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Guide to the Henry Onderdonk Papers ARC.045

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 10, 2011
Finding aid is written in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886
Title: Henry Onderdonk papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1729-1895
Abstract: Henry Onderdonk (1804-1886) of Queens County, Long Island, New York, was an educator at Union Hall Academy, and an historian and author of many works based on his research among local records. The Onderdonk papers include manuscript versions of Onderdonk's historical works; notes and transcriptions taken by Onderdonk from private journals, church and local government records, and newspapers; correspondence from historians, genealogists and others often conveying information requested by Onderdonk; and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings covering the 1820s to 1868, with some earlier and later dated material. The bulk of the material concerns the geographic area encompassing present day Queens and Nassau counties, though the other two counties on Long Island, Kings and Suffolk, are also represented. The historical manuscripts, notes and extensive correspondence in the collection tend to center around Onderdonk's research into the American Revolution, Quakers, churches, agriculture/animal husbandry, and genealogies, all with a focus on Long Island. Perhaps the most prominent correspondent is James Fenimore Cooper, whose three letters concern Loyalist Oliver de Lancey. Among the many other correspondents are historians George Bancroft, E. F. Ellet, E. B. O'Callaghan, Jeptha Root Simms, and Jared Sparks. The several scrapbooks in the collection, also with a Long Island focus, concern a number of subjects, principally electoral and partisan politics, agriculture, temperance, announcements and public notices for a wide variety of events, such as school openings, church dedications, auctions, cultural talks, etc., crimes and accidents, court proceedings, Civil War recruitments and drafts, and railroad developments, among other matters.
Quantity: 10.0 Linear feet in 8 manuscript boxes and 4 flat boxes
Language of Materials: Materials in English.
Call Phrase: ARC.045
Sponsor: Developed with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program.

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Biographical/Historical note

Henry Onderdonk (1804-1886) was an educator and historian, a collector of Long Island antiquities, and the author of many works based on his findings among local records. Later, he became a founder (1863) and councilor (1868-1886) of the Long Island Historical Society (now the Brooklyn Historical Society), and a contributor to the Society's library and manuscript collections upon their formation.

Henry Onderdonk was born June 11, 1804, at Manhasset, NY, the son of Joseph Onderdonck, a farmer, and Dorothy Monfoort. Henry commonly rendered his name with a "Jr."; it is supposed that he did so to distinguish his name from that of his eminent relative, Henry Ustick Onderdonk (1789-1858), the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Pennsylvania. Onderdonk graduated from Columbia College in 1827 and received an A.B. degree from Harvard in 1828. He married Maria Hegeman Onderdonk (1801-1875), daughter of George Onderdonk and Sarah Rapalije in 1828, and had two children, Elizabeth (1829-fl. 1909) and Adrian (1831-1888). Henry took up teaching, becoming principal of Union Hall Academy at Jamaica from 1832 to 1865, after which he devoted himself to literary pursuits. He was also a director of the Long Island Bible Society. Onderdonk died at Jamaica on June 22, 1886 and is buried in Monfort Cemetery in Port Washington, NY.

Onderdonk's career in historical and genealogical study may have been inspired by his father's tales as a young witness to the Revolutionary war period on Long Island and in New York City. Joseph Onderdonck, born in 1766, saw his father, Andries, a Deputy Chairman of the Whig Committee, taken prisoner by the British, 21 September 1776. After experiencing many scenes of the British military occupation of Long Island, Joseph was present at the Federal procession in New York (23 July 1788) and at the inauguration of George Washington as President of the U. S. (30 April 1789), and later often saw Washington around town.

Henry Onderdonk's first published works focused on local events during the American Revolution, and relied on eye-witness accounts; these early writings included Documents and letters intended to illustrate the revolutionary incidents of Queens County, N.Y. (1846),  The capture and death of Brig. Gen. Nath'l Woodhull: In a series of letters addressed to J. Fenimore Cooper Esq (1848) and  Revolutionary incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties: With an account of the Battle of Long Island and the British prisons and prison-ships at New York (1849). Onderdonk's later works included writings about various Long Island churches, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and agriculture. While Onderdonk became a prolific writer of local and religious histories, he is perhaps most notable as a collector, compiler, and preservationist of official and military papers, diaries, old newspapers, oral histories, and many early records of Long Island towns and churches.

