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New York Caledonian Club
1856-2007
 MS 2923

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Alison Dundy

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 09, 2012
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: New York Caledonian Club Records, 1856-2007
Dates [inclusive]: 1856-2007
Abstract: The Records of the New York Caledonian Club document the work, activities, and membership of this society dedicated to the preservation of Scottish heritage, from its founding in 1856 through 2007. The collection contains administrative records, award citations, monographs, newsletters, photographs, Scottish Studies Program documents, scrapbooks, and ephemera.
Quantity: 7.5 Linear feet 38 bound volumes, 4 boxes (3 oversize folders)
Language of Materials note: English
Call Phrase: MS 2923

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Biographical/Historical note

The New York Caledonian Club was founded in 1856 to provide a social community for Scottish immigrants and their descendents and to support the preservation of Scottish history, language, and culture. The club’s activities were as varied as its membership. Laborers and skilled tradesmen gathered with wealthy individuals to promote Scottish heritage through literary evenings, athletic events, traditional Scottish celebrations, education, and philanthropy.

The club’s direct antecedent was an early Caledonian Club founded in 1830 by members of the Highland Guard after the war of 1812. In 1857, the New York Caledonian Club inaugurated the annual “Highland Games” (also known as the “Scotch Games”).The games were a major amateur athletic competition in traditional Scottish sporting events, such as curling and hammer throwing. The games took place in Jones Wood, a stretch of farmland along the East River that predated urban Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The New York Caledonian Club was officially chartered and incorporated in the City of New York in 1861. The club's purpose, as expressed in its founding charter, included establishing a library. Club member and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated three thousand volumes. (The library was later given to the Second Presbyterian Church, where many New York Caledonian Club members worshipped.)

In 1861, the club formed the 79th New York Highland Regiment in response to President Abraham Lincoln’s urgent appeal for volunteers for the Union Army. The “Seventy-Ninth” was the only kilted Civil War regiment. The Regiment fought in numerous battles, including the first battle of Bull Run, served under General Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg, and assisted Admiral Dupont in capturing Port Royal.

In 1873, the club formed a committee to erect a statue of the legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns on Central Park’s “literary walk.” A Scottish sculptor, Mr. John Steell, R.S.A., was commissioned to create the artwork, which was officially unveiled on October 1, 1880.

The New York Caledonian Club became inactive after World War II. It was revived on June 24, 1981 on Bannockburn Night, which commemorates the 1314 battle in which Robert the Bruce led the Scots to victory over the English forces. On July 1, 1982, the New York Caledonian Club won recognition for Scottish culture with the official proclamation of “Tartan Day” by New York Governor Hugh Carey and New York City Mayor Edward Koch. Tartan Day commemorated the 200th anniversary of the repeal of the 1747 Act of Proscription, a law that forbade Scots to wear the tartan, the national Scottish highland dress.

The New York Caledonian Club continues to promote the study of Scottish literature and practice of cultural traditions. Their signature event is the annual Robert Burns supper. The club's Scottish Studies Program focuses on the writings of Robert Burns, as well as Scottish Gaelic language studies, musical instruction in playing the bagpipes, and Highland dancing.

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Scope and Contents note

The New York Caledonian Club Records (1856 - 2007) document the membership, internal meetings, administrative and financial functions, social events, Scottish Studies Program, public issuances of the organization, and circulation of the club's lending library. The bulk of the collection consists of handwritten minutes from 1856-2003. Documents, such as the New York Caledonian Club's Constitution, are glued onto pages in early bound volumes of minutes. Minutes from 1981-2002 were typewritten and interfiled chronologically by the club secretary with correspondence, financial records, and public issuances. Membership books (1856-1947) record names and the diverse occupations of club members, as well as their birthplaces, birth dates, death dates, and years of membership. The club’s library function is documented in the lending library logbook. The collection includes the New York Caledonian Club flag, flown during the Highland Games (Scotch Games).

