Elias Lewis, Jr. letters, 1853-1894

Call Number: 2013.002

Extent: 0.5 linear feet, in 1 manuscript box

The Elias Lewis, Jr. letters consists of 83 letters written by Elias Lewis, Jr. and his family, dating from 1853-1893. It also includes a note on the collection by Lewis’s ancestor, Stephen Valentine IV. The letters primarily document his travels, which included Washington DC, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, upstate New York, and Bermuda. Many letters were also sent from his home in Brooklyn. Of note are Lewis’s observations on the American south and slavery before and after the Civil War. Other topics include religion (Lewis was a Quaker), science, and the natural environment. Although most letters were written by Elias Lewis, Jr., the collection includes letters written by other members of his family, including his wife, Mary Underhill Lewis, his daughter, Annie Lewis Valentine, and his granddaughters, Florence Valentine and Anna Kirk Valentine. Recipients of the letters include the Lewis and Underhill families, as well as other Long Island Quakers, such as Phebe W. Titus, Hannah W. Hicks, and Stephen R. Hicks.

Elias Lewis, Jr. (1820-1894) was born in the Long Island town of Westbury, the only child of Elias and Ann Marston Lewis. He relocated to Brooklyn in 1853, where he worked in business and finance. He married Mary Underhill, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Whitson Underhill of Westbury in 1853. They had one daughter, Annie. Annie married Stephen Valentine (1853-1946) and had six children (Mary, Anna, Elias, Florence, Elise, and Stephen, Jr.) Elias was a member of the Long Island Quaker community. By the 1880s he resided at 111 St. Marks Ave. in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Elias served in several capacities at the Long Island Historical Society (now the Brooklyn Historical Society), including as secretary, museum curator, and as a member of the board of directors. Lewis was also an amateur geologist and photographer. Between 1872 and 1877 he published numerous articles in Popular Scientist Monthly, including “The Longetivity of Trees,” “Ups and Downs of the Long Island Coast,” and “The Formation of Sand Dunes.” His subjects as an amateur photographer followed his geological studies and included images of trees, boulders, rock formations, sea cliffs, and beaches. He also photographed houses, mills, lighthouses, churches, and railroad stations. His photographs were primarily taken on Long Island.

Names:

  • Brooklyn Historical Society (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.).
  • Fillmore, Millard, 1800-1874
  • Hicks, Hannah Winston, 1825-1916
  • Hicks, Stephen R., 1823-1892
  • Lewis family
  • Long Island Historical Society.
  • Titus, Phebe W., 1804-1885
  • Underhill, Sarah W.
  • Underhill family
  • Valentine, Virginia Mayer

Places:

  • Alexandria (Va.)
  • Bermuda Islands
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Charleston (S.C.)
  • Florida
  • Jacksonville (Fla.)
  • Lake George (N.Y.)
  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • New Hampshire
  • New York (State)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Saint Augustine (Fla.)
  • Savannah (Ga.)
  • Virginia
  • Washington (D.C.)

Subjects:

  • Natural environment
  • Nature
  • Quakers — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Quakers — New York (State) — Long Island
  • Slavery
  • Travel
  • Voyages and travels

Types of Materials:

  • Correspondence

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Blackburne, Woodward, and Ottaway family papers, 1807-2011

Call Number: 2013.006

Extent: 5.0 linear feet in 3 manuscript boxes, 1 records carton, 1 oversize flat box, 2 photograph boxes, and 1 object box.

This collection consists of correspondence, wills, land indentures, travel journals and diaries, photographs (cabinet cards, cartes-de-visite, daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, photo postcards, loose prints), holiday cards, scrapbooks, school programs, report cards, inventories of assets, hymnals and other books, genealogies, and artifacts including a parasol and pairs of spectacles relating to individuals in the Woodward, Blackburne, Cook, Ward, Littlejohn, Condit, Haynes, Hart, Ottaway, and Prosser families; all descendants of John Blackburne (1775-1845) and Elizabeth Cook (1781-1812). John Blackburne emigrated from England to the United States in 1821, settling in Brooklyn Heights; his grandson John Blackburne Woodward (1835-1895) was a Civil War general and prominent business, political, and civic leader. This collection is focused on family matters, including European travels and daily life at the family members’ homes in Brooklyn, including nos. 70 Sands Street and 86 Sands Street (within a parcel of properties owned by the family), 259 Henry Street, and 54 Remsen Street, and is a reflection of memorabilia preserved by women of the family, particularly Mary Woodward and Ruth Hart Ottaway, from one generation to the next, along with materials and information gathered in the course of genealogical research by various family members.

