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Hawthorne at Salem

Hawthorne - Literature

The Custom House Sketch

The Custom House Sketch: Fact and Fantasy

Material prepared by:
Prepared by Terri Whitney, Department of English
North Shore Community College, Danvers, MA

 

Hawthorne
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House (photography by Aaron Toleos)
 

The "Custom-House " sketch is a blend of fact and fantasy. In it Hawthorne does refer to real people, places, and events in Salem, and he also uses this first chapter to introduce the fictional Hester Prynne who wears the scarlet letter that the narrator finds in the Custom House attic. However, this story of the alienated surveyor and his surroundings is linked in more profound ways to the story of the isolated Hester. We hope that the links will provide a historical context for the work and also help readers perceive the relationships between the first chapter and the rest of the novel.

This section of the Website provides the full text of the first chapter of the Ohio State University Press Centenary Edition of The Scarlet Letter, also known as The Custom-House Sketch.

Literature Related to The Custom House Sketch

Hawthorne
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House (photography by Aaron Toleos)
 

Short Works by Hawthorne Related to The Scarlet Letter:

The Gentle Boy
(in Twice-Told Tales; 1837, 1851)

Some critics see Catherine as a precursor of Hester Prynne, but there are differences too. Catherine might be called a "fanatic," and though Hester is certainly firm in her conviction that what she and Dimmesdale did "had a consecration of its own," she is hardly a fanatic.

 

Main-Street
(1849 in Aesthetic Papers; 1851 in The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales)

This is one of the few works Hawthorne wrote while serving as surveyor at the Salem Custom House. A story of one hundred years of the beginning of Salem history, ending with the great snow in 1717, Hawthorne chronicles the arrival of the Puritans and the subsequent eradication of the "wild woods" and the displacement of the "wild Indian." Hawthorne mentions the Quakers and the witches in this sketch and so, as in The Scarlet Letter, calls up past events and personages as well as the tenor of those times.

Endicott and the Red Cross
(in Twice-Told Tales; 1837, 1851)

In this 1837 tale Hawthorne presents a woman also condemned to wear an "A," and like Hester, she makes the symbol lavish and voluptuous by embroidering it with gold thread.

Mrs. Hutchinson 
(in the Salem Gazette, 1830)

This sketch tells of Ann Hutchinson, who was tried for her Antinomian views. Unlike the Puritans, the Antinomians believed that God's grace, not good works led to salvation. In her preface to the 2002 New Riverside edition of The Scarlet Letter, Rita K. Gollin, notes that the sketch "begins by disparaging 'public women' for ignoring the 'strong division lines of nature' but then sympathetically dramatizes Mrs. Hutchinson's stalwart self-sufficiency, anticipating Hawthorne's modulated sympathy for Hester's proud self-sufficiency and the two allusions to Mrs. Hutchinson in his novel (120 and 204)" (13).

Original Documents Related to The Custom House Sketch

Title page of 1850 edition of <I>The Scarlet Letter</I>
Title page of 1850 edition of The Scarlet Letter
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
The Salem Custom House from the title page of the 1892 Riverside Press (Houghton Mifflin) edition of <I>The Scarlet Letter</I>.
The Salem Custom House from the title page of the 1892 Riverside Press (Houghton Mifflin) edition of The Scarlet Letter.
 
