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Guide to the Henry O. Havemeyer Collection of Portrait Prints of American Statesmen
[1790]-[1955], (Bulk [1830]-[1900])
 PR 25

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 Sandra Markham

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 13, 2011
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Henry Osborne Havemeyer (1876-1965) was born in New York, the son of Theodore A. Havemeyer (1839-1897) and Emilie de Loosey Havemeyer (1840-1914), the daughter of the Austrian Consul General at New York. The Havemeyers had eight other children, all of whom lived to majority, and three homes: a mansion at 244 Madison Avenue on the southwest corner of Thirty-eighth Street, a villa on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, and a stock farm at Mahwah, New Jersey.

Theodore Havemeyer was the third generation of his family to be involved in the sugar industry in New York City. His grandfather Frederick Christian Havemeyer (1774-1841) emigrated from London to New York in 1802 to join his brother William (1770-1851); they opened a refinery on Budd (later Van Dam) Street in lower Manhattan. Eventually two of their sons, William Frederick (1804-1874) and Frederick C., Jr. (1807-1891) joined the firm, followed by three of Frederick Jr.'s sons: Theodore and two of his brothers, George W. (1837-1861) and Henry Osborne (1847-1907). The corporation's name changed over the years to reflect the various family partnerships as well as to incorporate in-laws and other partners that invested in the firm. The Havemeyers relocated their refining plant to the north Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg in 1855 and, with a fourth generation of family as directors, continued in operation into the twentieth century.

Henry Osborne Havemeyer was schooled by private tutors and, as a child, moved seasonally with his family among their three residences, except for the years from 1884-1886 when the family lived in Europe. He entered Yale College in the fall of 1896, but did not return to school the next year: after his father's death, at the request of his namesake uncle he remained in New York to learn the sugar refining business. Havemeyer received his company training by working in various positions beginning as a sugar sampler on the East River docks; within two years he had risen to Assistant Superintendent of the plant. In the fall of 1899 he returned to Yale and graduated with his class in June 1900. The following month Havemeyer married Charlotte Whiting (1880-1962) of Newport, after which the couple left for a three-month grand tour of Europe.

Upon his return to New York, Havemeyer entered the main Wall Street office of the American Sugar Refining Company (the parent company of the Havemeyer firm) in order to learn the accounting and financial end of the business. In 1906 he left that office and became president of the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, a railroad facility that was a subsidiary of the Havemeyer firm. Henry O. Havemeyer was a director of several refining, mining, rail, insurance, and banking companies during his lifetime, and was a member of social clubs in New York, Newport, Florida, and North Carolina; and two heritage societies, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the St. Nicholas Society. The Havemeyers had homes in New York, Newport, Mahwah, and Lake Wales, Florida.

Both Henry and Charlotte Havemeyer collected Americana, and both gave generously to the New-York Historical Society. Henry Havemeyer's gifts included paper currency, pamphlets, manuscripts, snuffboxes, portrait busts, cartoons, medals, and coverlets, but his most notable gifts, in terms of volume, were prints. Between 1947 and 1956 he gave the Society thousands of portraits of Americans prominent in history and government, many of which are included in this collection.