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Manuscripts of Early National and Antebellum America
Personal and Family Papers

What follows is a descriptive list of the collections of personal and family papers of the Early National and Antebellum eras, located among the North American manuscript holdings in the Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame. These collections, dating wholly or primarily from the years 1788 to 1860, may be characterized as groups of manuscripts of various types originating from individuals or families, distinguished by unity of provenance.

Some of the descriptions that follow are linked to finding aids, which will provide readers with fuller information on that particular collection.

  • BROWNLEE FAMILY PAPERS. 1852-1898. 82 manuscripts; envelopes; 1 printed item. The majority of the items in this group are personal letters written to John E. Brownlee (1827-1900), in the years following his emigration from Killyleagh, County Down, Ireland to the United States. Brownlee arrived in New York in 1851. He worked as a ship's baker before purchasing a farm in Portage Township, Potter County, Pennsylvania, in the remote north-central part of the state (1856). By the 1870s Brownlee had established a successful lumber manufactory, John Brownlee & Sons, at North Wharton in Potter County. He was married in 1851, to Elizabeth Savage (1827-1883), also of County Down. Thirty-two of the manuscripts in the collection predate 1860; most of these are letters written to John and/or Elizabeth Brownlee by relatives or acquaintances who either preceded or followed the couple to America. Six of these letters were written from Ireland. As a persistent theme, these earlier letters treat the personal and vocational adaptations necessary in making the transition from the old world to the new. Among the most frequent correspondents are Brownlee's father, Robert Brownlee (1805-1885), a baker, who emigrated in 1854 (ten letters); and two stepbrothers, Thomas Lowry Young (1832-1888) and Hugh Young (1832-1912), natives of Killyleagh who emigrated in 1847 and 1850, respectively. Both the Youngs enjoyed successful public careers. After serving in the army for much of the 1850s, Thomas Young (eight letters) was admitted to the bar and became a prominent Cincinnati attorney and Republican politician, serving two terms as U.S. representative from Ohio. Hugh Young (six letters) farmed in Potter County and worked in journalism before becoming a successful Pittsburgh financier. Post-Civil War papers in the collection include a small number of business letters directed to John Brownlee, as well as a pair of Brownlee's account books (with content dating mostly from the 1870s); a group of personal letters to John and/or Elizabeth Brownlee from the early 1880s, whose prevailing topic is Elizabeth's failing health; and a number of letters written by and to the Brownlee children, six of whom appear to have survived to adulthood. The Brownlees and their extended family were Protestants, of Scots descent. MSN/EA 0504-1 to MSN/EA 0504-77. [Finding Aid & Images]

  • GEORGE W. CRAWFORD PAPERS. 1784-1853 (bulk 1843-1853). 36 manuscripts. George Walker Crawford (1798-1872) was a prominent Georgia Whig whose political career included terms as state representative (1837-42), U.S. representative (1843), and governor (1843-47). In 1849-50 he served in Zachary Taylor's cabinet as secretary of war. He is best remembered, perhaps, for his central role in the resolution of the Galphin Claim, a scandal that shook the Taylor administration and the Whig party in the spring of 1850. The papers include 28 letters written to Crawford, by almost as many different individuals; most of these date from his years as governor and cabinet member, and most are political in content. Several were written by Whig party members of some repute, including John M. Berrien of Georgia and Edward Carrington Cabell of Florida. There are in addition eight non-epistolary manuscripts, four of which pertain to the Galphin Claim. MSN/EA 0500-1-F1; MSN/EA 0500-2 to MSN/EA 0500-33. [Finding Aid & Images]

  • WILLIAM HARRIS CRAWFORD PAPERS. 1804-1868. 212 items, mostly manuscript. Political correspondence, family letters, and miscellaneous personal papers of William Harris Crawford (1772-1834), Republican of Georgia, who from 1807 to 1825 served as U.S. senator, U.S. minister to France, secretary of war, and secretary of the treasury. Crawford was also a candidate in the contentious presidential campaign of 1824. The papers include a general correspondence series of 104 letters, almost all of political or public interest. Most are directed to Crawford, from about sixty different correspondents; there is no obvious period emphasis. There is also a series of family correspondence, with 73 letters mainly written by or to Crawford, his wife, and his children. A third series includes 35 miscellaneous manuscripts totaling 169 pages. MSN/EA 0511-1 to MSN/EA 0511-112. [Finding Aid]

