Many of the business and planning records of the Essex Company are located at the Lawrence History Center in the vaults that were built for them in 1883. The records include detailed plans of the dam and canals, layouts of streets, parks, railroads and mill sites, maps, photographs and correspondence, both incoming and copies of outgoing in letter books dating back to 1850. 

Records also include hundreds of field books and other documents detailing information on flow of water and weather conditions through time, and maps revealing the scope of the Company’s ambition with respect to the New Hampshire lands and lakes. 

There are approximately 150 glass plate negatives and 250 photographs taken by Essex Company staff chronicling details of engineering and construction activity between 1880 and 1910. Among them are detailed photographs of the building of the slow sand water filter and the only known photograph of the building of the dam.  

The business records contain the deeds going back to the mid 18th century of lands the Essex Company purchased, as well as copies of all of the deeds for lots sold by the Essex Company from 1846 to the 1970s. The journals, ledgers, cashbooks, mortgage, water rents and payroll records are nearly complete, as are receipts of transactions and stock certificates from 1845 on. There are complete ownership histories of many of the mills. Much of the business correspondence is included in the collection, including original letters addressed to the Essex Company and copies of letters in letter books. 

The materials on the many legal entanglements of the Essex Company over water and land rights, taxes and, finally, the collection is enhanced by hundreds of books and pamphlets that reveal much about the Essex Company’s position with respect to broader regional and national concerns, including the U.S. Census and reports of the U.S. War Department, especially concerning the Government’s lively interest over many years in making the Merrimack River navigable for military purposes. 

Business Records

  • Deeds and mortgage documentation
  • Payroll lists for Essex Company (not mills)
  • Financial records, including journals, ledgers, cashbooks and transaction receipts from 1845 to 1979
  • Water power records
  • Correspondence: incoming originals and copies individually and in letter books
  • Transcripts and decisions of legal proceedings

Planning and Engineering Documentation Records

  • Original plans for dam, canals, streets, sewers
  • Records of maintenance and improvements over time 1845 – 1979 for industrial infrastructure and City
  • Correspondence: incoming originals and copies individually and in letter books
  • Approximately 250 Glass plate negatives and original photographs detailing engineering and planning concerns

General Records

  • Documents, scrapbooks, correspondence revealing aspects of Essex Company’s relationship with community of Lawrence
  • Collections of reports (State Board of Health, U.S. War Department, Massachusetts Acts and Resolves, Massachusetts and U.S. Census, U.S. Geological Survey) that reveal Essex Company involvement with regional and national concerns