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Guide to the William Oland Bourne Papers
1837-1881
 MS 69

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Margaret Bausman

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on January 21, 2016
Finding Aid is written in English.

Historical Note

Born during the nascent abolitionist movement in the United States, throughout his professional life as a journalist, editor and author in New York City, William Oland Bourne embraced social reform causes related to the anti-slavery movement, labor and civil war veterans’ rehabilitation. The Bourne Papers, which are suggestive of an evangelical orientation and advocacy for temperance, demonstrate Bourne’s considerable passion for his causes through his writing as well as the fervent responses it elicited from peers and readers.

Four broad areas of Bourne’s professional life are documented. The first is the publication of Soldier’s Friend, a newsletter focusing on the stories and needs of Civil War veterans. A proponent of education and rehabilitation,  Soldier’s Friend sponsored a Left-handed Writing Contest for veterans who had lost their right arm. The collection documents this event including four portraits of competing veterans, left-handed writing samples and a sample written with a prosthetic arm. Many of these materials have been digitized and are available online to on-site researchers and to users affiliated with subscribing institutions via EBSCOhost.

Additionally, the collection covers Bourne’s involvement with the Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association and his related publication, The Iron Platform. There is documentation pertaining to the formation, operations and dissolution of the American Mining, Metallurgical and Manufacturing Company and the Humboldt Mining and Manufacturing Company. Much in Bourne's handwriting, these materials include letters, copies of agreements and memoranda of his meetings with firm officials from 1859 to 1860. And lastly, the collection documents Bourne’s literary and oratory work in the form of unpublished manuscripts and copies of lectures.