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Guide to the New-York Historical Society Librarian Dorothy C. Barck Records

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Sarah Rose

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on June 07, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents Note

The Librarian Dorothy C. Barck records primarily contain chronologically arranged sets of correspondence between Barck and patrons or members of the New-York Historical Society from the 1930s to the early 1950s.

The correspondence sets contain both incoming and outgoing letters, until the last set (1946-53), which is primarily outgoing correspondence and notes from Barck’s employees. The bulk of the correspondence includes reference questions, many of which are genealogical inquiries. Also included are many letters related to Photostat orders and some personal correspondence. As Barck’s role within the library changed, additional content appears. Some editorial correspondence can be found prior to 1944, and after Barck becomes Librarian in 1942, some correspondence related to hiring staff, and the acquisition of donated items and sales is present.

Many of Barck’s correspondents are amateur historians, genealogists, and fellow librarians at institutions such as the American Antiquarian Society and the Library of Congress. Some of Barck’s most frequent correspondents over the years are: M. V. Brewington, Bruce “The Answer Man” Chapman, Bartlett Cowdrey, Arthur C. Gerow, Richard Hyer, Rev. George B. Kinkead, John Hill Morgan, Robert Livingston Nicholson, S. H. P. Pell, Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, and Florence E. Youngs.

Materials related to Barck’s many professional organizations and activities are also found throughout the collection. There are some copies of speeches given at national conferences of the American Association for State and Local History or the Society of American Archivists, in addition to mailings from these organizations and the Special Libraries Association. There is correspondence related to Barck’s leadership roles in these organizations and some printed materials from the National Archives, the New Jersey College for Women, University Microfilms, and some questionnaires from institutions and library students. In the topical boxes are several folders devoted to Barck’s activities with the AASLH. Also present are copies of articles and their respective notes prepared by Barck for the N-YHS’s Quarterly Bulletin.

Some internal correspondence can be found throughout the files, including memos and notes from Barck’s staff about research or acquisition recommendations. In the last set of correspondence nearly every outgoing letter from Barck is attached to accompanying notes from staff members, most frequently the reference librarian E. Marie Becker and the newspaper librarian Louis J. Fox.

The topical boxes contain more information related to the running of the N-YHS Library. Nearly a decade of annual reports including notes from staff members about statistics and usage can be found in the topical boxes. Forms, memos, statistics, and other materials related to the collections of the N-YHS can be found in this set.

The For Sale letter folders contain primarily incoming correspondence from book dealers and individual sellers.

The collection closes with three notebooks and a telephone index. Two of the notebooks are logs of reference inquiries assigned to N-YHS staff and the third contains correspondence answered directly by Barck. These notebooks also indicate the correspondent, the subject matter, and whether a response was written.

Arrangement Note

The correspondence in this series is arranged in six chronological sets, which are arranged alphabetically by correspondent within each set. Frequent or notable correspondents have been noted at the folder level, as has notable contents. The miscellaneous folders included in most of the chronological sets contain content that may overlap with the alphabetical files, so it is recommended to refer to both. As time went on, less and less incoming correspondence was kept in Barck’s files and it is likely that the other half of the communication can be found in the General Correspondence files (NYHS-RG 2).

At the end of the chronological sets is topical correspondence, alphabetically arranged by subject matter. The contents of the topical folders are noted at the folder level. Some materials related to the contents of the topical folders can be found within the chronological sets, so it is recommended to consult the appropriate date range and alphabetical folder.

Following the topical folders are two groups of For Sale letters, which are loosely chronological. Frequent correspondents in this group are listed at the folder level.

At the end of the record group are three notebooks and a telephone index.