59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to the Emma Mayhew Whiting Collection, 1680-1947, undated

Descriptive Summary

Repository Martha's Vineyard Museum Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
Call Number RU 55
Title Emma Mayhew Whiting Collection
Date [inclusive] 1680-1947, undated
Extent 3 boxes and 1 oversize box (1.866 cubic feet)
Location For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's staff.
Language The materials are in English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to the library's staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 55, Emma Mayhew Whiting Collection.

Acquisition Information

Examples include the following:

  • Gift of Everett Whiting in 1968 (Accession no. 1968.030). [Donation]

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539

Revision Description

 Addition to the Collection; Series VI: Additions to Collection from Archival Survey, [CJ],  August 2015

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Linda M. Wilson in 2007 and machine-encoded by Clint Johnson in August 2015

Related Materials

Related Materials

  • See also, RU 207, Whaling and the Vineyard.
  • See also, RU 332, Pease, Harriet M. Collection, 1890-1906.
  • See also, RU 503, Warrin, Donald Portuguese Whaling Research Papers.
  • See also, Ambrose, RU 517, Edwin Whaling Research Papers.
  • See also, RU 538, Genealogy Collection.
  • See also, Every Name Index by Richard and Norma Hagen and by Catherine Mayhew.
  • See also, The Luce Genealogy by Martha McCourt.
  • See also, The Roy Norton Card File of Island families.

Index Terms


  • Bills of exchange
  • Bills of sale
  • Booklets
  • Brochures
  • Civil court records
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Deeds
  • Fliers (printed matter)
  • Genealogies (histories)
  • Obituaries
  • Histories (literature genre)
  • Poems
  • Programs (documents)
  • Receipts (financial records)
  • Research notes

Geographic Name(s)

  • Dukes County (Mass.)
  • Marthas Vineyard (Mass.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Hough, Henry Beetle, 1896-
  • Mayhew, Caroline
  • Whiting, Emma Mayhew, 1877-1947
  • Whiting, Johnson
  • Whiting, Everett


  • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--Genealogy.
  • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--History.
  • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--Poetry.
  • Martha's Vineyard (Mass.)--Songs and music.

Biography/Historical Note

Emma Mayhew Whiting spent her entire life on Martha’s Vineyard. She was born in Chilmark in 1876 and died on the Island in 1947 at the age of 69. She married Johnson Whiting in 1901. He farmed and raised sheep at their property in West Tisbury. Mrs. Whiting was known as a historian and writer and for her genealogy research.

Mrs. Whiting began research on the wives of whaling captains in the 1930’s. When she died in 1947, she had completed sufficient research for a book and had written several drafts of chapters. Henry Beetle Hough continued her efforts and brought the book to publication under the title Whaling Wives in 1952. He described her work as “a cherished enterprise…alive and suggestive.” She authored the second publication of the Dukes County Historical Society in 1924. It was titled Vineyard Indian Relics. Another publication from 1937 was Letters Home, an annotated collection of letters written to Dionis Coffin Allen Adams by her sons and daughter-in-law between 1805 and 1829.

She was a charter member of the Dukes County Historical Society and served as librarian and genealogist for the Society for many years. She was active in other community organizations including the Agricultural Society and the annual summer fair, reveling in the return of the fair at the end of World War II, and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. She conducted extensive genealogical research in the Society’s collections and she was known for her poetry on Vineyard topics and on historical themes. In 1948 her husband Johnson Whiting published a book of her poems written over the course of some 50 years as a memorial to her. A copy is in the collection of the Huntington Library as are her other publications. Her obituary in the Vineyard Gazette described her as …”not only the most widely known of Island women of this or any generation…” but unique “…by virtue of her special knowledge, personality and her activities.” Mr. Hough once described her as “the most distinguished woman the Vineyard has produced.”

Scope and Content of Collection

The Emma Mayhew Whiting Collection is a mix of business correspondence, research notes and public documents that represent the broad interests of Mrs. Whiting who spent her entire life on Martha’s Vineyard.

Of particular interest are the documents, primarily deeds, dating from 1680. More than 90 originals exist and there are copies of others missing from the collection. There are hand-written deeds for land transactions between some of the Island’s oldest families. Mayhew, Daggett, Allen, Butler, Manter, Athearn, Cottle, Chase, Coffin, Lambert, and Dunham are all represented in the deeds. Several deeds include the names or marks of Native Americans who sold land to Island families. One deed dated 1698 is written on parchment. All these documents were removed from a scrapbook, now housed separately, that belonged to Mrs. Whiting. The missing documents include the bill of sale for a Negro slave woman which was witnessed by Manesseh Cutler, a deed for the sale of land on “Sengecontocket …southeast by a swamp and upland of Isaac Norton…” and a grant to Islanders from the “…Queen Sachem of all wrecks and whales which may be cast on shore….”

