John Hayden Mystery

John Hayden (1808-1892)—jeweler, mariner, one-time mayor of Bath, grandfather of Emma Eames and John Sedgwick Hyde—was said to be a writer of “considerable historical matter,” according to his obituary in the August 20th, 1892 issue of the Bath Enterprise. Some of his works are cited in Parker McCobb Reed’s History of Bath and Environs.
Though the History Room and Bath Historical Society collections contain works by many of Hayden’s contemporaries, our search so far has come up empty. There are scattered products of his pen at other libraries, but the bulk of his work appears to be missing. Where could it be? This is one of the many mysteries that keep archivists and researchers up at night. 

Where We Searched

Our search for John Hayden material has been thorough (but not exhaustive). Here are a few of the tools and sources we checked:

In our collections:

  • The History Room Accession Register – A listing of materials given to the History Room by many, many donors over the years. The History Room reference staff will search the register (currently a Word document) upon request.
  • The Bath Historical Society Accession Register – Ditto as above, but for materials given to Bath Historical Society.
  • Malcolm Hamilton’s Bath, Maine: Bibliography of Materials about the City and Surrounding Towns, from the Earliest Times to the PresentA valuable reference for locally relevant materials.
  • Our vertical file on the Hayden family – Vertical files include newspaper clippings, obituaries, photocopies, and other bits and pieces that wouldn’t be stored elsewhere in the collection. The term “vertical file” comes from an old-fashioned term for a filing cabinet.
  • Our “archival vertical file” on surnames beginning with H – The archival vertical files include single items that are too rare or fragile to go in the regular vertical file.
  • The Minerva catalog – It has more than just books! Over the past three years, we have been working on cataloging our manuscript materials in Minerva (so you can find out about them without having to ask).

In other collections:

  • The MaineCat catalog – Other libraries that have manuscript collections also use their catalogs to share manuscript materials. MaineCat brings together almost all Maine library catalogs, including those of Maine Maritime Museum, Bowdoin College, Portland Public Library, and the Maine State Library. We actually did find a few Hayden materials in MaineCat! Read on below to find out more about them.
  • WorldCat – Like MaineCat, but for the whole world! Any database of diverse formats from diverse places can be challenging to search, but it’s still worth poking around. Also, it’s not exhaustive. Many Maine libraries, like Patten Free Library, are not represented in WorldCat, because it can be expensive to take part.
  • ArchiveGrid – A national shared catalog of manuscript material. As anyone with California cousins knows, what started in Maine doesn’t always stay in Maine. Manuscripts travel! Unfortunately, ArchiveGrid is not exhaustive. Just like WorldCat, it can be hard for small archives to get their records in the database.


What We Found

We found two promising resources by doing an LC Subject search in MaineCat.


Where We Can Look Next

While archivists and catalogers do their best to help researchers find the materials they need by indexing as many names and subjects as possible, there are hordes of collections—here and elsewhere—that remain uncatalogued, minimally cataloged, or too large to catalog comprehensively. It is frequently up to the researcher to page through manuscript collections if they want to be sure they’re not missing something.

  • It’s possible that Hayden’s writings are part of the Sagadahoc Historical Society collections. The old Sagadahoc Historical Society operated in the late 1800s but dissolved in the nineteen-teens. It’s collections were subsequently scattered between Patten Free Library, Maine Maritime Museum, and private owners. The existing collections have yet to be fully cataloged.
  • Other collections: local historians’ research papers often contain the manuscript materials of others. Several generations of researchers’ papers are here, including those of Henry Otis Thayer, Henry Wilson Owen, and P. L. Pert Jr.
  • Hyde family collections: John Hayden lived at 955 Washington Street, which passed on to his grandson, John Sedgwick Hyde, after his death. Hyde only lived there for a few years before moving to a new house at Elmhurst, also known as the Hyde Mansion. Did Hayden’s papers survive the move? An extraordinarily dedicated researcher might try to track down the fate of any Hyde family materials, which could contain records of the earlier generations. They might try other branches of the family tree as well.


Maybe you know where the Hayden papers could be. Have you ever seen anything written by Hayden? Are his works hiding in plain sight in the History Room ? Are they still stuck up in the attic of his former home? Have they traveled far afield with one of his descendants? Help us sleep soundly by letting us know if you have any clues to the whereabouts of John Hayden’s writing. Email

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