E. B. Coffin Papers

Identifier: NC1062

Scope and Contents

The papers of E. B. Coffin consist of genealogical materials about the Coffins and materials created by the family.

Approximately half of the papers consists of genealogical materials about individual members of the Coffin family. Arranged by the name of either William Coffin or each of his sons, the material consists largely of photocopies of official documents such as birth, marriage, or death certificates; and genealogical notes compiled by an unknown author (probably Donald Anthony). Each individual's file often contains further information about the son's wife and children.

The balance of the Coffin papers has been divided into series by type of original document. The correspondence series includes many letters from relatives in Nantucket, often providing details about the death of family members. Through these letters the reader will be able to piece together a complete picture of the Coffin family tree on both William and Ann Amelia Gardner Coffin's sides.

The financial series consists of only two ledgers; however, William's cash book dates from his early California experiences (1850-1853) and provides interesting glimpses of his activities there. Of special interest is his entry for June 10th, when he recorded $251.00 cash to William B. Gardner in payment of note. This note was the loan which enabled Coffin to travel to California; with that payment he was free to marry the neighbor's daughter, Ann Amelia.

The collection contains a number of newspaper clippings which are both loose and pasted into a scrapbook. Many of the articles pertain to family members (often obituaries) and further explain family connections.


  • 1850-1981


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

Edward Baker Coffin was born at Yankee Jim's in Placer County, California. His parents, William Lindsey Coffin (1830-1895) and Ann Amelia Gardner Coffin (1830-1921), were originally from Nantucket, Massachusetts; William first came to California in 1850 and worked as a house and sign painter. He returned to Nantucket in 1853 to marry Ann Gardner, then moved back to California with Ann and their infant son Wallace (1854-1937).

The Coffins had an additional seven sons while at Yankee Jim's: Brewster M. (Bruce), 1857-1923; Herbert, 1859-1932; Edward Baker, 1861-1948; George Levi, 1864-1945; Nelson, 1867-1947; Frank, 1871-1937; and Charles A., 1873-1946. In 1875 the Coffin family moved to Reno, where William continued to develop his painting business.

The Coffin's fourth son, Edward, married Ida Pullman of Elko. Ida had been a student at the Whitaker School for Girls in Reno and the University of Nevada; prior to her marriage she taught grammar school. Edward was a grocer and book keeper and also a Reno City Councilman. These Coffins were the parents of four children: Chester LeRoy, Mila Lucille, Thelma, and Harold Pullman.

The Coffin family was a large one and based on their papers, a close knit family. They retained close ties with their Massachusetts kin, as a number of the girls in the third generation spent time with their eastern relatives. From these papers, the family may be traced into the fourth generation.


0.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The E. B. Coffin Papers contains genealogical materials about Coffin family members, such as birth, marriage, and death certificates; lineage notes; obituaries; and newspaper clippings. Also included is correspondence (usually on the death of a family member), deeds and legal agreements, a scrapbook and autograph album, and many photographs of the family.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Genealogical; 2) Correspondence; 3) Financial; 4) Legal; 5) Printed Materials; 6) Albums; 7) Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Donald Anthony in 1983.

Related Materials

Although not part of the collection itself, the donor file contains more genealogical information in the form of letters written by the donor to Mary Ellen Glass of the Oral History Department. These letters may be viewed upon request.

Separated Materials

The Coffin papers contained several hundred photographs of the family. Notes on the back of many of them indicate that the family was in the habit of presenting family portraits as gifts at Christmas time; the result is that many individuals can be seen at different ages. The majority of the images are identified. These photographs have been transferred to the photo archives of the Special Collections Department.

Guide to the E. B. Coffin Papers
Susan Searcy
December 1987
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)