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Guide to the Charles M. Lefferts Military Uniforms Print Collection
1873-1926 (bulk 1900-1926)
 PR 99

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


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Emily Wolff; Larry Weimer (2021)

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on December 28, 2021
The finding aid is written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator - col: Lefferts, Charles Mackubin, 1873-1923
Title: Charles M. Lefferts military uniforms print collection
Dates [inclusive]: 1781, 1848-1926 (bulk 1900-1926)
Abstract: Collection of printed unsewn signatures, half-tone reproductions of original illustrations, and photographic copies of original illustrations, principally from the 1926 book, "Uniforms of the Armies of the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783" by Charles M. Lefferts, as well as reproductions of illustrations by Lefferts for other projects, and illustrations compiled by him of military uniforms by other artists. Also includes research notes, and some books and letters.
Quantity: 7.7 Linear feet in 11 boxes of various sizes
Language: Most of the materials are in English, but some are in French and in German.
Call Phrase: PR 99

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Biographical Note

Charles MacKubin Lefferts was born in New York City on April 19, 1873, the son of Marshall Lefferts, Jr., and Clara Walker Fay Lefferts. On his mother's side he was a descendant of Captain Josiah Fay of Ward's Massachusetts Regiment in the American Revolutionary War.

Lefferts was always keenly interested in military affairs. In 1893 he enlisted as a private in the 7th Regiment National Guard, State of New York, and served five years before being honorably discharged. He re-enlisted for one year in 1901. With the outbreak of World War I, Lefferts wanted to fight for his country but his age prevented him from serving in the ranks in France. He re-enlisted for federal service in 1917 and served until 1921 rising to the rank of Lieutenant. The year of his retirement he received a state decoration for long and faithful service.

Other than a brief engagement as a salesman for the American Woolen Company, Lefferts dedicated most of his life outside the military to the study of the uniforms worn in the American Revolutionary War. He was a tireless researcher, devoted to the accuracy of his descriptions and illustrations. Lefferts was a self-taught artist with natural capabilities, but he hoped his images would be judged according to the information they contained rather than their aesthetic qualities. He began with the study of the British army in America, which he contended was always his primary interest. With time, however, the scope of his project grew to include four countries involved in the war and all the variations of military dress. For nearly thirty years, he searched archives in England, France, Germany, and United States, gathering details of the great variety of uniforms worn by the various armies for different purposes throughout the war.

Lefferts was elected a member of The New-York Historical Society in 1909. Recognizing the value of his knowledge, the Society requested that he produce a series of illustrations based on his research. Lefferts died at Port Washington, Long Island on March 17, 1923. The New-York Historical Society published his images and descriptions three years later under the title Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783.

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Scope and Content Note

The Charles M. Lefferts Military Uniforms Print Collection spans the period from 1880-1926 and contains military uniform illustrations made and collected by Charles Lefferts.

Series I. Material from Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783, contains printed materials related to this book, published in 1926 by the New York Historical Society. The book is a compilation of the illustrations made by Lefferts of the uniforms of the American, British, French, and German armies during the American Revolution accompanied by his descriptions of the uniforms and the units that wore them.

Series II. Photographs of Lefferts' Illustrations of Scenes of War contains photographic copies of paintings made by Charles Lefferts from 1916-1921 for Rodman Wanamaker, the president of Wanamaker's department store on Broadway in New York City.

Series III. Uniform Illustrations by Other Artists includes printed illustrations, dated 1880-1923, which were collected by Lefferts.

Series IV. Duplicates contains duplicates of materials found in Series I.

Series V. Additional documents include research notes, some correspondence, books, and related materials. These were found on the shelf in December 2021 and added to the finding aid at that time.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into 5 series:

Series I. Material from Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783

Series II. Photographs of Lefferts' Illustrations of Scenes of War

Series III. Uniform Illustrations by Other Artists

Series IV. Duplicates

Series V. Additional Documents

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Books.
  • Depictions (visual works)
  • Photographic prints.
  • Research notes.

Subject Organizations

  • United States. Continental Army -- Uniforms.

Subject Topics

  • Military uniforms -- Europe.
  • Military uniforms -- United States.

Subject Places

  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact printroom@nyhistory.org prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, rightsandrepro@nyhistory.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Charles M. Lefferts Military Uniforms Print Collection, PR 099, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

The original watercolor illustrations by Lefferts which were reproduced in Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783 are in the New-York Historical Society's Museum Collection. The Museum Collection also includes artifacts donated by the estate of Charles Lefferts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of Charles M. Lefferts, 1923.