The general highlights of this collection are the photographs (1859-1918) and the register of the 79th New York Highland Regiment (volume 20). Twenty-two silver gelatin and albumen photographs (many are oversized) include portraits of club officers in Highland dress, veterans of the kilted Civil War regiment, and photographs of the Scotch Games. The register of the 79th Regiment includes two notable letters. A Special Order dated June 28, 1865, names New York Caledonian Club Chief George Mitchell (1832-1884) as Quartermaster of the 79th Regiment. The order is signed by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel M. Elliott (1811-1875), a Caledonian Club member who was later promoted to Brigadier General by President Abraham Lincoln. An October 31, 1881 letter by U.S. Secretary of State James Blaine expresses gratitude to the club for their condolences upon the assassination of President James Garfield.

Arrangement note

The collection has been arranged into twelve series. The arrangement within each series is chronological.

1. Series I: Minutes, 1856 - 2003
2. Series II. Photographs, 1857 - 1918
3. Series III: Membership Records, 1856 - 1947
4. Series IV: Financial Records, 1919 - 1994
5. Series V: Charter, By-Laws, and Rules and Regulations, 1861 - 2002
6. Series VI: Award Citations and Proclamations, 1982 - 2007
7. Series VII: Library Records, 1888 - 1942
8. Series VIII: Newsletters, 1985 - 1990
9. Series IX: Scottish Studies Program, 2000 - 2002
10. Series X: Monographs
11. Series XI: Ephemera
12. Series XII: Flag

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Gair, Robert, 1839 - 1927

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access note

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Conditions Governing Use note

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permissions requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to:

Manuscripts Curator, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024.

Preferred Citation note

This collection should be cited as the New York Caledonian Collection, MS 2923, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials note

Other items pertaining to the New York Caledonian Club may be located by searching the museum's online catalog.

Provenance

The collection consists of two donations:

1. The photograph collection was a Gift of the New York Caledonian Club in 1934.

2. Two volumes of unknown date.

3. The membership registers, minutes, and related documents were a Gift of the New York Caledonian Club in 2012.

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Container List

Series I: Minutes, 1856-2003, 1856-2003

Scope and Contents note

Bound ledgers of handwritten minutes run from the New York Caledonian Club's founding in 1856 through 1950 and are arranged chronologically. Folders of typewritten minutes run from 1981 through 2002. There are no minutes from 1950-1982. The majority of the bound ledgers include minutes of Board of Trustees meetings as well as annual meetings, monthly meetings, and meetings of subcommittees. They include discussion of club business, from election of officers, to acceptance of members, adjudication of disputes between members, planning of annual events such as the Robert Burns dinner and Highland Games, as well as exceptional campaigns, such as financial aid to members and non-members during wars. Many volumes have key documents glued in to the ledgers. The New York Caledonian Club Constitution is glued to pages in volume 12. Other documents pertaining to the time-period encompassed in the ledger have been placed inside the back covers of ledgers. Typewritten minutes from 1981-2002 were kept together chronologically by the club secretary with flyers, program brochures, newsletters, clippings, and ephemera pertaining to the same time period.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Volume: 1 Minutes
1867 January 18 - 1870 December 3
Volume: 2 Minutes
1868 January 14 - 1881 March 29
Volume: 3 Minutes
1871 January 3 - 1873 December 9
Volume: 4 Minutes
1874 January 6 - 1881 March 1
Volume: 5 Mintues
1881 April 3 - 1887 December 27
Volume: 6 Mintues
1888 January 3 - 1892 May 9
Volume: 7 Mintues
1891 January 27 - 1897 December 28
Volume: 8 Minutes
1892 June 7 - 1899 August 1
Volume: 9 Minutes
1897 January 12 - 1900 September 27
Volume: 10 Minutes
1898 February 23 - 1902 December 30
Volume: 11 Minutes
1899 September 5 - 1909 September 6
Volume: 12 Minutes
1903 January 27 - 1908 December 2
Volume: 13 Minutes
1909 May 4 - 1918 July 2
Volume: 14 Minutes
1918 August 6 - 1927 June 30
Volume: 15 Minutes
1927 July 5 - 1937 May 4
Volume: 16 Minutes
1933 June 19 - 1944 February
Volume: 17 Minutes
1937 September 7 - 1950 February 3
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Minutes
1981 November 4 - 1982 June 25
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Minutes
1982 July 1 - 1982 October 26
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Minutes
1987 September 16 - 1989 November 16
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Minutes
1990 January 10 - 1991 October 28
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Minutes
1991 January 7 - 1991 December 24
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Minutes
1992 March 10 - 1992 July 31
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Minutes
1992 August 28 - 1993 January 5
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Minutes
1995 January 17 - 1995 June 2
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Minutes
1994 January 12 - 1994 November 29
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Minutes
2000 May 7 - 2000 December 18
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Minutes
2001 January 22 - 2001 June 24
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Minutes
2001 July 9 - 2001 September 10
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Minutes
2001 October 15 - 2001 December 11
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Minutes
2002 January 7 - 2002 May 12

