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Guide to the Naval History Society Collection
1721-1995 (bulk 1781-1936)
  MS 439

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Celia Hartmann.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 29, 2018
Description is in English.

Container List

Series 16. John Ericsson (1831-1893; bulk 1862-1888)

Scope and Content

The collection includes original correspondence to and copies from John Ericsson (the latter predominantly in the hand of his secretary, Samuel W. Taylor, and a few autograph) as well as telegrams, invoices, receipts, writings, clippings, articles, an account book, and a volume listing his articles on torpedo warfare. The materials were a gift in 1912 to the Naval History Society from Ericsson's biographer William Conant Church, and the correspondence is annotated and underlined throughout in various colors, perhaps by him as part of his research for "The Life of John Ericsson" (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1890). Undated materials appear to have been from Church's research and papers, and include separated and unidentified documents. The materials are mostly in English, with some in Swedish and German. Portions of this collection relating to the Civil War have been digitized and are available to on-site researchers and to users affiliated with subscribing institutions via EBSCOhost.

The collection documents many aspects of Ericsson's engineering interests and projects: the building and testing of ironclad warships to his specifications for the United States (USS Monitor, 1862) and other governments (Peru: May 1862; Greece: January 1869; Spain: May 1869; China: October 1880, spring 1883); the costs of construction through his extensive contact with Delamater and other ironworks and foundries as well as negotiations with Congress (1864-1865); applications and renewals of patents (1830s, 1840s, December 1864, July 1866); experiments with solar energy (1868, July 1872); design and testing of torpedo warships, including detailed expenses for   Destroyer (January 1873, September 1874, April 1875, 1878-1882, January 1889) and reports on its trials (October 1883); as well as various complete lists of ironclads built to Ericsson's specifications (May 1866, December 1867, July 1877).

Highlights of the collection include copies of Ericsson's January 20, 1862, letter to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus Vasa Fox (see Series 17), proposing the name Monitor for his ironclad vessel; and his January 30, 1873, letter to President Ulysses S. Grant explaining that the torpedo systems currently in use are inadequate for the country's defense.

An extensive collection of Ericsson's papers is housed at the Library of Congress.

Biographical Note

Born in Sweden in 1803, Ericsson emigrated first to England (1826) and then to the United States (1839). Having shown early promise as an engineer, and holding numerous patents for steam-powered engines, he designed the first screw-driven steamship to cross the Atlantic ( Robert F. Stockton, 1839) and the first propeller-driven steam warship for the US Navy (USS   Princeton, 1842). In 1861 he contracted with the Navy to build in 100 days an ironclad warship,   Monitor, which successfully fought the Confederate ironclad   Virginia (originally   Merrimack) at Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, before sinking off Cape Hatteras later that year. After the Civil War, he pursued his interests in torpedo-armed vessels, and in a variety of scientific and engineering subjects, including solar energy. He died in New York in 1889 and was interred in Sweden in 1890.

Related Materials at The New-York Historical Society

A chronological inventory of the papers of John Ericsson (from 1831 to July 1865 only) in the Naval History Society's collection was prepared in 1984 and is available in the repository.

The John Ericsson papers owned by the American Swedish Historical Foundation are available on microfilm.

The New-York Historical Society's Miscellaneous Manuscripts collection includes three autograph letters of John Ericsson's.