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Names:

  • Best, Mary W.
  • Blackburne, Elizabeth Cook, 1781-1812
  • Blackburne, John, 1775-1845
  • Blackburne, Robins Cook, 1812-1850
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
  • Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences.
  • Condit, William Henry, 1839-1873
  • Hart, Elizabeth Condit, 1868-1915
  • Haviland, Mattie
  • Haynes, Sophia Condit, 1865-1952
  • Littlejohn, Arthur, 1856-1895
  • Littlejohn, Duncan
  • Littlejohn, Robina Woodward, 1827-1895
  • Littlejohn, Sophia, (Sophia Ward Blackburne Littlejohn), 1812-1893
  • Littlejohn, Thomas, b. 1859
  • Ottaway, James H., 1911-2000
  • Packer Collegiate Institute.
  • Parkes, Phebe
  • Procteroe, Robina Woodward, b. 1856
  • Procteroe, Robina, b. 1882
  • Prosser, Bertha
  • Prosser, Fred
  • Prosser, Robert Woodward, 1862-1958
  • Prosser, Roger D.
  • Prosser, Thomas
  • Tousey, Elizabeth
  • Ward, Susannah, 1784-1869
  • Weber, Martha Woodward, b. 1830
  • Woodward, Maria, 1833-1904
  • Woodward, Mary Barrow Blackburne, 1807-1850
  • Woodward, Robert Buddicom, 1840-1915
  • Woodward, Robina Blackburne, 1802-1893
  • Woodward, Thomas, 1793-1873

Places:

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) — Social life and customs — 19th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) — Social life and customs — 20th century
  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Buck Hill Falls (Pa.)
  • Endicott (N.Y.)
  • Europe — Description and travel
  • Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)
  • Norfolk (Conn.)
  • Purchase (N.Y.)
  • Sands Street (New York, N.Y.)

Subjects:

  • Plymouth chimes (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Abolitionists — New York (State)
  • Adultery — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Antislavery movements — United States
  • Authors, American
  • City clergy — New York (State) — New York
  • Clergy as authors
  • Congregational churches — New York (State) — Kings County — Clergy
  • Congregationalists — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Lectures and lecturing — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Pews and pew rights
  • Reformers — United States
  • Religious education of children — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Religious institutions — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Sunday schools — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Trials (Adultery) — New York (State) — Kings County

Types of Materials:

  • Ambrotypes (photographs)
  • Artifacts (object genre)
  • Birth certificates
  • Bulletins
  • Cabinet photographs
  • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
  • Children’s books
  • Citizenship papers
  • Correspondence
  • Daguerreotypes (photographs)
  • Diaries
  • Dies (tools)
  • Genealogies
  • Greeting cards
  • Hymnals
  • Inventories
  • Invitations
  • Magazines (periodicals)
  • Manuscripts (document genre)
  • Mortgages
  • Parasols
  • Passports
  • Photographic postcards
  • Portraits
  • Prayerbooks
  • Programs (documents)
  • Report cards
  • School yearbooks
  • Scrapbooks
  • Songbooks
  • Spectacles (eye glasses)
  • Typescripts
  • Wills

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection, 1819 – 1980

Call Number: ARC.212

Extent: 28.0 cubic feet, in 75 boxes: 32 manuscript boxes, 38 flat boxes, and 5 small boxes.

The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection traces the career of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the well known 19th century preacher, and the history of Plymouth Congregational Church, of which Beecher was the first pastor. Plymouth Church was a major institution in 19th century Brooklyn, first gaining recognition on national and international levels as Beecher’s pulpit. Beecher was well known for his oratorical ability and for his vocal opposition to slavery and support of the Northern cause during the Civil War. He also spoke out on subjects ranging from women’s suffrage and evolution to organized labor and temperance. Beecher was a popular figure despite controversy that surrounded his activities, including a charge of adultery that resulted in a widely reported trial in 1875.