Mrs. Whiting’s propensity for recycling every scrap of paper that passed through her hands has resulted in hand-written notes on the versos of a wide variety of ephemeral material without the presence of any organized transcription or index. Three notebooks of research for Whaling Wives are included as well as the draft chapters for the book. Among the research notes for Whaling Wives is a group of letters from Lloyd C. M. Hare, Berkeley, California, who supplied information about Caroline Mayhew, wife of Captain William Mayhew, who sailed with her husband in the 1830’s and 1840’s. Mrs. Whiting’s hand-written annotations appear on the letters. In the letters Mr. Hare rails against the W.P.A. publication, Whaling Captains, as “…a disgusting example of slipshod work for which they should have been ashamed….” Examples of her poetry and published articles of historical interest are in the collection and there is an unpublished manuscript dated 1940 which purports to be the memoirs of Willis Howes of Vineyard Haven. Pages from her personal copy of Banks’ History of Martha’s Vineyard, vol. 1, with marginalia are also present. The collection was presented to the Society by her son Everett Whiting.


  • Series I: Correspondence, 1911-1946
  • Series II: Publications, 1922-1937
  • Series III: Original Documents, 1680-1919
  • Series IV: Research
  • Series V: Oversized Documents
  • Series VI Additions to Collection from Archival Survey

Contents of Collection

Series I: Correspondence, 1911-1946 

Box Folder

Business Correspondence, 1911-1946 

1 1

Series II: Publications, 1922-1937 

Box Folder

History Booklets, undated 

1 2

Poetry, undated 

1 3

Series III: Original Documents, 1922-1937 

Box Folder

Letters, 1796-1919 

1 4

Receipts and Bills, 1797-1892 

1 5

Bill of Sale for the Ship Loan, 1824 

1 6

Agreement to form the Congregational Union Society, Chilmark,, 1813 

1 7

Wills, 1712-1907 

1 8

Legal Documents, 1719-1807 

1 9

Court Decisions, 1699-1723 

1 10

Deeds, 1680-1682 

1 11

Deeds, 1700-1719 

1 12

Deeds, 1720-1729 

1 13

Deeds, 1730-1748 

1 14

Deeds, 1750-1774 

1 15

Deeds, 1775-1798 

1 16

Deeds, 1800-1819 

1 17

Deeds, 1821-1829 

1 18

Deeds, 1839-1864 

1 19

Deed Framents, 1839, undated 

1 20

Brochures, Programs and Fliers, 1921-1982 

1 21

Series IV: Research

Box Folder

Research notes for Whaling Wives, undated 

1 22

Research notebooks for Whaling Wives, undated 

2 1

Miscellanea from Research Notebooks for Whaling Wives, undated 

2 2

Small Research notebooks for Whaling Wives, undated 

2 3

Unbound Research noteboook for Whaling Wives, undated 

2 4

Drafts of Chapters for Whaling Wives, undated 

2 5

History of Willis Howes, unpublished manuscript, circa 1940 

2 6

Genealogy Research notes, undated 

2 7

Genealogy Notebooks, undated 

2 8

Unbound Genealogy notebooks, undated 

2 9

Copies of Original Documents, 1680-1748 

3 1

Copies of Original Documents, 1750-1799 

3 2

Copies of Original Documents, 1800-1899 

3 3

Copies of Missing Original Documents, 1696-1769 

3 4

Obituary, 1947 

3 5

Newspaper Clippings, 1922-1982 

3 6

Series V: Oversized Documents

Box Folder

Deed on Parchment, 1698 

4 1

Deed, 1777 

4 2

Land Division, 1779 

4 3

Deed, 1833 

4 4

Series VI Additions to Collection from Archival Survey, 1800-1939, undated 

Scope and Content

The series contains material regarding Emma Mayhew Whiting from an archival survey of the Martha's Vineyard Museum's Collections and was added to collection in August 2015 including


The collection is arranged chronologically, followed by undated material.

Box Folder

Clippings, mostly poetry, 1800s, undated 

3 7

Lyrics to the Song The Irish Robber, 1800s 

3 8

Correspondence to Emily A. Johnson, 1834 

3 9

A New Selection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs Designed for the Pious, 1834 

3 10

Letters to Emily A. Johnson from Henry, 1834 

3 11

Letter from Henry Nye to Mr. Johnson, 1834 

3 12

Correspondence between Emily McCollum and siblings, 1847-1854, 1869, 1879, undated 

3 13

Miscellaneous Clippings, 1857, undated 

3 14

Vineyard Gazette Clippings, 1861-1896 

3 15

Annual Report of the New England Women's Auxiliary Association (NEWAA), 1863 

3 16

Correspondence between Emily A. McCullom and John McCullom, 1862-1871 

3 17

West Tisbury and Chilmark Soldiers Relief Society, 1862-1865, undated 

3 18

Unidentified correspondents, 1863 

3 19

Miscellaneous family correspondence, 1870-1912 

3 20

Miscellaneous McCullom papers and unidentified correspondents, 1872, undated 

3 21

Correspondence between Emily McCullom and John McCullom, 1873-1878, undated 

3 22

Correspondence relating to John McCullom’s Death and Pension, 1878-1881, undated 

3 23

Adams family Genealogical Notes, 1896 or after 

3 24

Letter from Adeline Lewett to Mrs. Davis, 1898 

3 25

Notes on Noman’s Land Property Transactions from Probate Records, 1905 or after 

3 26

Correspondence and Notes, 1913, 1941-1942 

3 27

Letter to Emma, 1937 

3 28

Dukes County Academy, 1937-1939 

3 29

Miscellaneous, undated 

3 30

Emma Mayhew writing, undated 

3 31

A Census of Dukes County, 1800 Heads of Family, undated 

3 32