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Guide to the Charles M. Higgins papers 1978.114

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Sativa Peterson

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 17, 2011
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Finding aid revised and entered into Archivists' Toolkit by Nicholas Pavlik.  , September 30, 2011

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Higgins, Chas. M., (Charles Michael), b. 1854
Title: Charles M. Higgins papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1854-1929
Dates [bulk]: Bulk, 1886-1929
Abstract: This collection contains the personal papers of Charles M. Higgins (1854-1929). Higgins was a prominent ink manufacturer and creator of Higgins American India Ink. He was the head of the Charles M. Higgins Company, manufacturers of the drawing ink he invented. The company's operations were located in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope. The collection contains many papers, both pamphlets and typescripts, written by Higgins on the topics of compulsory vaccination, religious ethics, morality, and patriotism.
Quantity: 1.34 Linear feet in one oversize box.
Text [Oversize]: 1978.114 1 of 1
Call Phrase: 1978.114
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

Charles M. Higgins (1854-1929) was a prominent ink manufacturer and creator of Higgins American India Ink. He was the head of the Charles M. Higgins Company, manufacturers of the drawing ink he invented.

Born in County Leitrim, Ireland in 1854, Higgins arrived in America at the age of six. The family settled in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, where Higgins continued to reside for the rest of his life at 101 Prospect Park West.

Higgins attended school until the age of nine. He was a self-taught draftsman and in his early years he was employed at Scientific News. It was here that he saw the need for good-quality draftsmen and artists' ink. His experiments led to the development in 1880 of a black writing ink. The Charles M. Higgins Company began behind his house at 101 Prospect Park West and eventually moved to 271 9th Street in Brooklyn. John E. Gavin, also of Brooklyn, was a long standing associate of Higgins in the development of the ink business and other enterprises.

In 1899, Higgins married Alexandra Fransioli. They had three children: a son, Tracy Higgins, and two daughters, Lisbeth Higgins Hamm and Rachel Higgins Everson.

Higgins was an early opponent of compulsory vaccination, thinking it harmful. For many years he was the treasurer of the Anti-Vaccination League of America. He wrote many pamphlets on this subject, including Horror of Vaccination (1920).

In 1900, Charles M. Higgins wrote an open letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle on "Justice for China," at the time of the Boxer Rebellion.

In 1908, Higgins was a leader in the effort to rehabilitate the Brooklyn Borough Bank, which had been founded in 1832 and was located on Court Street. He opposed the receivership being placed in the hands of an "up-stater" and was himself appointed as a joint-receiver.

As one of the founding members of the Kings County Historical Society, Higgins fought to have the Gowanus site of the Battle of Long Island restored, especially the old Gowanus Stone House. Higgins's money also enabled the Kings County Historical Society to donate the Altar to Liberty statue on Battle Hill in Green-Wood Cemetery.

Higgins was a member of many clubs and served on the Boards of many public service-oriented institutions, including the Kings County Historical Society, the Brooklyn Chamber of Congress, the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society, the Anti-Vaccination League of America, the Manufacturer’s Association, the Montauk Club, the Riding & Driving Club, the Crescent Athletic Club, the Brooklyn Club, the St. George’s Golf Club, and the Huntington Bay Club.


  1. "C.M. Higgins Dies; Ink Manufacturer." The New York Times, October 23, 1929.
  2. "Chas. M. Higgins, Manufacturer, Dies at Home." Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 22, 1929.

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Scope and Contents note

The Charles M. Higgins papers consist primarily of Higgins's writings, photographs, and clippings. Materials relate to Higgins's position as a prominent ink manufacturer, activities in the Anti-Vaccination League of America and Kings County Historical Society, and interests in religious ethics and morality. Items also relate to Higgins's death in 1929 and the history of Brooklyn, particularly in regards to Green-Wood Cemetery.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Gavin, John E.
  • Higgins, Alexandra Fransioli
  • Higgins, Chas. M., (Charles Michael), b. 1854
  • Higgins, Tracy

Document Type

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Manuscripts (document genre)
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs

Subject Organizations

  • Anti-Vaccination League of America.
  • Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.).
  • Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences.
  • Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture.
  • Charles M. Higgins & Company.
  • Green-Wood Cemetery (New York, N.Y.).
  • Manufacturer's Association (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.).
  • Montauk Club of Brooklyn.

Subject Topics

  • Banks and banking -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Businessmen -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Long Island, Battle of, New York, N.Y., 1776
  • Prohibition
  • Tetanus |x Vaccination
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccination |x Complications

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access note

Open to users without restriction.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Charles M. Higgins papers, 1978.114, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Materials

Related archival collections at the Brooklyn Historical Society:

  1. ARC.058, Kings County Historical Society records, 1911-1947

Other Finding Aids note

An earlier version of this finding aid, containing a complete container list, is available in paper form at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Please consult library staff for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Rachel Higgins Everson, 1976. Formally accessioned in 1978.

Processing Information note

Minimally processed to the collection level.

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