mr.) 1/2
Kellett, ? (Captain) 1/1
Kelly, William D. 1/2
Kilmen, ? (Mr.) 1/3, 1/4
King, William 1/1
Kneel, F. L. 1/1
Lailer, Frank 1/2, 1/3
McChitock, ? 1/1
McNaughton, James, Jr. 1/3
McRitchie, ? (Captain) 1/4
National Republic 1/2
New York Herald 1/1
North Pole Expedition 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
Porter, ? (Admiral) 1/2
Powers, William 1/1
Rae, ? (Dr.) 1/1
Sargent, A. A. 1/3, 1/4
Sheft & Harris 1/1
Sherman, William T. (General) 1/2
Smith, N. D. 1/1
Snow, W. Parker 1/1, 1/4
St. Johns Journal 1/1
Stevenson, ? (Mr.) 1/2
Tyson, ? (Captain) 1/3
William Harris & Co. 1/1
Wilson, ? (Senator) 1/2

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Index to Vessel Names

NOTE: The fraction(s) indicate the Box and Folder numbers where that particular reference can be found. For example, the researcher will find information about AMERICAN in Box 1, Folder 3 of the collection.
ANTELOPE (Ship) 1/1
ENA 1/3
FAITH (Sledge) 1/1
HELEN F. (Schooner) 1/3
NUHPA (Steamer) 1/3
PIONEER (Steamer) 1/1
TALLAPOOSA (Steamer) 1/4

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Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Papers; 1861-1871.

Box Folder
1 1 Papers pertaining to a polar expedition conducted by C. F. Hall in search of the Franklin party, including correspondence with C. F. Hall, letters from Richard H. Chapell, and Edward A. Chapel in addition to notes and clippings. Images · Transcriptions
2 Papers pertaining to polar exploration, including clippings, notes, and mostly letters from C. F. Hall. Images · Transcriptions
3 Papers pertaining to polar exploration, including letters from Frank Leiler, C. F. Hall, and James McHaughton, Jr.. Images · Transcriptions
4 Papers pertaining to polar exploration, including letters from C. F. Hall and W. Parker Snow. Images · Transcriptions


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