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Blackburne, Woodward, and Ottaway family papers

Call Number



1807 to 2011, inclusive
; 1870-1930, bulk


Ottaway family
Woodward, John B. (John Blackburne)
Blackburne family
Woodward family
Ottaway, Ruth B.
Woodward, Elizabeth
Woodward, Mary Blackburne


5 Linear Feet in 3 manuscript boxes, 1 records carton, 1 oversize flat box, 2 photograph boxes, and 1 object box

Language of Materials

English .


This collection consists of correspondence, wills, land indentures, travel journals and diaries, photographs (cabinet cards, cartes-de-visite, daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, photo postcards, loose prints), holiday cards, scrapbooks, school programs, report cards, inventories of assets, hymnals and other books, genealogies, and artifacts including a parasol and pairs of spectacles relating to individuals in the Woodward, Blackburne, Cook, Ward, Littlejohn, Condit, Haynes, Hart, Ottaway, and Prosser families; all descendants of John Blackburne (1775-1845) and Elizabeth Cook (1781-1812). John Blackburne emigrated from England to the United States in 1821, settling in Brooklyn Heights; his grandson John Blackburne Woodward (1835-1895) was a Civil War general and prominent business, political, and civic leader. This collection is focused on family matters, including European travels and daily life at the family members' homes in Brooklyn, including nos. 70 Sands Street and 86 Sands Street (within a parcel of properties owned by the family), 259 Henry Street, and 54 Remsen Street, and is a reflection of memorabilia preserved by women of the family, particularly Mary Woodward and Ruth Hart Ottaway, from one generation to the next, along with materials and information gathered in the course of genealogical research by various family members.

Biographical note

The Blackburne, Woodward, and Ottaway families' Brooklyn origins date to the arrival in the United States of John Blackburne in 1819 [or 1821?]. Several of his eight children (not all of whom survived to adulthood) remained in England; the Brooklyn family lines stem from his daughter Mary Barrow Blackburne (1807-1850), who married Thomas Woodward in 1828; and his son Robins Cook Blackburne (1812-1850), who married Sophia Ward in 1836. After she became a widow, Sophia married James Littlejohn, continuing to reside at one of several properties the family owned in a parcel on Sands Street in Brooklyn. John Blackburne Woodward (1835-1896) was the oldest son of Thomas and Mary; he was a Civil War general, a successful businessman in the import-export trade, and an active participant in Brooklyn political and civic life. (For a biographical note emphasizing his public life, see the finding aid to the John B. Woodward papers (ARC.275).) In 1870 he married the youngest daughter of Robins and Sophia Blackburne, his first cousin Elizabeth Cook Blackburne (1849-1923), a linking of the family lines that created strong bonds in succeeding generations. Elizabeth, later with her unmarried daughter Mary, would eventually raise orphaned members of two generations of her sister's family in addition to her own children.

John B. and Elizabeth Woodward resided at 259 Henry Street in Brooklyn. They had four children: the younger two, Elsie (1877-1893) and Arthur (1881-1890), did not live to adulthood; the second child, Robins Blackburne Woodward (1875-1904), died before age 30. Only the oldest, Mary Blackburne Woodward (May or Mae; 1871-1943), lived a full lifespan. Mary graduated from Packer Collegiate Institute in 1890. Although she never married, she helped raise her younger cousins Mary and Ruth Hart.

Elizabeth Cook (Blackburne) Woodward's older sister Sophia Ward Blackburne (1843-1868) married William Henry Condit (Harry; 1839-1873) in 1864. When Sophia died just four years later, she left two daughters, Sophia Ward Condit (1865-1952) and Elizabeth Blackburne Condit (Lizzie; 1868-1915). The two girls were raised by their Aunt Elizabeth at 259 Henry Street; their father, Harry Condit, died in Florence, Italy, in 1873. Sophia Condit married Edward Haynes (1860-1905), whose father, also Edward Haynes, was the business partner of John Woodward; they had four children, Edward, Elizabeth, Mabel, and Henry, and lived at 54 Remsen Street.

