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Guide to the New-York Historical Society Management Committee Records
1804-1938
 NYHS-RG 1

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 24, 2017
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series I. Society Meeting Minutes, 1804-1937. 1.6 Linear feet

Scope and Contents Note

The Society Meeting Minutes series includes the ten bound volumes of minutes recorded at the regular and special meetings of N-YHS members from its founding meeting on November 20, 1804, to the last of these meetings on November 16, 1937. Although there is a degree of consistency in the content of the meeting entries over the years, there are also many differences. Some of these differences are likely clerical in nature, such as the tendencies or thoroughness of the various recording secretaries. Some differences relate to the changing scope of the matters brought for consideration and vote to the Society meetings; by the early twentieth century, most business matters were handled within the Executive Committee (see Series II). After the constitutional amendments of 1917, only a few matters other than officer elections are documented in the minutes. Accordingly, the following scope notes relate principally to the meeting minutes from 1804 to 1917.

Routine content includes lists of individuals nominated and accepted for membership; obituaries/memorials for recently-deceased members and nationally-known figures; annual elections of officers; meeting attendees; and appointments of temporary committees to consider various specific matters.

Donations of items are recorded inconsistently. For the period from the 1820s to 1841, there are frequent detailed lists of accessions. There are references to donations before and after that period as well but, especially after 1841, other books are noted as holding this information (see the New-York Historical Society collection accession registers record group (NYHS-RG 15)). The minutes record many initiatives aimed at expanding the collection of manuscripts, artifacts, and artwork. These include successful matters, such as the acquisition of art from the New York Gallery of Fine Arts in 1857, and unfruitful ones, such as the offer from Mathew Brady of his Civil War photographs in 1866.

Operational matters, including finances, leasing space in the early-mid 1800s, acquiring land and constructing buildings in the mid-1800s and in the 1900s, setting open hours for the rooms, and proposing constitutional and by-law amendments are recorded in the minutes. Financial matters from N-YHS’s earliest years are not always recorded in any particular detail, but the amount of this information expands in later years to account for various funds, investments held, and other matters. N-YHS’s financial struggles of the 1820s and 1830s, and their eventual resolution, are well-documented in the minutes.

Reports from committees are sometimes written into the minutes in full, as is some important correspondence. These reports include those of the various buildings committees created over time. References can also be found to the ultimately unsuccessful initiative of the 1860s-1870s to locate N-YHS within Central Park (see New-York Historical Society original buildings planning & construction records (NYHS-RG 3) for much more on this topic).

The minutes also record to some extent the educational and social activities of N-YHS. These include noting those invited to read papers to the members and the subject of those papers; decisions to publish certain material; and summaries of anniversary celebrations and other special events, sometimes noting the toasts at the event.

Arrangement Note

The series is arranged in chronological order, in 10 bound volumes. The minutes were bound in new covers in July 1936 by the New-York Historical Society.

In some volumes, loose documents, such as the slates of nominated candidates for N-YHS officers, were found during processing. These were removed from the volumes and placed in a separate folder and box, which is noted in the container list below. The point in the volume from which the documents were removed is noted in the folder with the documents.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Volume: RG1.1 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 1
1804-1837
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Loose Documents Removed from Minutes Volume 1

Scope and Contents Note

Includes mostly brief notes likely related to Vail's research for his N-YHS history.

ca. 1954
Volume: RG1.2 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 2
1838-1848
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Loose Documents Removed from Minutes Volume 2

Scope and Contents Note

Includes clippings related to U.S. President John Tyler's cancellation of his appointment to meet with N-YHS members.

1843 June 14-15
Volume: RG1.3 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 3
1849-May 1856
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Loose Document Removed from Minutes Volume 3

Scope and Contents Note

Includes draft of resolutions regarding the death of Daniel Webster.

1852 October 30
Volume: RG1.4 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 4
June 1856-May 1863
Volume: RG1.5 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 5
June 1863-1870
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Loose Documents Removed from Minutes Volume 5

Scope and Contents Note

Includes the slates of nominated officers for the elections of 1864, 1865, 1867, and 1869; the opposition slate of 1867; an invitation to the celebration of N-YHS's 63rd anniversary (1867); and an announcement of the upcoming publication of a memorial of Alexander Anderson, written by Benson J. Lossing (1870).

1864-1865, 1867, 1869-1870
Volume: RG1.6 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 6
1871-May 1879
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Loose Documents Removed from Minutes Volume 6

Scope and Contents Note

Includes the slate of nominated officers for 1872 and notes and extract related to the meeting of April 1, 1873.

1872-1873
Volume: RG1.7 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 7
June 1879-1887
Volume: RG1.8 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 8
1888-1900
Volume: RG1.9 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 9
1901-1908
Volume: RG1.10 Folder : - Minutes. Volume 10
1909-November 1937

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