Van Ness-Philip Family Papers
Language of Materials
The collection documents the Van Ness, Philip and Worthington families from the late 1700's to the early 1900's. The collection consists of correspondence, journals, maps, printed matter, genealogical material, etc, of the Van Ness-Philip Family. Names of note include: General John P. Van Ness, William Henry Philip, wife Eliza Worthington Philip and sons John Van Ness Philip and Herman Hoffman Philip. Included in the collection are also general files of the Van Ness, Philip and Worthington families relating to social, political and business matters.
The Van Ness-Philip Family Papers reflect a century of these two connected New York State families' participation in public, commercial, social and military life from the late 1700's to early 1900's.
The collection begins with David Burnes, an original proprietor of land in downtown Washington, D.C. and father-in-law to General John P. Van Ness. John P. Van Ness's involvement in politics, business, banking, the War of 1812, the election of 1828 make him a important figure in the public forum and his many correspondents include Gilbert Stuart, Andrew Jackson, Aaron Burr, John Quincy Adams, John Jacob Astor and Daniel Webster. The Van Ness family papers also include information of Ann E., Cornelius P., James, Marcia, Peter William P. and William W. Van Ness. These papers also document the family carpet business, variously called James Philip and Son, and W.G. Philip and Company.
Military history is also documented in the collection of John Van Ness Philip (d. 1862), an officer who served in both the Mexican and Civil Wars. He took part in the Kossuth mission aboard the U.S.S. Mississippi in 1851 and the invasion of California in 1846 aboard the U.S.S. Cyane in the Mexican American War.
A large part of the collection focuses on the family of William Henry Philip (ca.1840's-1881), who attended Lenox Academy and Williams College, served in the Civil War, ran for Congress and worked as a lawyer and businessman in Washington, D.C. He married Eliza Worthington Philip (ca.1860's-1896) in 1864 and they had two sons, John Van Ness Philip and Howard Hoffman Philip. The family settled at Talavera in Claverack, Columbia County, New York, and later lived in Washington, D.C. and Europe. John Van Ness Philip attended Princeton, served in the Spanish-American War, was a lawyer and social figure in Washington, D.C. and involved in Columbia County politics. Herman Hoffman Philip, (ca.1870's-1950) attended Cambridge University, traveled in the far West, served with the Rough Riders on San Juan Hill and provided diplomatic service in the Mid-East, Africa, Scandinavia, and South America.
The Worthington family papers include those of Midshipman Thomas B. Worthington and his physician father Charles Worthington, lawyer William M. Worthington John G. Worthington and his early law practice in Cincinnati, Ohio, and later years in Washington, D.C. as well as additional family correspondence.
Genealogical information of the Van Ness family, as well as clippings and mausoleum information, such as the deed and cemetery plot are located at the end of the collection along with genealogical files of the Philip and Worthington families.
The Van Ness-Philip Papers are arranged in the following eleven series:
- Series I. James and David Burnes
- Series II. John P. Van Ness
- Series III. Van Ness Family
- Series IV. John Van Ness Philip (d. 1862)
- Series V. William Henry Philip
- Series VI. Eliza W. Philip
- Series VII. John Van Ness Philip (d. 1949)
- Series VIII. Herman Hoffman Philip
- Series IX. Philip Family
- Series X. Worthington Family
- Series XI. Oversize Materials
- Series XII. Genealogy
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains more than 15,000 letters and documents of the Van Ness-Philips family from the late 1700's to the early 1900's. The oldest part of the collection focuses on General John P. Van Ness, son of Peter Van Ness, a congressman from New York and later the mayor of Washington D.C. There is also much political correspondence between John P. Van Ness and Martin Van Buren, James Roosevelt and others concerning New York State affairs. Included in the series are some 30 signatures of autographic value, besides Van Buren and Roosevelt, among them: John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, John Jacob Astor, Daniel Webster, Francis Scott Key, James Monroe, Nicholas Biddle, Albert Gallatin, Zebulon Pike, Benjamin Latrobe and Gilbert Stuart. Series I contains the Washington plat books, surveys and correspondence of his father-in-law, David Burnes.
Miltary documents, correspondence and diaries of Officer John Van Ness Philip (d. 1862) who served in both the Mexican and Civil Wars are of signicant importance concerning the Kossuth mission aboard the U.S.S. Mississippi in 1851 and the invasion of California in 1846 aboard the U.S.S. Cyane in the Mexican American War.
The collection also contains personal papers detailing the education of William Henry Philip at Lenox Academy and Williams College and his travels in Europe. There are also papers of military and political value regarding his service in the Civil War, candidacy for Congress, and life as a lawyer and businessman in Washington, D.C. Included in the collection are the personal papers and correspondence of his wife, Eliza Worthington Philip and their two sons, John Van Ness Philip and Herman Hoffman Philip, who were both active in business and politics.
The Philip Family Papers contains letters of Theodore Roosevelt, as well as letters of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. Also included are writings, speeches, illustrations and volumes.
Material relating to the Worthington family, ca. 1817-1900, includes correspondence, 1817-21, between Midshipman Thomas B. Worthington and his physician father Charles Worthington; correspondence and papers of lawyer William M. Worthington; correspondence, ca. 1830's-1875, of John G. Worthington, covering his early law practice in Cincinnati, Ohio, and later years in Washington, D.C.; and family correspondence, ca. 1850's-1900.
Items of note also include one folder of oversize material containing commissions of Herman Hoffman Philip, that are signed by Presidents T. Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, Coolidge, Hover, F.D. Roosevelt. There are also some commissions of John Van Ness Philip (d. 1949) signed by President McKinley.
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This collection should be cited as the Van Ness-Philip Family Papers, MS 652, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials