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Special Collections

This area contains 200 manuscript collections, comprising nearly 1800 linear feet of material, plus a number of individual manuscript items. Each of these collections is described in brief on ODYsseus the Libraries’ online catalog. Additionally, many have detailed finding aids, searchable here. Others will be added to this list as they are completed. If you find you have questions about the collections after you have read the catalog entries or finding aids, please contact us.

Mark McMurray, Curator of Special Collections and University Archivist Voice: (315) 229-5476 e-mail:

Paul Haggett, Assistant to the Archivist Voice: (315) 229-5956 e-mail:

  • Collection Number: 109
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1875
    Marsden House in Alexandria Bay

    The Thousand Islands are located on the St. Lawrence River between the United States and Canada, just east of Lake Ontario. The actual number of islands is actually closer to two thousand, with the official count standing at 1,793. The larger islands are inhabited throughout the year but a few are too small to be inhabited, most of the islands feature summer homes ranging from rustic cottages to mansions, and a couple of castles (Boldt and Jorstadt). This region has the longest undefended international boundary on earth.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS109fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 97
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1870
    Tintype photo of a Native American

    A tintype photograph of a Native American in traditional dress about 1870.

  • Collection Number: 46
    Collection Length: 1.50ft
    1844 to 1933

    On April 12, 1843 Colton became the 27th town of St. Lawrence County. In 1842 Colton village was called Matildaville when Abel Brown and his son James moved from Parishville to the west side of the Racquette River. Colton is named for Jesse Colton Higley, a pioneer who settled on the east side of the Racquette River and was instrumental in the formation of the township, serving in every public office available. Colton was the site of many sawmills, a potato starch factory, and one of the largest tanneries in the state.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS46fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 18
    Collection Length: 1.00ft
    1933 to 1985
    Invitation to President Richard Nixon's inauguration

    The United States Presidential Inauguration collection was donated to St. Lawrence University by J. Harold Launders, class of 1932. Mr. Launders was a member of the Inaugural Committee for several years during which time he collected the materials. The collection consists of materials from the U.S. Presidential Inaugurations of 1933 to 1985 (excluded are the inaugurations of 1945, 1953, 1965, and 1977).

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS18fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 3
    Collection Length: 15.00ft
    1837 to 1858
    Portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne

    Nathaniel Hawthorne, American novelist was born July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts and was educated at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He married Sophia Amelia Peabody in 1842 and settled in Concord, Massachusetts. In 1846 Hawthorne became surveyor of the Salem customhouse and in 1850 he moved to Lenox where he wrote House of the Seven Gables in 1851. In 1852 he became the consulate in Liverpool, England for four years and lived in Italy for a couple of years before returning to the United States.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS3fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 52
    Collection Length: 2.50ft
    1910 to 1940
    Portrait of Rev. Ulysses S. Milburn

    Ulysses Sumner Milburn was born in Black Lick, Ohio in 1865 and attended St. Lawrence University, graduating from the Theological School in 1891. He served 47 years in active Universalist ministry in Ohio, Maryland, New York, Missouri and Massachusetts. He married Alice Dinsmore Milburn in 1910 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from his Alma Mater in 1927. U.S. Milburn was most famous for his large collection of books, manuscripts, letters and other items of the 19th century American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, which was donated to the University in 1949.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS52fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 58
    Collection Length: 1.50ft
    1797 to 1991
    1919 Universalist Leader magazine featuring an article on Richard Eddy Sykes

    Universalism was brought to America by John Murray who preached his first sermon September 30, 1770 in Potter's Meeting House in Murray Grove, New Jersey. In 1779 Murray occupied the pulpit of the Independent Christian Church of Gloucester, Massachusetts, which was the first organized Universalist church in America. John Murray is often referred to as the "Father of Universalism in America". St. Lawrence University was founded in 1856 as a Theological Seminary with the corner stone of the first building laid by the eminent Universalist, Horace Greeley.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS58fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 197
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    1890 to 1980
    Postcard of Cranberry Lake, postmarked August 26, 1951

    Cranberry Lake is a lake on the east branch of the Oswegatche River in St. Lawrence County, New York. It is the third largest lake within the Adirondack Park and took its name from cranberry bogs that were located there in the mid 1800s. Approximately 75 percent of the shoreline of Cranberry Lake is state owned land, including the Five Ponds Wilderness Area and the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest. The unincorporated communities of Cranberry Lake and Wanakena are the main population centers of this sparsely populated area.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss197fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 184
    Collection Length: 0.75ft
    1898 to 2007
    Four postcard images from the Van Horne collection

    The collection consists of approximately 450 photographic postcards and lithograph images dating from before the turn of the 20th century to the 1960s.  The cards are kept in three different binders with two of the binders containing mostly postcards of scenes, landmarks and streets of towns other than Canton.  The third binder is almost exclusively postcards of the town and village of Canton.  One of the binders contains a series of photos from “War Maneuvers” that were staged in St. Lawrence County in 1940.  Many of the post cards were produced by D. P.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss184fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 136
    Collection Length: 2.00ft
    1862 to 1917
    Photograph of W. F. Willson & Company business ledgers

    This collection consists of five bound volumes: four account books and an index from W.F. Willson & Co., Dealers in General Merchandise, located in Massena. They range from 1862 till 1917 and record the names of all the customers for that time, what they purchased, and the prices for each item. St. Lawrence University received this collection from Paul Schaefer of the Massena Public Library.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS136fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 94
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    1907 to 1920
    Wal-Gene Camps in Redwood, New York

    Wal-Gene Camps was a fishing lodge located in Redwood, New York, on Butterfield Lake, Jefferson County. Collection consists of a guest register, photograph album, photographs and post cards of the camp, unidentified guests, fish and lake.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS94fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 132
    Collection Length: 1.50ft
    1794 to 1877
    Sermon on the question of war with Great Britain

    The War of 1812 was fought between Great Britain and the United States from June 18th 1812 until December 24th, 1814 when the warring sides signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium, reinstating pre-war conditions. While neither country can be considered the "victor" in the conflict, the War of 1812 did serve to confirm the true independence of the U.S.