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Container List

Series I. Material from Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783

Scope and Contents note

Series I contains printed materials related to this book, published in 1926 by the New York Historical Society. The book is a compilation of the illustrations made by Lefferts of the uniforms of the American, British, French, and German armies during the American Revolution accompanied by his descriptions of the uniforms and the units that wore them. Included in Series I is the prospectus for the book, also published in 1926, which announces the plan for the publication with the title Uniforms of the American, British, French and Hessian Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783. The prospectus describes the historical value of Lefferts' work and the remarkable extent of his research. As an example of the content of the proposed volume, an illustration and description of New York Artillery Company, Captain John Lamb, 1775, is provided. Also provided is a list of the uniforms that would be covered in the book. The prospectus states that the volume would be produced if a sufficient number of subscriptions were sold at the cost of $25.00 each. Series I also includes illustration plates printed for the book, which were perhaps proofs or extras, that have been mounted on cardstock with printed captions. This series also contains unbound signatures from the book that similarly appear to be extra copies. Neither the plates nor the unbound signatures form a complete set although there are many duplicates of particular items in each group.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 1 Prospectus
1926
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 2 Unbound signatures
1926
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 3-5 Plates
1926

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Series II. Photographs of Lefferts' Illustrations of Scenes of War

Scope and Contents note

Series II contains photographic copies of paintings made by Charles Lefferts from 1916-1921 for Rodman Wanamaker, the president of Wanamaker's department store on Broadway in New York City. Wanamaker commissioned a total of fifty-three watercolor and oil painting illustrations from Lefferts to be used for window display and public exhibition throughout the store. At the time of the closing of Wanamaker's in 1954, twenty-eight of the drawings remained in possession of the store. The paintings were photographed by the New-York Historical Society in 1955. The paintings were later sent to other Wanamaker stores in Westchester County, NY, and Philadelphia. The majority of the drawings depict scenes from the American Revolution although several show scenes from World War I. Each of the images is accompanied by a descriptive caption written by Lefferts. These illustrations are mentioned in the introduction of Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 6 Reproductions of images made for Rodman Wanamaker
1916-1921

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Series III. Uniform Illustrations by Other Artists

Scope and Contents note

Series III includes printed illustrations, dated 1880-1923, which were collected by Lefferts. Illustrations are arranged alphabetically by country. The majority of the images have been mounted on cardboard. The material includes several sets of illustrations including French and German sets that provide information the country, regiment, and date of the uniform in those languages. There is also material from a variety of other sources. These include clippings, postcard, magazine art, and one group of four albumen photographs that are studio portraits of German officers.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 7 Austria-Hungary
[1900-1923]
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 8-9 France
[1900-1923]
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 10 Germany--Troops Involved in American Revolutionary War
[1900-1923]
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 11 Germany--Early 19th Century (1801-1848)
[1900-1923]
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 12 Germany--Late 19th Century and WWI
[1880-1923]
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 13 Italy
[1900-1923]
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 15 Prussia--Early 18th Century (1709-1745)
[1900-1923]
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 16 Prussia--Late 18th Century (1756-1790)
[1900-1923]
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 17 Spain
[1900-1923]

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Series IV. Duplicates

Scope and Contents note

Series IV contains duplicates of materials found in Series I.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 18-20 Prospectus
1926
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 21-22 Prospectus
1926
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 23 Unbound signatures--frontispiece
1926
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 24 Unbound signatures--(p. 1-22)
1926
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 25 Unbound signatures--(p. 71-86)
1926
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 26 Unbound signatures--(p. 103-118)
1926
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 27 Unbound signatures--(p. 119-134)
1926
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 28 Unbound signatures--(p. 152-166)
1926
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 29 Unbound signatures--(p. 183-198)
1926
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 30 Unbound signatures--(p. 199-214)
1926
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 31 Unbound signatures--(p. 215-230)
1926
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 32 Unbound signatures--fold-out
1926
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 33 Unbound signatures--index
1926

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Series V. Additional Documents, 1781, 1848-1926

Scope and Contents

This series includes documents found on the shelf in December 2021 that had not previously been recorded as part of the Lefferts collection. These were added to the finding aid at that time. The documents include Lefferts's research notes, some correspondence, sketches and other images of military uniforms, and books and other print matter. Generally, the books are either illustrated, with images of military garb, or military instructional texts.