Because so much of Onderdonk's work concerns a geographic area called Queens County, it is helpful to recall that the Queens County of Onderdonk's time differed from that of today. Until 1899, Queens County consisted not only of the present-day county and New York City borough of the same name, but also all of what is now Nassau County. Some Queens County towns (e.g., Jamaica, Flushing) were consolidated into New York City in 1898, while others were not. Those not consolidated (e.g., Hempstead, Oyster Bay) were removed from Queens County in 1899 to form the new Nassau County. Accordingly, all references in this guide, and in the collection, to Queens County can be taken to include Nassau County as well.

(The above was based on a biographical note written in 2005 by Jonathan W. Montgomery. Additional sources: Genealogy of the Onderdonk family in America, edited by Andrew Joseph Onderdonk and Florence Evelyn Pratt Youngs;;

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Scope and Contents

The Henry Onderdonk papers include manuscript versions of Onderdonk's historical works; notes and transcriptions taken by Onderdonk from various historical sources; correspondence from historians, genealogists and others often conveying information requested by Onderdonk; and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings covering the 1820s to 1868, with some earlier and later dated material. The bulk of the material concerns Queens County, New York, which in Onderdonk's time also included present-day Nassau County. The other two counties on Long Island, Kings and Suffolk, are also represented in the collection, though not to the extent of Queens.

The historical manuscripts and notes in the collection tend to center around the American Revolution, Quakers, churches, agriculture/animal husbandry, and genealogies, all with a focus on Long Island. While some of these manuscripts and notes include Onderdonk's own writings, most consist of his transcriptions and extracts of private journals, church and local government records, and newspapers. The extensive correspondence in the collection centers on these themes as well, and includes much correspondence to Onderdonk from historians, genealogists, and others providing him with information in response to his inquiries in these subject areas. The correspondence includes several notable mid-nineteenth century American historians and provides insight into the conduct of their research and scholarly networks during the first generations of American historical writing. These correspondents include George Bancroft, E. F. Ellet, E. B. O'Callaghan, Jeptha Root Simms, and Jared Sparks, among many others. Perhaps the most prominent correspondent is James Fenimore Cooper; the collection includes three substantive letters from Cooper concerning General Oliver de Lancey, the Loyalist who fought for the British on Long Island during the Revolution.

The several scrapbooks in the collection concern a number of subjects, principally electoral and partisan politics, agriculture, temperance, announcements and public notices for a wide variety of events, such as school openings, church dedications, auctions, cultural talks, etc., crimes and accidents, court proceedings, Civil War recruitments and drafts, and railroad developments, among other matters. References to African-Americans, while not frequent, appear in the scrapbooks in the context of these subjects, as they do in other parts of the collection. The collection also includes various handbills, fliers, advertisements, programs, and other such material, principally for church and school events, especially in connection with Union Hall Academy of Jamaica in Queens County.

Arrangement note

The Onderdonk papers are organized in four series:

Series 1: Historical Manuscripts and Notes

Series 2: Correspondence

Series 3: Miscellaneous

Series 4: Scrapbooks

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Bancroft, George, 1800-1891 -- Correspondence
  • Bergen, Teunis G., 1806-1881 -- Correspondence
  • Bowne, J. T., (Jacob Titus), 1847-1925 -- Correspondence
  • Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851 -- Correspondence
  • Corwin, Edward Tanjore, 1834-1914 -- Correspondence
  • De Lancey, Oliver, 1718-1785
  • Ellet, E. F., (Elizabeth Fries), 1818-1877 -- Correspondence
  • Frost, Gideon -- Correspondence
  • Hicks, Benjamin Doughty -- Correspondence
  • Hicks, John D. -- Correspondence
  • Hoadly, Charles J., (Charles Jeremy), 1828-1900 -- Correspondence
  • Johnson, Jeremiah, 1768-1852 -- Correspondence
  • Jones, William Alfred, 1817-1900 -- Correspondence
  • King, John A., 1788-1867 -- Correspondence
  • Latting, John Jordan, b. 1819 -- Correspondence
  • Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891 -- Correspondence
  • O'Callaghan, E. B., (Edmund Bailey), 1797-1880 -- Correspondence
  • Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886
  • Sabine, Lorenzo, 1803-1877 -- Correspondence
  • Simms, Jeptha Root, 1807-1883 -- Correspondence
  • Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 -- Correspondence
  • Strong, Thomas M. -- Correspondence
  • Stuart, I. W., (Isaac William), 1809-1861 -- Correspondence
  • Thompson, Benjamin F., (Benjamin Franklin), 1784-1849 -- Correspondence

