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Guide to the Patriotic Envelope Collection
[1861-1865], 1898
 PR 117

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


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Janet Murray, Susan Benz, and Alexandra Bernet; database migrated to Archivist Toolkit by Jennifer Gargiulo, 2016

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 20, 2019
Finding aid written in English.

Scope and Contents Note

The Patriotic Envelope Collection spans the period from 1861 to 1898, with the vast majority dated between 1861 and 1865, and contains approximately 3,000 envelopes with patriotic scenes and text printed on their exterior. It is arranged into two series: I. Civil War Envelopes and II. Spanish American War Envelopes. Most envelopes measure approximately 3 x 5 1/2 inches. The Collection was removed from the Graphic Arts File during processing.

The envelopes are printed or embossed with caricatures, allegories, slogans, and portraits relating to war events and personalities. The vast majority are Union-oriented from the Civil War; most were produced by New York printers. Some are quite crude; others are beautifully designed and executed, many are in color, with some even printed in gilt. Scenes or text appears on most of the envelopes in the upper left hand corner. Sometimes the printing extends across the upper front of the envelope, or to the verso. Several envelopes contain duplicates of the same image, often in different colored ink.

Oversize material includes a few pictorial lettersheets from each war, as well as oversize (often legal-sized) envelopes.

Civil War envelopes have been digitized and and are available online via New York Heritage.

Organization of the Collection

Within series, the collection is organized alphabetically by subject.

Listed subjects for Civil War envelopes are: African-Americans, American eagle, animals, U.S. Constitution, death, flags, foreign affairs, Fort Sumter, Liberty/Columbia, monuments, Satan, ships, soldiers and sailors, states (further divided by Union, Border, and Confederate), portraits (arranged alphabetically), U.S. shield, U.S. star, Unlce Sam, women, Zouaves, and miscellaneous images (further divided by Union, secession and Confederate scenes). Envelopes printed by Charles Magnus are kept together, and are further divided by American eagles, camp scenes, soldiers and sailors, cities, states, portraits and the Star Spangled Banner. A few oversize envelopes include images of camp scenes and flags.

Spanish American War envelopes are organized by portrait and then by subject.

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Civil War Envelopes
  2. Series II: Spanish American War Envelopes