John J. Stephens research notes
Language of Materials
The collection holds packets of documents dating from the mid-late 19th century to the early 1920s concerning New York City and state history compiled by John J. Stephens. Also here are Stephen's historical outlines in chronological and in alphabetical by subject order.
Biographical / Historical
As of the writing of this finding aid in November 2021, nothing was known of Stephens, other than that he resided at The Cairo in Washington, D.C., or the context of this collection. The material was brought to N-YHS's attention by Austin Baxter Keep, and N-YHS solicited the collection, which was donated by Stephens's wife after his death. Books and other printed materials were also donated and these were likely separated to other parts of the N-YHS library.
The bulk of the collection includes Stephens's packets of notes, which remain in their original order, which is alphabetical by subject. The container list opens with his summary outlines.
Scope and Contents
The collection includes 91 packets of research materials compiled by John J. Stephens concerning the history of New York City and New York state, arranged alphabetically by subject. New York City-related institutions, buildings, etc. make up a substantial part of these materials. The documents include pamphlets, clippings, tearsheets, and other similar items, with many images. Maps are found in packets so labeled.
In addition to the research materials, there are two forms of historical notes written by Stephens, presumably derived from the materials compiled. One set, in 15 packets, are his so-called "essentials of New York City and state history"; these are his typed lists of notable historical events, arranged alphabetically by subject. A second set is similar in content, but is handwritten and arranged in a more conventional chronological outline.
Few of the labels are very specific as to the contents of the notes (e.g., Buffalo, theatre); most simply indicate a letter (e.g., "E," "P," or "NYC-A") without further breakdown. Any specific labeling used on the packets is noted in the container list.
The collection was only minimally processed in 2021 and so the above note is based on light observations. Most of the packets are held together with string and these were not untied for review of the contents. Most of the documents seem to be undated clips, but seem to range from some point in the mid-late 19th century to the very early 1920s.
Open to qualified researchers. Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.
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
The collection should be cited as: John J. Stephens research notes, MS 590, New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift, Abby W. Stephens (Mrs. John J. Stephens), 1923.
About this Guide
The collection was minimally processed by archivists Elise Winks and Larry Weimer in 2020-21. Winks flagged the packets of documents with an "SN" (sequence number) for basic identification. Weimer boxed the shelved collection, largely as found, however, because of the variablity of the size of the packets, a few are out of strict alphabetical sequence in order to accommodate boxing. Description of the packets' content was based on their original labels and skims of a small portion of the collection. Weimer also foldered and boxed the manuscript historical chronology.