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Guide to the Harold Seton Papers
1935, Undated
  AHMC Seton, Harold

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Donna L. Davey

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 02, 2022

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Seton, Harold
Title: Harold Seton papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1935, undated
Abstract: Collection of 12 letters written by Seton to Lucius Beebe, society columnist for the New York Herald-Tribune, and 36 pages of notes, presumably written by Seton. The letters divulge gossip about upper-class society members of New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. The notes discuss Seton's extensive photograph collection, and various New York City topics such as news items from the 1890s, bohemia, restaurants, gambling, and hotels.
Quantity: 0.1 Linear feet  in one folder
Location: For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit
Language: The documents in the collection are in English.
Call Phrase: AHMC Seton, Harold

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Biographical Summary

In 1935 Harold Seton, a collector of photographs and society devotee, was suffering financial difficulties. Having spent summers in Newport, Rhode Island, for 24 years, he was acquainted with or knew about the wealthy people of his day, and sought to profit from sharing information about them. He wrote to Lucius Beebe, a society columnist for the New York Herald-Tribune, and offered gossip for his column in exchange for pay.

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Scope and Content Note

The collection contains 12 letters written by Harold Seton to Lucius Beebe between June 10, 1935 and October 19, 1935 designed to entice Beebe to buy items for his column. The letters contain information and gossip on the fashionable people, places and events of his day in New York City and Newport, along with reminiscences on the world of society in the past. The author was a regular theater-goer and collector of photographs who was acquainted with the newsmakers he wrote about. Seton had a flair for gossip and wrote to Beebe about famous entertainers, show business people and society regulars, along with a measure of social commentary. He also reminisced about the early days of movies when he often worked as an extra in silent films, and about society galas attended over the years.

This collection also contains 36 pages of notes and writings on assorted topics. The author is not indicated, but is assumed to be Seton. One section entitled "Photographers of Old New York," is a three page description of the 10,000 photographs in Harold Seton's collection. Seton donated over 100 photos of guests at the 1883 Vanderbilt costume ball to The New-York Historical Society (now in the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architecture's Portrait File). The paper also discusses the photographer of the Vanderbilt Ball photos, Mora. Many of the people who posed for portraits in Seton's collections are listed along with the photographers who took the photos.

In addition, there are notes on William D'Alton Mann, Harold Seton and Robert Rowe; a document entitled "Local Color and News Items of 1896 and Later '90's" containing excerpts about New York City from an assortment of publications; several pages on "bohemia"; notes on the Seeley dinner at Sherry's, the Bradley Martin Ball, the restaurant Petitpas' and other NYC restaurants; several pages on gambling; biographies of the Hewitt sisters; notes on H. M. Flagler, Palm Beach, and hotels and hotel life from 1897 to 1907.


Letters are arranged chronologically.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Beebe, Lucius, 1902-1966 -- Correspondence.
  • Mann, William D'Alton, 1839-1920
  • Seton, Harold

Document Type

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes (documents)

Subject Organizations

  • New York Herald Tribune (Firm)

Subject Topics

  • Actors -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Actresses -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Balls (Parties) -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Gossip columns -- New York -- 1935.
  • Hotels -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Newspapers -- Sections, columns, etc.
  • Photographs -- Collectors and collecting.
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Upper class -- New York (State) -- New York -- Social life and customs.
  • Upper class -- Rhode Island -- Newport -- Social life and customs.

Subject Places

  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Newport (Rhode Island) -- Social life and customs.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Harold Seton Papers (MS 2958.8831), New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

Seton donated to The New-York Historical Society a collection of over 100 photographs of guests at the 1883 Vanderbilt Costume Ball. See the Portrait File in the Department of Prints, Photographs & Architecture.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donation, Joseph J. Donoghue [1997?]

Processing Information

Processed by Donna Davey, circa 2000.

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Container List

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: AHMC-Seton, Harold Harold Seton papers
1935, undated

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