1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Diman Family Papers

 Providence and Bristol, R.I.

 Papers, 1801-1954.

 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

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            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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Processing note:

            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

Anne (barque)

Anthony, Henry Bowen (1815-1884)

Bourne, Benjamin

Bristol Steam Mill Company

Butler Hospital

Colorado - Social life and customs

Diaries, 1930-1954

Diaries, 1850-1867

Diaries, 1880-1886

Diaries, 1872-1880

Diaries, 1894-1920

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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