As the oldest boarding school in New England, The Governor’s Academy possesses a treasure trove of historical materials. The artifacts and documents are stored in a 32-foot by 22-foot environmentally-controlled room on the top floor of the Pescosolido Library. The room was recently named The Ragle Archives Room in honor of Headmaster Emeritus Jack Ragle. 

Founded in 1763 and incorporated in 1782, the school possesses many items relating to the history of the Academy. One of our most cherished pieces is the Document of Incorporation of Dummer Academy, signed by Massachusetts Governor John Hancock and Senate President Samuel Adams on October 3, 1782. Another is the ledger containing the Trustees’ Records of Dummer Academy beginning May 27, 1783. The ledger is significant both for its record of the early years of the Academy as well as for the 17 pages written in the hand of John Quincy Adams, the future sixth president of the United States, but at the time, a clerk in the Newburyport office of Theophilus Parsons, first Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Of further interest in the Archives is the original Academy seal designed by silversmith and patriot Paul Revere.

An Archives Committee, appointed by Headmaster Marty Doggett in 2004 and comprised of alumni, faculty, and staff, oversees the preservation of the collection and provides educational programs and exhibits for the Academy community.

The Class of 1954 has taken a special interest in the Archives, donating monies to meet ongoing needs. To date, the class gift has been used to buy and install Pastperfect software and connected hardware, including a dedicated computer system to handle the record-keeping, accession, and provenance of the collection, both now and in the future. Most recently, funds were used to conserve the 338-page Trustees’ Records of Dummer Academy 1783-1856 including the notes written by John Quincy Adams.

Items of interest in our Archives collection:

  • Seventy-five linear feet of Trustee meeting minutes for the period from 1783 to 1995. These documents include seventeen ledger pages in the handwriting of John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States
  • Two linear feet of documents including the incorporation paper signed by Samuel Adams and John Hancock on October 3, 1782
  • Twenty-five linear feet of photographs and glass plate negatives of Essex County towns and neighborhoods taken by the noted Newburyport, Massachusetts photographer, John White Winder, between 1885 and 1905
  • Civil War scrapbook containing the letters of William W. Dorr written between 1862 and 1864 with original sketches of camp life and soldiers' portraits
  • Thirteen linear feet of letters, printed sermons, and miscellaneous papers written by the Byfield, Massachusetts historian, Reverend John L. Ewell between 1865 and 1906
  • Sixty-five linear feet of rare books printed between 1706 to 1899 including a first edition of the Dictionary of English Language by Samuel Johnson, 1773
  • One hundred and forty linear feet of student academic records from 1900 to 2003
  • Fifty linear feet of photographs recording sporting events, special occasions, and student organizations
  • Six linear feet of letters and sermons of Reverend Elijah Parish written between 1785 and 1848
  • One linear foot of letters written by Trustee Edward P. Noyes between 1893 and 1913
  • Four linear feet of Dummer family papers and photographs covering the years between 1725 and 1899, including the Academy's document of incorporation
  • Forty linear feet of framed signs, lithographs, prints, watercolor, and oil paintings- many rendered by critically acclaimed artists
  • Eighteen linear feet of The Archon, the Academy's alumni magazine recording student and alumni activities during the years between 1884 and 2007

If you have any questions, or would like more information about The Governor’s Academy Museum & Archives, please email Sharon Slater, Manager of the Archives, or call her at 978.499.3347.

All material is the property of The Governor’s Academy Museum & Archives and may not be copied, published or redistributed without the written permission of The Academy Archives. Text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use.