Portions of this collection relating to the Civil War have been digitized and are available to on-site researchers and to users affiliated with subscribing institutions via EBSCOhost.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1831-1849
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1850-1857
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1858-1859
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1861
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1862 January 3 - February 28
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1862 March
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1862 April 1-14
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1862 April 15-30
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1862 May 1-14
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1862 May 15-31
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1862 June - July
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1862 August - September
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1862 October
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1862 November
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1862 December
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1863 January
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1863 February
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1863 March
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1863 April
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1863 May
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1863 June
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1863 July - August
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1863 September
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1863 October
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1863 November - December
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1864 January
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1864 February 1 - 18
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1864 February 19 - 29
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1864 March
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1864 April
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1864 May
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1864 June 1-15
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1864 June 16-30
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1864 July
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1864 August 1-15
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1864 August 16-31
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1864 September
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1864 October 1-18
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1864 October 19-31
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1864 November
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1864 December
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1865 January
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1865 February
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1865 March
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1865 April
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1865 May
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1865 June - July
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1865 August
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1865 September
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1865 October
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1865 November
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1865 December
Box: 6 Folder : 8 Correspondence
Undated [1831-1865]
Box: 6 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1866 January
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1866 February
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1866 March
Box: 7 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1866 April
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1866 May (1 of 2)
Box: 7 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1866 June
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1866 July
Box: 7 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1866 August
Box: 7 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1866 September
Box: 7 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1866 October
Box: 8 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1866 November
Box: 8 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1866 December
Box: 8 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1867 January
Box: 8 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1867 February
Box: 8 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1867 March
Box: 8 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1867 April
Box: 8 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1867 May-June
Box: 8 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1867 July-August
Box: 8 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1867 September - November
Box: 8 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1867 December
Box: 8 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1868 January
Box: 8 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1868 February-March
Box: 8 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1868 April-May
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1868 June-July
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1868 August
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1868 September - October
Box: 9 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1868 November - December
Box: 9 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1869 January - February
Box: 9 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1869 March
Box: 9 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1869 April
Box: 9 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1869 May
Box: 9 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1869 June
Box: 9 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1869 July
Box: 9 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1869 August
Box: 9 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1869 September
Box: 9 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1869 October
Box: 9 Folder : 14 Correspondence
1869 November
Box: 9 Folder : 15 Correspondence
1869 December
Box: 10 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1870 January
Box: 10 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1870 February - March
Box: 10 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1870 April
Box: 10 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1870 May - June
Box: 10 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1870 July - September
Box: 10 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1870 October - December
Box: 10 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1871 January -February
Box: 10 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1871 March - April
Box: 10 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1871 May - July
Box: 10 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1871 August
Box: 10 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1871 September - October
Box: 10 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1871 November - December
Box: 10 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1872 January - February
Box: 10 Folder : 14 Correspondence
1872 March - April
Box: 10 Folder : 15 Correspondence
1872 May - June
Box: 10 Folder : 16 Correspondence
1872 July - September
Box: 10 Folder : 17 Correspondence
1872 October- December
Box: 11 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1873 January
Box: 11 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1873 February - March
Box: 11 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1873 April - May
Box: 11 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1873 June - July
Box: 11 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1873 August-September
Box: 11 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1873 October - November
Box: 11 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1873 December
Box: 11 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1874 January - March
Box: 11 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1874 April
Box: 11 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1874 May-June
Box: 11 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1874 July
Box: 11 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1874 August
Box: 11 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1874 September
Box: 11 Folder : 14 Correspondence
1874 October 1-14
Box: 12 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1874 October 15-28
Box: 12 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1874 November - December
Box: 12 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1875 January - March
Box: 12 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1875 April - July
