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Guide to the Seaman Family Papers
1761-1983 (bulk 1830-1923)
  MS 552

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

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jan Hilley and Megan Hahn Fraser

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 02, 2011
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Note

An accumulation of personal and professional papers involving four related families on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, this collection describes social life and customs as well as the structure and activities of several family businesses. Most of the items are dated between the 1830's and 1923 although there are some older legal documents (1761-1836) and a few items from mid and later twentieth century (1959, 1970, 1983).

The families represented in this collection were joined in 1903 with the marriage of Irmingarde Van Horne Freeman (granddaughter of Abner Van Horn) and George Williams Seaman (grandson of John Peter DeWindt and Caroline Amelia Smith).

Among the various items are personal correspondence among family members and with others; school documents and papers; military documents; legal documents including wills, patent documents; deeds, mortgages and leases; business correspondence, account books, receipts and other financial papers; photographs; newspaper clippings; essays and poetry; and many personal items such as the wedding book of Irmingarde and George Williams Seaman. Much of the material, especially that contained in the bound volumes, is related to business and finances, with the majority being Abner Van Horn's. The Seaman business material, however, is more descriptive of the history of the company (David Brown Company, George W. Seaman, Inc.).

The bound volumes are in relatively good condition although many of the covers are deteriorating and, in some of them, the ink has become faded. Several have been placed in boxes or enclosures. The correspondence and other papers are in good condition with some exceptions, noted in the Series Descriptions.


Correspondence is arranged by family -- Freeman / Van Horn and DeWindt / Seaman -- and, within family, by individual. Within individual, arrangement is chronological. Some letters are not identifiable as to sender or recipient. They are kept together, at the end of each family group. See Series Descriptions for arrangement of other types of papers.

This collection is organized into the following eight series:

  1. Series I. Freeman/Van Horn Family Correspondence, 1836-1916, undated
  2. Series II. Seaman/DeWindt Family Correspondence, 1815-1916, undated
  3. Series III. School Documents and Papers, 1848-1893, undated
  4. Series IV. Military Documents, 1816-1846
  5. Series V. Legal Documents, 1761-1894, undated
  6. Series VI. Business and Financial Documents, 1813-1923
  7. Series VII. Personal Papers and Miscellany, 1805-1983, undated
  8. Series VIII. Printed Matter and Photograph, 1858-1970, undated