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Guide to the New-York Historical Society General Correspondence
1805-2018 (bulk, 1805-1982)

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Brynn White and Margaret Kaczorowski

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 05, 2022
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents Note

The New-York Historical Society general correspondence record group contains the chronologically arranged central files of communications directed to and from the institution and its officers. These files range over almost all of N-YHS's first two hundred years of existence, from its first full year of operations in 1805 to the end of Director James Heslin's administration in 1982, though files from 1960 forward are currently restricted. In addition, the record group includes a series of selected letters from notable correspondents that ranges to 2017.

For the nineteenth century, the bulk of correspondence is incoming, but some notes, responses, and letterpress copybooks (1876-1911), of outgoing mail appear. Most communication is written or directed to the Librarian, as well as other officers. The copybooks and yearly registers of correspondents, beginning in 1876 when N-YHS appears to have formalized a system for retention of correspondence, may serve as a guide to researchers in locating materials related to specific individuals and organizations and these continue through 1908. By the early twentieth century, carbon copies of outgoing correspondence appear regularly and continues through 1982.

The record group is predominated by requests for reference assistance; research reports; inquiries pertaining to membership and library operations; proposals of materials for donation, sale, or transfer; arrangements for lectures, events, and publications; acceptances of election to member or officer positions; requests for exchanges of material, such as annual reports or other publications; and invitations, circulars, and other printed matter generated by N-YHS and outside institutions.

Internally produced correspondence includes memoranda such as meeting minutes excerpts, official acceptances and resignations, drafts and notes for deceased member memorials, presentation and resolution drafts, and informal reports on relevant legislation, commissions, funding, finances and investments, acquisitions and donations, buildings maintenance and facilities, and other aspects and issues of operations.

Correspondents include N-YHS officers, prominent historians, politicians, writers and lecturers, scientists, genealogists, artists, printers and booksellers, publishers, donors, antiquarians, and colleagues from libraries, museums, societies, government agencies, and other organizations. International repositories and individuals, many of whom are honorary N-YHS members, correspond from distant locations including China, France, Portugal, Brazil, and Denmark.


The New-York Historical Society General Correspondence (NYHS-RG 2) record group is organized in five series:

Series I. Notable Correspondents (1805-2017)

Series II. Letterpress Copybooks (1876-1911)

Series III. General Correspondence (1805-1908)

Series IV. General Correspondence (1908-1982) (Restricted for 1960 and later years)

Series V. Topical Correspondence (1917-1985)