Harold Seton papers
Language of Materials
Collection of 12 letters written by Seton to Lucius Beebe, society columnist for the New York Herald-Tribune, and 36 pages of notes, presumably written by Seton. The letters divulge gossip about upper-class society members of New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. The notes discuss Seton's extensive photograph collection, and various New York City topics such as news items from the 1890s, bohemia, restaurants, gambling, and hotels.
In 1935 Harold Seton, a collector of photographs and society devotee, was suffering financial difficulties. Having spent summers in Newport, Rhode Island, for 24 years, he was acquainted with or knew about the wealthy people of his day, and sought to profit from sharing information about them. He wrote to Lucius Beebe, a society columnist for the New York Herald-Tribune, and offered gossip for his column in exchange for pay.
Letters are arranged chronologically.
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains 12 letters written by Harold Seton to Lucius Beebe between June 10, 1935 and October 19, 1935 designed to entice Beebe to buy items for his column. The letters contain information and gossip on the fashionable people, places and events of his day in New York City and Newport, along with reminiscences on the world of society in the past. The author was a regular theater-goer and collector of photographs who was acquainted with the newsmakers he wrote about. Seton had a flair for gossip and wrote to Beebe about famous entertainers, show business people and society regulars, along with a measure of social commentary. He also reminisced about the early days of movies when he often worked as an extra in silent films, and about society galas attended over the years.
This collection also contains 36 pages of notes and writings on assorted topics. The author is not indicated, but is assumed to be Seton. One section entitled "Photographers of Old New York," is a three page description of the 10,000 photographs in Harold Seton's collection. Seton donated over 100 photos of guests at the 1883 Vanderbilt costume ball to The New-York Historical Society (now in the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architecture's Portrait File). The paper also discusses the photographer of the Vanderbilt Ball photos, Mora. Many of the people who posed for portraits in Seton's collections are listed along with the photographers who took the photos.
In addition, there are notes on William D'Alton Mann, Harold Seton and Robert Rowe; a document entitled "Local Color and News Items of 1896 and Later '90's" containing excerpts about New York City from an assortment of publications; several pages on "bohemia"; notes on the Seeley dinner at Sherry's, the Bradley Martin Ball, the restaurant Petitpas' and other NYC restaurants; several pages on gambling; biographies of the Hewitt sisters; notes on H. M. Flagler, Palm Beach, and hotels and hotel life from 1897 to 1907.
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This collection should be cited as the Harold Seton Papers (MS 2958.8831), New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donation, Joseph J. Donoghue [1997?]
About this Guide
Processed by Donna Davey, circa 2000.