Dedham Historical Society




Tuesday and Thursday 9:00am – 4:00pm and even dated Saturdays from 1:00-4:00pm. Please call or email for an appointment prior to your visit. Admission is free for DHS members and $5 per visit per person for non-members. Please contact the Society for specific information regarding reproduction fees.

In order to serve our researchers in the best way possible please have the following information you are researching available when contacting our staff: family or business names; historical dates; and resources already used.

Contact Information:

Dedham Historical Society Research Request

PO Box 215


Phone: 781-326-1385


Our library staff consists of professionals and volunteers. They can provide research for a prepaid fee of $25.00 for the first hour and $20 for each additional hour. The time needed to respond to research inquiries is based on the availability of the researchers and the number of requests being handled.



The library and archives of the Dedham Historical Society & Museum is an independent research facility. It collects, preserves, & provides access to genealogical records and materials on the history of the Town of Dedham from the 1600’s to the present.

The library contains over 10,000 volumes including standard genealogical and historical reference materials. Other resources include:

  • Massachusetts history: state, county, cities & towns
  • Town records of Dedham      and other Massachusetts communities
  • Genealogies and genealogical files
  • Vital records of Dedham      and other Massachusetts communities
  • DedhamHigh School yearbooks
  • Dedham        street      directories
  • Dedham building files
  • Boston city directories

Additionally, there are biographies of significant national and local men and women as well as volumes on the Revolutionary and Civil War.

The archive includes extensive Dedham related manuscripts:

  • Church and civil records from 1635
  • Newspapers from 1796
  • 18th – 20th century maps
  • Journals, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs,      postcards, and ephemera
  • Social organizations and business collections including banks and      turnpikes
  • Military collection, particularly strong from      the Civil War


Listed below are samples of Dedham families and some of the related archival materials held by the DHS.

Website Finding Aids


The letters received by Martha (Chaloner) Church Cunningham and receipts for business transactions constitute the majority of the collection.   Martha Church was the daughter of Benjamin Church.  She was married to an apothecary, John Chaloner, and after his death to Major James Cunningham with whom she moved to Medfield and then Dedham.  The correspondence, mostly between family members, centers on religion, family life, bankruptcy, illness, business transactions, and military service. The Chaloner Family Papers date from 1718-1791, the bulk from 1746-1774.


  • Benjamin      Church 1728-1794
  • Martha (Church) Chaloner Cunningham 1728-1794
  • John Chaloner 1726-1765
  • John Chaloner 1748-1793
  • William (Billy) Chaloner 1749-1802
  • Edward Chaloner   1751-1785



Jonathan Holmes Cobb attended HarvardCollege and entered the law profession in Dedham in 1819.  His other occupations included: editor of “The Village Register”, secretary and treasurer of the Dedham Institution for Savings, superintendent and central proprietor of a factory of sewing-silk; Register of Probate for Norfolk County from 1833 until 1879; and town clerk of Dedham from 1845-1875.  He purchased the house and land at 18 Norfolk Street across from the Court House in 1821.  John, Isabel and Abigail and were three of his children.  Abigail Cobb married George Austin Guild, a jeweler in Dedham.  John Doggett Cobb attended HarvardCollege and enlisted in 1862 with the 35th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers.  He wrote “History of Thirty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment.”  Upon finishing HarvardLawSchool, he became a lawyer, later a representative to the General Court in 1876 and 1877 and succeeded his father as Register of Probate for NorfolkCounty.  In addition, he was a founder and president of the Dedham Boat Club.  Isabel (Cobb) French married Frederick Halverson French.  They had seven children.  There are personal papers, business papers, military papers and journals from circa 1850.  There are some records from the silk company.  The collection ranges from 1830-1870.


  • Jonathan Holmes Cobb (1799-1882)
  • Abigail (Cobb) Guild  (1837-1861)
  • John Doggett Cobb (1840-1930)
  • Isabel (Cobb) French (1835- 1924)



David Guild Dethlefs was born to Louis Claus Dethlefs and Elsie Philbrick Guild, daughter of Henry Gardner Guild. He married Susan Swaim with whom there were 2 children, Susan and David, Jr. He later married Elizabeth Lynn Emerick. Dethlefs lived on Franklin Square for over 70 years.

After spending two years at HarvardUniversity and graduating from the BostonArchitecturalSchool, Dethlefs worked at the firm of Royal Barry Wills of Boston and later started his own business. He served in the Navy during WWII and after the war returned to Dedham to serve as Building Commissioner, a member of the Historic Districts Commission, as well as a board member of the Dedham Historical Society.

Dethlefs worked on local projects including the Dedham Community House playbarn and remodeling several buildings in Dedham’s historic districts. Dethlefs was a skilled artist and the Society is fortunate to have a number of his drawings of historic houses in the collection. He drew many of the sketches for the Dedham Historical Society house tour program books in the early 1990s.