Title Page of \"The Gentle Boy\"
Title Page of "The Gentle Boy"
"The Gentle Boy" was published in a separate volume in 1839 by Weeks, Jordan & Co. in Boston and by Wiley & Putnam in New York and London and illustrated by Sophia Peabody. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Page one of a copy made by George B. Curwen of a  letter from Hawthorne to Horace Ingersoll  written in Lenox in the summer of 1850 about his firing as surveyor at the Salem Custom House the year before.
Page one of a copy made by George B. Curwen of a letter from Hawthorne to Horace Ingersoll written in Lenox in the summer of 1850 about his firing as surveyor at the Salem Custom House the year before. 
On the first page of this letter to Ingersoll, Hawthorne calls Putnam (who is appointed to take Hawthorne's place as surveyor) a "knave and a jackass" but says that even so, Putnam treated him in a "rather gentlemanly way." Ingersoll sold the original letter for one dollar to Curwen who made a copy of the letter for Ingersoll. This copy was given to George H. Holden by Ingersoll. Holden records this information on a note attached to the end of the letter dated March of 1896, Providence. (courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site)
Page two of a copy made by Curwen of a letter from Hawthorne to Ingersoll regarding Ingersoll's role in Hawthorne's dismissal from the Salem Custom House
Page two of a copy made by Curwen of a letter from Hawthorne to Ingersoll regarding Ingersoll's role in Hawthorne's dismissal from the Salem Custom House
Hawthorne twice on this page calls himself a Christian, and contrasts himself with Ingersoll's "backbiting and stabbing me in the dark." Hawthorne attacks Ingersoll for his role in his dismissal as surveyor but also insists that Ingersoll did him a favor. Hawthorne explains: "If I had remained four years longer in the Custom House I should have rusted utterly away...." Instead, Hawthorne insists, "I came forth as fresh as if I had been just made." (courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site)
Page three of a copy made by Curwen of a letter from Hawthorne to Ingersoll regarding Ingersoll's role in Hawthorne's dismissal from the Salem Custom House
Page three of a copy made by Curwen of a letter from Hawthorne to Ingersoll regarding Ingersoll's role in Hawthorne's dismissal from the Salem Custom House
On this page Hawthorne says to Ingersoll, "I do not reckon you among my enemies," but he refers to Ingersoll as "a kind of pet serpent who must be allowed to bite now and then." Hawthorne also sarcastically relates that Ingersoll has had quite an effect on "our literature" as "The Scarlet Letter would not have been existed" if Ingersoll had not "set his mischief making faculties to work." (courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site)
Fourth and final page of a letter from Hawthorne to Horace Ingersoll  in which Hawthorne discusses Ingersoll's role in Hawthorne's dismissal from the Salem Custom House.
Fourth and final page of a letter from Hawthorne to Horace Ingersoll in which Hawthorne discusses Ingersoll's role in Hawthorne's dismissal from the Salem Custom House.
After attacking Ingersoll on earlier pages, on this final page Hawthorne states,"I doubt whether anybody (except perhaps the duchess) feels a greater kindness for you...." Then Hawthorne tells Ingersoll, "Try to be a better boy than you have been,Say your prayers,Leave off cigars, Eschew evil, make the most of what good you find in yourself,Stick to your friends,forgive your enemies, and leave that wretched old town of Salem, the moment you are your own man." (courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site)
Salem Custom House Receipt, September 13, 1847
Salem Custom House Receipt, September 13, 1847
The receipt is signed by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Burchmore 
Salem Custom House Receipt, April 18, 1848 signed by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Salem Custom House Receipt, April 18, 1848 signed by Nathaniel Hawthorne
 