    This collection consists primarily of contemporary pamphlets and newspapers published during the War of 1812. Also contained in the collection is an Orderly Book pertaining to the Battle of Plattsburgh.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS132fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 39
    Collection Length: 1.66ft
    1846 to 1983
    A young Watson Berry working as a logger

    Watson Banks Berry was born June 29, 1870 in North Lawrence, N.Y. and died in Potsdam, N.Y. on August 18, 1963. He was educated at Lawrenceville Academy, Cazenovia Seminary and Cornell University, studying law, history and political science. Berry worked with the New York Herald and the Watertown Daily Times covering organized labor, the financial markets, and politics.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS39fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 200
    Collection Length: 2.00ft
    1969 to 2016
    2016 United Nations International Dance Day stamps

    The United Nations was established in 1945 to promote international cooperation and today counts most of the nations of the world as members. The UN is headquartered in New York City but also has offices in Geneva, Switzerland, Nairobi, Kenya, and Vienna, Austria.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss200fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 93
    Collection Length: 7.50ft
    1830 to 1900
    Wetherall family portrait

    The Wetheralls moved from Vermont to Russell, St. Lawrence County, N.Y. in the early 1800's. Some family members moved west to Illinois, Kansas, and Wisconsin. Two sons, Willard and Darius enlisted in the 60th N.Y. Volunteers. Contains correspondence, a civil war diary by Willard, photographs, printed ephemera and broadsides from 1790-1930, with the bulk of the collection from 1830-1900. This collection documents the lives of several St.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS93fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 56
    Collection Length: 1.50ft
    1853 to 1898
    Civil War-era portrait of Leiutenant Colonel William B. Goodrich

    Goodrich was born in Wilna, Jefferson County, New York, practiced law in Madrid, N.Y. and was a Lieutenant Colonel during the Civil War. P. H. Wells was in the Navy stationed in Brooklyn, N.Y. and visited Gouverneur and Madrid, N.Y. where his wife's (Sadie Olin) parents lived. This collection consists of letters, diaries, business papers, photographs, and memorabilia.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS56fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 82
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1865
    A page from the William H. Carr diary including a transcription

    Private William H. Carr of Rossie, New York enlisted in the 14th New York Heavy Artillery, Company L. in 1863. The collection consists of a diary kept by Carr from January to July 1865 and a student paper by Heather Ford that contains transcriptions of most of the entries.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS82fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 83
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    1861 to 1863
    Letter from June 1862 from William H. Davies to his wife

    William H. Davis of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, N.Y. enlisted in the 16th New York Infantry Regiment. The collection consists of 54 letters and a Declaration for Invalid Pension (1890). Correspondence to his family in which he describes his activities in camp & on the Virginia battlefields while serving with the 16th New York Volunteers.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS83fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 86
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    1887 to 1916
    Photo of William Rasbeck diary from 1902

    William Rasbeck and his brother Harrison (Has) were fishing and hunting guides at Cranberry Lake, St. Lawrence County, N.Y. The collection consists of a hotel log book (1910-1912), of the Columbian Park Hotel, Cranberry Lake, and 28 diaries of William H. Rasbeck. The diaries give daily accounts of the weather and Rasbeck's life as a guide.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS86fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 53
    Collection Length: 1.50ft
    1845 to 1959

    William Rose Benét was born on February 2, 1886 in Fort Hamilton, N.Y. and died May 4, 1950. He was educated at Albany Academy and Yale University, Benét was a poet, editor, critic, anthologist, translator, and children's author. He wrote, edited, or collaborated on 36 books and was best known for his column "The Phoenix Nest" in the Saturday Review of Literature (1924-1950). The collection consists of galley proofs for books of poetry by various authors (Frances Frost, Howard Griffin, Alfred Noyes, Edith Sitwell and Stephen Spender).

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS53fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 180
    Collection Length: 1.50ft
    1977 to 1981
    Opening of Canton Women's Shelter in 1979

    Women Together: The Journal of North Country Women was a bi-monthly, then quarterly, then bi-annual, newsletter for women in northern New York produced by a group of women who referred to themselves as North Country Women or The North Country Women’s Collective. North Country Women began meeting as a group in 1974 to discuss feminism and raise consciousness. The Women Together newsletter was born from these meetings and discussions as a tool to circulate ideas and increase consciousness.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS180.pdf
  • Collection Number: 164
    Collection Length: 12.25ft
    1983 to 2000
    Stop the incinerator bumber sticker

    This collection contains material primarily focusing on the contentious solid waste disposal debate in St. Lawrence County during the 1980s and early 1990’s and the vehement opposition to an incineration option proposed by county leaders, organized by the environmental advocacy group Work on Waste.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS164fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 172
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1893
    Exhibition catalog of the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition

    Held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas, the World’s Columbian Exhibition was held in 1893 in Chicago. Over 600 acres in size and containing over 200 exhibit halls, the fairgrounds were located in the southern part of the city. The Exposition, or World’s Fair had participation from 46 countries and over 27 million people attended during it's 6-month run. The fair was a major cultural event that spotlighted industrial innovations, new consumer goods and new forms of entertainment.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS172fa.pdf