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Guide to the Osborn Family Papers
1832-1936
 MS 474

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan Kriete

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 11, 2015

Scope and Contents Note

The Osborn Family Papers includes correspondence and journals from members of the Sturges, Osborn and Perry families, spanning the century from 1832 to 1936. The collection is primarily focused on Henry Fairfield Osborn, famed paleontologist and long-time director of the Museum of Natural History, but also includes correspondence of his grandparents (Jonathan Sturges and Mary Cady Sturges), parents (William Osborn and Virginia Sturges Osborn), wife (Lucretia Perry Osborn), children (Virginia, Perry, Fairfield Junior, and Josephine), and various other relatives and family friends. These well-pedigreed families moved in New York's elite circles and the papers reflect the daily life and concerns of privileged members of New York's society in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The collection is organized into three series. Series I, Family papers, consists primarily of correspondence between several generations of family members. Letters relate news of family members and friends, discuss current events, and describe modes and incidents of travel, both domestic and abroad. Health and religion are also frequent topics.

Series I also includes Henry Fairfield Osborn's family correspondence with his parents and siblings, and with his wife Lucretia Perry Osborn, as well as their correspondence with their four surviving children. There are also several boxes of correspondence and clippings relating to Lulu Osborn's 1927 monograph Washington in His Own Words.

In addition to correspondence, Series I includes deeds and leases for family property, genealogical and biographical information, several folders of family ephemera and photographs (including visas and passports), and a few journals or diaries.

Series II, Henry Fairfield Osborn Papers, includes his non-family correspondence with professional associates and organizations. Frequent correspondents include fellow paleontologist and friend William Berryman Scott, and British evolutionary biologist Edward Bagnell Poulton. Series II also includes Henry Fairfield Osborn's journals/datebooks from 1899 to 1921, as well as a few earlier journals. These consist primarily of calendar-type entries detailing Osborn's professional activities as well as events in his personal life; there are also a few journals containing more extensive accounts of his travels and expeditions.

Series III, Transcriptions and oversize material, includes typed transcriptions of hand-written letters of Henry Fairfield Osborn to his father and brother, and to William Berryman Scott, along with transcriptions of a few diary excerpts. This series also includes some oversize ephemera and biographical notes.

Arrangement Note

This collection is arranged in two series. Series I, Family Papers, includes correspondence and papers by and between family members, and includes Henry Fairfield Osborn's correspondence with his family and in-laws. Series II, Henry Fairfield Osborn Papers, consists of his non-family correspondence, primarily with professional colleagues and friends, and other professional and research papers.