Document Type

  • Birth records
  • Burial records
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Fliers (printed matter)
  • Genealogies
  • Marriage records
  • Scrapbooks
  • transcripts

Subject Organizations

  • Queens County Agricultural Society (N.Y.).
  • Union Hall Academy (Jamaica, New York, N.Y.).

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Queens County
  • Agriculture -- New York (State) -- Long Island
  • Agriculture -- New York (State) -- Queens County
  • Church announcements
  • County courts
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Long Island
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Queens County
  • Fourth of July -- New York (State) -- Long Island
  • Fourth of July -- New York (State) -- Queens County
  • Genealogy
  • Local elections -- New York (State) -- Long Island
  • Local elections -- New York (State) -- Queens County
  • Long Island, Battle of, New York, N.Y., 1776
  • Press and politics
  • Quakers -- New York (State) -- Long Island
  • Quakers -- New York (State) -- Queens County
  • Railroad companies -- New York (State) -- Long Island
  • Temperance -- Societies, etc.
  • Vital statistics

Subject Places

  • Flushing (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hempstead (N.Y.)
  • Jamaica (New York, N.Y.)
  • Kings County (N.Y.)
  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • Long Island (N.Y.) |x History |y Civil War, 1861-1865
  • Long Island (N.Y.) |x History |y Revolution, 1775-1783
  • Nassau County (N.Y.)
  • North Hempstead (N.Y. : Town)
  • Oyster Bay (N.Y.)
  • Queens County (N.Y.)
  • Suffolk County (N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use note

Materials in this collection are in the public domain.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Henry Onderdonk papers, ARC.045, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials note

At Brooklyn Historical Society:

An 1854 letter from Onderdonk to Alden Spooner transmitting a book for the Atheneum and requesting others from Spooner can be found in the Spooner collection (ARC.098).

Various Onderdonk transcriptions were further transcribed in typescript by BHS librarians over time. These are on the library's shelves and can be found, along with Onderdonk's published works held by BHS, through the on-line catalog, Bobcat. Use keyword "Henry Onderdonk." Also, some of Onderdonk's transcriptions were published by BHS in the quarterly journal it produced at various times in in its history. The inventory of the journals' content is available through the on-line catablog, Emma, found under the heading Journals of Long Island History. Within the inventory, search "Onderdonk." The journals themselves are in the BHS library.

At least one of Onderdonk's manuscripts is held on the BHS library shelves rather than in the manuscript collection. This is Letters on the death of General Woodhull; also, Suffolk and Kings counties in olden times; Early Dutch ministers of Long Island; History of the Dutch church in Queens County (1866), found at call number E207.W8.O53.1866. Generally, the scrapbook is a compilation of Onderdonk's published newspaper articles. The Woodhull clippings are especially interesting as they include a published debate involving Onderdonk, James Fenimore Cooper, and Lorenzo Sabine about Oliver de Lancey; correspondence in the collection from Cooper and Sabine relates to the published articles.

BHS also holds genealogical information about the Onderdonks. See Genealogy of the Onderdonk family in America (CS71.O53.1910). Also see Edna Huntington's transcription of Onderdonk's journal,  Diary or dates of marriage and deaths of my family and friends, 1779-1859, which has more substantive entries than the title suggests (CS71.O53.1934).

Outside BHS:

Queens County Library holds some Henry Onderdonk material in two collections: the Union Hall Academy records and the Joseph Onderdonk Skillman correspondence.

The New-York Historical Society holds scrapbooks of Onderdonk's writings.

The Library of Congress holds two Onderdonk items as part of its Miscellaneous Manuscripts collection (MSS 5670).