Arrangement

The series is arranged by format. Each book was given a unique identifier (e.g., SN-1, SN-2) by the processing archivist. These are intended only to facilitate reference and are not indicative of any overall numbering scheme found in the collection itself.

Processing Information

The documents were added to the finding aid by archivist Larry Weimer in December 2021. The research notes are unprocessed with no clear arrangement beyond a rough categorization.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 1 Correspondence, etc.

Scope and Contents

This folder holds the content of a packet of various documents. Among them are Lefferts's application for membership in the Society of the Sons of the Revolution, with various related genealogical notes; an 1873 letter to Lefferts's mother from Ellen Mackubin acknowledging his birth and the fact that he was named after her husband; honorable discharge papers from the New York National Guard; letter of introduction from N-YHS President Samuel Verplanck Hoffman; and calling cards, notes, and other documents.

1873-1923
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 2-8 Correspondence (7 folders)

Scope and Contents

The most substantive material in these folders concern arrangements for the "Historical Pageant of 1912" held at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. There is also a small set of documents related to the George Washington Memorial Association's Yorktown Day Peace Demonstration (1911) and the Brooklyn Historical Pageant (1914). In addition, there are miscellaneous invoices, letters regarding inquiries on research and other matters, some personal matters, etc.

1907(?)-1922
Offsite-Box: 7A Research notes on U.S. Army, Hessians, French Army, etc.

Scope and Contents

Unprocessed notes and notebooks, typescripts, drawings and other images, etc.

Offsite-Box: 7B Research notes on British Army

Scope and Contents

Unprocessed notes and notebooks, typescripts, photographs, drawings and other images, etc.

Offsite-Box: 8 Case : 1 Images: U.S. Army uniforms
Offsite-Box: 8 Case : 2 Images: British Army uniforms
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 9 New-York Historical Society advertising placards for sales of "Uniforms Worn in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783"
circa 1926
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 10 Booklet: "Regulations for the order and discipline of the troops of the United States. Part I"

Scope and Contents

Printed by T and J. Fleet, Massachusetts. Bound.

1781
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 11 Small pamphlets and booklets

Scope and Contents

Holds: 1895 reprint of Henry Armitt Bown's 1878 oration at Valley Forge; "An illustrated souvenir of Old London" (1908); "Manual of interior guard duty, U.S. Army" (1914); "Questions on manual of military training" (1917); "Parish method of rifle instruction" (1919); "I. Our debt to France; II. What Lafayette did for America" (1921); "Cadence system of close order drill" (1919); "Military abbreviations" (undated); "Army of the First Empire" (undated checklist/guide for the exhibition at the Picture Galleries of the Wanamaker Store); brochure for Colt automatic pistol, caliber .45, government model (undated); checklist/catalogue of portraits of signers of the Declaration of Independence and others in Independence Hall (undated).

1895-1921
Offsite-Box: 6 Item : SN-1 Book: "Manual of military training"

Scope and Contents

With maps in back pocket and appendix on military map reading.

1917
Offsite-Box: 6 Item : SN-2 Book: "Army paperwork"
1917
Offsite-Box: 6 Item : SN-3 Book: "Officers' manual"
1917
Offsite-Box: 6 Item : SN-4 Book: "Army and Navy uniforms and insignia"
1918
Offsite-Box: 6 Item : SN-5 Book: "American orders & societies and their decorations"
1917
Offsite-Box: 6 Item : SN-6 Book: "Historic dress in America"
1904
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 12 German language books (4)
1848, undated
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 13 Books: "Napoleon" (In French) and "Joan of Arc"
1912, 1913
Offsite-Box: 9 Item : SN-7 Book: "Francois I" (in French)
1909
Offsite-Box: 9 Item : SN-8 Book: "Richelieu" (in French)
1904
Offsite-Box: 9 Item : SN-9 Book: "La Tour d'Auvergne" (in French)
1902
Offsite-Box: 9 Item : SN-10 Book: "l'Histoire d'Alsace par l'oncle Hansi" (in French)
1915
Offsite-Box: 9 Item : SN-11 Book: "Henri IV" (in French)
1907
Folder: 10 Item : SN-12, 13 Illustrated histories of the Scottish regiments, books 1 and 2
Folder: 10 Item : SN-14 Book: "Die Konigin Luise" (In German)
1896
Folder: 10 Item : SN-15 Book: "Der Alte Fritz" (in German)
1895

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