Providence and Bristol, R.I.
Size: 1.75 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 386
Processed by: Robin Flynn and Rick Stattler, March 2000
USE MICROFILM HQ 1438. R45 Pt 2 Reels 9 - 16
©Rhode Island Historical Society
Byron Diman (1795-1865) served as governor of Rhode Island from 1846 to 1847. He was born in Bristol, the eldest son of Jeremiah and Hannah (Luther) Diman. At the age of sixteen he entered the counting house of James D’Wolf of Bristol, Rhode Island, whose business interests included the West Indies trade. Diman remained in the shipping and whaling industries for several years. He was treasurer and later president of the Bristol Steam Mill; a director of the Pokanoket Mill; and for many years, president of the Bank of Bristol.
Byron Diman was married twice, first to Abigail Alden Wight in 1823; second to Elizabeth Ann Wood, in 1855. He and his first wife had six children, four of whom lived to maturity. One son, Henry Wight Diman (1835-1884), was a paymaster during the Civil War. He was also a justice of the peace and public notary for the town of Bristol.
Another son of Byron and Abigail Diman was Jeremiah Lewis Diman (1831-1881), who was a clergyman, and later became a professor of history at Brown University. J.L. Diman married Emily G. Stimson (1837-1901), the daughter of John J. Stimson (1798-1860) and Abby M. Clarke (1798-1882). J.L. and Emily Diman had four children: Maria S. (1862-1881), Rev. John B. Diman (1863-after 1940), Louise (1869-1954, never married), and Emily (1873-1949, never married). Louise was a teacher, and was involved in the founding of the Providence Animal Rescue League in 1913.
The histories of the firms C. R. Diman & Co. and Derol Diman & Co. have not been established. They were both in business in Bristol, Rhode Island during the 1840s and 1850s, and appear to have been maritime merchants.
Diman, Louise. Leaves from a Family Tree (Published by author, 1941).
Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island (Chicago: Beers & Co.), p. 872.
Obituary of Louise Diman in the Providence Journal, April 8, 1954.
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Scope and content:
This collection consists mainly of correspondence and diaries of several members of the Diman family of Bristol, spanning about 150 years. There is also a small assortment of maritime, financial, and miscellaneous papers. Specifically, the distribution of the diaries is as follows: one diary each from John J. and his wife Abby (Stimson) Diman; nine diaries of Jeremiah Lewis Diman; and 37 diaries of Louise Diman. Louise Diman’s autograph book includes an illustrated inscription from famed Providence feminist author Charlotte Perkins.
The bulk of the correspondence is to Louise Diman, from her brother John and her mother Emily. There is one folder of letters to Louise’s sister Emily, also mostly from their mother. There are four folders of correspondence to Byron Diman covering his career as merchant and as Rhode Island governor. A series of letters from 1845 discusses the Narragansett Indian school in Charlestown.
A letter from W. P. Sheffield to Henry W. Diman, dated July 19, 1861, remarks: “Gov. Sprague has won an enviable distinction here, strange as it may appear to you. I solemnly believe that at this hour, there is not a man in this country who has a stronger hold upon the populace (sic) heart. The story of his little acts, has run from soldier to soldier, from camp to camp, and been magnified at each recital. It has been told in letters to the fathers, mothers, sisters and friends until his name has become familiar to every loyal heart in the land.”
The Abigail M. (Clarke) Stimson diary covers seventeen years in just 102 pages. It was written when Stimson was in her fifties and sixties. The entries are generally very terse, mostly detailing household events, but the rare longer entries are more insightful.
The Louise Diman diaries document most of her life from age ten to age eighty-four. They include volumes written as a girl in Providence, as a teacher in Providence and Colorado, as a summer resident in Maine, and as a retiree in Providence. The writing quality was excellent in the childhood volumes. Diman wrote only brief entries from 1894 to 1907, which then gradually improved as her leisure time increased.
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The Abby Stimson diary was donated in 1945 by her granddaughters, Louise and Emily Diman. The Byron Diman papers were apparently donated circa 1962 as part of the Haffenreffer Collection. In 1967, Syracuse University made a gift of 54 items labelled “Byron Diman family papers”; and the Bristol Steam Mill Company journal was purchased from James A. Tyson. The provenance of the other papers is unknown.
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The Byron Diman papers were originally processed circa 1975, but the correspondence was left tied in bundles, in original mailing envelopes. In 1997, the diaries in the collection were identified and organized. The remainder of papers were completely processed in March, 2000.
A handwritten item list found with the papers is filed in the collection file.
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Byron Diman (1795-1865)
Volume. Bristol Steam Mill Company cash journal, 1838-1839.
Box 1, folder 1. Commissions, 1819-1856.
Box 1, folder 2. Correspondence, 1822-1834.
Box 1, folder 3. Correspondence, 1835-1845.
Box 1, folder 4. Correspondence, 1846.
Box 1, folder 5. Correspondence, 1847-1859 and n.d.
Box 1, folder 6. Financial papers, 1820-1854.
Box 1, folder 7. Legal papers, 1837-1854.
Box 1, folder 8. Memorandum book listing vessel specifications, circa 1836.
Box 1, folder 9. Ships’ receipts and bills (mostly for barque Anne), 1825-1846.
Oversized storage: Whaleman’s shipping paper, barque Anne, December, 1844. (Archival copy in folder.)
C. R. Diman & Co.
Box 1, folder 10. Receipts, 1848-1853.