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The provenance of all the materials in the Onderdonk papers has not been definitively traced. Nonetheless several of the manuscripts and all the scrapbooks in the collection bear a bookplate indicating that they were presented to the Long Island Historical Society (now the Brooklyn Historical Society) by Onderdonk. There is little doubt that most of the correspondence and other manuscripts also were given by him to BHS. Some of the material was donated by Onderdonk's daughter Elizabeth in 1909; this included much of the material in the Miscellaneous series along with some correspondence and several manuscripts.

Processing Information note

Processed by Larry Weimer, March 2010.

This collection combines the following 38 accessions: 1973.080, 1973.102, 1973.104, 1973.112, 1973.114, 1973.116, 1973.118, 1973.120, 1973.122, 1973.124, 1973.126, 1973.130, 1973.132, 1973.134, 1973.135, 1973.138, 1973.148, 1973.162, 1973.164, 1973.166, 1973.168, 1973.192, 1973.200, 1973.202, 1973.289, 1974.019, 1974.020, 1974.062, 1974.223, 1974.254, 1977.031, 1977.037, 1977.109, 1977.122, 1977.131, 1978.088, 1980.028, 1985.066. It also includes 3 folders from 1974.009.

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Container List

Series 1: Historical Manuscripts and Notes, 1762-1884. 1.75 Linear feet

Scope and Contents

The bulk of Historical Manuscripts and Notes includes Onderdonk's transcriptions, abstracts, and notes from various church and local government records, private journals, and newspapers. The series includes a small number of print versions of Onderdonk's works and of manuscripts of Onderdonk's own writing. Most of the documents in the series concern towns in nineteenth-century Queens County (which included present-day Nassau County), but towns in Suffolk County are also represented. The series also holds material on towns in Kings County, though to a lesser extent than other Long Island locales.

Many of the documents in the series have a topical focus, with the principal subjects concerning the American Revolution, Quakers (or Friends), and agriculture, including animal husbandry. These documents include transcriptions of Revolutionary-era correspondence to Major John Kissam of the Queens militia and of Quaker John Bowne's journal of imprisonment and account book. Documents concerning "olden times" are more wide-ranging, spanning social issues, commercial ventures, agriculture/farming, crime, church/religion, politics/governance, slavery, etc. Many documents are principally lists of marriages, deaths, baptisms, wills filed with the surrogate's office, tax lists, etc. Some of the manuscripts include an index.

Many of the notebooks in the series were constructed from previously-used documents, especially correspondence from circa 1870s to the clerk of Queens County, but also advertisements and other printed matter. Onderdonk wrote on the blank reverse sides of these documents, and much of the original content can still be viewed. A substantive example is an account book of fees received in 1866-67 by surrogate William H. Onderdonk.

Aside from the original artifacts comprising many of the notebooks themselves, there are few original records in the series. Significant exceptions to this are the wampum, bills of credit and paper currency attached to pages of Onderdonk's historical sketch of agriculture. Some of the notebooks include paper slips with signatures; it is not clear whether these are original signatures cut from documents or Onderdonk's tracings of the original signatures.

Arrangement note

The series is arranged roughly by subject. The series opens with Onderdonk's bibliographies of Long Island history and material with a specific topical focus (e.g., Revolutionary War). These materials are followed by those of a more general nature (e.g., lists of marriages and baptisms).

Folder descriptions referring to printed matter use italics to distinguish the content from manuscript content.

For manuscript material consisting principally of transcribed records, an approximate date range of the records is included in the folder description. The folder date itself refers to the manuscript date, any dated artifacts comprising the pages of the manuscript, and/or original dated artifacts found in the manuscript.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Bibliography of Long Island
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Bibliography of Long Island
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Bibliography of Long Island
Box: 1 Folder : 4-5 Revolutionary Incidents in Queens County - Manuscript and Notes (2 folders)
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Supplement to the Revolutionary Incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties, 1776-1789
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Revolutionary Incidents at Huntington, 1776-1783
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Letters Addressed to Major John Kissam of the Queens Militia, 1777-1786
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Worcester Book / Hempstead Notes (including notes on Revolution), 1727-1792
Box: 1 Folder : 10 John Bowne's Journal of his Imprisonment, 1662-1664; Extracts from Account Book of John and Samuel Bowne, 1649-1701
circa 1871
Box: 1 Folder : 11 History of Friends in Flushing and New York City, 1658-1819
circa 1872
Box: 2 Folder : 1 History of Friends on Long Island, 1672-1797
circa 1872
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Friends on Long Island and in New York
circa 1872
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Quakers at Hempstead;  Annals of Hempstead
circa 1870
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Genealogy of the Hegeman and Monfort Families, 1580-1859