A Guild descendant, Dethlefs sought to preserve his family’s history. The DHS collection contains the 1930s will of Emma Guild, the widow of a Civil War veteran Amasa Guild, as well as the papers of Henry Gardner Guild. There are also documents on the reuse of the Norfolk County Jail, photographs from his time as building commissioner, and of the Guild family. The Dethlefs’ archival collection also includes the sermons and diaries of his father, the Reverend Louis C. Dethlefs, a Universalist Pastor in various parishes in Massachusetts, including Walpole, Norwood, and Medford.

Related family files include:

  • Reverend Louis C. Dethlefs (1912-1948)
  • Elsie Guild Dethlefs (1885-1980)
  • Arthur Wilder Thayer (1857-1934) and Annie      Fisher Thayer (1858-1947)
  • Emma Guild (1846-1933) and Amasa Guild      (1840-1907)
  • Henry Gardner Guild (1846-1912)



John Guild signed the covenant in 1637, was admitted to the church in Dedham in 1640, becoming a freeman in 1643.  As an original proprietor of land, he owned property

In Medfield, Wrentham, and Natick.   The Guilds have played various roles in the town, including as selectmen and town clerks.  They were also distinguished for their military service.  Aaron Guild from South Dedham, served in Lexington during the Revolutionary War, and Nathaniel Guild rose to the rank of brigadier general and was a town collector and treasurer in the early 1800’s.  Captain Joseph Guild served in the Revolutionary War.   Amasa Guild participated in the Civil War.  This collection details military service, including a copy of the journal of Captain Joseph Guild from March 9, 1776.  There is a copy of Aaron Guild muster roll and a Day Book for 1799 from the blacksmith shop of Amasa Guild.  The Calvin Guild papers contain ledgers from 1822-1841, and an auction sale sign.  In the Joel and Hannah Guild Papers is a Currier and Ives mourning lithograph.  The Reuben Guild III folder includes his appointment as a captain in 1825. Miranda Guild’s contribution is a booklet of poems with wallpaper cover.  These documents span circa 1775-1841.


  • Amasa Guild (1768-1802)
  • Calvin Guild       (1775-1858)
  • Joel and Hannah Guild  (1765-1842)
  • Reuben Guild III  (1793- 1882)
  • Miranda Guild (1799 – 1873
  • Olive (Cheney) Guild (1800-1858)
  • Abigail Elizabeth Guild (1833-1927)
  • Aaron Guild (1728-1818)



Amasa Guild served in the Civil War in the Union Army in Company F. of the 18th Massachusetts Regiment of Volunteers, attaining the rank of first lieutenant.   There are military records pertaining to the quartermaster corps from 1864. Guild kept a diary in 1861 which is in this collection as well as correspondence concerning the return of the state flag.  He was a charter member of the Charles W. Carroll Post 144, G. A. R.

The collection spans the years from 1864 to 1905.


  • Amasa Guild (1840 – 1907)



Guild was a successful photographer who did portraits, views and groups. And documented Dedham.   He framed items to order and did custom outdoor photography work at a studio at 575 High Street. He lived with his wife, Emma Beach at 47 School Street.  A prolific photographer, the Dedham Historical Society owns many of his glass plate negatives.  This collection holds his scrapbooks.  Some are of Dedham, especially the houses, family and inhabitants.  Other images are from his travels in Europe, New England and Canada.  Many of the photographs are in the collection of his glass plate negatives, reprinted by the Society.

There are photographic postcards, calling cards, and trade cards.  They range in date from 1880’s through 1920’s.


  • Jonathan Guild       (1871-1940)



Mr. Holden was born in Dedham on 3/10/1728.  From 3/31/1759 to 4/22/1760 he served 55 weeks and 4 days as a lieutenant at FortCumberland under Captain Simon Slocomb.    This is a typewritten ledger book of 117 pages copied from the original. It spans the years 1759-1760.   Colonel Frye was the Commanding Officer of the Garrison at FortCumberland in Nova Scotia.  Serving in the military was his career.  Benjamin Holden was the officer who wrote the orderly book that details the orders issued at the fort.  Some of the orders include:  provisioning; discipline; relations with the Indians; rules regarding “spirituous liquors”; and mutiny.  This spans the years from 1759-1760.


  • Captain Simon Slocomb
  • Benjamin Holden


TISDALE, HENRY W. 1837-1922

Tisdale was born in Walpole and raised in West Dedham. He was the first resident from Westwood to enlist for service with the Union in the Civil War. He joined the Thirty-fifth Regiment Company I in 1862. As a sergeant, Tisdale fought in many different battles including:  the Battle of South Mountain where he sustained injuries; at Knoxville; and at North Anna where he was captured.  While he remained incarcerated at the Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville, Tisdale was recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor, for his distinguished service.

The collection includes a typewritten copy of his civil war diary from 1862-1865 that had belonged to his daughter; a letter from Andersonville prison; his discharge paper; additional letters and photographs, including one of Henry Tisdale, as well as GAR memorabilia.


  • Henry W. Tisdale      (1837-1922)