Salem Custom House Receipt from June, 1848
Salem Custom House Receipt from June, 1848 
This receipt, signed by Hawthorne and General Miller, is for hides, ivory, nuts, and coffee brought to Salem on a ship from Africa. 
Salem Custom House receipt from May, 1848
Salem Custom House receipt from May, 1848 
This receipt, signed by Hawthorne and Burchmore, is from a ship coming into Salem from Ceylon and Africa with hides, ivory, limes and two lions. (courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site)
Hawthorne's Royalty Account from Ticknor and Fields dated July 10, 1865.
Hawthorne's Royalty Account from Ticknor and Fields dated July 10, 1865.
This account includes income from The Scarlet Letter
Mention of The Scarlet Letter
Mention of The Scarlet Letter
Page from the Historic Structure Report. (courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
Summary Page
Summary Page
Page from the Historic Structure Report. (courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
Plans for the Custom House
Plans for the Custom House
Page from the Historic Structure Report. (courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
Alternate plan for the Salem Custom House
Alternate plan for the Salem Custom House
A Greek Revival plan for the Custom House. (courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
Article from the June 11, 1849 edition of the <I>Salem Register </I> on Hawthorne's firing from his position as Surveyor of the Port at the Salem Custom House. Part 1.
Article from the June 11, 1849 edition of the Salem Register on Hawthorne's firing from his position as Surveyor of the Port at the Salem Custom House. Part 1.
 (courtesy of The Boston Public Library.)
	Article from the June 11, 1849 edition of the Salem Register  on Hawthorne's firing from his position as Surveyor of the Port at the Salem Custom House. Part 2.
Article from the June 11, 1849 edition of the Salem Register on Hawthorne's firing from his position as Surveyor of the Port at the Salem Custom House. Part 2.
 (courtesy of The Boston Public Library.)
Transcript Article from Salem Register, June 11, 1849 on Hawthorne’s firing from the Salem Custom House
Letter from architect Perley Putnam
Letter from Perley Putnam, "Architect" of the Original Building; June 19, 1818 (courtesy of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, National Park Service)
page2, letter from architect Perley Putnam
Page 2 of letter from Perley Putnam, "Architect" of the Original Building; June 19, 1818 (courtesy of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, National Park Service)
Building the Custom House
Carpenter and Mason Letter (courtesy of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, National Park Service)
Letters from the carpenter and mason
Carpenter and Mason Letter (courtesy of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, National Park Service)
Original Documents Related to Description and Depictions of the Salem Custom House
Poster advertising 1934 film version of <I>The Scarlet Letter</I> directed by Robert Vignola.
Article by Jim McAllister from the March 15, 2000 edition of The Salem Evening News entitled " ‘A’ for Effort" on film adaptations of The Scarlet Letter. (courtesy of Jim McAllister)
Portrait of Simon Forrester, eighteenth-century Salem merchant

Article by Jim McAllister from the March 22, 2000 edition of The Salem Evening News entitled "Forrester Was An Active Millionaire." (courtesy of Jim McAllister)

Images Related to The Custom House Sketch

Salem Custom House and Related Objects

Illustration of the Custom House from early edition of <I>The Scarlet Letter</I>
Illustration of the Custom House from early edition of The Scarlet Letter 
From first page of "The Custom-House" chapter in the 1878 edition of The Scarlet Letter published in 1878 by James R. Osgood and Co. in Boston. Illustration drawn by Mary Hallock Foote and engraved by A.V.S. Anthony (1) (courtesy of James R. Osgood and Co.)
Salem Custom House c. 1850
Salem Custom House c. 1850
 (courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
The Salem Custom House from the title page of the 1892 Riverside Press (Houghton Mifflin) edition of <I>The Scarlet Letter</I>.
The Salem Custom House from the title page of the 1892 Riverside Press (Houghton Mifflin) edition of The Scarlet Letter.
 
The Salem Custom House on  1908 postcard
The Salem Custom House on 1908 postcard 
 
The Salem Custom House, c. 1990
The Salem Custom House, c. 1990
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Exterior of the Salem Custom House, 2000
Exterior of the Salem Custom House, 2000
Constructed in 1819, the Salem Custom House is a superb example of American Federalist public architecture. Hawthorne worked here as surveyor of the port from 1846-1849; import duties collected here helped finance the federal government. Constructed on ground where the George Crowninshield house once stood, the Salem Custom house, says Bryant F. Tolles, Jr. in Architecture of Salem, "may be entered through a beautifully adorned front central doorway serviced by a sweeping flight of granite steps. Combining delicate restraint and rich detail in the best tradition of Salem Federal architecture are the balustraded front entrance, with its four attenuated Ionic composite columns and fully developed entablature, and the modified Palladian window above which the porch column entablature elements are repeated. Perched high on the roof balustrade rests, in Hawthorne's words, 'an enormous [gilded] specimen of the American eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, ...a bunch of intermingled thuinderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw....' Surmounting the hipped roof, with its tall brick chimneys, is an octagonal Italianate cupola that dates from alterations (mostly interior) made in 1853/4. A three-story bonded warehouse ell is attached to the rear. Although the construction of the Custom House occurred several years after Samuel McIntire's death, it shows McIntire's influence, perhaps in large part because four of his contemporaries--nephew Joseph McIntire, Jr., David Lord, Joseph Edwards, and Joseph True--are known to have labored on the building. Perley Putnam (1778-1864) of Salem supervised construction" (58).  (photography by Aaron Toleos)
View from inside Custom House cupola to Derby Wharf
View from inside Custom House cupola to Derby Wharf
 (courtesy of Halldor F. Utne)
The eagle which sits on top of the Salem Custom House was sculpted by Joseph True.
The eagle which sits on top of the Salem Custom House was sculpted by Joseph True.
 (courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House
Hawthorne worked at this desk as Surveyor of the Port (photography by Aaron Toleos)
Collector's Office in the Salem Custom House
Collector's Office in the Salem Custom House
 