General note

Small clippings from 1885, 1907, and 1961 related to the Hegeman family were tipped into the manuscript.

circa 1860
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Some Notes for a History of Horse-Breeding and Horse-Racing in Queens County, 1665-1869 (in account book that includes Fees Received by Wm. H. Onderdonk, Surrogate, 1866-1867)
1788, circa 1870
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Farming in Olden Times in Queens County, 1656-1708
circa 1868
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Historical Sketch of Ancient Agriculture, Stock Breeding, and Manufactures in Hempstead

General note

Manuscript includes bills of credit, currency, and a string of wampum glued to the reverse side of pages 20 and 21. See the Correspondence series for a letter likely concerning the source of the wampum.

1762-1790, 1867
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Queens County in Olden Times Articles in  Long Island Farmer
Box: 2 Folder : 9 History of Dutch Churches of Queens County, 1773-1876
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Notes for Historical Sketch on Manhasset and Other Long Island Locales, 1650-1832
circa 1869
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Queens County in Olden Times, 1639-1832
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Long Island in Olden Times - Selected Articles
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Long Island in Olden Times, 1639-1828
circa 1864
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Long Island in Olden Times, 1639-1827
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Indices to Names in Queens and Suffolk Counties in Olden Times
circa 1865
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Extracts from Historical Newspapers, 1737-1770
circa 1824
Box: 3 Folder : 5 List of Names in the Old Records of Several Towns in Queens County, 1661-1778
circa 1872
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Names in Queens County Records (Quaker and Court Records), 1722-1774
circa 1868
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings at Flushing, 1663-1703
circa 1865
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Jamaica Records, Vols 1 and 2, 1656-1803
circa 1874
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Jamaica Reformed Dutch Church Baptisms, 1702-1823
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Births, Marriages, Deaths of Friends (Long Island), 1630-1821
circa 1871
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Notes on Long Island Churches, Ministers, and Baptisms, 1654-1875
circa 1877
Box: 4 Folder : 3 List of New York Loyalists, 1776; List of New York Police Officers, 1777; Tombstone Inscriptions, Grace Church, Jamaica, 1742-1863; Marriages, Births, and Baptisms, Presbyterian Church, Jamaica, 1679-1848
1846, 1875-1877
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Church Records of Newtown, Jamaica, Success, Manhasset, Oyster Bay - Consistory Notes, Building Sketches, Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals, 1710-1859
1818, 1859
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Indexes to Wills in Surrogate's Office, Queens County and Hempstead, 1665-1786
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Lists from Long Island Towns - Tax Lists, Names from Town Records, Student Names, Supervisor's Book Extracts, Patentees, 1653-1844
circa 1850
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Lists from Hempstead and Cow Neck Records, 1645-1811; Correspondence from Maria to Catherine Onderdonk, 1802-1811
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Baptisms and Marriages in the Episcopal Church, Hempstead, 1725-1845
circa 1874
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Marriages and Baptisms by Rev. Joshua Hart of Huntington and Hempstead, 1772-1826
circa 1874
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Baptisms and Marriages in the Reformed Dutch Churches, Kings County, 1660-1775
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Lists of Names in Wills and Other Records, 1680-1756
circa 1868

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Series 2: Correspondence, 1835-1885. 1.0 Linear feet

Other Finding Aids note

A supplemental finding aid that provides a more detailed summary of the correspondence in series 2.1 is included with the collection at the beginning of the series. The supplemental finding aid is also available on the Emma catablog.

Scope and Contents

The Correspondence series includes the extensive correspondence sent to Onderdonk by historians, genealogists, librarians, and others. This correspondence both requested information of Onderdonk and provided information at his request. The mutual support between Onderdonk and his correspondents in their historical research endeavors is apparent throughout the series.

