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Guide to the Helen Miller Gould Shepard Papers
 MS 1422

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Julianna Monjeau

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on February 14, 2012
Finding Aid is written in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator - Author: Shepard, Helen Miller Gould, 1868-1938
Title: The Helen Miller Gould Shepard Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1814-1940
Abstract: Helen Miller Gould Shepard (1868-1938) was the eldest daughter of railroad financier Jay Gould, and a prominent philanthropist. This collection contains correspondence, ephemera, scrapbooks, published materials, visual material, and writings by Helen Miller Gould. The bulk of the collection is ephemera regarding her social, philanthropic, and religious occupations.
Quantity: 4.5 Linear feet (11 boxes, 1 volume, 1 oversize folder)
Language of Materials Note: The bulk of the Helen Miller Gould Shepard papers are written in English. There is a small amount of French text in Helen Miller Gould Shepard's school notebooks.
Call Phrase: MS 1422

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Historical Note

Helen Miller Gould Shepard, the eldest daughter of famed New York financier Jay Gould (1836-1892) and Helen Day Miller (1838-1889), was born in Manhattan, New York on June 20, 1868. Helen spent much of her childhood between Manhattan and Lyndhurst, their summer estate in Tarrytown, New York. Helen inherited the Lyndhurst estate after her father’s death in 1892. Helen married Finley Johnson Shepard (1867-1942), a “railroad man”, on January 22, 1913 at the age of 45. The couple adopted three children, Finley Jay, Olivia, and Helen Anna.

Helen’s adult life was marked by her dedication to philanthropy, patriotism, and religious endeavors. Helen began her most notable philanthropic activities in the last decade of the 19th century. Helen opened the Lyndhurst estate to the community and hosted ill and impoverished children and families, entertained and tended to injured soldiers during the Spanish-American war, and established a sewing school for young ladies in Lyndhurst. Helen also maintained Woody Crest, a fresh air charity and home for physically handicapped children in Tarrytown, New York.

On May 6, 1898, at the outset of the Spanish-American War, Helen donated $100,000 to the federal government of the United States of America. This sizable personal donation, in addition to her other donations on behalf of war relief, thrust Helen into the national spotlight. In December of the same year Senator Joseph Wheeler of Alabama introduced a bill to the House of Representatives to praise her donation, which was passed in February of 1899. Helen also spent a great deal of time and money supporting the Young Men’s Christian Association. In March and April of 1912, Helen went on a highly publicized coast to coast speaking and fundraising tour on behalf of the Y.M.C.A.

Helen was heavily involved with New York University, having graduated from the NYU Law School for Women in April 1895. Following in her father’s footsteps, Helen donated generously to the University, most notably donating money for the Gould Memorial Library in New York University’s Bronx campus in 1899, which later housed the Hall of Fame of Great Americans established in 1901.

In addition to her charitable contributions, Helen was wholly dedicated to spreading the Christian faith. She was a member of both the American Tract Society and the American Bible Society. In 1918, Helen and Emma Baker Kennedy became the first female vice presidents of the American Bible Society. Helen printed a series of biblical tracts, booklets and leaflets from 1904 until her death. Most notably, her series of tracts entitled “Passages to Memorize: Suggested by Helen Gould Shepard” were published and translated into over twenty languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, and Russian.

Helen Miller Gould Shepard died of a stroke in her Lyndhurst home in Tarrytown, New York on December 21, 1938 at the age of 70.

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Scope and Content Note

The Helen Miller Gould Shepard Papers contains correspondence, ephemera, scrapbooks, published materials, and writings, and visual material created by or relating to the life of Helen Miller Gould. The bulk of the collection is ephemera relating to her social, philanthropic, and religious occupations, as well as genealogical research. The bulk of the ephemera is comprised of certificates, invitations, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and programs regarding membership in a number of ancestral, religious, family and other organizations as well as programs commemorating her philanthropic work. The collection contains a series of religious tracts written and published by Helen Miller Gould entitled “Passages to Memorize: Suggested by Helen Gould Shepard.”

Correspondence includes both letters to family as well as letters concerning her abundant charitable works such as Woody Crest, a fresh air charity and home for physically handicapped children; her benevolence to soldiers during the Spanish-American War; and the Lyndhurst Sewing School for local young ladies. Frequent correspondents include family members, Mrs. Russell Sage, and many well-known people of the day. Her earlier correspondence to Mrs. Russell Sage and family members is more intimate in nature than later correspondence, which is more formal, mostly relating to her philanthropic and religious work.

