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John B. Woodward papers

Call Number



1820-1924, inclusive


Woodward, John B. (John Blackburne)
Woodward family


3 Linear Feet in one manuscript box, one record carton, and four other containers.

Language of Materials

English .


This collection consists of correspondence, ephemera, scrapbooks, cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards, and other materials relating to John Blackburne Woodward (1835-1896). A lifelong Brooklyn resident, Woodward was a notable businessman, military officer, and philanthropist. He ran a successful trading business, completed his military career as Adjutant General, and served on the boards of many prominent organizations. The revitalization of both the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and Prospect Park have been attributed to Woodward's dedicated work. In 1885, Woodward made an unsuccessful bid for Mayor of Brooklyn. The collection includes material on several organizations that Woodward was engaged in, particularly from the 1860s through the 1890s. These included Johnstown flood relief, the Society of the Army of the Potomac, J. S. T. Stranahan Statue Fund, the 13th Regiment of the National Guard of the State of New York (during the Civil War years), and the Brooklyn Institute. Political campaign ephemera of the 1880s is in the collection. The photographs in the collection are principally of the regimental military officers Woodward served with.

Biographical Note

John Blackburne Woodward was born at 84 Sands Street in Brooklyn, N.Y. on May 31, 1835 to Thomas Woodward, who emigrated with his father and brothers from England in 1819, and Mary Barrow Woodward (nee Blackburne). The family had four daughters and four sons, of whom John was the eldest son.

Woodward was at school from the ages of 8 to 15, when he entered the importing business of his uncle George Woodward. In 1859 he moved to the exporting business of Edward Haynes, which traded largely with Brazil and South America. He became sole proprietor in 1881, and remained at this firm until his death.

In 1854, Woodward entered the Brooklyn City Guard, 13th Regiment, as a Private. He steadily rose in rank throughout the ensuing decade, and was elected Colonel of the 13th Regiment in March of 1863. After resigning as Colonel in June of 1866 Woodward was appointed Major General of the Second Division of the New York State National Guard in March of 1869. He became Inspector General of New York State in January of 1875, and Adjutant General in April of 1879.

Acknowledged as an able businessman and conscientious citizen, Woodward also served on the Boards of numerous Brooklyn institutions and committees, many of which were public service oriented. Woodward's many positions included:

Missing Title

  1. President, Brooklyn Board of City Works (1875)
  2. President, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (1887-1895)
  3. President, Parks Department (1887-1888)
  4. President, Third National Bank (1891)
  5. Secretary, Citizens Relief Committee (the Johnstown Flood Relief) (1889)
  6. Treasurer, Brooklyn Committee for Armenian Relief (1895?-1896)
  7. Treasurer, Society of the Army of the Potomac (1884)
  8. Treasurer, Stranahan Statue Fund (probably 1889-1892)
  9. Commissioner, Construction of the Bay Ridge Parkway (1895)
  10. Commissioner, Investigation of Green-wood Cemetery (1885)
  11. Incorporator, Brooklyn Homeopathic Hospital (1871)
  12. Honorary Member, American Association of Public Accountants (1892)
  13. Trustee, Franklin Trust Company

Woodward briefly entered the Brooklyn political stage when, in 1885, he made a bid for Mayor. He ran as an independent, and had the backing of Seth Low. During the race, a case was brought against the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and others for "preventing the election of John B. Woodward as Mayor." 13,641 ballots were cast for Woodward, but he lost to Whitney's 48,774 and Catlin's 37,945, though he did beat the 879 ballots cast for Funk.

Woodward resided at 259 Henry Street in Brooklyn with his wife, Elizabeth Cook Blackburne, whom he had married on May 31, 1870, and four children. Two of Woodward's children, Arthur Harris and an unknown daughter, died in 1890 and 1893, respectively, and two, Robbins Blackburne and Mary ("Mae" or "May") Blackburne, lived to adulthood. Robbins went on to have at least one daughter, Mary, named, presumably, for her aunt Mary, who died in the mid 1940s. Woodward remained at his Henry Street residence until his death in 1896, after a brief decline due to pneumonia.


  1. Kennedy, Elijah R. John B. Woodward: A biographical memoir. New York: Printed at the De Vinne Press for private distribution, 1897.


The collection is organized in three series. The first two series include the text-based material and ephemera from the two accessions comprising the collection, 1977.039 and 1977.146. The third series includes photographs.

Scope and Contents

The John B. Woodward papers consist of correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and ephemera created and/or collected by Woodward and his family. The collection includes material on several organizations that Woodward was engaged in, particularly from the 1860s through the 1890s. These included Johnstown flood relief, the Society of the Army of the Potomac, J. S. T. Stranahan Statue Fund, the 13th Regiment of the National Guard of the State of New York (during the Civil War years), and the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. Political campaign ephemera of the 1880s is in the collection. The collection holds many cartes-de-visite, especially in an album of regimental and company officers of the 13th N.G.S.N.Y. A second album in the collection holds cabinet cards of Major-General John B. Woodward and the staff of the Second Division, N.G.S.N.Y.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to users without restriction.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); John B. Woodward papers, ARC.275, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession 1977.039 was the gift of John B. Woodward, 1895. Accession 1977.146, including the two photograph albums, was the gift of Mary W. Best, Edward Haynes and Elizabeth Haynes, 1945 and 1961. The loose cartes-de-visite are of uncertain provenance; there is some indication that they were donated by Andrew W. Schulz.

