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Guide to the Henry C. Murphy papers ARC.189

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 19, 2011
Finding aid written in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents note

The bulk of the collection is comprised of Murphy's research notes, transcriptions, translations, abstracts, and draft writings concerning the European exploration and colonization of the Americas. Much of this material is related to Murphy's published works on Henry Hudson, Giovanni da Verrazano, and Jacob Steendam, a Dutch poet in New Netherlands. Yet much is also related to broader research he conducted, apparently in anticipation of writing a more encompassing history of the period. Accordingly, material on the explorers Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, Ponce de Leon, Estevan Gomez, and Champlain, among others, is in the research notes. Murphy's analyses of various maps of the New World are in the notes, along with correspondence indicating the sources of some of the maps he used. New Netherlands is one point of Murphy's research emphasis, and his notes include his English language abstracts from the Dutch colonial records held in the New York State Archives at Albany and from Bushwick town records of the late Dutch period. Writings related to the English period of colonization in New York are in the notes. The research material also includes substantial correspondence from New York State Librarian E. B. O'Callaghan and others concerning Bohemia Manor, the Labadist settlement in Cecil County, Maryland. Although most of the research material is in English, or has English translations, some of the notes are in Dutch or Latin.

In addition to research notes, the collection includes some documents related to Murphy's career. Political correspondence includes two letters to Murphy from candidate and president-elect James Buchanan concerning the 1856 election, references and invitations from presidents Tyler and Polk, and draft remarks on the importance of a local election to the country. Correspondence from the colonel of the 1st New York Infantry Regiment stationed in California during the Mexican War requests funds from Congress for transport of the regiment back to Brooklyn and includes many observations about the poor economic prospects of California for a Northerner. Murphy's time in the Netherlands is represented with documents recording his observations and conclusions, summaries of what appear to have been discussions with others about the country, anecdotes and folktales, and a small amount of correspondence, some of which is in Dutch and French.

A few documents represent Murphy's business interests, including some notes concerning the Brooklyn Bridge, a list of payments made by Murphy as treasurer of the Atlantic Bank Association (1836-1838), and a letters-patent granted to Murphy's father and Rodman Bowne for a horse-wheel to propel boats (1818), signed by President James Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. The collection also includes a commonplace book of literary matter, certifications of Murphy's elections to the New York State Senate, a copy of his appointment letter from President Buchanan as Minister to the Netherlands, his diploma of graduation from Columbia College, and other such documents.

The collection also includes various original artifacts collected by Murphy. These include inscriptions taken from a Dutch cemetery in Brooklyn; a birthday ode, original document in Dutch, with English translation (1700s); two letters, from Edward Bridgen to John Adams and to Benjamin Franklin (1786); two pages from a published index of New York marriages (circa 1664-circa 1783); an advertising flier for property in a temperance village in Brooklyn (circa 1849), and a draft agreement for a teacher in Newtown and Bushwick (circa 1701).

Arrangement note

Murphy's research notes, translations, abstracts, drafts, correspondence concerning research, and the like comprise about two and one-half of the three manuscript boxes of material in the collection. This material is presented first and is arranged in rough historical order by chronology and topic (from first European explorations to later colonial periods). The date range within the folder description indicates the approximate period covered by the topic of the documents; the date range of the folder itself indicates the approximate date that Murphy prepared the material.

The final one-half box of material principally holds material related to Murphy's political and commercial interests, and his position as Minister to the Netherlands. The final folder holds miscellaneous documents.

The material is not necessarily in its original order. Several of the documents appeared to be disordered or incomplete, and a best effort was made during processing to put related documents and loose pages of documents together, but there can be no assurance that this was done with complete accuracy.