As described in the Arrangement Note, the series has four sets of correspondence. These sets are more a reflection of Onderdonk's filing systems, Brooklyn Historical Society's past processing practices, and the varied sources of the correspondence than of any substantial difference in content or chronology. Accordingly, the general themes of the correspondence are consistent across the sets, and many of the correspondents are found in more than one set. Nonetheless, each set has its own strengths:

A principal theme of Set 2-1 is the Revolutionary War, especially the Battle of Long Island and, to a lesser extent, the execution of Nathan Hale. The set also includes notes on genealogy, acknowledgements of receipts of Onderdonk's published works by individuals, libraries, etc.; invitations to readings, college commencements, celebrations, meetings, etc.; and requests of Onderdonk for historical and family history. Much of the correspondence takes the form of responses to specific Onderdonk requests for information, publications, etc. The bound correspondence includes some transcriptions of Long Island town records, including those of Jamaica, Flushing, and Hempstead. Hempstead history is a notable subject of the bound correspondence. Substantive correspondence in the set comes from authors and historians James Fenimore Cooper, George Bancroft, Charles Hoadly, Jared Sparks, Lorenzo Sabine, Thomas A. Strong, Benjamin F. Thompson, I.W. Stuart, and E.B. O'Callaghan. Other notable correspondents, though not necessarily conveying substantive matter, include John Breckinridge, James Buchanan, Washington Irving, William H. Seward, and Hamilton Fish, along with other U.S. senators, Congressmen, and state politicians. Correspondents that appear in other BHS collections include Henry Stiles, Henry Pierrepont, Jeremiah Johnson, and Henry Murphy.

Set 2-2 also principally involves genealogy, requests for information, sharing information about the availability of particular books, and the like. The set includes a folder of correspondence with or about Quakers (Friends). Most notable in this regard is a letter from Rachel Hicks discussing Elias Hicks and Gideon Seaman, along with Quakers on Long Island in relation to American Indians, slavery, and the American Revolution. Also included in this set is correspondence from Onderdonk's former classmates at Harvard College and other Boston-area correspondents. Notable correspondents in this set include Lyman Draper commenting on the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, historian Jeptha Root Simms and Columbia College librarian William Alfred Jones commenting on various historical works or events, and Long Island genealogist Benjamin D. Hicks. Onderdonk's indexes and lists of names for this set are found in each folder.

Set 2-3 includes requests of Onderdonk for information, publications, etc., and responses to Onderdonk's requests for same. The principal subject matter concerns genealogy, church history (especially Quakers and the Episcopal Church), and the American Revolution. Major correspondents include historians and genealogists Teunis Bergen, Jacob T. Bowne, Rev. Edward T. Corwin of Millstone, NJ, John J. Latting, and E.B. O'Callaghan. Other correspondents that can be found in BHS collections include Henry C. Murphy, Henry Stiles, and William S. Pelletreau. Requests for publications included correspondence from US senators and Congressmen, such as Roscoe Conkling, Hamilton Fish, and Dwight Townsend. A letter from William Pelletreau in the set's "miscellaneous research requests" referring to four beads of wampum may provide insight to the source of the wampum found in the Historical Manuscripts and Notes series. An 1875 letter from William Potts of Camden, NJ, surveys Quaker objections to slavery in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Set 2-4 includes an 1856 letter from future president James Buchanan acknowledging his induction to the Long Island Bible Society, James Fenimore Cooper writing of British general Oliver de Lancey, E.F. Ellet corresponding with Onderdonk concerning her histories of the American Revolution (which emphasized women and domestic matters), and Gideon Frost, John Hicks, Benson Lossing, and James Riker on sources and writings concerning Long Island Quakers and Revolutionary War history.

Arrangement note

The series was compiled by the processing archivist from various sets, or individual items, of Onderdonk correspondence held by BHS. The series is arranged by these various sets as follows:

Series 2-1: This consists of correspondence originally selected and bound together in two volumes by Onderdonk. The first volume has since been disbound, likely by a Brooklyn Historical Society archivist, with its contents re-arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The original index is in the second folder of the set. The second volume remains bound and in its original order. A detailed guide to the correspondence in set 2-1, prepared by a BHS archivist, is in the first folder.

Series 2-2: This consists of correspondence in the numerical order assigned by Onderdonk.