Elizabeth Condit married William Edgar Hart in 1905; they had two daughters, Mary Woodward Hart (1907-1992?; married A. Dexter Best, 1935) and Ruth Blackburne Hart (1910-2011). When Elizabeth Condit Hart died in 1915, the history of the previous generation repeated itself: Elizabeth Woodward, their great-aunt, once again stepped in to give them a home. After her death in 1923, Mary and Ruth were raised by Mary Woodward. Ruth also attended Packer Collegiate Institute as a member of the Class of 1931; from there she continued her education at Rollins College, graduating in 1933. A year later, she married her classmate James H. Ottaway, with whom she had worked on the Rollins school newspaper. In 1936 Ottaway, whose father owned a newspaper in Port Huron, Michigan, purchased a local newspaper in Endicott, New York; Ottaway Newspapers grew to own more than 20 newspapers and merged with the Dow Jones & Company as its community newspapers subsidiary. The business continued under family leadership when James H. Ottaway, Jr. succeeded his father as head of the company in 1984; he retired in 2006 after serving in various positions with Dow Jones. The Words without Borders James H. Ottaway Jr. Award for the Promotion of International Literature, established in 2013, is named in his honor.


  1. "Obituary Notes" [Littlejohn, Sophia Blackburne]. New York Times, January 7, 1873. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  2. "Obituary Notes" [Condit, Sophia W.]. Brooklyn Eagle, May 26, 1863, p. 3. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  3. "Elizabeth Haynes, Americana Author." New York Times, July 2, 1948. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  4. Gillette, F. "James Ottaway's Dow Jones Odyssey." New York Observer, July 16, 2007. Accessed June 11, 2013.
  5. "Ottaway Newspapers, Inc. History." Accessed June 11, 2013.
  6. Ravo, N. "James Ottaway Sr., 88, Executive Who Started Newspaper Chain." New York Times, January 6, 2000. Accessed June 6, 2013.
  7. Words without Borders. "Announcing the James H. Ottaway Jr Award for the Promotion of International Literature." March 25, 2013. Accessed June 11, 2013.

Arrangement note

The collection is organized into five series. The first three series, John B. Woodward and Elizabeth C. Woodward scrapbooks and papers, Mary B. Woodward scrapbooks and papers, and Ruth Hart Ottaway papers, include material related to specific family members, including both text and photographic items. The fourth series, Documents and genealogical papers, includes legal materials (wills, indentures, inventories) and genealogical material. The fifth series, Photographs, includes photographs of other family members (most unidentified) and places, including interiors of several family residences.

Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of correspondence, wills, travel journals and diaries, photographs (cabinet cards, cartes-de-visite, daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, photo postcards, loose prints), holiday greeting cards, school programs, report cards, birth certificates, inventories of assets, genealogies, and artifacts including parasols and pairs of spectacles, relating to individuals in the Woodward, Blackburne, Cooke or Cook, Ward, Littlejohn, Condit, Haynes, Hart, and Ottaway families; other family names mentioned include Haviland, Prosser, Weber, and Procteroe. The items date from 1807 to circa 1960 and describe travels all over Europe and family events and daily life in Brooklyn, New York (addresses include 161 Henry Street, 259 Henry Street, 54 Remsen Street, 70 Sands Street, 86 Sands Street, and 578 East 17th Street); Endicott, New York; Purchase, New York; Norfolk, Connecticut; and Buck Hill Farms, Pennsylvania.

Highlights include a handwritten story, report cards from Packer Collegiate Institute, a description of the lace on Ruth Ottaway's wedding dress given by her aunt in a letter, a colorful collection of holiday cards, inventory lists of some family members' property with their Last Will and Testament, indentures from as early as 1807 related to the family's properties on Sands Street, many handwritten journals of traveling in Europe in the late 19th century (including descriptions and ephemera related to the Paris Exhibition of 1889), the citizenship papers for Sophia B. Littlejohn, a letter and certificate signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as assistant secretary of the Navy during World War I, an oversized photograph of the Packer Institute Class of 1930, and a family tree workbook that is partially filled with information. The photographs are mostly portraits; a large number being cabinet cards from Brooklyn and Manhattan studios, interior photographs, and some casual photographs taken with what is probably one of Kodak's first Brownie cameras.


