Martha J. Lamb papers
Language of Materials
The Martha J. Lamb Papers contain a variety of material relating mostly to Lamb's professional life as historian, author, and editor. Much of this collection pertains to Lamb's tenure as editor of the Magazine of American History (1883-1893) including submissions, letters from readers and contributors, and correspondence dealing with internal production matters. The collection also contains letters received by Lamb regarding her work as an historian and author, a journal (1878-1879), and material for a number of Lamb's articles and addresses, including clippings, reviews, drafts, notes, correspondence, and proofs, and drafts of her History of the City of New York. Material in this collection also relates to activities of the Huguenot Society of America, various historical societies, scientific organizations, trade groups, social clubs, and the charitable societies of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church. In addition, the papers contain poetry, notes, financial and genealogical material, ephemera, visual material, and artifacts.
Dates in the life and career of Martha J. Lamb
Lamb's New York City addresses
New York City addresses of the Magazine of American History Magazine of American History
The Martha J. Lamb Papers are organized in the nineteen series listed below. Within each series, arrangment varies, but is usually alphabetical or chronological. See series descriptions in the container list for details.
A small amount of material is housed in oversize cabinets, marked as "Ov" on container list. The call phrase for these items is "Y-Lamb."
- Series I.
- Magazine of American History, 1883-1893, undated
- Series II.
- Lamb, Correspondence, 1769-1892 (bulk 1876-1892), undated
- Series III.
- Lamb, Journal, 1878 Oct. 18-1879 Apr. 21
- Series IV.
- Lamb, Articles and Addresses, 1874-1890, undated
- Series V.
- History of the City of New York, drafts, undated
- Series VI.
- Clippings, 1756-1892 (bulk 1876-1883), undated
- Series VII.
- Huguenot Society of America, 1879-1892, undated
- Series VIII.
- Madison Square Presbyterian Church, 1882-1889, undated
- Series IX.
- Organizational Material, 1854-1892, undated
- Series X.
- Poetry, 1869-1883, undated
- Series XI.
- Notes, undated
- Series XII.
- Financial Material, 1882-1891
- Series XIII.
- Genealogical Material, 1891-1892, undated
- Series XIV.
- Ephemera, 1873-1890, undated
- Series XV.
- Excursion: Marietta, Ohio, 1888
- Series XVI.
- Copies of Documents, undated
- Series XVII.
- Huntington Collection catalog, 1883
- Series XVIII.
- Visual Materials, 81, 1886, undated
- Series XIX.
- Artifacts, 1881, undated
Scope and Contents
The Martha J. Lamb Papers contain a variety of material relating mostly to Lamb's professional life as historian, author, and editor. The bulk date from 1876 through 1892. Much of this collection pertains to Lamb's tenure as editor of the Magazine of American History (1883-1893) including submissions, letters from readers and contributors, and correspondence dealing with internal production matters. The collection also contains letters received by Lamb regarding her work as a historian and author of the History of the City of New York, and a journal of Lamb's (1878-1879) detailing her workdays. Material for a number of Lamb's articles and addresses, including drafts, notes, correspondence, and proofs, illustrate her research, writing, and publication processes, as do drafts of her History of the City of New York. Twenty-seven scrapbooks kept by Lamb include clippings of her published articles and reviews of her work, documenting her career from 1863-1883.
Martha Lamb's prodigious involvement in numerous organizations is reflected in this collection. Material relates to activities of the Huguenot Society of America, where Lamb served as chairman of the Ladies Committee, various historical societies, scientific organizations, trade groups, and social clubs. The collection also includes items pertaining to Lamb's charity work in New York, conducted through the Madison Square Presbyterian Church led by the reformer Rev. Charles Parkhurst.
In addition, the Martha J. Lamb Papers contain poetry, notes, financial material (bills and receipts), genealogical material, and ephemera, including advertisements, tickets, invitations, and calling cards. A small amount of material relates to an 1888 excursion to Marietta, Ohio. Miscellaneous items in Lamb's possession include a collection of mostly late eighteenth century letters, copies of historical diaries and letters, and a Metropolitan Museum catalog. This collection also contains a few photographs (including cabinet cards of Lamb), prints, sketches, watercolors, tintypes, glass negatives, and printing blocks, many of which relate to her historical work. Assorted artifacts include a small cache of rocks, a sprig of heather, and a key.
The collection contains little personal material of Lamb's—a few items can be found among her correspondence, financial material, ephemera, and artifacts. In addition, Lamb's diary contains some personal information, though it deals mostly with her professional life as a writer and historian. The great bulk of the correspondence in this collection is letters received, with only a few copies and drafts of Lamb's letters and responses.
Martha J. Lamb, in her capacity as historian, published author, and magazine editor, effectively represents a public Victorian woman. This collection of mostly professional papers supports research in the history of nineteenth century women editors, writers, journalists, and historians. Although much of the material does not delineate the complexities faced by Lamb as a career woman, she does occasionally divulge her strategies. In an 1884 letter to Esther Herrman, for example, Lamb writes: "I am quite sure that you fully understand why I deem it the wiser course to do my work in the quietest possible way. Mine is a notable field, and if I provoke any opposition, there are plenty of aspiring men who would take the opportunity to get astride my pathway—thus making obstacles all the harder to overcome. My hope is to so triumph in the end that all womenkind will be benefitted [sic]."
This collection, with its abundance of Magazine of American History material, also broadly supports research in American historiography, and the histories of publishing and journalism. In addition, articles, notes and ephemera pertaining to New York City can be found in Lamb's papers.
Note: Lamb used a number of pennames, most of which were derived from family names. The names "Nash Vinton" and "Vinton Reade" appear in this collection. She also used the names "Nash Reade," "Emogene," and, probably, "Crisp."
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit 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: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as the Martha J. Lamb Papers, MS 362, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
• Magazine of American History letterbooks, April 4, 1884–1892 (7 volumes) Call phrase: BV Magazine of American History.
• Forty genealogies transferred to the Library in 1957, families unknown.
About this Guide
A small cache of items relating to or created by Martha J. Lamb (e.g., newspaper clippings, articles, manuscript notes, and some ephemera) was discovered during a project to clear out the N-YHS library stacks. This material was inserted into the Martha J. Lamb Papers by archivist Joseph Ditta, who also updated this finding aid in October 2022.