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Guide to the New-York Historical Society Manuscripts of Lectures and Addresses
1809-1957, 2001, 2015-2016
 NYHS-RG 11

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


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on June 05, 2018
Finding Aid is written in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents Note

This record group principally includes a manuscript form (i.e., not a published form) of about 150 addresses presented at N-YHS. The bulk of these are papers read or other prepared remarks made at N-YHS meetings from the 1840s through the 1930s. The period prior to 1840 is represented by only five papers, three of which are original autograph manuscripts by DeWitt Clinton (1811) and Gouverneur Morris (1812, 1816). There are only eleven documents from the period after 1937; the latest of these dates from 1957, except for three typescripts of remarks made at events in the 2000s, including those made by former U.S. President William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton.

Although 150 items is a sizable number, it represents only a small percentage of the hundreds, if not thousands, of papers and other presentations made at N-YHS meetings, special events, exhibitions, public lecture series, and other occasions. It is not known how these particular items came to be preserved in N-YHS’s records, though it may have been simply a function of which papers the Librarian was able to obtain from the speaker at the time. Although a relatively small sample, the items are useful in that many have likely not been published elsewhere and in their manuscript form they give a glimpse as an artifact of the author’s work and actual presentation.

Although nationally prominent figures occasionally spoke at N-YHS, this record group holds few of these. More typically, the manuscripts are from historians and others of some renown, such as George Bancroft, Benson J. Lossing, Lewis H. Morgan, Friedrich Kapp, John Austin Stevens, Jr., Oswald Garrison Villard, Horace Greeley, and Monsignor Robert Seton. Local historians also appear frequently, such as Henry Stiles, William S. Pelletreau, Hopper Striker Mott, and Reginald Pelham Bolton. Papers or remarks made by officers of N-YHS also appear, including those of Luther Bradish, Frederic De Peyster, George Gibbs, Clarence Storm, Sydney Carney, and Robert Hendre Kelby. Until the late nineteenth century the manuscripts in the record group are typically handwritten. Most manuscripts beginning in the late nineteenth century are typed. Many of the manuscripts are undated, unsigned, and untitled, so attributions have been assigned to them over time; see the arrangement note below for further discussion of how this attributed information is displayed in the container list of this finding aid.

Most of the addresses concern some aspect of United States or New York history, particularly of the colonial, Revolutionary, and early Republic periods. Some addresses relate to particular N-YHS accomplishments, such as its building dedications, centennial anniversary, and donations of objects. Other addresses, especially those offered as N-YHS’s annual anniversary address, are more rhetorical with reflections on the study and lessons of history and on America more broadly. Beginning in the late 19th century, the papers were commonly presented with stereopticon illustration; many of the manuscripts indicate the images used and how they were integrated into the presentation.

In addition to the manuscripts of the addresses, many of the folders also include related documents. The presence of these additional documents is noted at the folder level. These documents include meeting announcement cards, multiple copies or versions of the address, research notes, clippings, and correspondence. One of the more substantive such files is that of William James Hubard’s paper concerning his sculpture of the likeness of George Washington; this file includes correspondence and other documents related to Hubard’s attempt to sell the sculpture and that place Hubard’s paper in context. Several folders include research notes of John Austin Stevens, Jr. and Clarence Storm.

Arrangement Note

The record group is arranged in chronological order based on the date of the address, with one exception discussed below.

Information in the container list (author, title of the address, date) was taken, when present, from the manuscript itself or a covering transmittal letter from the author. When that information was not found on the manuscript, it was supplied from other sources (meeting announcement, annual report, etc.) or, in the case of titles, occasionally devised by the archivist. This supplied information is indicated in [brackets]. Information pencilled on the manuscript that appeared to have been supplied at a later date than the manuscript is also shown in [brackets]. Where there are multiple dates on the document (e.g., date written, date read, date a clean copy was forwarded to N-YHS after the address), the date read was used. An exception to this, and the arrangement generally, is the paper of William James Hubard; Hubard's paper was read posthumously to N-YHS in 1875 but was written in 1859 or 1860, and so is arranged at that earlier date.

Some of the folders hold, in addition to the address, earlier and later dated documents. Only the date of the address is used in the date range of the container list. However, a note at the folder level indicates the presence of this other material.