Series 2-3: This consists of correspondence categorized as research requests and arranged in alphabetical order, generally by correspondent. It is not known if this order was one established by Onderdonk or by a BHS archivist.

Series 2-4: This consists of various other pieces of Onderdonk correspondence, arranged by the archivist alphabetically by correspondent.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Set 2.1: Supplementary Guide to Correspondence in Set 2.1
Box: 5 Folder : 2-41 Set 2.1: "A Selection of Historical Letters Addressed to Henry Onderdonk Jr." (41 folders)
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Set 2.1: "Historical Letters Addressed to Henry Onderdonk, Jr., 2nd Series."
Box: 6 Folder : 2-12 Set 2.2: Letters Indexed by Correspondent (11 folders)
circa 1840s-1880s
Box: 7 Folder : 1-21 Set 2.3: Research Requests (21 folders)
Box: 8 Folder : 1-18 Set 2.4: Letters in Alphabetical Order by Correspondent (18 folders)

General note

This set includes a list, circa 1878, of correspondents included in letters sent by Onderdonk to Brooklyn Historical Society.


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Series 3: Miscellaneous, 1729-1895. 0.25 Linear feet

Arrangement note

The series is arranged by subject matter.

Scope and Contents

The series includes a variety of original historical documents such as handbills, petitions, fliers, programs, and financial records related to various Long Island communities. Queens County is especially well-represented in the series, including various original invoices for expenses related to the transportation, maintenance, and execution of prisoners in Queens County; electoral campaign materials for temperance candidate Simon Craft (1846), advertisements for James M. Huntting's English and Classical Family School (1857), a share of stock in the Jamaica Circulating Library (1861), and other matter. Documents related to Union Hall Academy of Jamaica include student petitions, a list of students (1847), an advertisement with tuition rates, rules and other information, and student exhibition programs. For present-day Nassau County, documents include the program for the laying of the cornerstone at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City (1877), a Hempstead Seminary advertisement (1837), notices for public celebratory events at Little Neck (1857) and Manhasset (1872), and a 1793 document dividing land (likely at Cow Neck) between James Hewlett and George Rapelje. The series includes genealogical research notes and correspondence for the Dodge family of Long Island, a transcription of a French and Indian War era (1758) muster roll and related notes concerning a New York battalion from a regiment commanded by Col. Oliver de Lancey, and an account from a doctor's daybook showing services rendered (1729-1731).

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 8 Folder : 19 Union Hall Academy
Box: 8 Folder : 20 Dodge Family Genealogical Notes
Box: 8 Folder : 21 French and Indian War-related
Box: 8 Folder : 22 Queens County Prisoner-related Expenses
Box: 8 Folder : 23 Queens County Misc
Box: 8 Folder : 24 Long Island Churches
Box: 8 Folder : 25 Long Island Misc
Box: 8 Folder : 26 Miscellaneous

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Series 4: Scrapbooks, circa 1788-circa 1882. 7.0 Linear feet

Arrangement note

A seven volume set of scrapbooks Onderdonk finished compiling in 1869 concerning Queens County is first in the series, followed by an 1864 volume with material covering all three Long Island counties of the time (Kings, Queens, Suffolk).

The date range used in the container list is the approximate date of the original documents in the scrapbooks. Some of the scrapbook documents, particularly in Queens County Volume 1, are mid-nineteenth century transcriptions, newspaper reprints of old items of interest such as town record entries, historical narratives published in newspapers, or other forms of secondary material concerning the seventeenth century and later; accordingly, a second date range, found within the item description, is used for the approximate date range of the historical period referred to by the content of the scrapbook documents.

The content of the seven volume Queens County set advances in chronological order, covering historical matters from circa 1663 to 1868. Much of the material concerning the period until the 1820s are not contemporary documents; the earliest contemporary documents date from circa 1798. Several of the volumes include post-1868 handbills and other ephemera (i.e., material dating from after Onderdonk's completion of the scrapbooks) tipped-in to the scrapbooks at various places in no discernible order. The content of the earliest volumes in the set seem to adhere to a less rigorous organization than the later volumes which run in a reliable chronological order.

The content of the one volume scrapbook includes well-defined sections on Kings, Queens, and Suffolk counties. The volume includes a subject index prepared by Onderdonk. There is also a partial list of contents at the front of the scrapbook prepared by a Brooklyn Historical Society librarian in 1940.

