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Richard Maass Westchester and New York State History Collection

Call Number



1645-1995, inclusive
; 1645-1910, bulk


Maass, Richard A.


12 Linear Feet
in 21 boxes

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


Richard Maass, a Westchester County resident, NYU alumnus and highly successful investment banker, was active in the political and educational affairs of New York and Westchester (Mayor of White Plains in 1974 and Westchester County Historian, 1974-1981). Maass amassed this unique collection of historical documents over a fifty-year period. It contains more than three hundred items relating to the early history of New York State, with a particular focus on the American Revolutionary War.

Biographical Note

Richard Maass was an alumnus of New York University, having graduated from the School of Commerce (now the Stern School) in 1949 with a degree in economics. Maass was active in the political and educational affairs of the county; he was appointed as mayor of White Plains in 1974, and held the office of Westchester County Historian from 1974 to 1981. Maass served his community as the President of the Purchase College Council, and was a member of the American Jewish Committee and the Westchester County Historical Society. Along with his father-in-law, Richard M. Lederer, who served for many years as the Village Historian for Scarsdale, Maass was involved with the Manuscript Society from its earliest inception, and served as president of the organization from 1954-1956. In addition to the collecting interests represented by the Richard Maass Collection of Westchester and New York State, Maass assembled notable collections of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Paine materials, as well as a significant collection of books relating to pirates.


Folders are mainly arranged chronologically within each series.

The files are grouped into 6 series:

  1. Series I. New York State
  2. Series II. Westchester
  3. Series III. Mayors and Governors Autographs
  4. Series IV. Other Historical Letters and Manuscripts
  5. Series V. Printed Materials
  6. Series VI. Accretions

Scope and Contents

The Richard Maass Collection of Westchester and New York State consists of over three hundred autograph letters, documents, and newspapers which chronicle the early history of New York State from its colonization by the Dutch to the mid-nineteenth century. The collection is, however, particularly rich in materials relating to the Revolutionary War and can provide researchers with multiple perspectives on significant events and individual military campaigns. For example, the Battle of White Plains is amply documented in the collection through correspondence from participants and observers, as well as in contemporary newspaper accounts.

The arrangement of the collection largely reflects Maass's own organization. Each manuscript, with a few exceptions, has been listed and described in the finding aid. For many of the items the collection also holds additional information provided by Maass regarding specific documents. These have been retained and, in Series I, II, III, IV, and VI, filed in folders designated with the letter "A" following the documents they describe. These folders are not listed in the finding but share the same number; for instance if one wishes to consult Maass' information regarding the materials in Series IA Box 1 Folder 1 one should request Series IA Box 1 Folder 1A. Almost every folder for each item in the collection contained a one to two page description of the document, as well as other ancillary materials such as transcriptions and/or translations of documents by Maass. These folders also occasionally contained provenance information and transcripts. Any additions to the collection will be processed as separate accretions.

In addition to autograph letters and historical documents, the Maass Collection contained a small amount of printed materials. These chiefly consisted of over thirty different early American, British, and French newspapers, dating mainly from the eighteenth century. These items have been organized as a separate series (Series V).


Series I: New York State

Series I contains documents pertaining to the history of New York State, exclusive of Westchester County, with a particular emphasis on New York City. It is arranged chronologically.

Subseries A contains two legal boxes of letters and documents dating from the early settlement of New York by the Dutch through the late eighteenth century. These documents range from records of everyday life in both the Dutch and British colonies to contemporary descriptions of significant historical and political events affecting the colonies and the new state. This subseries also contains numerous documents relating to the Revolutionary War in New York State, including an eyewitness account of the British invasion of New York City in 1776 by Mrs. A. Hampton.

Subseries B is the James Alexander Collection. It contains eight letters to and from Alexander (1691-1756) and his wife, Mary, housed in one small legal box. Alexander was surveyor-general of New York and New Jersey, an attorney, and a contributor to the New York Weekly Journal. In 1735 he was disbarred because he served as counsel for Journal editor Peter Zenger in the famous freedom-of-the-press case. Alexander also was a co-founder of the American Philosophical Society. The James Alexander Collection was purchased as a group by Mr. Maass.