The collection relates principally to Beecher’s pastorate at Plymouth Church from 1847 until his death in 1887. Other materials, ranging through 1980, concern the church’s other pastors and the history of Plymouth Church itself, which consolidated with the Church of the Pilgrims in 1934. The papers provide insight into the church congregation’s various activities, illustrate the history of Beecher’s influence on his congregation and on 19th century congregationalism, and shed light on both the public and private life of a major American personality of the 19th century.

Names:

  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887
  • Abbott, Lyman, 1835-1922
  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1897
  • Beecher, William Constantine, b. 1849
  • Durkee, J. Stanley, 1866-1951
  • Fifield, Lawrence Wendell, b. 1891
  • Hibben, Paxton, 1880-1928
  • Hillis, Newell Dwight, 1858-1929
  • Hunt, Rose Ward
  • Tilton, Elizabeth M. Richards, b. 1834
  • Tilton, Theodore, 1835-1907
  • Bethel of Plymouth Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Church of the Pilgrims (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.). Sunday School
  • Church of the Pilgrims (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Henry Ward Beecher Literary and Debating Society (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Henry Ward Beecher Missionary Circle (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Plymouth Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.). Sunday School
  • Plymouth Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Plymouth Institute (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Ellinwood, T. J., 1830-1921
  • King, Horatio C., 1837-1918

Places:

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) — Church history
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) — Religious life and customs
  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States — Religion

Subjects:

  • Plymouth chimes (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Abolitionists — New York (State)
  • Adultery — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Antislavery movements — United States
  • Authors, American
  • City clergy — New York (State) — New York
  • Clergy as authors
  • Congregational churches — New York (State) — Kings County — Clergy
  • Congregationalists — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Lectures and lecturing — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Pews and pew rights
  • Reformers — United States
  • Religious education of children — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Religious institutions — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Sunday schools — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Trials (Adultery) — New York (State) — Kings County

Types of material:

  • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
  • Church newsletters
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Cylinder phonographs (phonographs)
  • Photographs
  • Picture postcards
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sermons
  • Typescripts

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Martense family papers, 1675-circa 1944

Call Number: ARC.285

Extent: 0.33 Linear feet, in one manuscript box and one flat box

The Martense family papers include deeds, indentures, wills, estate administration documents, promissory notes, bills of sale for enslaved African-Americans, correspondence, and photographs and other images. The bulk of the documents date from the 1700s to circa 1876. The images date from circa 1870 to circa 1944. Deeds and other land transaction documents dating from the 1700s comprise the largest portion of the collection. The Martense family lived in Flatbush, now part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, and most of the collection concerns that area. Correspondence in the collection dates from 1837-1839 and includes several letters sent to Gerrit Martense at Rutgers College in New Brunswick, N.J., by his family in Flatbush. Subjects of the letters include domestic and local matters. The letters, and other documents in the collection, also refer to dealings concerning one Juan Scorsur, an Italian immigrant to New York attempting to acquire real estate in Brooklyn while residing for an extended time in Cuba. In addition to multiple generations of Martenses, among the surnames found in the collection are Cornell, Hegeman, Lefferts, Remsen, Suydam, Terhune, Van Brunt, Van der Bilt, Van der Veer, and Waldron. The bulk of the collection is in English, but there are several documents in Dutch and one in Spanish. The photographs and other images, to the extent they are identified, are principally of members of the Wilbur family, into which a Martense married.

Names:

  • Martense family

Places:

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)
  • Kings County (N.Y.)

Subjects:

  • African Americans — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Decedents’ estates — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Family life
  • Genealogy
  • Real property — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Slavery — New York (State) — Kings County

Types of material:

  • Cabinet photographs
  • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
  • Correspondence
  • Deeds
  • Indentures
  • Photographs
  • Promissory notes
  • Slave bills of sale
  • Wills

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Middagh family papers, 1654-circa 1840

Call Number: 1974.179

Extent: 0.17 linear feet, in 17 folders in one manuscript box

The Middagh family papers (1654-circa 1840) contain a variety of documents, many linked to the Middagh family by name or by affiliated family, including Couwenhoven and Stryker. Many documents have no obvious relationship to the Middaghs. Most of the collection includes legal documents of various forms including deeds, bonds, agreements, and legal filings. Among the documents not clearly linked to the Middaghs are: the concluding pages of the 1825 correspondence from William Steele to his son concerning Jonathan Dayton’s recollections of Benjamin Franklin’s proposal for prayer at the 1787 Constitutional Convention; the articles of agreement between generals Burgoyne (British) and Gates (American) at Saratoga during the Revolutionary War (1772), signed by Burgoyne; plans for the building of a school in Huntington, Long Island, and the subscriber list (1762); and a circa 1675 transcript of a 1669 Suffolk County Clerk’s document regarding the testimony of several Indian sachems of Montauket relating to a land dispute. Three items referring to African-Americans in Brooklyn are in the collection: an unidentified will (1727), a slave bill of sale (1737), and an arrest warrant concerning the unlicensed sale of liquor, including to African-Americans (1751). Eight documents (1654-1702) are in Dutch.

