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The Helen Miller Gould Shepard Papers

Call Number

MS 1422


1814-1940, inclusive


Shepard, Helen Miller Gould, 1868-1938 (Role: Author)


4.5 Linear feet (11 boxes, 1 volume, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials

The bulk of the Helen Miller Gould Shepard papers are written in English. There is a small amount of French text in Helen Miller Gould Shepard's school notebooks.


Helen Miller Gould Shepard (1868-1938) was the eldest daughter of railroad financier Jay Gould, and a prominent philanthropist. This collection contains correspondence, ephemera, scrapbooks, published materials, visual material, and writings by Helen Miller Gould. The bulk of the collection is ephemera regarding her social, philanthropic, and religious occupations.

Historical Note

Helen Miller Gould Shepard, the eldest daughter of famed New York financier Jay Gould (1836-1892) and Helen Day Miller (1838-1889), was born in Manhattan, New York on June 20, 1868. Helen spent much of her childhood between Manhattan and Lyndhurst, their summer estate in Tarrytown, New York. Helen inherited the Lyndhurst estate after her father's death in 1892. Helen married Finley Johnson Shepard (1867-1942), a "railroad man", on January 22, 1913 at the age of 45. The couple adopted three children, Finley Jay, Olivia, and Helen Anna.

Helen's adult life was marked by her dedication to philanthropy, patriotism, and religious endeavors. Helen began her most notable philanthropic activities in the last decade of the 19th century. Helen opened the Lyndhurst estate to the community and hosted ill and impoverished children and families, entertained and tended to injured soldiers during the Spanish-American war, and established a sewing school for young ladies in Lyndhurst. Helen also maintained Woody Crest, a fresh air charity and home for physically handicapped children in Tarrytown, New York.

On May 6, 1898, at the outset of the Spanish-American War, Helen donated $100,000 to the federal government of the United States of America. This sizable personal donation, in addition to her other donations on behalf of war relief, thrust Helen into the national spotlight. In December of the same year Senator Joseph Wheeler of Alabama introduced a bill to the House of Representatives to praise her donation, which was passed in February of 1899. Helen also spent a great deal of time and money supporting the Young Men's Christian Association. In March and April of 1912, Helen went on a highly publicized coast to coast speaking and fundraising tour on behalf of the Y.M.C.A.

Helen was heavily involved with New York University, having graduated from the NYU Law School for Women in April 1895. Following in her father's footsteps, Helen donated generously to the University, most notably donating money for the Gould Memorial Library in New York University's Bronx campus in 1899, which later housed the Hall of Fame of Great Americans established in 1901.

In addition to her charitable contributions, Helen was wholly dedicated to spreading the Christian faith. She was a member of both the American Tract Society and the American Bible Society. In 1918, Helen and Emma Baker Kennedy became the first female vice presidents of the American Bible Society. Helen printed a series of biblical tracts, booklets and leaflets from 1904 until her death. Most notably, her series of tracts entitled "Passages to Memorize: Suggested by Helen Gould Shepard" were published and translated into over twenty languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, and Russian.

Helen Miller Gould Shepard died of a stroke in her Lyndhurst home in Tarrytown, New York on December 21, 1938 at the age of 70.

Arrangement Note

The Helen Miller Gould papers are arranged chronologically.

The Helen Miller Gould papers are arranged into the following series:

Scope and Content Note

The Helen Miller Gould Shepard Papers contains correspondence, ephemera, scrapbooks, published materials, and writings, and visual material created by or relating to the life of Helen Miller Gould. The bulk of the collection is ephemera relating to her social, philanthropic, and religious occupations, as well as genealogical research. The bulk of the ephemera is comprised of certificates, invitations, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and programs regarding membership in a number of ancestral, religious, family and other organizations as well as programs commemorating her philanthropic work. The collection contains a series of religious tracts written and published by Helen Miller Gould entitled "Passages to Memorize: Suggested by Helen Gould Shepard."

Correspondence includes both letters to family as well as letters concerning her abundant charitable works such as Woody Crest, a fresh air charity and home for physically handicapped children; her benevolence to soldiers during the Spanish-American War; and the Lyndhurst Sewing School for local young ladies. Frequent correspondents include family members, Mrs. Russell Sage, and many well-known people of the day. Her earlier correspondence to Mrs. Russell Sage and family members is more intimate in nature than later correspondence, which is more formal, mostly relating to her philanthropic and religious work.

A significant portion of this material documents her philanthropic and volunteer efforts on behalf of the United States government, American soldiers, and the Young Men's Christian Association. A significant portion of the collection documents her donation to the United States government at the outset of the Spanish-American war in 1898 and Congressional commendation given in her honor in 1899. Notable in the collection is a bound scrapbook given to Helen Miller Gould Shepard by Congressman Joseph Wheeler, the Representative from Alabama who nominated her for commendation. A smaller portion of the collection contains some correspondence and documents created by her father, notable financier Jay Gould and a larger portion of correspondence, ephemera, and published material pertaining to Jay Gould.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Library Director, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation Note

This collection should be cited as the Helen Miller Gould Shepard Papers, MS 1422, The New-York Historical Society.

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as The New York City 100 Records, (MS 444), the New-York Historical Society.


Presented to the New-York Historical Society by the Estates of Helen M. Gould Shepard and Finley Johnson Shepard on November 6, 1942.

Separated Materials Note

A scrapbook of newspaper clippings pertaining to the death of Jay Gould, and of information on other Gould family members has been separated from the collection, but remains within the New-York Historical Society. (F128 HC102.5.G68 S5 1892)

Related Archival Materials Note

The New-York Historical Society has "Jay Gould and the Erie Railway : manuscript, 1893", written by G. P. Morosini. This work was dedicated to Helen Miller Gould to assist in her collection of reminiscences about her father (BV Gould, Jay, patrons must use microfilm). The New-York Historical Society also holds an address book kept by Jay Gould (BV Gould, Jay, patrons must use microfilm)

The Administrative Papers of the Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken 1884-1910 held at New York University Archives contains extensive correspondence with Helen Miller Gould concerning scholarships, contributions, and construction at University Heights.

Collection processed by

Julianna Monjeau

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:46:47 -0400.
Language: Finding Aid is written in English.


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024