Subseries C contains oversize material, mainly consisting of deeds and other records of land grants in New York City and State. It is housed in two flat boxes.

Series II. Westchester

Series II contains documents pertaining to the early history of what is present day Westchester County. It is arranged chronologically.

Subseries A contains a wide range of letters and other documents dating from the late seventeenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, but the bulk of the material in this subseries dates from the Revolutionary War period. Included within the four legal boxes of this subseries are numerous receipts, orderly and pay books, and correspondence from military officers, including ten documents or letters from George Washington.

Subseries B contains oversize material, mainly consisting of deeds and other records of land grants inWestchester. These are housed in a flat box, with the exception of one item which is kept in the map case.

Series III: Mayors and Governors Autographs

Series III contains correspondence and other documents signed by mayors of New York City and Governors of New York State (and New Jersey). It is arranged chronologically.

Subseries A contains materials which represent the broadest range of dates in the collection. It begins with a document signed by the first Van Cortlandt, Oloff Stevenson, a burgomaster of New Amsterdam, and concludes with a check signed by William Gaynor, an early twentieth century mayor of New York City. The selection of governors is equally diverse, and includes two documents signed by the notorious Lord Cornbury (Edward Hyde) as well as the extremely rare autograph of George Clarke.

Subseries B contains oversize material signed by various mayors or governors. It is housed in a flat box, with the exception of one item which is kept in the map case.

Series IV: Other Historical Letters and Manuscripts

Series IV contains documents which do not relate directly to the history of New York State. It contains only three items in one small legal box, but among these are included a Massachusetts resolution signed by Samuel Warren, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, and an important letter from John Quincy Adams regarding the abolition of slavery.

Series V: Printed Materials

Series V contains printed materials and Mr. Maass' notes relating to these items. The newspapers are divided by size into two groups, each of which is organized alphabetically by title.

Subseries A contains one legal box and two flat boxes of newspapers. Small-sized newspapers are arranged in alphabetical order in the legal box. A second alphabetical arrangement of larger-sized newspapers are housed in two flat boxes. Folders 55 through 62 contain manuscripts that were not assigned folder numbers during the original processing of the collection.

Subseries B contains three archival storage boxes, numbered 17, 18, and 19, holding research notes and transcriptions or translations of the various articles made by Mr. Maass. They have been sorted into separate folders which are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. This subseries is not enumerated in the container list.

Series VI: Accretions

Subseries A contains letters to and from General Charles Lee.

Subseries B contains letters by and about Benedict Arnold and is especially rich in eyewitness accounts of the events and trials surrounding his failed collaboration with the British in 1781.


Conditions Governing Access

Repository permission is required for access. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Richard Maass Collection of Westchester and New York State; MSS 055; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.


The Richard Maass Collection of Westchester and New York State was donated to the Fales Library by Mr. Maass in two installments during the fall and winter of 1996. An additional gift of materials about Charles Lee and Benedict Arnold was donated by Dolly Maass in the Fall of 1999. These materials have been processed and added to the collection as Series VI.

Separated Material

The following titles have been removed from the collection and catalogued in BobCat. Mr. Maass's notes and translations for these items are held in Series V subseries B, which is not described in the container list.

Annals of Annapolis : comprising sundry notices of that old city from the period of the first settlements in its vicinity in the year 1649, until the war of 1812.

La Gazette de France. (1775-1783)

The Lee papers, 1754-[1811]

Nouvelles extraordinaires de divers endroits. (1775-1776)

The treason of Charles Lee : major general second in command in the American Army of the Revolution.

Collection processed by

Helice Koffler, April 1996 - September 1997; Mike Kelly, August 2000 - May 2004. Partially reprocessed and updated by Zachary Dabbs, 2009.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-02-06 14:09:42 -0500.
Language: Description is in English

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from Maass Spreadsheet.xls and maas.xml


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012