See all finding aids in this repository

Table of Contents

Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Erasmus Hall Records
1325–1989 (bulk, circa 1775–1975)
 MS 201

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta (2021)

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on January 12, 2022
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

Records (also referred to as the Archives) of Erasmus Hall Academy (1787–1896) and its successor, Erasmus Hall High School (1896–circa 1975). The collection includes the school's charter, granted by the Regents of the State of New York and signed by Governor George Clinton on November 20, 1787; trustees' meeting minutes (1787–1896); annual reports; course and library catalogs; school handbooks; school histories and student publications (notably, the newspaper, The Dutchman, 1925–1974, and yearbook,  The Arch, 1929–1978); autographs of prominent alumni and public figures; numerous photographs, postcards, and other views of the student body and school campus; scrapbooks; examples of early printing and illuminated manuscripts (one dated 1325); an Albrecht Dürer engraving of Desiderius Erasmus (circa 1600); and meteorological observations taken daily at the school (1826–1869). Also present are materials documenting the history of Brooklyn and the Flatbush neighborhood, such as the minutes of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Flatbush (1836–1838); registers of electors and voters in the Town of Flatbush (1859–1860); and account books, papers, receipts, and artifacts from the early Cowenhoven, Lefferts, Lott, Vanderveer, and Zabriskie families.


This collection is not processed. It came to the New-York Historical Society from Erasmus Hall in two record cases (totaling 20 drawers), 39 document boxes (called "manuscript boxes"), and assorted cardboard boxes of objects, memorabilia, and framed illustrations. To ship the collection offsite, material from record case drawers has been transferred to boxes, which are numbered "RC-1," "RC-2," etc., with "RC" standing for "Record Case" and the numeral representing the drawer. In instances where a single drawer held items too large or too numerous to fit comfortably inside one box, that box has been split in multiple parts labeled "a," "b," and sometimes "c," e.g., "RC-5a" and "RC-5b." Material in document boxes remains in those containers and follows the original numbering, but with the prefix "MS": "MS-1," "MS-2," and so on.

While the collection was still housed at Erasmus, alumnus Joseph W. Halpern (class of 1972) indexed it by author, subject, and title, and indicated on catalog cards in which drawer or box to find a particular item. The current finding aid attempts to replicate Halpern's card catalog and provides a nearly verbatim transcription of his work, including some repetition of items that appear under their authors, subjects, or titles.

The container list retains Halpern's subject scheme except for one significant change: where he spelled out and alphabetized entries for the school's various anniversary celebrations—such as "Erasmus Hall High School—One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary (1937)"—the archivist has regularized the headings and listed them chronologically, e.g., "Erasmus Hall High School—150th anniversary of charter (1937)," followed by "Erasmus Hall High School—165th anniversary of charter (1952)," etc.

Items cataloged by Halpern, but which were not located when the collection was boxed for offsite storage in 2021, are marked "[NOT PRESENT]."