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Ambrotypes and daguerreotypes in the collection are in the public domain. Reproduction rights for all other photographs in the collection have not been evaluated. Please consult library staff for more information.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Blackburne, Woodward, and Ottaway family papers, 2013.006, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials note

1. ARC.275, John B. Woodward papers, 1820-1924 2. 1977.292, May B. Woodward scrapbook, 1884-1896 3. ARC.011, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences records, 1843-1979 4. 1989.005, William C. Kingsley and John B. Woodward engrossed resolutions, 1885-1886 5. ARC.130, Packer Collegiate Institute collection, 1846-2002

Related archival collections at the Brooklyn Historical Society:

Missing Title

  1. Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences records, 1843-1979 (ARC.011)
  2. Packer Collegiate Institute collection, 1846-2002 (ARC.130)
  3. John B. Woodward papers, 1820-1924 (ARC.275)
  4. May B. Woodward scrapbook, 1884-1896 (1977.292)
  5. William C. Kingsley and John B. Woodward engrossed resolutions, 1885-1886 (1989.005)
  6. Packer Collegiate Institute records (2014.019)

Collection processed by

Jeff Edelstein

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 11:20:48 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid written in English

Processing information note

Although this collection was not in any particular order when accessioned, some material had been grouped by family name or by type (e.g., genealogical information; travel diaries; photographs), presumably by Ruth Ottaway; this general grouping was the basis for the current arrangement of the bulk of material into series centered on individuals.


Brooklyn Historical Society


Box: Cabinet Cards 1, item: 2013.6.1.5-10; 2013.6.2.5-10, 12-23; 2013.6.3.3; 2013.6.5.25-29, 35 (Material Type: Graphic Materials)
Box: Tintypes 1 (Material Type: Graphic Materials)
Box: 8 (Material Type: Realia)
Box: 4 (Material Type: Text)
Box: 3 (Material Type: Text)
Box: 2 (Material Type: Text)
Box: 1 (Material Type: Text)
Box: 7 (Material Type: Graphic Materials)
Box: 6 (Material Type: Graphic Materials)
Box: 5 (Material Type: Text)
Box: Cartes de Visite 1 (Material Type: Graphic Materials)

Series 1: John B. Woodward and Elizabeth C. Woodward scrapbooks and papers, 1844-1889, inclusive; 1870-1889, bulk


1 Linear Feet in 1 manuscript box, 1 record carton, 1 oversize flat box, 1 photographic box, and one object box

Scope and Contents

This series consists of personal items and portrait photographs of General John B. Woodward (1835-1896) and his wife, Elizabeth (1849-1923), who was also his first cousin; the couple was married in 1870. Also included are photographs of and personal items belonging to Elizabeth's mother, Sophia Ward Blackburne (later Littlejohn, 1812-1893), along with photographs of Elizabeth's grandmother, Susannah Ward (1784-1869). Items belonging to John Woodward include a copy of Opening Ceremonies of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge, May 24th, 1883 (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Press of the Brooklyn Eagle Job Printing Department; 1883), which is a program of the events and the text of speeches; a $5 currency note with his signature; and a detailed scrapbook of invoices, receipts, ticket stubs, and calling cards from a trip to Europe (principally London and Paris) of July-September 1889, including items from a visit to the Paris Exhibition.

Items belonging to Elizabeth Woodward include a childhood travel diary (as E. C. Blackburne) from 1861; a scrapbook of greeting cards, circa 1879-1882; and childhood letters she wrote to her mother, Sophia Littlejohn, circa 1865, as well as daguerreotypes and photographs of Sophia Littlejohn. A letter of May 1918 acknowledges receipt and acceptance of a telescope or pair of binoculars contributed to the "Eyes for the Navy" program signed by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, together with a memorandum regarding the program and a certificate of appreciation also signed by Roosevelt (probably autosigned).

Items belonging to Sophia Littlejohn include a dictionary, hymnal, book of psalms, and two silk carriage parasols.

Series 2: Mary B. Woodward scrapbooks and papers, 1880-1940, inclusive; 1880-1900, bulk


1.5 Linear Feet in 2 manuscript boxes and 1 records carton

Scope and Contents

This series consists of personal items belonging to Mary Blackburne Woodward (also called May; 1871-1943), including scrapbooks, travel diaries, photographs, correspondence, and other materials. Some items related to her younger siblings Elsie (1877-1893) and Arthur (1881-1890), neither of whom survived to adulthood, are also included. One of Mary's scrapbooks dates to 1879-1882 and is filled with holiday and birthday greeting cards and several pencil drawings. Photographs include portraits of Mary and her brother Robins.

