New-York Historical Society collection of scrapbooks and clippings
Language of Materials
The collection consists of approximately 200 volumes of scrapbooks acquired from various sources over the course of New-York Historical's history. The collection was formed in 2019-22 as an administrative convenience for the inventorying and description of a miscellany of previously uncataloged scrapbooks. Clippings from newspapers and other sources perhaps predominate the collection, but there are many other document forms as well, including photographs, some letters, programs, tickets, and other ephemera. The scrapbooks in this collection range from those that have a focus on an individual's social, leisure or work/career life to those that document, mostly through clippings, various historical or other matters of apparent interest to the scrapbook's compiler, such as the Civil War, politics, boxing, and more.
New-York Historical Society initiated the scrapbook and clippings collection in 2019 as a means of establishing a baseline inventory for the many uncataloged scrapbooks it held at that time. Over the course of its history, N-YHS collected scrapbooks either as standalone items (that is, as a single scrapbook or as a multi-volume set of scrapbooks) or as part of a larger acquisition of personal papers or other documents. Cataloging practices for scrapbooks generally or for particular scrapbooks varied over the institution's history. Consequently, as of 2019, the status of scrapbooks in relation to cataloging could generally be categorized as: included in the catalog record of a larger collection of personal or institutional papers; cataloged as a standalone item; or not cataloged at all.
Beginning in 2019, in connection with the clearance of the library stacks in preparation for a major expansion/construction project, N-YHS's shelves of scrapbooks were cleared, with any uncataloged/uninventoried scrapbooks receiving some baseline descriptive treatment. Scrapbooks determined to have been separated at some point from a larger collection were reconnected and cataloged with that collection. Others, especially large multi-volume sets of scrapbooks, received standalone catalog records. Most single volume or small multi-volume sets, often unknown as to compiler and/or donor, were inventoried in this collection's finding aid, and cataloged as a whole.
For purposes of compiling this collection, "scrapbooks" was defined somewhat broadly. It includes albums of mixed media (ephemera, programs, cards, letters, clippings, photographs, etc.) and albums in which one media type predominates, or is found exclusively, such as with newspaper clippings. It also includes packets or boxes of documents, such as newspaper clippings, that are scrapbook-like in their nature, though not housed in an album. This was simply based on the practical consideration of getting a baseline inventory for such uncataloged material before it was moved to offsite storage.
The container list is arranged in rough chronological order, based on the earliest known date in the album's range. Many items in the albums are undated and the contents were determined based on skims by the archivist so the date ranges should be considered to be rough approximations. The albums are of various sizes and are boxed accordingly.
Scope and Contents
The collection holds about 100 single-volume scrapbooks, multi-volume sets of scrapbooks, or compilations of clippings not necessarily bound in an album, totalling almost 200 volumes. Newspaper clippings, often deteriorating, likely make up most of the content of the collection and are commonly the exclusive content of many of the scrapbooks. Nevertheless, various other types of documents can be found throughout, especially programs (theatre, concerts, other events) and ephemera (tickets, cards, invitations, event announcements, brochures, etc.). There are some photographs but these are not found extensively; more common are pictorial works, such as postcards and those clipped from newspapers and elsewhere. There are also some letters, though not extensive.
There is a considerable degree of diversity in subject content. The container list attempts to identify the fundamental subject matter or focus of the inventoried scrapbooks and the principal document types in each. Very few of the scrapbooks were titled and so a working title/label for each could be determined by the processing archivist based only on skims within time constraints and so cannot necessarily be fully relied on. Where an album was explicitly titled, that is shown within "quotation marks" in the container list. All other titles/labels were established by the archivist. Generally that title/label used the scrapbook compiler if known, or the subject focus as best as could be perceived.
Following is an attempt to categorize the scope of the scrapbooks:
Several scrapbooks document aspects of an individual's life and/or career, and were compiled by that person. While clippings provide some context, there are typically other and more personal documentary forms in these scrapbooks. Examples of these include:
• William Alfred Robbins scrapbooks, one of which documents his work as overseas secretary for the YMCA War Work during and in the aftermath of World War I.