A significant portion of this material documents her philanthropic and volunteer efforts on behalf of the United States government, American soldiers, and the Young Men’s Christian Association. A significant portion of the collection documents her donation to the United States government at the outset of the Spanish-American war in 1898 and Congressional commendation given in her honor in 1899. Notable in the collection is a bound scrapbook given to Helen Miller Gould Shepard by Congressman Joseph Wheeler, the Representative from Alabama who nominated her for commendation. A smaller portion of the collection contains some correspondence and documents created by her father, notable financier Jay Gould and a larger portion of correspondence, ephemera, and published material pertaining to Jay Gould.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Gould, Jay, 1836-1892
  • Jaudon, Lucy B.
  • Sage, Margaret Olivia Slocum, 1828-1918
  • Shepard, Helen Miller Gould, 1868-1938
  • Wheeler, Joseph, 1836-1906

Document Type

  • Cabinet photographs
  • Certificates
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Ephemera
  • Invitations
  • Menus
  • Newsletters
  • Newspapers
  • Notebooks
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Programs (documents)
  • Reminiscences
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sketchbooks
  • Visiting Cards

Subject Organizations

  • American Tract Society.
  • Atlanta (Yacht).
  • Lyndhurst Sewing School (Tarrytown, N.Y.).
  • New York University Hall of Fame for Great Americans.
  • New York University.
  • Women's National War Relief Association.
  • Woody Crest (Organization).
  • Young Men's Christian Association.

Subject Topics

  • Charities--New York (State)--New York
  • Fresh-air charity--United States
  • Humanities -- Study and teaching.
  • Memorials (Commemorative) -- 20th century
  • Spanish-American War, 1898 -- War work
  • Women philanthropists--New York (State)
  • Women's Charities--New York (State)--New York

Subject Places

  • Lyndhurst (Tarrytown, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Social life and customs
  • Roxbury (N.Y.)
  • Tarrytown (N.Y.) -- Social life and customs

Family Name(s)

  • Gould family


  • Donations


  • Philanthropists

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

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 Note

This collection should be cited as the Helen Miller Gould Shepard Papers, MS 1422, The New-York Historical Society.

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as The New York City 100 Records, (MS 444), the New-York Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials Note

The New-York Historical Society has "Jay Gould and the Erie Railway : manuscript, 1893", written by G. P. Morosini. This work was dedicated to Helen Miller Gould to assist in her collection of reminiscences about her father (BV Gould, Jay, patrons must use microfilm). The New-York Historical Society also holds an address book kept by Jay Gould (BV Gould, Jay, patrons must use microfilm)

The Administrative Papers of the Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken 1884-1910 held at New York University Archives contains extensive correspondence with Helen Miller Gould concerning scholarships, contributions, and construction at University Heights.

Separated Materials Note

A scrapbook of newspaper clippings pertaining to the death of Jay Gould, and of information on other Gould family members has been separated from the collection, but remains within the New-York Historical Society. (F128 HC102.5.G68 S5 1892)


Presented to the New-York Historical Society by the Estates of Helen M. Gould Shepard and Finley Johnson Shepard on November 6, 1942.

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Container List

Series I: Correspondence, 1836-1936, undated

Arrangement note

Series I: Correspondence is arranged chronologically by type of correspondence, including general, family, correspondence from a specific person, and correspondence on a single subject.

Scope and Content Note

Series I: Correspondence contains a wide array of correspondents and recipients. General correspondence contains a wide range of subjects, though Margaret Sage stands out as a frequent author and recipient. Family correspondence contains letters to and from Gould family members, particularly her brother Frank Gould. Correspondence regarding Jay Gould mainly contains reminiscences of Jay Gould from friends and relations in response to Helen's efforts to gather information about her father. Correspondence regarding Joseph Wheeler contains letters from the congressman regarding Helen's Congressional recommendation. Correspondence regarding the Y.M.C.A. and soldiers contain both official letters from administrators in the Y.M.C.A. organizations as well as personal letters from individual soldiers. Finally, correspondence regarding the donation of artwork contains a series of letters to and from Helen regarding her personal donation of artwork to various institutions.

In general, the earliest correspondence contains more intimate letters sent to and from Helen and her parents and friends, particularly Margaret Sage. Later correspondence is more formal, mostly relating Helen Miller Gould Shepard's philanthropic and religious work.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 General Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 2 General Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 3 General Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 4 General Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 5 General Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Family correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Family correspondence
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Family correspondence
1900-1914, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Correspondence regarding Jay Gould
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Correspondence regarding Jay Gould
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Correspondence, Congressman Joseph Wheeler
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Correspondence, Y.M.C.A., Soldiers
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Correspondence regarding donation of artwork
1891-1903, undated

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Series II: Writings by Helen Miller Gould Shepard, 1880-1938, undated

Arrangement Note

Series II: Writings by Helen Miller Gould Shepard is arranged by type and then chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

Series II: Writings by Helen Miller Gould Shepard contains both personal and published documents created by Helen Miller Gould Shepard including sketchbooks, school composition notebooks, a travel diary, and copies of religious tracts published by Helen. Sketchbooks include both tracings and original sketches by Helen as a young girl. The six notebooks in the series are Helen's school notebooks from Miss Jaudon's School in New York City on various humanities subjects, some of which are written in French. The travel diary chronicles her trip to Europe and Egypt, traveling on the Gould yacht "Atlanta" (Oct. 1877-Feb. 1888).

