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Guide to The Alfred Olcott Hudson River Steamboats Collection
Ca. 1871-1951 (bulk 1905-1930)
 PR 98

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Emily Wolff

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 13, 2011
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Note

The Alfred Olcott Hudson River Steamboat Collection spans the period 1871-1951 and contains photographs, blueprints, prints, and ephemera relating to steamboat travel on the Hudson. The collection is divided into three series: Steamboat Lines; Miscellaneous Views; and Oversize Materials.

Series I. Steamboat Lines contains photographs, prints, clippings, and ephemera dating 1886-1951. The material is arranged alphabetically by subject with the majority relating to the Hudson River Day Line, although the Central Hudson Line and the Hudson River Navigation Company are also represented. Individual steamers highlighted include: the Benjamin B. Odell; the Homer Ramsdell; the Newburgh; the Fort Orange; the Albany; the Alexander Hamilton; the Chauncey M. Depew; the DeWitt Clinton; the Hendrick Hudson; the Mary Powell; the New York; the Peter Stuyvesant; the Robert Fulton; the Washington Irving. The photographic material includes both vintage prints and copy prints of steamer exteriors and interiors, and passengers. Included in the photographic material is an album documenting the construction and 1927 launch of the Peter Stuyvesant, a Hudson River Day Line steamer. The ephemera consists primarily of advertisements, schedules, and brochures published by the steamboat companies. There are also several souvenir postcards.

Series II. Miscellaneous Views consists primarily of photographs of steamers and sites along the Hudson dating from 1875-1950, with some printed material and ephemera of similar subject matter and period. Three photographs show the tour through Howe Caverns, a tourist attraction not far from Albany. Another series of photographs shows steamboat launches at the Jamestown Exposition, an event at Sewells Point, VA (now the Norfolk Naval Base) from April to November 1907 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in America. There are two folders of photographs showing various boats, most of which are steamboats, although not necessarily Hudson River Day Line boats. Several folders of unidentified material include copies of paintings of non-maritime subjects, a menu, views of boats, and people. Three folders in this series contain views of the Hudson River and of sites along the river.

Series III. Oversize Materials contains original art, broadsides, photographs, and ship plans and blueprints from the Hudson River Day Line dating from 1871-1930. The original art for advertisements includes pencil sketches and ink sketches for broadsides describing the line. The printed broadsides advertise the line from the 1880s through the first two decades of the twentieth century, providing information on particular steamers routes and schedules. The earliest item in this series is a page from an 1871 Frank Leslie's Illustrated Magazine concerning the steamer Mary Powell. Two steamers, the Albany and the Hendrick Hudson, are documented in photographs. Another group of photos shows Hudson River piers. The inspection certificates for the Hudson River Line steamers date from 1879-1917. The ship plans and blueprints are of particular interest in the documentation of individual steamers. Those represented include: the Albany; the Alexander Hamilton; the Clermont; the Chauncey Depew; the Dewitt Clinton; the Hendrick Hudson; the Mary Powell; the New York; the Robert Fulton; and the Washington Irving.


The collection is divided into three series.

  1. Series I. Steamboat Lines
  2. Series II. Miscellaneous Views
  3. Series III. Oversize Materials