Box: 12 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1875 August - December
Box: 12 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1876 January
Box: 12 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1876 February
Box: 12 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1876 March
Box: 12 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1876 April - May
Box: 12 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1876 June
Box: 12 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1876 July - August
Box: 12 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1876 September - October
Box: 12 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1876 November - December
Box: 12 Folder : 14 Correspondence
1877 January - February
Box: 12 Folder : 15 Correspondence
1877 March - April
Box: 12 Folder : 16 Correspondence
1877 May
Box: 12 Folder : 17 Correspondence
1877 June
Box: 13 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1877 July
Box: 13 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1877 August - September
Box: 13 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1877 October
Box: 13 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1877 November - December
Box: 13 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1878 January - February
Box: 13 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1878 March
Box: 13 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1878 April
Box: 13 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1878 May
Box: 13 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1878 June - July
Box: 13 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1878 August
Box: 13 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1878 September
Box: 13 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1878 October
Box: 13 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1878 November
Box: 14 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1878 December
Box: 14 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1879 January
Box: 14 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1879 February - March
Box: 14 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1879 April
Box: 14 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1879 May
Box: 14 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1879 June
Box: 14 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1879 July
Box: 14 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1879 August
Box: 14 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1879 September - October
Box: 14 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1879 November
Box: 14 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1879 December
Box: 14 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1880 January - March
Box: 15 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1880 April
Box: 15 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1880 May-June
Box: 15 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1880 July
Box: 15 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1880 August
Box: 15 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1880 September - October
Box: 15 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1880 November
Box: 15 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1880 December
Box: 15 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1881 January
Box: 15 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1881 February
Box: 15 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1881 March - April
Box: 15 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1881 May - June
Box: 15 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1881 July - September
Box: 15 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1881 October - December
Box: 16 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1882 January
Box: 16 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1882 February
Box: 16 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1882 March - April
Box: 16 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1882 May - June
Box: 16 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1882 July - September
Box: 16 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1882 October
Box: 16 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1882 November
Box: 16 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1883 January
Box: 16 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1883 February
Box: 16 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1883 March
Box: 16 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1883 April
Box: 16 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1883 May
Box: 16 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1883 June
Box: 17 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1883 July
Box: 17 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1883 August
Box: 17 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1883 September
Box: 17 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1883 October
Box: 17 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1883 November
Box: 17 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1883 December
Box: 17 Folder : 7 Correspondence
Undated [1883]
Box: 17 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1884 January
Box: 17 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1884 February
Box: 17 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1884 March - April
Box: 17 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1884 May - June
Box: 17 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1884 July - August
Box: 18 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1884 September - October
Box: 18 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1884 November - December
Box: 18 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1885 January
Box: 18 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1885 February
Box: 18 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1885 March - April
Box: 18 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1885 May - July
Box: 18 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1885 August
Box: 18 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1885 September
Box: 18 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1885 October
Box: 18 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1885 November
Box: 18 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1885 December
Box: 19 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1886 January - February
Box: 19 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1886 March - April
Box: 19 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1886 May - June
Box: 19 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1886 July
Box: 19 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1886 August
Box: 19 Folder : 6 Essays: Diathermancy of the terrestrial atmosphere; Zenith distances at equal time before and after noon
1886 August - September
Box: 19 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1886 September - October
Box: 19 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1886 November - December
Box: 19 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1887 January
Box: 19 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1887 February
Box: 19 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1887 March
Box: 19 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1887 April
Box: 19 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1887 May - June
Box: 20 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1887 July
Box: 20 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1887 August
Box: 20 Folder : 3 Correspondence
1887 September
Box: 20 Folder : 4 Correspondence
1887 October
Box: 20 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1887 November
Box: 20 Folder : 6 Correspondence
1887 December
Box: 20 Folder : 7 Correspondence
1888 January - February
Box: 20 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1888 March - April
Box: 20 Folder : 9 Correspondence
1888 May - July
Box: 20 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1888 August
Box: 20 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1888 September
Box: 20 Folder : 12 Correspondence
1888 October
Box: 20 Folder : 13 Correspondence
1888 December - 1889 January
Box: 21 Folder : 1 Miscellaneous papers
Undated
Box: 21 Folder : 2 Miscellaneous papers
Undated
Box: 21 Folder : 3 Printed material
1844-1885, undated
Box: 21 Folder : 4 Printed material
1853-1887, undated
Box: 21 Folder : 5 Letter to William C. Church
1889 August 5
Box: 21 Folder : 6 Invitation to unveiling of Ericsson Statue, Battery Park
1893 April 26
Box: OS 2 Folder : 8 Iron clads of the US Navy (2/2)
1866 May
Volume: 1 Account book
1864 June - 1872
Volume: 2 Torpedo articles: articles published, correspondents sent to, list of important papers, list of articles relating to torpedoes
1869-1884

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