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Guide to the John J. Stephens Research Notes
circa 1880s?-1920s
 MS 590

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


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Elise Winks and Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on December 03, 2021
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Stephens, John J., active 1920
Title: John J. Stephens research notes
Dates [inclusive]: circa 1880s?-1920s
Abstract: The collection holds packets of documents dating from the mid-late 19th century to the early 1920s concerning New York City and state history compiled by John J. Stephens. Also here are Stephen's historical outlines in chronological and in alphabetical by subject order.
Quantity: 16 Linear feet in 16 record cartons
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact manuscripts@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.
Language: The documents in the collection are in English.
Call Phrase: MS 590

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Biographical / Historical

As of the writing of this finding aid in November 2021, nothing was known of Stephens, other than that he resided at The Cairo in Washington, D.C., or the context of this collection. The material was brought to N-YHS's attention by Austin Baxter Keep, and N-YHS solicited the collection, which was donated by Stephens's wife after his death. Books and other printed materials were also donated and these were likely separated to other parts of the N-YHS library.

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Scope and Contents

The collection includes 91 packets of research materials compiled by John J. Stephens concerning the history of New York City and New York state, arranged alphabetically by subject. New York City-related institutions, buildings, etc. make up a substantial part of these materials. The documents include pamphlets, clippings, tearsheets, and other similar items, with many images. Maps are found in packets so labeled.

In addition to the research materials, there are two forms of historical notes written by Stephens, presumably derived from the materials compiled. One set, in 15 packets, are his so-called "essentials of New York City and state history"; these are his typed lists of notable historical events, arranged alphabetically by subject. A second set is similar in content, but is handwritten and arranged in a more conventional chronological outline.

Few of the labels are very specific as to the contents of the notes (e.g., Buffalo, theatre); most simply indicate a letter (e.g., "E," "P," or "NYC-A") without further breakdown. Any specific labeling used on the packets is noted in the container list.

The collection was only minimally processed in 2021 and so the above note is based on light observations. Most of the packets are held together with string and these were not untied for review of the contents. Most of the documents seem to be undated clips, but seem to range from some point in the mid-late 19th century to the very early 1920s.

Arrangement

The bulk of the collection includes Stephens's packets of notes, which remain in their original order, which is alphabetical by subject. The container list opens with his summary outlines.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Depictions (visual works)
  • Research notes.
  • Maps.
  • Pamphlets.
  • Scrapbooks.

Subject Places

  • New York (N.Y.) -- History.
  • New York (State) -- History.

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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 manuscripts@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

The collection should be cited as: John J. Stephens research notes, MS 590, New-York Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Abby W. Stephens (Mrs. John J. Stephens), 1923.

Processing Information

The collection was minimally processed by archivists Elise Winks and Larry Weimer in 2020-21. Winks flagged the packets of documents with an "SN" (sequence number) for basic identification. Weimer boxed the shelved collection, largely as found, however, because of the variablity of the size of the packets, a few are out of strict alphabetical sequence in order to accommodate boxing. Description of the packets' content was based on their original labels and skims of a small portion of the collection. Weimer also foldered and boxed the manuscript historical chronology.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 15 Outline of historical chronology (Box 1 of 2)

Scope and Contents

This box and the next hold Stephens's outline chronology of New York historical events, from 1497-1908 in over 790 numbered leaves. This first box holds dates 1497-1845, leaves 1-282.

1920s?
Offsite-Box: 16 Outline of historical chronology (Box 2 of 2)

Scope and Contents

This box and the previous one hold Stephens's outline chronology of New York historical events, from 1497-1908 in over 790 numbered leaves. This second box holds dates 1846-1908, leaves 283-790.

1920s?
Offsite-Box: 1 Item : SN 1-15 "Essentials of New York City and state history" (15 packets)

Scope and Contents

These packets hold Stephens's outlines of notable historical events, arranged alphabetically by subject.

Offsite-Box: 16 "Notes on Brooklyn" (index cards, alphabetical by subject)
Offsite-Box: 2 Item : SN 16-23 Research notes (8 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds packets for A (General), Adirondacks, Albany, Auburn, B (General), Binghamton, Brooklyn, and Buffalo.

Offsite-Box: 3 Item : SN 24-31 Research notes (8 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds packets for C (General), Churches (also see New York City-Churches), D-H (General)

Offsite-Box: 4 Item : SN 32-36 Research notes (5 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds packets for Fulton (one of the largest topical files), City Club History (which seems to hold general historical items), J-L (General), and Letters (which holds original letters to Stephens, circa 1915-22, and photostats of historical documents)

Offsite-Box: 5 Item : SN 37-43 Research notes (7 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds packets for the subject Men, letters A-H.

Offsite-Box: 6 Item : SN 44-50 Research notes (7 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds packets for the subject Men, letters I-Z.

Offsite-Box: 7 Item : SN 51-57 Research notes (7 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds packets for Hudson River, Maps, Mementoes, and Monuments

Offsite-Box: 8 Item : SN 58-64 Research notes (7 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds packets for M (General), Miscellaneous, Niagara Falls, N-P (General)

Offsite-Box: 9 Item : SN 65-70 Research notes (6 packets)

Scope and Contents

Boxes 9-11 hold the packets for the topic New York City, letters A-T. The packets are somewhat out of sequence to accommodate packing.

Offsite-Box: 10 Item : SN 71-78 Research notes (8 packets)

Scope and Contents

Boxes 9-11 hold the packets for the topic New York City, letters A-T. The packets are somewhat out of sequence to accommodate packing.

Offsite-Box: 11 Item : SN 79-84 Research notes (6 packets)

Scope and Contents

Boxes 9-11 hold the packets for the topic New York City, letters A-T. The packets are somewhat out of sequence to accommodate packing.

Offsite-Box: 12 Item : SN 85-92 Research notes (8 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds New York City (letters U-Z), New York City Houses, New York City Maps, and New York City Police. It also holds letter R (General)

Offsite-Box: 13 Item : SN 93-98 Research notes (6 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds New York City Churches, S-T (General), and Statues

Offsite-Box: 14 Item : SN 99-106 Research notes (8 packets)

Scope and Contents

This box holds packets for Tablets, Theatres, Thousand Islands, Women, and U-Z (General)

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