  • JOHN DINSMORE PAPERS. 1782-c.1920 (bulk 1782-1822). 716 manuscripts, many partly printed; 1 newspaper. The personal papers and court records of the Rockingham County, New Hampshire farmer, innkeeper, and justice of the peace John Dinsmore, Jr. (16 January 1759-15 April 1814). Dinsmore (or Dinsmoor) was born in Windham, Rockingham County, the son of John Dinsmore (1721-1793) and Martha McKeen (1723-1803). The elder Dinsmore was a man of local influence, serving Windham as clerk, town meeting moderator, and selectman; he was also a justice. The younger Dinsmore passed most of his life at Windham, on the original family estate, before removing (c.1807) to the village of Londonderry, Rockingham County, where he kept an inn. He was twice married, to Susannah Bell (1759-1807) and Mary Rogers. The greater part of the Dinsmore collection, some 550 items, consists of Rockingham County court records, retained by Dinsmore during his years as a member of the judiciary. These records range in date from January 1797 to November 1813. The majority are partly printed writs of execution issuing from minor civil suits, signed by Dinsmore in his capacity as justice. Most bear endorsements, and calculations of damages and court costs. There are also a small number of papers pertaining to criminal cases. Other, less extensive series in the collection include: land records (21 items, including 10 deeds to parcels of land acquired by John Dinsmore); financial records (50 items, mostly account sheets and receipts); records issuing from Dinsmore's position as a proprietor of the Londonderry Turnpike (42 items, mostly receipts, 1805 to 1810); and papers relating to the settlement of Dinsmore's estate (44 items, 1814 to 1822). These latter include inventories of Dinsmore's real and personal estate, and an estate ledger kept by the executor, Dinsmore's eldest son, James (1788-1872). MSN/EA 0503-1 to MSN/EA 0503-170. [Finding Aid]

  • REV. OZRO FRENCH PAPERS. 1829-1854. 41 journals and 12 miscellaneous manuscripts. Ozro French (1807-1865) was a Vermont native who attended Williams College and Andover Theological Seminary before being ordained minister in the Congregational church in 1837. In 1839 he and his wife, Jane Hotchkiss French, embarked for India under the aegis of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He served as missionary among the Marathi, at Ahmednuggur (Ahmadnagar) and subsequently at Seroor, until 1849, when ill health forced his return to America. Much of the rest of his career was spent as a home missionary in Iowa. The papers include 41 personal journals in French's hand, dating from his early years of teaching and schooling (24 items, 1829-39); his years in India (15 items, 1839-49); and his return (2 items. 1849-51). Individual journals are in pamphlet form; most are 25 to 45 pages in length. The earlier American journals tend to have relatively brief but regular entries, often introspective. The India journals have less regular but longer and more descriptive entries; at least some were kept for the added purpose of recording for the ABCFM the progress of work at the missions. The collection also includes a number of French's sermons, an essay on the value of religious education, and several letters. MSN/EA 0505-1 to MSN/EA 0505-53.

  • GRAVES FAMILY SHIPPING PAPERS. 1812-1877 (bulk 1850-1875). About 2500 manuscripts. A collection of business letters and records retained by the Graves family, sailing ship captains and shipowners of Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts. Most of the material relates to the shipping interests of Capt. William Graves, Jr. (1811-1877), who owned shares in and managed at least eight Newburyport merchant vessels of the 1000-ton class in the decades following his retirement from the sea in 1847. The records pertain especially to three of Graves's ships: George West (built 1855); Castilian (1849); and Joshua L. Hale (1857). These ships contracted to carry all manner of cargo, and sometimes passengers, to and from ports in North America, Great Britain, Peru, India, Burma, and other locations. The collection includes more than 300 business letters directed to Graves, mostly relating to the affairs of the above-named ships: many of these are from the ships' masters, including Graves's half-brothers Alexander and Edward Graves and other relations. There are also some 2000 business records of the three ships, including freight lists and accounts, receipts, disbursements, vouchers, customs papers, and insurance policies and charters. MSN/EA 0506-1 to MSN/EA 0506-134. [Finding Aid]

  • GRAHAM FAMILY PAPERS. 1797-1930s (bulk 1810-1879). About 110 manuscripts; 10-15 clippings, printed items, and photographs. A group of letters and legal and business records pertaining to several generations of the Graham family of southeastern North Carolina. The papers derive in large part from members of the family residing in Cumberland and Robeson counties. The earliest documents are land records of Alexander Graham (1756-1845), who had emigrated from Scotland to Cumberland County in 1766. The antebellum manuscripts in the collection derive mostly from Alexander Graham's many children, especially Nathaniel, Robert (1800-1884), and Duncan (1803-1878) Graham; these are mostly receipts, though there is a group of personal letters of Duncan Graham, who had moved west to Alabama in 1833. The Reconstruction era is well represented, especially by the papers (primarily business records) of William H. Graham of Red Banks in Robeson County. The collection as a whole lacks any substantial references to slavery. One personal letter, written by Catherine Caroline Graham of Cumberland County, contains an extended account of the hardships inflicted on local families by Sherman's troops in March 1865. MSN/EA 0501-1 to MSN/EA 0501-13.

