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Guide to the New-York Historical Society Management Committee Records
1804-1938
 NYHS-RG 1

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


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 02, 2021
Finding aid is written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series II. Executive Committee Minutes , 1843-1938. 2.4 Linear feet

Scope and Contents Note

The Executive Committee Meeting Minutes series includes the twenty bound volumes of minutes recorded at the meetings of the committee from April 1843 to the last of its meetings in 1937. The series also includes the 1938 minutes of the committee's successor governing body, the Board of Trustees; the 1938 minutes are bound in the same volume as the 1936-1937 committee minutes.

Matters routinely considered by the Executive Committee and recorded in the minutes include the recommendation for election of individuals nominated for membership; consideration of publishing initiatives; vetting speakers and papers to be presented at Society meetings; review of finances and banking arrangements, including the performance of mortgages held for investment; approval of library hours and other operational matters; assessment of the condition of the collections, including the Abbott Egyptian collection, which is discussed extensively in 1916; compilation of member lists; consideration of acquisitions by purchase or by donation; approval of the payments of bills (which are listed in the minutes until sometime in the 1920s); maintenance of the buildings; permissions to photograph objects; and proposals of changes to the N-YHS Constitution and By-laws. In addition to its broad scope, the Executive Committee also worked closely with the Fine Arts Committee and the buildings committees so references to their activities are found in these minutes also. In short, the full range of management matters was conducted by the committee and is reflected in the minutes.

Arrangement Note

The series is arranged in chronological order, in 20 bound volumes. The first twelve volumes were bound in new covers in July 1936 by the New-York Historical Society. The final volume was bound in April 1943. The other eight volumes remain in their original covers, which are somewhat deteriorated.

In some volumes, loose documents, such as lists of standing committees, were found during processing. These were removed from the volumes and placed in a separate folder and box, which is noted in the container list below. The point in the volume from which the documents were removed is noted in the folder with the documents.

On-line Access to Digital Copies

With the generous support of the Leon Levy Foundation, all 20 volumes of the Executive Committee minute books were digitized in 2019-2020. Digitization of the volumes was done on-site at N-YHS by an independent photographer, Ardon Bar-Hama. Metadata is currently being applied to these images by N-YHS staff and the volumes are being made available on-line as each is completed. Links to the individual volumes can be found below in the container list. Links to all Executive Committee minute books can be found beginning at this landing page.

Guidance for Executive Committee Minute Books Keyword Searching in the Digital Library

In late 2019 and early 2020, the Executive Committee minute books were digitized. In preparing the metadata for these volumes, each page/image was skimmed for subject matter (in addition to page number and date), and brief summaries were added to the description field of each image. These descriptions are included in the full-text search indexing in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Digital Library. Certain specific subjects can be found directly with obvious keywords, such as Audubon (for the purchase of the drawings), Central Park (for the effort to locate the N-YHS galleries in the Park), Egyptian (for matters related to that collection), Publication Fund (for that particular publication initiative), Phoenix Fund (for purchases made over the years from that Fund), particular donor or collection names, and so forth.

There are however many other matters that were summarized in a more general or thematic way, using consistent keywords embedded in the description to facilitate discovery in searches, or to facilitate reviews of the images when looking at individual pages. These keywords include:

"Lecture," often used as  "lecture arrangements," typically refers to making arrangements for papers to be read at Society meetings. It can refer to specific plans or attempts to schedule particular speakers, or delegation of general responsibility to a subcommittee to set a schedule. It also includes rejections of papers, or regrets from invited speakers. It can also refer to other, public lectures because references in the minutes to lectures are not always clear who the audience will be.

"Anniversary" will return results related to making arrangements for the events marking N-YHS's anniversary, usually held in November or December. The minutes refer to the anniversary events variously over time as either a meeting or as a celebration.  "Anniversary" will also generate some results for events other than the N-YHS anniversary celebration, but those particular events are more likely found in searches of their unique name (e.g. Hudson-Fulton), or most often by the keyword  "commemoration".  "Speaker" and  "remarks" are typically used as keywords rather than the varying oration/orator, discourse, address, and other terms found in the minutes in the context of anniversaries, commemorations, and other such events.

"Membership nominations" refers to the committee's consideration of proposed members. Most typically, the minutes include a list of the proposed members by name.  "Members" or  "membership" alone can generate results related to matters specifically related to membership rights, privileges, and obligations. If a woman's name was noticed while skimming the list of membership nominations, the keyword  "woman" or  "women" and her name(s) was included. In order to facilitate research into the history of women in the organization an attempt was made to use the keyword  "woman" or  "women" in other contexts as well, such as when a woman/women donated money or collection objects, requested access to the collections for research, etc.

"By-laws" includes proposed and adopted amendments to the corporate charter, constitution, and by-laws.  "Rules" is typically used to refer to operational matters (such as establishing library access privileges) or internal administration (such as Executive Committee rules).

"Publication" will yield results concerning arrangements for publication of the Collections, annual reports, anniversary addresses, proceedings, etc. Publication Fund is a specific case of this keyword.

"Library" is used for matters directly related to collections of books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, etc., as well as to specific operational matters, such as hours/access, etc. and the physical library/reading room. What we now refer to as the "museum" is more complex. Generally, the early volumes distinguish between "museum" collections, meaning artifacts, and "gallery/galleries," meaning the art collection and art galleries. When the minutes are unclear, the keyword "museum" was used (including when the minutes use "cabinet" or "antiquities"). But multiple keywords can be in play in this context, including  "art",  "gallery" or galleries, and  "museum".  "Conservation" was used for the repair, relining, or other work on objects.