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Series II: Photographs, 1857-1918

Scope and Contents note

This series consists of 22 silver gelatin and albumen photographs of New York Caledonian Club members in Highland dress. One hand-tinted photograph (1866) features a club officer bearing the Caledonian Club's gold flag, which was flown at Highland Games. Most photographs are larger than 14 x 18 inches.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: OS Medium Folder : New York Caledonian Club Records Portraits

Scope and Contents note

There are seven oversize studio photographs (1866 - 1904) of New York Caledonian Club officers in individual and small group portraits. These include: William Clelland (1866); Alex Fraser (1857); Thomas Fyffe (1870); William G. Reid (1904); William Inglis, Thomas Barclay, and William Cunningham (undated); John Taylor, James West, John Young, William Manson, and Geo. Mitchell, Jr. (1880) C. Sanderson, D. Miller, W. Thomson, R. Cockburn, and K. Mackenzie (undated); and five unnamed officers (undated).

1866 - 1904
Box: OS Medium Folder : New york Caledonian Club Records Caledonian Club Building

Scope and Contents note

This is a photograph of the exterior of the New York Caledonian Club's marble mansion, located at 846 Seventh Avenue (54th Street). The club acquired the building in 1898.

Box: OS Medium Folder : New York Caledonian Club Records Scotch Games and Parades

Scope and Contents note

Four oversize photographs show large assemblies of club members at the annual Scotch Games, held at Jones Wood in New York City.

1859 - 1915
Box: 2 Folder : 7 79th New York Highland Regiment

Scope and Contents note

This folder contains a group portrait of Robert Gair, Lawrence Beattie, and George Arnott in 1861, just before the 79th Regiment departed to defend the Washington, D.C. The photograph is mounted with reproductions of the 79th Regiment Medal from the Battle of Bull Run. There is also a photograph of the 50th Anniversary (1911) parade of Regiment veterans en route to the Second Presbyterian Church. There is a photograph of the dedication of a monument to the 79th Regiment at Knoxville, Tennesee on September 28, 1918. Regiment veterans in the monument dedication photograph include Andrew D. Baird, Robert Gair, Robert Armour, Joseph Stewart, Frank M. Chamberlin, Henry Bloomfield, and John Muir.

1861-1918
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Scotch Games and Parades

Scope and Contents note

This folder contains two mounted photographs of the Scotch Games (1904 and 1914) and a mounted photograph of the Caledonian Club in the 1910 New York City Labor Day parade.

1859 - 1910

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Series III: Membership Records, 1856 - 1947

Scope and Contents note

The Membership Records, 1856-1947 are composed of seven bound volumes running from the New York Caledonian Club's founding in 1856 through 1947. Some volumes are organized alphabetically by indexed letter tabs. Others list rosters of members by calendar year. The volumes contain columned pages with entries for each individual member's name, address, profession, club admission date, club membership expiration date (if relevant), and notes.

Volume 20, the registry of members of the 79th New York Highland Regiment, founded by the New York Caledonian Club in 1861 in response to President Lincoln's call for Union Army volunteers, is of particular interest. Two loose letters are encased in the volume. The Regiment's Quartermaster, George Mitchell, is appointed in a Special Order dated June 28, 1865. The order is signed by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel M. Elliott (1811-1875), a Caledonian Club member who was later promoted to Brigadier General by President Abraham Lincoln. An October 31, 1881 letter by U.S. Secretary of State James Blaine expresses gratitude to the club for condolences expressed upon the assassination of President James Garfield.