Related Materials

Related archival collections at the Brooklyn Historical Society:

Missing Title

  1. 1977.292, May B. Woodward scrapbook, 1884-1896
  2. 1977.325, Department of Parks, City and Borough of Brooklyn records, 1856-1945
  3. 1989.005, William C. Kingsley and John B. Woodward engrossed resolutions, 1885-1896
  4. ARC.011, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences records, 1843-1979
  5. ARC.074, New England Society in the City of Brooklyn records, 1880-1981
  6. ARC.210, New York State National Guard, 13th Regiment records, 1832-1892

Other Finding Aids

For the text-based portions of this collection (Series 1 and 2), an earlier version of this finding aid, containing a complete container list, is available in PDF from the Brooklyn Historical Society's Emma catablog on its website and in paper form at the BHS library. That finding aid refers to the removal of two photograph albums from the collection; those have since been returned to the collection and are now part of Series 3.

A complete list of names of the subjects of the images in Series 3 can be found through BHS's image database, PastPerfect, available in the library. There are two records in PastPerfect, one for the albums and one for the loose cartes-de-visite.

Collection processed by

Carolyn Vega

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 11:16:39 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid written in English

Processing Information

The collection was originally processed in February 2008 by Carolyn Vega. As part of this processing, photographs in the collection were removed and described apart from the original collection. The text-based portions of the collection (Series 1 and 2) were fully described and a finding aid published as a PDF. In 2011, Nicholas Pavlik input series-level information for the collection to Archivists' Toolkit to generate a finding aid in html. In 2012, Larry Weimer returned the photographs to the collection, and updated Archivists' Toolkit and the html finding aid to include all collection material. Two photograph albums (1977.146) rehoused by John Zarrillo in March 2016.

The collection combines the accessions 1977.039 and 1977.146.


Brooklyn Historical Society


Box: 6 (Material Type: Graphic Materials)
Box: Cartes de Visite 1 (Material Type: Graphic Materials)
item: 3 (Material Type: Text)
Box: 1 (Material Type: Text)
Box: 2 (Material Type: Text)
Box: 4 (Material Type: Graphic Materials)

Series 1: Accession 1977.039, 1820-1924, inclusive

Scope and Contents

The accession 1977.039 forms the first series. On arrival, this group of materials was organized in three subseries: Johnstown Flood Relief, Society of the Army of the Potomac, and Stranahan Statue Fund.

The Johnstown Flood Relief subseries consists of correspondence, minutes, and financial records of the Citizens Relief Committee, which was appointed by Mayor Chapin to "take charge of the matter of raising funds for the relief of the Johnstown sufferers." Woodward was Secretary, and all minutes are presumably in his hand.

The Society of the Army of the Potomac subseries consists of materials relating to this organization's accounts. Woodward was Treasurer in 1884, when their reunion was held in Brooklyn on June 11 and 12.

The Stranahan Statue subseries consists of correspondence, contracts, and financial records relating to the erection of a full-length bronze statue of the Honorable James S.T. Stranahan in Prospect Park. Woodward was Treasurer.

Series 2: Accession 1977.146, 1825-1924, inclusive

Scope and Contents

The text-based and scrapbook material of accession 1977.146 forms the second series. No inherent order was evident in this accession upon arrival, and in 2008 it was organized into five subseries: Personal Life, Death, Ephemera, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, and Scrapbooks.

The Personal Life subseries consists of correspondence and other materials, including Woodward's school report cards and military notices relating to John N. Woodward. Very little personal correspondence was accessioned, with the notable exception of an 1861 letter to "Annie," Woodward's future wife.

The Death subseries consists of letters of condolence to Mrs. Elizabeth Woodward and clippings of obituaries or death notices from various newspapers in New York State. Also see Scrapbook 4 for the like, including two brief Brazilian death notices.

The Ephemera subseries consists of clippings, menus, and other ephemera. The menus and seating charts form the bulk of the subseries, and were collected by Woodward from various dinners he attended. A portion of the menus contain the autographs of other guests. Many of the dinners were given by the New England Society or at the Brooklyn Club and/or as "complimentary dinners" to military personnel. Also see Scrapbook 1 for Brooklyn City Guard and other menus, and see Scrapbook 2 for badges and other ephemera.

The Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences subseries consists of material relating to the Institute and collected after Woodward's death, presumably by his daughter Mary. All clippings mention Woodward, but the bulletin issues do not, with the notable exception of Vol. II, no. 18 (May 29, 1909), the cover of which is decorated by an engraving of Woodward.

The Scrapbooks subseries consists of five scrapbooks. Scrapbooks 1, 2, 3, and 5 were probably compiled by Woodward. Scrapbook 1 dates principally from the 1860s and includes Civil War era orders and other material concerning the New York National Guard's 13th Regiment. Scrapbooks 2 and 3 date mostly from the 1880s and 1890s and concern the organizations and political endeavors that Woodward participated in; political campaign ephemera, including ribbons and badges, are in the books. Scrapbook 5 dates from 1875 and consists of annotated printed clips of city council votes on city works. Scrapbook 4, which consists entirely of clippings relating to Woodward's illness, death, and memorials, was probably compiled by his wife, Elizabeth, or daughter, Mary.

Series 3: Photographs, circa 1860-1865, inclusive

Scope and Contents

The Photographs series consists of an album of cabinet cards, an album of cartes-de-visite, and 21 loose cartes. The cabinet cards are Major-General John B. Woodward and the staff of the Second Division, National Guard State of New York. The album of cartes was a retirement gift to Woodward from the officers of the 13th Regiment of the National Guard; it includes images of the regimental and company officers. The loose cartes are said to be from an album of officers and men of the Civil War made by John B. and Robert Woodward. The subject of the bulk of the images are identified.

Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201