Scope and Contents

The series includes eight scrapbooks compiled by Onderdonk in the 1860s. Seven of these scrapbooks, completed in 1869, comprise a set covering Queens County, which at the time also included the towns that would later become Nassau County. In these volumes, Jamaica, Flushing, and Hempstead are perhaps most prominent, but other locales, including Newtown, Oyster Bay, Cow Neck, Roslyn, and Glen Cove, are represented significantly. Occasional Kings County material appears, though not extensively; generally this material especially concerns Brooklyn and are often clippings from a series of historical pieces published by the Eagle. The bulk of the material consists of newspaper clippings; it is seldom clear which newspapers were the source of particular clippings, but at least three newspapers appear to have been significant sources:  Democrat (Jamaica);  Long Island Star; and  Long Island Farmer and Queens County Advertiser. Some handbills, advertisements, circulars, and other such ephemera can also be found in the scrapbooks; in most instances, these items date from after the scrapbooks compilation date and are tipped-in at seemingly random places, such as a circa 1880 Manhattan Beach Railway timetable and map found in Volume 2.

The clippings focus on Queens County matters of potential local historical interest, so broader New York or national events are not represented aside from their local connection, nor are literary or other fictional writings included. The subject matter of the clippings is wide-ranging, but there is also a high level of consistency across the seven volumes for several subjects. These subjects include political matters, such as accounts of political gatherings, detailed results by town of presidential, state, and local elections, and party positions; agriculture, such as agricultural society fairs (especially the Queens County Agricultural Society) and lists of premiums awarded by the societies; temperance and temperance societies; government matters, such as accounts of town meetings, meetings of town trustees or supervisors, and court proceedings; announcements, public notices and advertisements, such as those for public auctions, lectures to be given, openings and other events at schools, churches, and other institutions, camp meetings, stagecoach departure schedules, and recreational outings and events; financial information, such as taxpayer lists and assessments, town finances, and corporate operations; crimes (e.g., murder, rape, assault, theft) and accidental deaths (e.g., drownings, fires, falls); lists of interments; July 4 celebrations, including accounts of the toasts given; and railroad development and reports of operations. References to African-Americans, though not frequent, appear throughout the volumes in the context of the above subjects, such as runaway notices (Vol. 1), announcements of camp meetings (e.g., Vol. 4) or annual beach parties (Vol. 6 and 7), and in accounts of crimes, accidents or deaths.

The first volume includes Revolutionary War events, including information on the prison ships and the refugees from Long Island. Volumes 6 and 7 include much on the Civil War as it relates to Queens County, such as town war meetings, lists of draftees, deaths, and regiment recruitment, musters, and other activities. Items with an obvious personal connection to Onderdonk are common, including material on Union Hall Academy and articles referring to individuals with the Onderdonk name. By 1866, the scrapbooks include box scores and summaries of local baseball games. The eighth scrapbook in the series was compiled at an earlier date, in 1864, than the seven volume set. The single volume includes Kings and Suffolk counties in its scope, as well as Queens County. The subject matter of this one volume is generally consistent with that described above. Because of the overlap in chronology, the Queens County section of this scrapbook can be viewed as a supplement to the seven volume set. The Kings County section of this scrapbook consists principally of a series of historical narratives published by the Brooklyn Eagle circa 1862.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 9 Item : 1 Queens County, Vol 1 (1663-1829)
circa 1798-circa 1880
Box: 10 Item : 1 Queens County, Vol 2 (1830-1836)
circa 1830-circa 1881
Box: 10 Item : 2 Queens County, Vol 3 (1837-1843)
circa 1837-circa 1880
Box: 10 Item : 3 Queens County, Vol 4 (1844-1849)
circa 1844-circa 1877
Box: 11 Item : 1 Queens County, Vol 5 (1849-1856)
circa 1849-circa 1856
Box: 12 Item : 1 Queens County, Vol 6 (1855-1864)
circa 1855-circa 1864
Box: 11 Item : 2 Queens County, Vol 7 (1864-1868)
circa 1864-circa 1868
Box: 9 Item : 2 Kings, Queens and Suffolk Counties (circa 1640-circa 1882)
circa 1788-circa 1882

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