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Charles M. Lefferts military uniforms print collection

Call Number

PR 99


1781, 1848-1926 (bulk 1900-1926), inclusive


Lefferts, Charles Mackubin, 1873-1923 (Role: Collector)


7.7 Linear feet in 11 boxes of various sizes

Language of Materials

Most of the materials are in English, but some are in French and in German.


Collection of printed unsewn signatures, half-tone reproductions of original illustrations, and photographic copies of original illustrations, principally from the 1926 book, "Uniforms of the Armies of the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783" by Charles M. Lefferts, as well as reproductions of illustrations by Lefferts for other projects, and illustrations compiled by him of military uniforms by other artists. Also includes research notes, and some books and letters.

Biographical Note

Charles MacKubin Lefferts was born in New York City on April 19, 1873, the son of Marshall Lefferts, Jr., and Clara Walker Fay Lefferts. On his mother's side he was a descendant of Captain Josiah Fay of Ward's Massachusetts Regiment in the American Revolutionary War.

Lefferts was always keenly interested in military affairs. In 1893 he enlisted as a private in the 7th Regiment National Guard, State of New York, and served five years before being honorably discharged. He re-enlisted for one year in 1901. With the outbreak of World War I, Lefferts wanted to fight for his country but his age prevented him from serving in the ranks in France. He re-enlisted for federal service in 1917 and served until 1921 rising to the rank of Lieutenant. The year of his retirement he received a state decoration for long and faithful service.

Other than a brief engagement as a salesman for the American Woolen Company, Lefferts dedicated most of his life outside the military to the study of the uniforms worn in the American Revolutionary War. He was a tireless researcher, devoted to the accuracy of his descriptions and illustrations. Lefferts was a self-taught artist with natural capabilities, but he hoped his images would be judged according to the information they contained rather than their aesthetic qualities. He began with the study of the British army in America, which he contended was always his primary interest. With time, however, the scope of his project grew to include four countries involved in the war and all the variations of military dress. For nearly thirty years, he searched archives in England, France, Germany, and United States, gathering details of the great variety of uniforms worn by the various armies for different purposes throughout the war.

Lefferts was elected a member of The New-York Historical Society in 1909. Recognizing the value of his knowledge, the Society requested that he produce a series of illustrations based on his research. Lefferts died at Port Washington, Long Island on March 17, 1923. The New-York Historical Society published his images and descriptions three years later under the title Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783 .


The collection is divided into 5 series:

Series I. Material from Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783

Series II. Photographs of Lefferts' Illustrations of Scenes of War

Series III. Uniform Illustrations by Other Artists

Series IV. Duplicates

Series V. Additional Documents

Scope and Content Note

The Charles M. Lefferts Military Uniforms Print Collection spans the period from 1880-1926 and contains military uniform illustrations made and collected by Charles Lefferts.

Series I. Material from Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783 , contains printed materials related to this book, published in 1926 by the New York Historical Society. The book is a compilation of the illustrations made by Lefferts of the uniforms of the American, British, French, and German armies during the American Revolution accompanied by his descriptions of the uniforms and the units that wore them.

Series II. Photographs of Lefferts' Illustrations of Scenes of War contains photographic copies of paintings made by Charles Lefferts from 1916-1921 for Rodman Wanamaker, the president of Wanamaker's department store on Broadway in New York City.

Series III. Uniform Illustrations by Other Artists includes printed illustrations, dated 1880-1923, which were collected by Lefferts.

Series IV. Duplicates contains duplicates of materials found in Series I.

Series V. Additional documents include research notes, some correspondence, books, and related materials. These were found on the shelf in December 2021 and added to the finding aid at that time.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact 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.

Use Restrictions

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, 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:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Charles M. Lefferts Military Uniforms Print Collection, PR 099, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of Charles M. Lefferts, 1923.

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

The original watercolor illustrations by Lefferts which were reproduced in Uniforms of the Armies in the War of the American Revolution, 1775-1783 are in the New-York Historical Society's Museum Collection. The Museum Collection also includes artifacts donated by the estate of Charles Lefferts.

Collection processed by

Emily Wolff; Larry Weimer (2021)

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:49:06 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: The finding aid is written in English


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024