Collector's Private Office, NW view
Collector's Private Office, NW view
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Hawthorne's desk at the Salem Custom House in the office he used as Surveyor of the Port
Hawthorne's desk at the Salem Custom House in the office he used as Surveyor of the Port
 
Digest of Revenue Laws in Hawthorne's office in the Salem Custom House
Digest of Revenue Laws in Hawthorne's office in the Salem Custom House
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
These surveyor's bottles are the type used by Hawthorne to determine the tariff on alcohol.
These surveyor's bottles are the type used by Hawthorne to determine the tariff on alcohol.
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Custom House Seal used by Hawthorne in his job as Surveyor at the Salem Custom House from 1846-1849
Custom House Seal used by Hawthorne in his job as Surveyor at the Salem Custom House from 1846-1849
 
Scales in the Salem Custom House
Scales in the Salem Custom House
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Mahogany ruler from the Salem Custom House
Mahogany ruler from the Salem Custom House
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Whalebone letter opener.
Gift:  Norman Bassett.
Whalebone letter opener. Gift: Norman Bassett.
Hawthorne used this letter opener while he was surveyor at the Salem Customs House; subse-quently, he gave it to a clerk there, Zachariah Burchmore. The item eventually found its way to the College to commemorate the centennial of Hawthorne's Class of 1825. all text copyright Bowdoin College, 2009.  (courtesy of Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine)
Sign in Hawthorne's office in the Salem Custom House
Sign in Hawthorne's office in the Salem Custom House
The sign features an excerpt from "The Custom House" chapter of The Scarlet Letter in which Hawthorne describes his office. 
Sign on the front of the public office of the Collector in the Salem Custom House
Sign on the front of the public office of the Collector in the Salem Custom House
 
Sign on the private office of the Collector in the Salem Custom House
Sign on the private office of the Collector in the Salem Custom House
 

 People, Places, and Illustrations Related to The Custom House Sketch

Photograph of Nathaniel Hawthorne from a daguerreotype,1848(?)
Photograph of Nathaniel Hawthorne from a daguerreotype,1848(?)
This image was made during the period when he served as surveyor at the Salem Custom House and may have been done by John Adams Whipple, Boston.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Portrait of Simon Forrester, eighteenth-century Salem merchant
Portrait of Simon Forrester, eighteenth-century Salem merchant
This portrait hangs in the Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Simon Forrester House, 188 Derby Street in Salem at the corner of Hodges Court
Simon Forrester House, 188 Derby Street in Salem at the corner of Hodges Court
The house has been significantly altered from the original, believed to have been designed by Samuel McIntire around 1790. The house is located next door to the Custom House and was convenient to the Central Wharf. Significant alterations have been made in the house since World War I, resulting in the removal of many of its original architectural details. Forrester, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, was brought to the U.S. by Captain Daniel Hathorne (1731-1796), Hawthorne's grandfather. Forrester married the daughter of Captain Daniel Hathorne and Rachel Phelps Hathorne (1734-1814). Also named Rachel, she was Nathaniel's cousin. Forrester became wealthy during the Revolutionary War, but his reputation is tainted by stories of his alcoholism. Hawthorne inserts Forrester into The Custom House Sketch, calling him "old Simon Forrester." (photography by Bruce Hibbard)
Portrait of General James F. Miller, Collector of the Port from 1825-1849, which hangs in the Salem Custom House
Portrait of General James F. Miller, Collector of the Port from 1825-1849, which hangs in the Salem Custom House
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Photograph of portrait of James F. Miller, Collector of the Port from 1825-1849, Salem Custom House
Photograph of portrait of James F. Miller, Collector of the Port from 1825-1849, Salem Custom House
 
St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem
St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem
Constructed in 1833, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem rests on the same site the original Episcopal Church occupied for which Philip English donated land in 1734. It would have been one of the many places of worship familiar to Hawthorne during his years in Salem. 
The Almshouse at the Salem Willows
The Almshouse at the Salem Willows
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Derby Wharf c. 1879
Derby Wharf c. 1879
Constructed in 1764-1771 by Richard Derby and Elias Haskett Derby, the wharf was extended in 1806-1808. 
Sign at Derby Wharf in Salem, 2001
Sign at Derby Wharf in Salem, 2001
 
Derby Wharf and Salem Harbor shoreline, painting by Fred Freeman, c. 1803
Derby Wharf and Salem Harbor shoreline, painting by Fred Freeman, c. 1803 
Freeman’s painting offers a powerful image of human beings harmoniously engaged in a common pursuit. According to Claudia Durst JohnsonHawthorne saw these moments and both valuable and fleeting. To work with others toward a common goal is to subordinate the self to the welfare of the larger whole, an attitude in direct opposition to the damaging pride that aflicts so many of Hawthorne's villains. The attitude has a humility in it that brings to mind Hawthorne's virtuous figures such as Earnest of "The Great Stone Face" or The Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne in her moments that approach selfless charity.  (courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
Painting of India Wharf in 1806 by George Ropes
Painting of India Wharf in 1806 by George Ropes
 
Charter Street Graveyard and  Peabody (Grimshawe) House in Salem
Charter Street Graveyard and Peabody (Grimshawe) House in Salem
Judge Hathorne and seven other Hathornes are buried here, but Hawthorne is buried in Concord. The Peabody House is where Sophia lived with her parents when Hawthorne courted her. It is also the setting of "Grimshawe" and the unfinished novel,The Dolliver Romance. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
14 Mall Street in Salem
14 Mall Street in Salem
Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter while living in this house. 
Postcard c. 1907 with picture of 14 Mall St., Salem
Postcard c. 1907 with picture of 14 Mall St., Salem
Hawthorne lived in this house when he wrote The Scarlet Letter in 1849. 
Parlor on second floor of 14 Mall Street in Salem
Parlor on second floor of 14 Mall Street in Salem
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter in this house. 
Hawthorne's Study at 14 Mall Street
Hawthorne's Study at 14 Mall Street
From Columbia Exposition Pictures by Frank Cousins 
Front of 14 Mall Street, Salem, 2015
Front of 14 Mall Street, Salem, 2015
 (photography by Terri Whitney)
Plaque on 14 Mall St., Salem, MA
Plaque on 14 Mall St., Salem, MA
 (photography by Terri Whitney)
14 Mall Street in 2001
14 Mall Street in 2001
Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter in this house. 
House at 27 Herbert Street in Salem where the merchant, Elias Hasket Derby (1739-1799), grew up.
House at 27 Herbert Street in Salem where the merchant, Elias Hasket Derby (1739-1799), grew up. 
In the Custom House chapter of The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne refers to E.H. Derby as "King Derby." 
E.H. Derby House, 168 Derby St., next to the Salem Custom House
E.H. Derby House, 168 Derby St., next to the Salem Custom House
This house was built by E.H. Derby for his son, E.H. Derby, jr., on the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth Crowninshield and is the oldest surviving brick house in Salem. It was later occupied by the Nichols, Prince, and Ropes families, other important Salem merchants. A fine example of Georgian Colonial architecture, it has fine brick detailing and a Tuscan Doric classical doorway with triangular pediment. In 1790 a kitchen ell was added. After falling into disrepair in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the house was purchased by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities and restored. Further restorations have been completed by the National Park Service which has operated the property since 1938. (photography by Aaron Toleos)
The John Tucker Daland House, formerly the Essex Institute (in Hawthorne's time known as the Essex Historical Society) is now part of the Peabody Essex Museum.
The John Tucker Daland House, formerly the Essex Institute (in Hawthorne's time known as the Essex Historical Society) is now part of the Peabody Essex Museum. 
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Cover of <i>The Scarlet Letter</i> illustrated by Hugh Thomson (Methuen 1920)
Cover of The Scarlet Letter illustrated by Hugh Thomson (Methuen 1920)
 (courtesy of Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine)
\"Hawthorne in the Custom House\"
"Hawthorne in the Custom House" 
Original watercolor illustrations by Hugh Thomson for The Scarlet Letter(1920 Methuen edition, p. 6) (courtesy of Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine)
\"Surveyor Pue and Hawthorne\"
"Surveyor Pue and Hawthorne"
from p. 36 of The Scarlet Letter illustrated by Hugh Thomson (Methuen 1920) (courtesy of Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine)