Names:

  • Middagh family
  • Cowenhoven family
  • Stryker family
  • Torrey, Joseph, 1707-1791
  • United States. Constitutional Convention (1787)

Places:

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Kings County (N.Y.)
  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • New York (State) — History — Revolution, 1775-1783
  • Suffolk County (N.Y.)

Subjects:

  • African Americans — New York (State) — Kings County
  • County courts — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Genealogy
  • Indians of North America — New York (State) — Long Island
  • Real property — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Real property — New York (State) — Long Island
  • Saratoga Campaign, N.Y., 1777
  • Slavery — New York (State) — Kings County

Types of material:

  • Agreements
  • Correspondence
  • Deeds
  • Legal documents
  • legal instruments
  • Slave bills of sale

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Seaman family papers, 1752-1838

Call Number: 1974.005

Extent: 0.25 Linear feet, in 16 folders in one manuscript box

The Seaman family papers (1752-1838) principally concern merchant John Seaman and Willet Seaman, though several other Seaman family members are also represented. The bulk of the collection consists of deeds and other documents concerning land transactions. Several of these deeds relate to land in North Hempstead, Long Island, acquired to establish a manufactory for woolen goods, circa 1816. Other legal documents related to this business are also in the collection, such as partnership agreements and an insurance policy. An indenture for an apprentice from the Overseers of the Poor of Brooklyn and a bill of sale for John Seaman’s purchase of an enslaved African-American also relate to the manufactory, known as Seaman and Cock (the Cock referring to partners John Cock and Townsend Cock). Other land transactions concern Seaman properties or interests on Long Island, New York City, other New York State counties, and other states. Other documents include John Seaman’s will, Seaman’s conditions for the eventual manumission of the slave he purchased, and correspondence from Willet Seaman supporting quarantine laws to prevent the spread of yellow fever.

Names:

  • Seaman family

Places:

  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) — Commerce
  • North Hempstead (N.Y. : Town)

Subjects:

  • Commerce
  • Genealogy
  • Indentured servants — New York (State) — New York
  • Merchants — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Merchants — New York (State) — New York
  • Real property — New York (State)
  • Real property — New York (State) — Long Island
  • Slavery — New York (State) — Long Island
  • Woolen goods industry — New York (State) — Long Island

Types of material:

  • Agreements
  • Cadastral maps
  • Correspondence
  • Deeds
  • Indentures
  • Legal documents
  • Manuscript maps
  • Slave bills of sale
  • Wills

View Finding Aid

This collection also has an item inventory provided with the collection by the donor:

View Item Inventory, pages 1-2

View Item Inventory, pages 3-4

View Item Inventory, pages 5-7

 

 

Slavery Pamphlet Collection

Slavery Pamphlet Collection, late 18th century – late 19th century

Call Numbers: PAMP AASS-1 – PAMP Wolfe-1

Extent: 27 file boxes

The Brooklyn Historical Society has a collection of 18th and 19th century pamphlets relating to slavery. The collection comprises approximately 27 file boxes and contains over 1,000 unique items. The majority of these items are transcriptions of political speeches (usually made by United States congressmen), sermons, or reports of anti-slavery or colonization societies. The speeches primarily occurred in the period leading up to and including the United States Civil War, or between 1845 and 1865. The speeches often represent the speaker’s views on slavery, specifically in regards to issues of the day, e.g. causes of the Civil War or whether or not slavery should be expanded to new U.S. territories. The remainder of the collection is made up of various odds and ends, including broadsheets, a census report, novels, newspapers, scrapbooks, etc.

Please note that some items in the collection are extremely fragile and will not be available for patron use. In these cases, patrons can view the item on microfiche. This judgment will be made by staff.

All of the items in this collection can be searched using our catalog BobCat. The following list shows the most commonly used search terms.

