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Nathaniel Dunn papers

Identifier: M051

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Scope and Content

The collection includes Dunn's memoirs (1884); legal papers and documentation concerning his inventions and writings; three volumes of his private journal/scrapbooks (1842-89); manuscripts for "Satan Chained" and "Satan Chained and Earth Redeemed"; newsclippings and obituaries; and biographical information.

The three volumes of Dunn's private journal/scrapbooks contain very interesting and unusual information and items including: many locks of Dunn's hair, which he used to show the progression of his hair color as he aged, from 1842-89; detailed accounts of the deaths of his first wife, and his son, Charles Henry, and other family members, and family obituaries; accounts of family life and business dealings; some of Dunn's poetry; newsclippings about historical events; a photograph of Dunn at age 76, with a separate note written by him regarding such; a large undated photograph of "Dr. Shady's house..." inscribed on back by C. E. D. (probably Charlotte Elizabeth, Dunn's daughter); half- and two-dollar bills of Continental currency dated 1776; a Confederate bill dated 1861 (plain on back); President Ulysses S. Grant's signature; editorial cartoons, circulars, and playbills. Upon Dunn's death in 1889, his daughter Charlotte continues the journal (until 1909) and includes newspaper clippings, photos, and multiple of Dunn's obituaries.


  • Creation: 1842-1948


Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Biographical/Historical Note

Nathaniel Dunn (born in Poland, Maine, January 29, 1800) graduated from Bowdoin College Medical School in 1825, the same year as Hawthorne and Longfellow, and received advanced degrees from Brown (1828) and Bowdoin (1842). In 1827, Dunn married Charlotte L.Tillinglast (1804-39), with whom he had five children; three of whom died young. In 1841, two years after the death of his first wife, Dunn married Judith Elizabeth Rogers (ca. 1807-69), and they had three children; one of whom died young. Dunn was offered an opportunity by Judge Ruggles of Thomaston to study law under him, which he declined in favor of a teaching position at Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts (1825-29), where he taught chemistry and natural philosophy. He opened a private school in New York in 1829, and remained there until becoming a merchant in Kingston, New York in 1835. In 1841, he opened a school in Tarrytown, New York and stayed there until 1844, when he was called to be principal of a seminary in Hampstead, New York. Dunn opened another school in New York in 1849. From 1856-71 he did a lecture tour on chemistry, including one at Rutgers College in New York. Dunn wrote and published a poem, "Satan Chained" (1864), which was later revised and published as "Satan Chained and Earth Redeemed" (1875). He also wrote various unpublished poems, of which two were "The Indian Girl" and "Superstition". Dunn was an abolitionist, and a friend of Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison. In the last years of his life, he became reclusive, occupying most of his time with his books and his writing. He died in New York City, October 17, 1889.


0.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Memoirs (1884), legal papers, documentation concerning Dunn's inventions and writings, private journal/scrapbooks (1842-89), writings, newsclippings, obituaries, and biographical information.

Guide to the Nathaniel Dunn Papers
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011 Repository

3000 College Station
Brunswick Maine 04011 USA
(207) 725-3288