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Guide to the George Frederick Seward Papers
1883-1910 (Bulk 1890-1910)
  MS 557

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Heather Mulliner

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 23, 2014
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents note

The George Frederick Seward Papers contain the personal and professional correspondence of businessman and former Minister to China George Frederick Seward from 1883 to 1910. Correspondence in this collection consists of both incoming letters as well as copies of letters written by Seward and his personal secretary. In many instances letters written by Seward are attached to incoming correspondence to which they are responding. Other materials contained in this collection include newspaper clippings, handwritten notes, contracts, and drafts of Seward’s writings. These materials are also interspersed throughout Seward's correspondence and in several instances are related to specific topics addressed in his letters.

The materials in this collection primarily date from 1890 to 1910 and relate to Seward’s work with the Fidelity and Casualty Company in New York, where he served as president from 1892-1910. These materials cover a wide range of topics related to the insurance industry including: the company’s financial interests, concerns over policy issues affecting the insurance industry, letters of recommendation, and personal introductions. The collection also contains a small number of bills and letters (1883-1886) relating to the medical business of his relative Dr. John L. Seward, whom George F. Seward briefly assisted with financial matters.

The collection also includes a significant amount of correspondence regarding Seward's interest in the Willson Aluminum Company in Leaksville, NC, a company in which he was a major investor. There is also a substantial amount of correspondence relating to his activities as a member of the board of trustees at Union College and his role as chairman of the building committee (circa 1900-1910).

Additionally, Seward’s papers contain a small amount of his political writings related to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Although the collection post-dates Seward's term as U.S. Minsiter to China, he remained vocal about his disapproval of the policy, which he expressed in a variety of public forums. Seward’s drafts and publications expressing his opinions on U.S. policy toward China are included among his correspondence and ocurr sporadically from the 1890s to his death in 1910.

The collection also contains a small amount of family correspondence including letters from his children at school and letters from his son prior to his wedding in 1900. Other topics covered in Seward’s papers include correspondence regarding the debt of Stephen C. Baldwin in 1892, some materials regarding the gold and silver question, and the use of calcium carbide to make illuminating gas.

Arrangement note

This collection is arranged chronologically.