Items from Mary's school days at the Packer Collegiate Institute, from which she graduated in 1890, include three hymnals, programs from the 1890 Commencement and Class Day, and copies of the annual class journal, the Packer '90, from 1889 and 1890.

Travel diaries describe two trips to Europe, one in the summer of 1889 (two diaries) and one in March-July 1900 (four diaries). A five-year daily diary dated January 1, 1918, mostly includes entries for the period 1918-1920 and records many birthdays and deaths.

Miscellaneous items include two pairs of eyeglasses and a metal stationer's die with the initials MBW from Brentano's Book Store, 586 Fifth Avenue, New York.

Series 3: Ruth Hart Ottaway papers, 1916-2011, inclusive; 1925-1961, bulk


1 Linear Feet in 1 manuscript box, 1 records carton, 1 oversize box, and 1 photographic box

Scope and Contents

This series consists of personal materials--school items, correspondence, calling cards, photographs, and reminiscences--belonging to Ruth Blackburne Hart Ottaway (1910-2011) as well as items belonging to her sister, Mary Woodward Hart (later Mrs. A. Dexter Best; 1907-1992?), and her mother, Elizabeth B. Condit Hart (1868-1915). The bulk of the material relates to Ruth's school years at Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, and Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, including a loose-leaf notebook; report cards; programs from the 1930 Packer Institute Class Day and Commencement; an oversize photograph of the Class of 1930; a copy of the 1933 "Tomokan" Yearbook from Rollins College (with photographs and listings for both Ruth Hart and her future husband James H. Ottaway); and address lists and correspondence related to the Packer Class of 1931's 30th reunion.

Highlights of the correspondence includes the invitation from the 1905 wedding of Elizabeth Condit and William Edgar Hart, with a letter from Elizabeth to her aunt, Elizabeth Woodward; a letter from James Ottaway to Ruth dated April 11, 1937; a letter from Mary Woodward to Ruth Ottaway dated April 29, 1942, describing the lace on Ruth's wedding dress; and a letter from Ruth's aunt, Sophia Haynes from 1950 announcing the sale of her home at 54 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, enclosing some photographs and mementos.

Miscellaneous items include a copy of Ruth's birth certificate; a typewritten inventory of Ruth Hart's silver as of November 10, 1933; and a typescript of stories about her childhood Ruth told to her son and daughter James H. Ottaway, Jr., and Ruth Ottaway Sherer in 1998, with a cover letter from James Ottaway to family members dated October 19, 2011, after Ruth's death.

Series 4: Documents and genealogical papers, 1807-2000, inclusive


0.5 Linear Feet in 2 manuscript boxes and 1 oversize box

Scope and Contents

This series includes indentures, naturalization papers, wills, and inventories related to members of the Blackburne, Woodward, Condit, Littlejohn, and Prosser families as well as genealogical materials in the form of published material, handwritten notes and family trees, and correspondence between family members. Also included are calling cards of family members and others not described in Series 1-3.

Highlights include indentures, inventories, and a business diary of rental incomes related to the family's properties on Sands Street circa 1807-1857; naturalization papers of John Blackburne (1828), Robins Blackburne (1841), and Sophia Littlejohn (1859); wills of John Blackburne (1821), Harry Condit (1873), Sophia Littlejohn (1883), and Elizabeth Hart (1915); and papers and diaries of Harry Condit, related to his Chinese tea import business (circa 1865-1871). Genealogical materials include a published biography of John B. Woodward (New York: De Vinne Press; 1897) commissioned by his brother Robert; biographical notes on members of the Woodward family, the British origins of the Blackburne and Cook families, a typescript (25 pages) of a biography of Robert Woodward Prosser by his nephew Roger D. Prosser (1968); and a partially completed family tree chart book along with other handwritten family trees.

Series 5: Photographs, 1850-1940, inclusive


1 Linear Feet in 1 manuscript box and 1 photographic box

Scope and Contents

This series includes approximately 50 images, circa 1850-1940, not placed in Series 1-3, generally because they are of more distant family members or are of places. Types include tintypes, daguerreotypes, cartes-de-visite, and photographs. Most are studio portraits, although there are a few photographs (one dated 1890 on the back) of family members taken with an early Kodak camera as well as photos of the Woodward summer home in Norfolk, Connecticut, and interior shots of family homes at Sands Street and 259 Henry Street in Brooklyn. A miscellaneous set of copy photographs includes identification information.

Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201