Guide to the Research Collections
|Section -- I -- GENERAL MATERIALS|
|14 -- MANUSCRIPTS AND ARCHIVES DIVISION|
With the exception of actual examples in the form of illuminated manuscripts, the collections of the Manuscripts and Archives Division are not particularly strong in material related to the graphic arts. There are, however, autographs of artists and architects, as well as a number of collections of personal papers which are described in chapter 28 of this Guide.
Although little theatrical material was received during the earlier years, large gift collections were acquired after the Theatre Collection was established in 1931 and then raised to the status of a full division in 1945. When the Music Division and the Theatre and Dance Collections moved to the Library and Museum of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in 1965, the Manuscripts and Archives Division transferred to them all music manuscripts (there were highly important resources in this field) and many theatrical manuscripts, which are described in the chapters on those divisions. There remain in the Manuscripts and Archives Division several important theatrical archives: the Robert H. Burnside papers (1894- 1949) document Burnside's career in theatrical production including his long association with the Hippodrome Theatre in New York City; the Charles B. Dillingham correspondence and accounts (1905-27) were accumulated while Dillingham was owner and manager of the Globe Theatre and associated with the Knickerbocker and Hippodrome Theatres in New York City; the Annie Russell papers (1874-1936) consist chiefly of letters from prominent theatrical and literary figures; the Sothern and Marlowe papers (1859-1950) are the archives of the famous Shakespearean acting team of Edward H. Sothern and Julia Marlowe Sothern; the Paul Kester papers (1880-1933) contain 17,000 pieces, largely correspondence with theatrical figures.
Manuscript holdings related to sports are limited. Two collections contain extensive materials on baseball: the Spalding collection and the Swales collection.
Early gifts included manuscripts by Thackeray, Hawthorne, Irving, and other major authors writing in English; in addition to other extensive Irving holdings, the division administers the important Seligman and Hellman collections of the manuscripts and books of Washington Irving.14 The remarkable Duyckinck collection of business papers, letters, etc., relates to American literature during the first half of the nineteenth century; the Bryant-Godwin papers consist of letters to William Cullen Bryant, his son-in-law Parke Godwin, and members of their families, from persons in the United States and abroad who were distinguished in literature, the arts, science, and other fields. The John Quinn memorial collection preserves Quinn's correspondence with leading English, Irish, and American literary figures of the first quarter of the twentieth century.15 The personal and professional correspondence of H.L. Mencken became available to the public in 1971; the papers of Genevieve Taggard, important for the study of Emily Dickinson, are partially restricted until 1985. Carl Van Vechten also presented his rich personal collections, which included much correspondence and many manuscripts, to the library.16
In the 1930s and 1940s the Manuscripts and Archives Division sought and accepted from writers and publishing firms many authors' drafts of published works. This resulted in a collection of several hundred literary typescripts, some donated to the Emma Mills collection established in memory of the literary agent; a good representation of literary autographs is also found in the collection.
Publishers' archives found in the division constitute a vast corpus of literary source material beginning with the Century Company papers (1804-1913),17 and including those of the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, the Macmillan Company,.18 Alfred A. Knopf, and others. Additional significant holdings include the papers of Paul A. Bennett, the typographic promotion manager of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company and secretary of the Typophiles.
The literary manuscripts in the division are supplemented by the rich resources of the Berg and Arents Tobacco Collections, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Oscar Lion Walt Whitman collection administered by the Rare Book Division. Detailed descriptions of literary manuscripts are to be found in the chapters on general literature, American literature, and English literature.
The collection of business records of New York City firms is especially strong. The library ordinarily accepts only those records which illustrate the various types of commercial activity in this region, especially from a retrospective viewpoint. Collections of business records received by the library before 1915 were for the most part eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American and British materials. Later additions include the Constable-Pierrepont papers (1774-1890).19 covering the mercantile trade between New York and Philadelphia, and New York and the Orient, realty in southern and northern New York, and other matters; the papers of Brown Brothers of
Many of the collections received before 1915 and described with historical records and business materials contain resources of importance to legal, political, and sociological studies. These subjects developed as a separate collecting field somewhat later.
Among notable holdings are documents relating to estate administration in New York (1771-1866);23 the George Croghan papers (1812-48); the correspondence and letter books (1892-1917) of William Bourke Cockran relating to his law practice, political activities, etc.; the Emma Goldman papers (1812-48); the Norman Thomas papers (1905-67) including family papers, letters, speeches, articles, etc.; and the papers of congressmen Sol Bloom (1920s-49) and Vito Marcantonio (1935-56). The minute books and manuscript materials from various chapters of Delta Upsilon Fraternity cover the period from the 1850s to the 1890s. The division holds the papers (1896-1939) of Frank P. Walsh, labor representative, protagonist of public utility ownership, advocate of Irish independence, and public official. The George Kennan collection, which was received in 1920, is one of the most important assemblages of Russian material ever presented to the library. It contains letters, papers, pictures, and books of interest for the period from the 1880s through the early 1890s and from 1910 to 1912.24 The papers of Pierre Toussaint, Haitian ex-slave and humanitarian, reflect a unique phase of social life in New York City in the first half of the nineteenth century. The selected papers of Carrie Chapman Catt and of the National American Woman Suffrage Association relate to the strong collection on women in the library.
The Schomburg Center holds the papers of several civil rights organizations, including the Civil Rights Congress and the organizing committee of the 1963 March on Washington for Peace and Freedom.
Church records in the division, so often of value as genealogical and historical sources, include the Methodist Historical Society's collections of records of discontinued churches in New York City and environs, the Dutch Lutheran Church records,25 and Shaker manuscript records (1780-1929), in addition to collections of the letters of leading American clergymen and the papers of American educational and religious leaders.
An important group of more than seventy manuscripts and drawings by Robert Fulton in the Parsons.26 and Montague collections documents the development of the steamboat and the use of steam vessels as instruments of war. The papers of the United States Sanitary Commission consist of more than 1,000 boxes of material covering the period 1862 to 1867. Among the largest groups of material are the papers of the Army and Navy Claim Agency, the Army and Navy pay claim archives, the Washington Hospital Directory archives, and condensed historical matter consisting of reports, plans, maps, news papers, clippings, etc. The Frank Julian Sprague papers on the development of the electric trolley and the electrification of railroads are an important resource. The William John Wilgus collection contains material on the AEF Transportation Corps, the New York Central Railroad, the Holland and Narrows tunnels, etc.27 Other materials are described in subject discussions, particularly in the chapter on technology.