Places:

  • Southern States
  • Confederate States of America

Subjects:

  • African Americans — Colonization
  • African Americans — Suffrage
  • Freedmen — United States
  • Fugitive slaves — United States
  • Kansas — Politics and government — 1854-1861
  • Lecompton constitution
  • Nebraska —  Politics and government — 1854-1861
  • Secession — Southern States
  • Slavery — United States
  • Slavery — United States — Extension to the territories
  • Slaves — Emancipation — United States
  • Statehood (American politics)
  • United States — Fugitive slave law (1850)
  • United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — Causes
  • United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — Foreign public opinion
  • United States — Kansas-Nebraska act
  • United States — Politics and Government

Type of material:

  • Addresses
  • Annual reports
  • Antislavery literature
  • Anti-abolition literature
  • Congressional addresses
  • Fast-day sermons
  • Legislative speeches
  • Letters
  • Sermons
  • Thanksgiving sermons

Nicholas Covenhoven papers, circa 1775-circa 1805

Call Number: ARC.283

Extent: 0.33 Linear feet, in three folders in one manuscript box

Nicholas Covenhoven (circa 1744-1793) of New Utrecht was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Kings County (N.Y.) militia in 1776. During the occupation of Brooklyn he worked with the British commissary and assisted American prisoners. After the war, Covenhoven served as the Chief Judge of the Kings County Court of Common Pleas. The collection includes an account book used by both Nicholas Covenhoven and his son, John N. Covenhoven. Nicholas recorded amounts advanced to American prisoners during the American Revolution and other loans and bonds he transacted (circa 1775-circa 1790). John N. kept account of his personal transactions, including fishing income (circa 1790-circa 1805). The collection also includes a small number of other papers, among them a petition to Sir William Howe for payment for horses and wagons seized by the British army (1777); copies of letters to and from Abraham Skinner, the Commissary-General of Prisoners, concerning prisoner compensation (1782); a pardon from Governor George Clinton (1786), and a receipt of payment for an enslaved African-American (1792).

Names:

  • Covenhoven, John N.
  • Covenhoven, Nicholas

Places:

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Kings County (N.Y.)
  • Kings County (N.Y.) — History — Revolution, 1775-1783
  • New Utrecht (New York, N.Y.)

Subjects:

  • Account books — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Judges — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Military occupation damages — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Prisoners of war — United States — History — Revolution, 1775-1783

Types of material:

  • Financial records
  • Ledgers (account books)
  • Petitions
  • Slave bills of sale

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Southold, N.Y. register book, 1683 – 1850

Call Number: 1978.185

Extent: 0.25 linear feet, in four folders

The Southold, N.Y. register book spans the period 1683 to 1850 and measures 0.25 linear feet. Entries in the register cover genealogical information, indenture, bond and deed information, records of town information, manumission of slaves notices, town meeting minutes, and voting records with results. Also included are the Southhold Academy bylaws and constitution, First Universalist Church in Southold bylaws and constitution, and records of the Commissioner of the highway of the town of Southold. The register book includes an index and was prepared by successive town historians throughout the mid-20th century.

Names:

  • Southold (N.Y.)
  • First Unitarian Church (Southold, N.Y.)
  • Southold Academy

Places:

  • Long Island (N.Y.)
  • Southold (N.Y.)

Subjects:

  • Genealogy
  • Slavery — New York (State) — Long Island
  • Unitarian Churches — New York (State) — Long Island

Types of material:

  • Bonds (legal records)
  • Bylaws (administrative records)
  • Constitutions
  • Deeds
  • Indentures
  • Indexes (reference sources)
  • Minutes
  • Registers (lists)

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Queens County, N.Y. slave bills of sale, 1751 – 1793

Call Number: 1978.010

Extent: 0.08 Linear feet, in one folder

This collection contains bills of sale for the purchase of slaves in Queens County, N.Y. from 1751 to 1793, prior to the abolition of slavery in New York State. Three of the six bills of sale document the purchase of slaves by the Wyckoff Family of Queens County, as well as John Van Wyck.

Names:

  • Van Wyck family
  • Wyckoff family

Places:

  • Queens County (N.Y.)

Subjects:

  • African Americans — New York (State) — Queens County
  • Slavery — New York (State) — Queens County

Types of material:

  • Bills of sale

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