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Guide to the New-York Historical Society Museum Department Records
1765, 1830-2018
 NYHS-RG 20

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


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Margaret Kaczorowski, Katherine Palm and Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 21, 2021 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series I. Select Collections Correspondence, circa 1848-1992. 2.46 Linear feet

Scope and Contents Note

The series includes materials that were compiled over time that relate to particular museum collections. The collections referenced are the Henry Abbott Collection of Egyptian Antiquities, the Nathan Jarvis Native American Collection, the John J. Audubon drawings for Birds of America, the Bryan and Durr collections of European paintings, and the Rogers groups. Other collections are referenced, especially in connection with the transfer of various non-United States objects to the Brooklyn Museum and elsewhere in 1937 and later; these files include documentation of those transfers.

The actual content for each subject matter varies considerably and is summarized in the container list. The Abbott, Jarvis, and Audubon files include original acquisition documents; the Bryan, Durr, and Rogers files do not. Correspondence and some legal filings in connection with the eventual deaccession of some European paintings is in the series. Arrangements for the reproduction of the Audubon drawings, especially the arrangements with American Heritage, are in the files. The Rogers group correspondence primarily consists of offers to N-YHS of statuettes by individual owners.

Arrangement Note

The series is arranged by topic, which is generally a particular collection or topic related to a collection.

Related Archival Materials Note

This series does not include all the documents in the archive concerning these particular collections and objects. Reference to record groups with substantive, related material is noted in the container list.

Processing Information Note

The content of the series was compiled and processed, likely in the 1990s and early 2000s. The arrangement was refined and description developed in August 2016 by project archivist Larry Weimer.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 50 Folder : 1-18 Henry Abbott's Collection of Egyptian Antiquities (18 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes documents related to public appeals by Henry Abbott in the 1850s for funds in connection with his collection, N-YHS's purchase in 1860 of the collection, later inquiries and research notes, original catalogues of the Abbott Collection (1854) and N-YHS's catalogues (1915, 1924). The files also include photographs and personal letters or typescripts of Abbott's, including an 1852 letter from Abbott to R. Minturn regarding his shipment of cases of antiquities from Egypt. The deed of purchase between N-YHS and Abbott's estate is in a separate, oversize container.

circa 1852-circa 1920
Box: 274 Folder : 3 Henry Abbott's Collection of Egyptian Antiquities. Oversize

Scope and Contents Note

Includes N-YHS's deed of purchase of the collection from the Abbott estate. See also New-York Historical Society pictorial archive (NYHS-RG 5) for an oversize 1864 poster for a lecture on Egypt sponsored by N-YHS.

1860
Box: 51 Folder : 1-3 Jarvis Collections (3 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes inventories, correspondence, photoreproductions, notes, and other documents related to the gift of Nathan S. Jarvis of Native American artifacts (1848) and a bequest (1933) of similar artifacts from Jarvis's son.

circa 1848-1933
Box: 51 Folder : 4-19 Transfer of Egyptian, Jarvis, and Other Collections to the Brooklyn Museum (16 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes correspondence, inventories, agreements, and other documentation concerning the loan (1937) of the Abbott Collection, Nineveh sculptures, Jarvis Indian artifacts, and Mexican pottery to the Brooklyn Museum (i.e., the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences) and eventual sale to the Museum. Also includes documents regarding the transfer of the Edwin Smith Medical Papyrus to the New York Academy of Medicine.

1937-1955
Box: 52 Folder : 1-9 John J. Audubon Collection (9 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes correspondence, including letters from Robert Havell, Committee reports, subscription books, and other documents concerning N-YHS's purchase in 1863 of the Audubon drawings for Birds of America from Lucy Audubon. The material also includes documentation of gifts in the 20th century of the 1826-1838 elephant folio and related objects (1954) and Audubon's writing desk (1969). See also New-York Historical Society General Correspondence (NYHS-RG 2), Series I. Notable Correspondents, Box 66, folder 10 for correspondence to N-YHS from Lucy Audubon and some letters from Frederic DePeyster to Lucy.

1862-1863, 1954, 1969
Box: 52 Folder : 10 Audubon Letters & Journals Publication

Scope and Contents Note

Folder includes correspondence to and from Howard Corning and others, and other documents, concerning Corning's publication of Audubon's letters and journals in 1930-31 through The Club of Odd Volumes.

1928-1933
Box: 53 Folder : 1-14 Audubon Reproductions (14 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Principally includes files related to publication of the drawings by American Heritage. Also includes proposals by other publishers, permission to publish select items by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1956), and documents in connection with the ceremony for the issuance of an Audubon postage stamp (1985). See also New-York Historical Society Artifacts (NYHS-RG ) for a commemorative sheet of the stamps. See also New-York Historical Society Board of Trustees Records (NYHS-RG 18), Series III. John E. Parsons Papers for addtional documents related to the American Heritage reproductions.

1956-1992
Box: 54 Folder : 1-16 European Paintings / Bryan & Durr Collections (16 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes documents related principally to the T.J. Bryan Collection, but also to other European art held by N-YHS, including Durr and Luman Reed. Includes the original auction catalogues (1868-1870) related to some of the Bryan holdings, the N-YHS 1903 art gallery catalogue annotated with updated attributions, other attribution notes, correspondence with Columbia University (1940s-1950s) concerning the possible permanent loan of the European paintings to that school, and correspondence, legal filings, and other documents related to the possible deaccession of the Old Masters. See also New-York Historical Society Legal Matters (NYHS-RG 16) for the original 19th century Bryan documents and additional legal documents from the 1960s-1990s.

1868-1870, 1902-1971
Offsite-Box: 55 Folder : 1-10 Rogers Group Inquiries (10 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes correspondence to N-YHS from various individuals, principally in 1932 and in 1939, with offers of Rogers statuettes, requests for appraisals, or other such matters. Although these files relate to N-YHS's interest in obtaining Rogers groups, they do not appear to relate directly to those actually owned. See also New-York Historical Society Legal Matters (NYHS-RG 16), Series I. Bequests, Gifts, and Related Matters, folder Rogers, Katherine R. for documents concerning N-YHS's purchase of 36 bronze groups in 1936.

1932-1951

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