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Guide to the Alden Spooner family papers ARC.098

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn 11201
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Nicholas Pavlik

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on March 30, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Last updated by John Zarrillo  , March 2017

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Spooner, Alden
Creator: Spooner, Alden J. (Alden Jermain)
Creator: Spooner, Edwin B.
Title: Alden Spooner family papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1810-1867
Abstract: The Alden Spooner family papers span the period 1810 to 1867 and contain materials chiefly pertaining to Alden Spooner, though there are also items concerning his sons, Edwin B. and Alden Jermain Spooner. Materials pertaining to the elder Alden Spooner include an appeal from Spooner to the citizens of the City of Brooklyn for the establishment of a Brooklyn newspaper; correspondence, including letters to Spooner concerning the finances and publication of the; a copy of a letter from Spooner to Governor DeWitt Clinton concerning the 13th Regiment of the New York State Militia; a letter of resignation from poet James Bryant Shaw, and many other letters addressing Spooner's personal and business affairs; bills of sale; invitations; petitions from Spooner to the Board of Trustees of the Village of Brooklyn regarding the development of the area around his property; a synopsis of lectures at the Hamilton Literary Association; memoranda; agreements; and a letter from Spooner, in his capacity as recording secretary of the Brooklyn Lyceum Board of Trustees, to Theodore Dwight, Jr., requesting a copy of a lecture Dwight had delivered at the Lyceum. It also includes a bound collection of periodicals owned by Alden Spooner.
Quantity: 2 Linear Feet in eight folders, two oversize envelopes, and one custom box.
Text [Box]: ARC.098 1 of 1
Graphic Materials [Box]: Daguerreotypes 3
Text [Box]: OS-20
Call Phrase: ARC.098
Sponsor: This collection was processed and described as part of the project, "Uncovering the Secrets of Brooklyn's 19th Century Past: Creation to Consolidation," funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, with additional support from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

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Biographical Note

Alden Spooner (1783-1848) was a prominent citizen of Brooklyn and a well-known publisher. Born in Westminster, VT, Spooner learned the printing trade at an early age from his father and uncle. He completed his apprenticeship under his cousin, Samuel Green, in New London, CT. From 1794 to 1811, Spooner published the Suffolk Gazette in Sag Harbor, Long Island. In 1811 Spooner moved to Brooklyn, where he purchased the  Long Island Star, Long Island's oldest newspaper. Under Spooner's leadership, the  Star came to yield a significant amount of influence in the local affairs of the Brooklyn community.

In addition to his work as publisher of the Star, Spooner was also active in the political and social life of Brooklyn. He was surrogate of Kings County from 1841 to 1845, and recording secretary for the Brooklyn Lyceum Board of Directors. Later he rose to Colonel of the 13th Regiment of the New York State Militia and played an active role in the chartering of the Brooklyn Gas Light Company. He was married twice, first to Rebecca Jermain (1786-1824), and then to Mary Ann Wetmore (1794-1877), who was superintendent of a female Sunday school at St. Ann's Church, as well as an author of poetry.

Edwin B. and Alden Jermain Spooner, two of Alden Spooner's sons with his first wife, are also briefly represented in this collection. Edwin (circa 1807-1876) worked with his father on the Long Island Star and spent most of his life as a publisher in Brooklyn, while Alden Jermain (1810-1881) practiced law in Brooklyn and served for a time as commissioner of jurors. He was also one of the founders of the Long Island Historical Society (now the Brooklyn Historical Society) and, as one item in this collection attests, may have been an illustrator.

Sources:

  1. Huling, Alden S. A Brief Sketch of the Ancestry of Alden Spooner, late of Brooklyn, L.I.: With Record of His Descendants to August, 1909. Topeka, Kan.: Hall Litho. Co., 1909.

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Scope and Contents

The Alden Spooner family papers span the period 1810 to 1867 and contain materials chiefly pertaining to Alden Spooner, though there are also items concerning his sons, Edwin B. and Alden Jermain Spooner. Materials pertaining to the elder Alden Spooner include an appeal from Spooner to the citizens of the City of Brooklyn for the establishment of a Brooklyn newspaper; correspondence, including letters to Spooner concerning the finances and publication of the Long Island Star; a copy of a letter from Spooner to Governor DeWitt Clinton concerning the 13th Regiment of the New York State Militia; a letter of resignation from poet James Bryant Shaw, and many other letters addressing Spooner's personal and business affairs; bills of sale; invitations; petitions from Spooner to the Board of Trustees of the Village of Brooklyn regarding the development of the area around his property; a synopsis of lectures at the Hamilton Literary Association; memoranda; agreements; and a letter from Spooner, in his capacity as recording secretary of the Brooklyn Lyceum Board of Trustees, to Theodore Dwight, Jr., requesting a copy of a lecture Dwight had delivered at the Lyceum.

