Guide to the John Carter family papers, 1769 – 1917

(bulk 1769-1844)

John Carter Brown Library
Box 1894
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
Tel: (401) 863-2725

Published in 2013

Collection Overview

Title: John Carter family papers
Date range: 1769 – 1917, (bulk 1769-1844)
Creator: Carter family
Extent: 0.5 linear foot
Abstract: Correspondence and other papers related to Providence printer and newspaper publisher, John Carter (1745 – 1814), and his family.
Language of materials: English
Repository: John Carter Brown Library
Collection number: Carter papers

Scope & content

The collection consists primarily of the correspondence of John and Amey (Crawford) Carter and their nine children, including Dr. Benjamin Bowen Carter, a supercargo for the Brown family’s China trade vessels and Ann (Carter) Brown, wife of Nicholas Brown (1769 – 1841). Letters between other family members, including the interrelated Brown, Danforth, and Jenckes families, and with associates, including William and Mary Katherine Goddard of Philadelphia, are also represented.

The collection also contains a limited number of deeds, legal settlements, and other business related material. The majority of the material concerns family news, particularly as John Carter’s sons embarked on their various maritime adventures.

The bulk of material spans from 1769 to 1844, and is calendared with a card file index. After 1844, the material primarily consists of correspondence by Carter’s sons-in-law Nicholas Brown and Walter Raleigh Danforth (1787-1861).


The John Carter family papers are arranged chronologically.

Biographical/Historical note

Printer and journalist John Carter was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1745. After an apprenticeship with Benjamin Franklin, Carter moved in 1767 to Providence, Rhode Island, and began work with the Providence Gazette, the weekly newspaper operated by William Goddard with his sister, Mary Katherine Goddard, and their mother, Sarah Goddard. When William Goddard moved to Philadelphia to begin publishing the Philadelphia Chronicle in 1768, Carter purchased the Gazette, producing the paper until near his death in 1814. From 1773 to 1779, Carter partnered with William Wilkinson, and the press operated under the name Carter and Wilkinson.

From 1772 until 1792 Carter served as the first Postmaster of Providence (commissioned by his former employer, Benjamin Franklin, who was Postmaster-General). During the Revolutionary War, he served on the Committee of Correspondence.

In 1769, John Carter married Amey Crawford (1744-1806), daughter of Captain John Crawford of Providence. They had twelve children, nine of whom survived into adulthood. Ann Carter, their eldest daughter, married Nicholas Brown of Providence; they were the parents of John Carter Brown. Their eldest son, Benjamin Bowen Carter, studied under Dr. Benjamin Rush and practiced medicine for a short time in Connecticut. He spent most of his career as a doctor and supercargo for the Brown family on many China trade voyages, on the ship Ann & Hope. Carter’s other sons, James, Crawford and William, were also involved in maritime trade.

Children of John Carter and Amey Crawford:

Brown, Ann, 1770 - 1798 (Married to Nicholas Brown)

Carter, Benjamin Bowen, 1771 - 1835

Carter, John, 1774 - 1815

Carter, Crawford, 1775 - 1779

(Son) Carter, March 20-21, 1777

Jenckes, Rebecca, 1778 – 1837 (Married to Amos T. Jenckes)

Carter, James, 1780 – ca.1812

Carter, Crawford, 1782 - 1868

Carter, (Daughter), June – Sept. 1783

Carter, William, 1785 - 1821

Carter, Huldah Maria, 1787 - 1842

Danforth, Elizabeth Ann, 1790 – 1876 (Married to Walter Raleigh Danforth)

Access & Use

Access to the collection: All researchers must register and submit two forms of photographic identification, one of which must be government issued. Students and unaffiliated scholars must also have a written endorsement of their project from an advisor or other faculty member.
Use of the materials: Researchers are advised that express written permission to reproduce, quote, or otherwise publish any portion or extract from this collection must be obtained from the John Carter Brown Library.
Preferred citation: John Carter family papers, John Carter Brown Library, Providence, Rhode Island.
Contact information: John Carter Brown Library
Box 1894
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
Tel: (401) 863-2725

Administrative Information

Custodial history: The collection was deposited at the John Carter Brown Library through William Greene Roelker, by Mrs. Maurice K. Washburn of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, a descendant of John Carter, in 1938.
Author: Finding aid prepared by Kim Nusco
Encoding: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-12-13
Descriptive rules: Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)

Additional Information

Related material: Material pertaining to members of the Carter family can be found in the Brown family business records at the John Carter Brown Library. Related collections at other institutions include: Carter-Danforth Papers, Rhode Island Historical Society
Alternative guide: This collection was calendared by Ms. Florence Clapp in January 1954, and a card index exists for the papers from 1769 to 1844.


Folder 1
9.0 items

1769 – 1780
Folder 2
8.0 items

1781 – 1788
Folder 3
9.0 items

1791 – 1793
Folder 4
10.0 items

1794 – 1799
Folder 5
12.0 items

1800 – 1802
Folder 6
12.0 item

1803 – 1804
Folder 7 Bills of lading
16.0 items

1804 – 1806
Folder 8
8.0 items

Folder 9
13.0 items

1806 – 1807
Folder 10
11.0 items

1808 – 1813
Folder 11
11.0 items

1814 - 1817
Folder 12
8.0 items

1818 - 1821
Folder 13
13.0 items

1822 – 1829
Folder 14
9.0 items

1831 - 1848
Folder 15
8.0 items

1851 - 1917
Folder 16
37.0 items


Carter, Amey, 1744-1806
Carter, Benjamin Bowen, 1771-1831
Carter, Huldah, 1787 - 1842
Carter, James, 1780 – approximately 1812
Carter, John, 1745-1814
Carter, John, 1774 - 1815
Carter, William, 1785 - 1821