Container 1     Title Date
Volume: 18 Membership Records
1856 November 14 - 1934 December 1
Volume: 19 Membership Records
1860-1940 November 12
Volume: 20 Registry, 79th Regiment
1865 - 1917
Volume: 21 Membership Records
1900 - 1910
Volume: 22 Membership Records
1917 - 1919
Volume: 23 Membership Records
1935 - 1928
Volume: 24 Membership Records
1928 - 1947

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Series IV: Financial Records, 1919 - 1994

Scope and Contents note

Bound ledgers, receipt books, and one spiral notebook record monthly receipts and disbursements for club activities and membership dues.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Volume: 27 Property Committee Journal
1919 January - December 1938
Volume: 28 Ledger
1919 January - 1923 December
Volume: 29 Receipt Book
1926 January - 1926 October
Volume: 30 Receipt Book
1931 October 14 - 1939
Volume: 31 Ledger
1931 - 1934
Volume: 32 Receipt Book
1944 October 14 - 1950 March 4
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Financial Notebooks
1992 April 26 - 1994 March 25

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Series V: Charter, By-Laws, and Rules and Regulations, 1861 - 2002

Scope and Contents note

This series includes the New York Caledonian Club's February 5, 1861 founding charter as well as the Club Rules and Regulations (1911) and By-Laws (2002).

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: OS Medium Founding Charter and Certificate of Incorporation
1861 January 5
Box: 3 Folder : 1 By-Laws and Rules and Regulations
1911 - 2002

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Series VI: Award Citations and Proclamations, 1982 - 2007

Scope and Contents note

This folder of oversize material includes the proclamations by New York State Governor Hugh Carey and New York City Mayor Edward Koch commemorating National Tartan Day, July 1, 1982.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: OS Medium Award Citations and Proclamations
1982 - 2007

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Series VII: Library Records, 1888 - 1942

Scope and Contents note

The Library Records, 1888 - 1942 are composed of two bound volumes. Volume 25 records the club member's name, the title of the book loaned from the New York Caledonian Club library, the book's shelf number, the date the book was borrowed, and the date the book was returned. Page one of Volume 25 states: "The above copied over from previous book." There is no prior library logbook in this collection, however. Volume 26 is blank.

Container 1     Title Date
Volume: 25 Library Logbook
1888 - 1942
Volume: 26 Library Logbook

Scope and Contents note

Volume 26 is blank.

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Series VIII: Newsletters, 1985 - 1990

Scope and Contents note

This folder contains the New York Caledonian Club's newsletter from November 1985 - January 1990, including editorial notes and correspondence pertaining to production of the publication.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Newsletters
1985 November 1 - 1990 January

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Series: IX: Scottish Studies Program, 2000 - 2002

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Scottish Studies Program

Scope and Contents note

This folder includes the May 6, 2002 Scottish Studies Committee Report, draft and final publications of the Program of Scottish Studies and e-mail correspondence about enrollment, rates, and course content.

2000 - 2002

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Series X: Monographs

Container 1     Title Date
Volume: 35 Cramm, Richard (undated). The First Five Hundred. Albany: C.F. Williams & Son, Inc.
Volume: 36 MacBean, William M. 1925. Biographical Register of Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York. Printed for the Society.
Volume: 37 McIan, R.R. (1848). Gaellic Gatherings; or, The Highlanders at Home, on the Heath, the River, and the Loch--A Series of Highly Interesting Plates Representing Picturesque Groups Engaged in their Social Employments, their Sports, and Pastimes.

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Series XI: Ephemera, 1928 - 2001

Scope and Contents note

This series includes an oversize 1898 poster for the New York Caledonian Club's 41st annual excursion to Oriental Grove. Volume 33 is a scrapbook of the club's 70th Anniverssary Dinner-Dance (November 27, 1926). Volume 34 is a scrapbook of invitations to monthly and annual meetings (1928 - 1935). A folder of ephemera (January 25, 1992 - January 27, 2001) includes event programs, flyers, application forms, club brochures, and an undated statistical survey of club members.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: OS Medium Poster
1898
Volume: 33 Scrapbook
1928 December 31 - 1935 February 26
Volume: 34 Scrapbook
1926 November 27
Volume: 38 Blank Scrapbook
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Ephemera
1992 January 25 - 2001 January 27

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Series XII: Flag, 1988

Scope and Contents note

This flag was made in 1988. It is a replica of the New York Caledonian Club flag flown during the annual Highland Games (Scotch Games) in Jones Woods.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 4 New York Caledonian Club Flag

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