Images of Celebration of Publication of The Scarlet Letter

The crowd gathers at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of <I>The Scarlet Letter</I> on March 16, 2000.
The crowd gathers at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Scarlet Letter on March 16, 2000.
Dr. Berkley Peabody, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature from SUNY, Albany and evening speaker, in the red tie; Michael Blatty to his right. 

Cake with the letter "A" for celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Scarlet Letter at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site 
Poster advertising 1934 film version of <I>The Scarlet Letter</I> directed by Robert Vignola.
Poster advertising 1934 film version of The Scarlet Letter directed by Robert Vignola.
This poster,owned by Peter Blatty, was exhibited at the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Scarlet Letter at the Salem Custom House. The film was shot in Salem's Pioneer Village and Sherman Oaks, CA, and starred Colleen Moore. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Illustrations by Hugh Thomson relating to the Custom House introductory
\"Hawthorne in the Custom House\"
"Hawthorne in the Custom House" 
Original watercolor illustrations by Hugh Thomson for The Scarlet Letter(1920 Methuen edition, p. 6) (courtesy of Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine)
\"I again seize the public by the button\"
"I again seize the public by the button"
Illustration for the Custom-House Introductory to The Scarlet Letterillustrated by Hugh Thomson (Methuen 1920) (courtesy of Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine)

Critical Commentary Related to "The Custom-House" Chapter of The Scarlet Letter

Hawthorne
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House (photography by Aaron Toleos)
 

Multimedia Related to The Custom House Sketch

Hawthorne
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House (photography by Aaron Toleos)
 

Remarks by Dr. Berkley Peabody on "The Scarlet Letter: A New Literature for a New Age" made inside the Salem Custom House at the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Scarlet Letter held at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site on March 16, 2000. (courtesy of Dr. Berkley Peabody) 

Video



Panoramas: QuickTime VR

Photo Tours

Websites Related to the Custom House Sketch

 

Hawthorne
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House (photography by Aaron Toleos)
 

 

Learning Activities Related to The Custom House Sketch

Hawthorne
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House (photography by Aaron Toleos)
 

The following learning activities make use of material on the Website related to the Custom House:

  1. A student interested in history or architecture might wish to look at the information on merchants of the eighteenth century in Salem, the images of the houses where Elias Haskett Derby lived, and the image of Derby Wharf shortly after Hawthorne's time. Then the student might use those sources along with the description Hawthorne gives of Salem at the beginning of the "Custom House" chapter to write an essay discussing how maritime Salem of Hawthorne's time, in the mid-nineteenth century, differs from the Salem of the Golden Age of the late 1700s.

     

  2. A student who enjoys creative writing might wish to look at the architecture of the Custom House and the panoramic tour of Hawthorne's office and then use these materials and the sections of "The Custom-House" chapter in which Hawthorne describes life at the Custom House and his fellow employees to write a creative, first person piece from Hawthorne's viewpoint which reveals his attitudes toward his job and the people at the Custom House.

Lectures, Articles, and Papers Related to The Custom House Sketch

Hawthorne
Hawthorne's Office in the Salem Custom House (photography by Aaron Toleos)