Derol, Diman & Co.
Box 1, folder 11. Correspondence, 1857.
Emily (Stimson) Diman
Box 1, folder 12. Correspondence, 1882-1896 and n.d.
Box 1, folder 13. Memorandum book, 1871-1897.
Emily Diman (1873-1949)
Box 1, folder 14. Correspondence, 1886-1896.
Box 1, folder 15. Correspondence, 1897, 1898.
Box 1, folder 16. Correspondence, 1923-1948 and n.d.
Henry Wight Diman (1835-1884)
Box 1, folder 17. Commissions as justice of the peace and public notary, 1859.
Box 1, folder 18. Correspondence, 1854-1866.
Box 1, folder 19. Receipts and bills for construction of new jail at Bristol, 1859.
Jeremiah Lewis Diman (1831-1881)
Box 1, folder 20. Diaries, 1872, 1873, 1874.
Box 1, folder 21. Diaries, 1875-1877.
Box 1, folder 22. Diaries, 1878-1880.
Box 1, folder 23. Miscellaneous papers:
Program for Shakespeare reading, 1871
Letter to Miss [Dunnell?], April 24, 1872 (copy)
Poem with illustration on reverse, January 21, 1881
Memorial to J. L. Diman, June 14, 1886
Letter to unknown from J. L. Diman, October 30, ____
Louise Diman (1869-1954)
Box 1, folder 24. Correspondence, 1885-1888.
Box 1, folder 25. Correspondence, 1891-1894.
Box 1, folder 26. Correspondence, 1895-1896.
Box 1, folder 27. Correspondence, 1900-1919.
Box 1, folder 28. Correspondence, 1921-1926, 1949, 1951.
Box 1, folder 29. Correspondence, undated.
Box 1, folder 30. Diaries, 1880, 1881, 1882, and autograph book, 1876-1883.
Box 1, folder 31. Diaries, 1884, 1886, 1894, 1895.
Box 1, folder 32. Diaries, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900.
Box 1, folder 33. Diaries, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906.
Box 1, folder 34. Diaries, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910.
Box 1, folder 35. Diaries, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914-1918.
Box 1, folder 36. Diaries, 1920, 1931, 1933
Box 2, folder 1. Diaries, 1934, 1935, 1937
Box 2, folder 2. Diaries, 1938, 1939, 1940.
Box 2, folder 3. Diaries, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951-1954.
Box 2, folder 4. Manuscripts:
“Around the World with the American Board”
“Lafayette in America”
“A Few Old Friends”
Box 2, folder 5. Notes on religious convictions (2 volumes), 1951.
Diman family, miscellaneous
Box 3, folder 1. Papers, 1791-1910 and n.d.:
Deed, Benjamin Bourn to Jeremiah Diman Sr., July 7, 1791
Deed, Nathaniel Diman to son Jeremiah Diman, May 11, 1802
Letter to Emily Stimson from Rev. Pitt Clark, December 15, 1804 or 1807
Letter to “Friend Diman” from Augustus O. Bourne, February 15, 1856
Deed, Samuel Osgood to Abby M. Stimson, August 30, 1879
Deed, Sullivan Investment Co. to John B., Louise, and Emily Diman, June 24, 1910
Biographical sketch of Col. David Diman, undated
Abby Clarke Stimson (1798-1882)
Box 3, folder 2. Diary, 1850-1867.
John J. Stimson (1798-1860)
Box 3, folder 3. Gardening journal, 1850-1856; newspaper clippings on Horticulture Society and
related topics, 1857-1869.
Box 3, folder 4. Unidentified book of poetry, n.d.
Box 3, folder 5. Miscellaneous correspondence, 1835-1907.
Box 3, folder 6. Miscellaneous papers, 1801-1885:
Lease, Ann Allen to Joseph S. Martin, 1801
Arrest warrant for Sampson Preshoe, 1807
Complaint about highway in Swansea, 1808
Promissory note, October 13, 1823
Judgment against Champlin Bowen, 1834
Mortgage deed, Esek Tallman, 1852
Bill of lading, barque Rebecca Goddard, 1862
Minnesota Loan & Trust Co. loan statement, 1885
List of flowers, n.d.
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Animal Rescue League
Anthony, Henry Bowen (1815-1884)
Bristol Steam Mill Company
Colorado - Social life and customs
Diman, Emily (1873-1949)
Diman, Byron (1795-1865)
Diman, Jeremiah Lewis (1831-1881)
Diman, Louise (1869-1954)
Diman, John B. (1863-)
Francis, John Brown (1791-1864)
Gilman, Charlotte A. (Perkins) (1860-1935)
Grace Church (Providence, R.I.)
Ireland - Description and travel
Ives, Moses Brown (1794-1857)
Lincoln School (Providence, R.I.)
Maine - Social life and customs
Merchant marine - Rhode Island - Bristol
Narragansetts - Schools
Pearce, Duttee Jerauld (1789-1849)
Potter, Elisha R. Jr. (1811-1822)
Providence, R.I. - Social life and customs
Sheffield, William P. (1820-?)
Sprague, William (1799-1856)
Sprague, William (Governor) (1830-1915)
St. George's School (Newport, R.I.)
Stimson, John J. (1798-1860)
Stimson, Abby (Clarke) (1798-1882)
Teachers - Rhode Island - Providence
Whaling - Rhode Island - Bristol
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