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Guide to the Papers of the Coles Family
  MS 128

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

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Gabrielle Sanchez

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 21, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Coles Family Papers
Dates: 1803-1859
Abstract: Correspondence of Coles Family, including letters to and from Catherine V. Suydam Coles Smith and her first husband, Hewlett Townsend Coles, as well as letters to and from their children, Hewlett Townsend Coles, Jr., Alexander Coles, and Ida Ann Coles. The collection also includes some correspondence from other relatives, friends, and business associates.
Quantity: 0.4 Linear feet (1 box)
Location note: Manuscript cage
Call Phrase: MS 128

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Biographical Note

1822 Hewlett Townsend Coles marries Catherine V. Suydam
1823 Hewlett Townsend Coles, Jr. is born
1826 Alexander Cornelius Townsend Coles is born
c1826 Hewlett Townsend Coles dies; Ida Ann Coles is born
c1840 Catherine V. Coles marries Daniel Smith
1844 Alexander Cornelius Townsend Coles dies
c1847 Ida Ann Coles marries John Townsend Williams

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Scope and Content Note

The Coles Family Papers consist of 126 letters exchanged by two generations of the Coles family. The letters commence with Hewlett Townsend Coles' letters to Catherine V. Suydam before their marriage, continue through the later 1820s, and extend after his death with letters exchanged by his widow and their three children, Hewlett Townsend Coles, Jr., Alexander Cornelius Townsend Coles, and Ida Ann Coles.

Both Hewlett and his son Alexander were sea captains, and the letters are written from such diverse locales as Sandy Hook, Alabama's Mobile Bay, Trinidad, Dublin, and Liverpool to members of the Coles Family in New York City and Long Island. The letters are highly affectionate and detailed, providing insight into the family members' devotion to each other, their childrearing and education practices, intra-familiar and neighborhood socializing, seasonal regional travels, domestic expenditures, and income sources. The letters, particularly Catherine's letters to her daughter Ida, also describe and provide instruction and advice on household matters, such as food preparation, cleaning arrangements, and treating illnesses.


The materials are arranged by recipient and chronologically.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Coles, Alexander Cornelius Townsend (1826-1844)
  • Coles, Hewlitt Townsend (d. 1828?)
  • Coles, Hewlitt Townsend, Jr. (b. 1823)
  • Smith, Catherine V. Suydam Coles
  • Williams, Ida Ann Coles (b. 1828?)

Document Type

  • Correspondence

Subject Topics

  • Family
  • Shipping

Subject Places

  • Cedar Swamp (N.Y.)
  • Glen Cove (N.Y.)
  • Matinnacock (N.Y.)

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Administrative Information


Purchase, 2003.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Coles Family Papers, The New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Letters to Catherine V. Suydam Coles Smith, 1821-1823

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Letters to Catherine V. Suydam Coles Smith
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Letters to Catherine V. Suydam Coles Smith
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Letters to Catherine V. Suydam Coles Smith
1844-1856, n.d.
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Letters to Hewlett Townsend Coles
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Letters to Ida Ann Coles Williams
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Letters to Ida Ann Coles Williams
1849-1859, n.d.
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Other correspondence
1803-1844, n.d.

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