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Sketchbooks
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Sketchbooks
1884, 1887
Box: 3 Folder : 1 "Passages to Memorize" leaflets
1904-1938, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 2 "Talks by H.G. Shepard" booklets
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Manuscript, "Ancestral Chart"
Box: 9 "Passages to Memorize", Braille
Box: 11 School notebooks
1881-1886, undated
Box: 11 Travel diary

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Series III: Ephemera, 1852-1941, undated

Arrangement Note

Series III: Ephemera is arranged by type and then chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

Series III: Ephemera makes up the largest series in this collection. Most items in this series pertain to Helen Miller Gould Shepard's philanthropic activities, including her work for war relief, religious groups, and for institutions such as New York University. A large portion of this series is comprised of certificates of membership and of gratitude for charitable works.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Banner, Y.M.C.A.
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Certificates, includes photostats
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Certificates
1914-1935, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Certificates (list)
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Bound Certificates
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Bound Certificates
1903, 1913
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Bound Certificates
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Bound Certificates
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Bound Certificates
1938, 1940
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Congressional Record (copies)
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Invitations from Helen Miller Gould Shepard
1895-1935, undated
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Invitations to Helen Miller Gould Shepard
1884-1938, undated
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Memorials
1903-1938, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Memorials for Jay Gould
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Menus
1891, 1931, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Newspaper Clippings, Helen Miller Gould Shepard
1890-1941, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Newspaper Clippings, Helen Miller Gould Shepard's wedding
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Newspaper Clippings, Jay Gould
1877-1939, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Newspaper Clippings, Gould family
1895-1939, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Newspaper Clippings, Miscellaneous
1879-1940, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Pamphlets
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Pamphlets
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Pamphlets
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Pamphlets
1939-1940, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Pamphlets, Women's National War Relief Association
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Personal items including locks of Helen Miller Gould's hair, bookplates, fabric sample of "coming out" gown, etc.
1870-1882, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Programs
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Programs
1928-1940, undated
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Speech Transcript, Lieutenant A.W. Kliefoth
Box: 8 Personal items including engraving plates, ribbons, pins, medals, plaque, metal frame, etc.
1902-1913, undated
Box: 10 Certificates
1894-1930, undated
Oversize: 12 Oversize certificates (not foldered)
1892-1910, undated

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Series IV: Scrapbooks, 1898-1925

Scope and Content Note

Series IV: Scrapbooks contains two bound and three unbound scrapbooks. Except for the scrapbook containing translated copies of "Passages to Memorize" leaflets, the remaining three scrapbooks are comprised of newspaper clippings regarding a specific topic or event and are arranged chronologically. Notable in this series in a bound volume which was given as a gift from Congressman Joseph Wheeler and contains clippings regarding Helen Miller Gould Shepard's Congressional commendation following her $100,000 donation to the federal government of the United States.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 7 Folder : 3 Scrapbook, Brigham H. Roberts
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Scrapbook, Helen Miller Gould Shepard country tour
Box: 7 Folder : 5 Scrapbook, "Passages to Memorize"
Box: 9 Scrapbook, Congressional recognition of Helen Miller Gould Shepard
Volume: 13 Scrapbook, Joseph Wheeler

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Series V: Published Material, 1894-1928, undated

Scope and Content Note

Series V: Published Material contains published materials not created by Helen Miller Gould Shepard. Notable in this series are copies of the Woody Crest Monthly leaflets, published by the children and caretakers at Helen Miller Shepard Gould's home for physically handicapped children.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Serial, Woody Crest Monthly

Scope and Content

The New York City 100 licensed several products to generate revenue. This series contains materials relating to scarves created by Nicole Miller and dolls marketed by the Home Shopping Network. Items include correspondence, design elements, photographs and documentation of the request for trademark extension (Box 10, Folder 4).

Box: 9 Bible
Box: 9 Founders of Church and State
Box: 9 The Journal of American History
Box: 9 Memoir of Jay Gould: Extract from "The Railroad in Education"

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Series VI: Visual Material, 1814-1935, undated

Scope and Content Note

Series VI: Visual Material contains photographs, photographic negatives, and photostat copies of church documents and certificates of Helen Miller Gould Shepard's wedding. Two photographs depict Jay Gould as a young man and in adulthood and one depicts Helen's mother, Helen Day Miller. The negatives show Helen Miller Gould with unidentified family members.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 7 Folder : 8 Photographs
1814-1935, undated
Box: 7 Folder : 8 Negatives

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