  • GREEN FAMILY PAPERS. 1773-1937. About 300 manuscripts and several pieces of printed ephemera. Family correspondence and other manuscript materials deriving from the influential Green family of Worcester, Massachusetts. The estate known as Green Hill in Worcester was home to generations of Greens, from the mid-18th to the early 20th centuries. The greater number of the 200-plus letters in the collection were written between the ten children of Dr. John Green and Mary Ruggles Green, in the 1790s, 1800s, and 1810s. These siblings, eight men and two women, were doctors, lawyers, and merchants, in Worcester, New York City, South Carolina, and the Caribbean. Among the chief correspondents are William Elijah Green (1777-1865), owner of Green Hill; Meltiah Green (1779-1809), a trader in the Caribbean; and sisters Mary and Elizabeth Green. There are also personal papers of later generations of Greens, especially Julia and Lucy Green, granddaughters of William Elijah. MSN/EA 0508-1 to MSN/EA 0508-131. [Finding Aid]

  • REVEREND LEVI BALLOU PAPERS. 1836-1865. 116 manuscripts. Rev. Levi Ballou (1806-1865) was a Universalist preacher who sermonized throughout north-central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire and Vermont in the decades before the Civil War. In 1843 he began a nineteen-year ministry at the First Universalist Parish of Orange, Massachusetts, in Franklin County. He was grandnephew of Rev. Hosea Ballou (1771-1852), pastor of the Second Universalist Society in Boston and the most important American Universalist theologian of the first half of the nineteenth century, and brother of Rev. Hosea Ballou 2d, another Universalist clergyman and the first president of Tufts College. The papers include around 70 sermons written by Levi Ballou, on sheets sewn into octavo-sized booklets; these average perhaps 30 pages in length, and appear to date from throughout Ballou's career. More than half are funeral sermons, including four written for members of the 36th Massachusetts Infantry killed in the Civil War. The papers also include a 224-page manuscript log kept by Ballou from 1836 until his death, in which he recorded the date, place, and scriptural premise of every sermon or lecture he delivered, often accompanied by payment received. There are also examples of various other kinds of writing, including prayers, lectures, and obituaries. Nothing Ballou wrote seems to have appeared in print; indeed, a "will and decree" dating to 1857 stipulates that "no Sermon I have, or written communication of mine, shall ever be published." There are also a small number of financial records, including a day book for 1842-45. MSN/EA 0502-1 to MSN/EA 0502-92; MSN/EA 0502-93-F1. [Finding Aid]

  • RICHARDS AND LINCOLN FAMILY PAPERS. 1754-1880 (bulk 1792-1880). Around 220 manuscripts; 1 photograph; 1 copperplate. A collection of around 160 personal and professional letters written to, from, or between members of the Richards and Lincoln families of Massachusetts and Illinois, 1754 to 1880. Also present are around 60 related documents, including manuscripts, financial records, land records, probate records, and other materials. MSN/EA 0510-1 to MSN/EA 0510-94. [Finding Aid]

  • MARQUIS DE SERCEY PAPERS. 4 items. Four manuscript documents relating to the battle at Cap Français in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, 20-23 June 1793. All the documents are written by or to the Marquis de Sercey, a French rear admiral, aboard the ship Éole in Cap Français harbor. MSN/EA 0512-1 to MSN/EA 0512-4. [Finding Aid]

  • WILLIAM S. WETMORE PAPERS. 1819-1837. About 450 manuscripts. Papers from the early career of the notable American mercantile trader Samuel S. Wetmore. Wetmore (1801-1862) was a Vermont native who by 1823 had established a trading house at Valparaíso on the west coast of South America. He went on to build a considerable fortune in the China Trade. The papers include about 360 letters, business and personal, written by and to Wetmore during 1) his years as a supercargo officer for the firm Carrington & Co. of Providence (1819-1823); his years as a partner in the firm Alsop & Wetmore (later Alsop, Wetmore & Cryder) in Valparaíso and Lima (1823-1830); and his years in New York prior to his departure for China (1830-1832). There are also around 100 business and personal records of Wetmore and other family members, 1823-1837. MSN/EA 0509-1 to MSN/EA 0509-45. [Finding Aid]

  Related Collections:   Colonial & Revolutionary America Early National & Antebellum America American Civil War Modern America Sports

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