• Lawrence-Smith School for Boys scrapbook, compiled by its headmaster and tracing the school's history from beginning (1914) to dissolution (1939).
• Edmond Charles Bonaventure scrapbooks, which document his involvement with the French Institute in the United States, circa 1914.
• Dea Carroll scrapbook, which documents the singer/entertainer's career as charity fashion show host, 1953-61.
• Helen Sargent Hitchcock scrapbook concerning the Art War Relief auxiliary of the Red Cross during WWI.
• Charles B. Curtis scrapbook documenting his travels across the United States, Europe, and Asia in 1905-06.
• Programs of musical performances that included the tenor Frederick Specht, 1875-89.
• Alan R. Hawley scrapbooks on "aeronautics," that is, ballooning and early airplane flight, both of which he was an active participant in, 1906-37.
• George Ehler Stonebridge scrapbooks concerning his career as a photographer, poet, and lecturer, 1890s-1930s.
Several scrapbooks include documents that reflect social connections or leisure activities. Examples of these include:
• Marguerite Adelaide Wolfe scrapbook of dances and other social engagements in Narragansett, 1877-78.
• Sydney H. Carney, Jr. scrapbooks of meeting announcements and the like from the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New York, Society of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York, New-York Historical Society, and other organizations he was a member and officer of.
• Laura Valentine Sawyer scrapbook, documenting her high school years as a Brooklyn teenager, 1912-16.
Several scrapbooks hold collections of certain document types, such as trade cards and other advertising material, calling cards, monograms, prints of artworks or other illustrations, etc. Theater and other programs are found in several scrapbooks, including those of William K. Draper, Betsey (Bessie) van Nostrand Smith, Faye Laird, and others.
Newspaper clippings perhaps predominate the collection. While many of these scrapbooks seem to be compilations of miscellaneous articles of interest to the (often unknown) compiler, many scrapbooks of clippings have a perceptible focus. Examples of these include:
• J.B. Stack's scrapbooks on boxing around the turn of the 20th century.
• Henry E. Davies and Julia Stevens scrapbooks on the 1876 United States centennial celebrations.
• Lispenard Stewart's seven volumes of clippings about himself and his political and social activities.
• Several scrapbooks include clippings about the Civil War.
• An unattributed volume concerning bicycles and bicycling, 1897-98.
• 7 volumes of newspaper articles and images principally concerning naval military matters, especially in connection with the U.S. Navy, 1898-1912.
• Charles W. Bryan scrapbook on the 1940 presidential election.
Clippings of speeches, poems, anecdotes, and other literary pieces are found in many of the scrapbooks. Examples include:
• Richard Wood scrapbook, circa 1800
• Catherine Kimball scrapbook, circa 1836
• Alburn Hager Krum scrapbook, circa 1860s-90s
• A highly structured and indexed scrapbook with clippings from 1841-45 with speeches on various national topics.
This collection is stored offsite. To arrange to consult it, please go to www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff. Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, email@example.com. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282. Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: www.nyhistory.org/rights-and-reproductions.
The collection should be cited as: New-York Historical Society scrapbook and clippings collection, MS 3158, New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was formed in 2019-22 by New-York Historical Society to encompass various uncataloged individual scrapbooks or small multi-volume sets of scrapbooks. The scrapbooks comprising the collection are from various sources, not all of which could be readily determined when the finding aid was prepared. Acquisition information that could be readily determined, often from a bookplate in the album or tracing a date noted in the album to the accession ledgers, was noted at the scrapbook entry below.
It is possible, though unlikely, that N-YHS will add new accessions to this collection. The more likely possibility is that over time additional uncataloged scrapbooks might be found and those could be added to this collection.
About this Guide
The collection is minimally processed and inventoried. Project archivist Elise Winks did initial work in 2019-20 identifying uncataloged scrapbooks for inclusion in the collection and inventorying them in this finding aid. In 2021-22, archivist Larry Weimer continued that work by refining some of the preliminary descriptions, identifying additional volumes, adding them to the inventory, and completing the finding aid's front matter.