The keyword "building" is used when the general physical plant is concerned, such as with renovations, maintenance/repairs, or rentals or other outside use of the facility. Outside organizations would commonly request permission for use of the  "hall" and that keyword is typically used in that context. In the 1890s-early 1900s when N-YHS was based in its longstanding Second Avenue site while purchasing, maintaining, then constructing at its present Central Park West site, the keywords distinguishing the two sites are  "Second Avenue" and  "Central Park West site."

"Acquisition" is used as a keyword for potential or actual additions to the collections.  "Donation" (rather than "gift" or "presented") and  "purchase" are also used as keywords with acquisition ("acquisition by donation") when known. The word  "deposit" and/or  "custody" was used as a keyword, rather than "acquisition," when the minutes use that term.  "Bequest" is used as a keyword instead of legacy or inheritance. Cash donations for general or specific purposes tend to use the keyword  "subscriptions" in the first several volumes and  "contributions" thereafter.

"Financial matters" refers most commonly to expense payments, which are listed for approval by the committee in the volumes. These expenses include staff compensation, printing, advertising, rent, coal, repairs, furnishings and supplies, meeting refreshments, collection conservation, etc. Payment for "strawberries" appears from time to time on the early bill lists and these were noted with that keyword. Payments made to specific staff for salary and/or services rendered are included in these expense lists. The at times controversial history of N-YHS's compensation to its Librarian, essentially the chief operating officer of the organization into the mid-20th century, can be traced through these bill lists.  "Financial matters" also brings results for general financial issues, such as the financial state of the organization.

Beginning in early 1883 (Volume RG1.16), regular reporting of the bank balances of the general account and various special purpose restricted funds were reported and recorded in the minutes; accordingly, beginning with RG1.16, in addition to the keyword "financial matters," the terms "expense payments" and  "bank balances" are used to facilitate more targeted searching. By the late 1800s, specific funds were used for particular purposes (e.g., Phoenix Fund for collection purchases, sometimes listed out specifically; Building Fund for the Central Park West site development) and those fund names were used as keywords.  "Investments" is used for the investment of N-YHS funds in securities, mortgage loans and other vehicles.

"Routine business" is used extensively. For a typical committee meeting, this term refers to the approval of minutes, scheduling of meetings of the committee or of the Society, naming new subcommittee members, assigning routine tasks to ad hoc committees or officers, extending invitations to dignitaries or others to attend Society meetings, accepting officer or committee resignations and preparing related acknowledgements of them for the minutes, etc. One routine task was the charge to draft memorials on the occasion of a member's death;  "obituary" is used where the minutes include the substantive, often biographical, wording of such a memorial, and  "memorial" is used for briefer acknowledgements of a paragraph or two.  "Routine business" also applies to the administrative actions taken at the committee's annual reorganization meetings, which took place in mid-late January just after the N-YHS annual business meeting. At the mid-January committee meeting, the names of the Executive Committee members for the year were recorded, subcommittees established, committee officers named, annual reports were ordered to be published, and so forth.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Volume: RG1.11 Executive Committee Minutes. April 1843-May [June] 1852

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1843-1852
Volume: RG1.12 Exec Committee Minutes. September 1852-January 7, 1862

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1852-1862
Volume: RG1.13 Exec Committee Minutes. January 28, 1862-September 1866

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1862-1866
Volume: RG1.14 Executive Committee Minutes. October 1866-January 1873

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1866-1873
Volume: RG1.15 Exec Committee Minutes. February 1873-December 1879

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1873-1879
Volume: RG1.16 Exec Committee Minutes. 1880-1884

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1880-1884
Volume: RG1.17 Exec Committee Minutes. January 1885-October 7, 1890

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1885-1890
Volume: RG1.18 Exec Committee Minutes. October 21, 1890-March 1900

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1890-1900
Volume: RG1.19 Exec Committee Minutes. April 1900-October 1904

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1900-1904
Volume: RG1.20 Exec Committee Minutes. November 1904-June 1907

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1904-1907
Volume: RG1.21 Exec Committee Minutes. October 1907-April 1910

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link

1907-1910
Volume: RG1.22 Exec Committee Minutes. May 1910-January 1913

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1910-1913
Volume: RG1.23 Exec Committee Minutes. February 1913-December 1915

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1913-1915
Volume: RG1.24 Exec Committee Minutes. January 1916-February 1918

On-line Access to Digital Copy

This volume is available on-line via this link.

1916-1918
Volume: RG1.25 Exec Committee Minutes. March 1918-January [February] 1921
1918-1921
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Loose Document Removed from Exec Committee Minutes (Volume RG1.25 )

Scope and Contents Note

Includes list of Standing Committees and committee members for 1920.

1920
Volume: RG1.26 Exec Committee Minutes. March 15, 1921-March 18, 1924
1921-1924
Volume: RG1.27 Exec Committee Minutes. April 15, 1924-November 15, 1927
1924-1927
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Loose Documents Removed from Exec Committee Minutes (Volume RG1.27)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes lists of dues in arrears and a printed version of N-YHS's acknowledgement to the Naval History Society accepting its collection (1925).

1921-1926
Volume: RG1.28 Exec Committee Minutes. December 20, 1927-December 15, 1931
1927-1931
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Loose Documents Removed from Exec Committee Minutes (Volume RG1.28)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes an unsigned bank resolution related to the Thompson bequest (1928); a list of Standing Committees and committee members (1930); and two sample title pages for the Edwin Smith surgical papyrus publication.

1928, 1930
Volume: RG1.29 Exec Committee Minutes. January 19, 1932-May 19, 1936
1932-1936
Volume: RG1.30 Exec Committee Minutes. June 1936-December 1938

Scope and Contents Note

In addition to the minutes of the final meetings of the Executive Committee, this volume holds the December 1937-1938 minutes of the newly-constituted Board of Trustees.

1936-1938

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