Materials pertaining to Edwin B. Spooner include a letter protesting Spooner's refusal to print an article criticizing Brooklyn lawyers, and one daguerreotype photograph of Spooner, which is housed separately in the daguerreotype collection. Finally, materials pertaining to Alden Jermain Spooner include a letter from Cornelius Matthews regarding illustrations for a magazine article, and a letter from E.A. Powell enclosing a voting ballot card cast by an African American in a Washington, D.C. municipal election in 1867. According to Powell, the election was the first ever to be held in America under a universal suffrage law.

The papers also include a collection of bound periodicals that belonged to Alden Spooner. It contains the following issues (listed in order):

The American Musical Journal (New York). Vol. 1 no. 1. October 1, 1834.

The Zodiac (Albany). Vol. 1 no. 4. October 1835.

The Zodiac (Albany). Vol. 1 no. 5. November 1835.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 1. March 5, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 2. April 2, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 3. May 7, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 4. June 4, 1833.

Temperance Recorder...Extra (Albany). Vol. II no. 4. June 4, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 5. July 2, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 6. August 6, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 7. September 3, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 8. October 1, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 9. November 5, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 10. December 3, 1833.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 11. January 7, 1834.

Temperance Recorder (Albany). Vol. II no. 12. February 4, 1834.

American Railroad Journal, And Advocate Of Internal Improvements (New York). Vol. IV no. 43. October 31, 1835.

American Silk Culturist And Farmer's Manual (New York). Vol. 1 no. 1. June 1835.

The Plough-Boy (New York). Vol. III, no. 11. April 2, 1834.

Common School Assistant (Albany). Vol. I no. 1. January 1836.

Mercurio Peruano (Lima). No. 637. October 8, 1829. (Spanish)

The Rural Repository (Hudson). Vol. XII no. 1. June 13, 1835.

McDowall's Journal (New York). Vol. I no. 1. January 1833.

McDowall's Journal----Extra (New York). Vol. II no. 3. May 1834. (two copies)

McDowall's Journal----Extra (New York). Vol. II no. 4. June 1834. (two copies)

The Man (New York). Vol. IV no. 36. February 12, 1835.

The Family Minstrel (New York). Vol. I no. 7. May 1, 1835.

The Protestant (New York). Vol. III no. 46. November 17, 1832.

The Protestant (New York). Vol. III no. 47. November 24, 1832.

The Protestant (New York). Vol. III no. 49. December 8, 1832.

The Protestant (New York). Vol. III no. 50. December 15, 1832.

The Protestant (New York). Vol. III no. 52. December 29, 1832.

The Protestant (New York). Vol. IV no. 1. January 5, 1833.

The Protestant (New York). Vol. IV no. 3. January 19, 1833.

The Reformation (New York). Vol. I no. 3. March 30, 1833.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Clinton, DeWitt
  • Spooner, Alden
  • Spooner, Alden J. (Alden Jermain)
  • Spooner, Edwin B.

Document Type

  • Agreements
  • Ballots
  • Bills of sale
  • Correspondence
  • Invitations
  • Newspapers
  • Petitions

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Lyceum
  • Hamilton Literary Association (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (State). Militia. Regiment, 13th

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- Suffrage
  • American newspapers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Authors and publishers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Local elections -- Washington (D.C.)
  • Newspaper publishing -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Intellectual life

Family Name(s)

  • Spooner family

Subject Uniform Title(s)

  • Long Island star (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction rights for photographs have not been evaluated. Please consult library staff for more information.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Alden Spooner family papers, ARC.098, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Materials

Related archival materials:

Brooklyn Gas Light Company records, 1825-1839 (ARC.014)

Hamilton Literary Association and Hamilton Club records, 1835-1931 (ARC.035)

The Brooklyn Historical Society also possesses three oil on canvas portaits of Alden Spooner, Mary Ann (Wetmore) Spooner, and Edwin B. Spooner. Alden Spooner's portrait (M1974.110) was painted by Hubbard Lanthan Fordham in 1829, while Mary Ann Spooner's portrait (M1974.113) was done by Fordham in 1833. Edwin B. Spooner's portrait (M1974.119) was painted by Ezra Bisbee in 1844. Descriptions and digital versions of all three portaits are available for searching via the image database in the Othmer Library.

Other Finding Aids

Item-level descriptions and digital versions of images from the collection are available for searching via the image database in the library. Please consult library staff for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Joel Guthman, 1965, and Esther L. Barnes, 1990.

Processing Information

Minimally processed to the collection level. Bound ledger of newspapers owned by Alden Spooner was found in collection and added to these papers by John Zarrillo in March 2017.

The collection combines the accessions 1974.012, 1974.145, 1974.146, 1977.528, 1977.638, 1978.139, and V1990.072.

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