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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.

Paul Doty, Interim Librarian for Special Collections & University Archives Voice: (315) 229-5483 e-mail:

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

  • Collection Number: 71
    Collection Length: 1.20ft
    Period: 1897 to 1898
    Howard Burt farmhouse, scene of the Asa Briggs murder.

    Howard Burt was a prosperous farmer, who lived in Hannawa Falls, N.Y. He was tried and convicted of murdering his father-in-law Asa Briggs in 1897, in an attempt to murder his wife Rhoda. The collection consists of materials relating to the murder and subsequent trial in Hannawa Falls, N.Y. that formed the basis for Irving Bacheller's book The House of Three Ganders. Included are newspaper clippings, transcripts of the trial and appeal, bullets, affidavits and photographs.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS71fa_0.pdf
  • Collection Number: 80
    Collection Length:
    Period: 1300 to 1500
    A 15th century Illuminated Manuscript leaf depicting Saint Lawrence

    A collection consisting of 6 vellum leaves and 3 folded vellum sheets of 14th and 15th century illuminated manuscripts. Includes portrait of St. Lawrence.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS80fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 81
    Collection Length:
    Period: 1450 to 1500
    Image of an Incunabula leaf

    A collection consisting of 75 incunabula leaves, chiefly Gothic type, originally bought together by the Leamington Book Shop, Washington, D.C. and acquired by the University in 1953. Includes 3 additional leaves acquired by the library. Includes bibliographical references.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS81fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 1
    Collection Length: 4.00ft
    Period: 1890 to 1947
    Portrait of Irving Bacheller

    Born in Pierrepont, NY, and a graduate of St. Lawrence University, Bacheller was a best-selling turn-of-the-century author who later founded the Bacheller Syndicate which introduced several major authors, e.g. Stephen Crane, to American readers. His final career was that of circuit lecturer for the J. B. Pond Lyceum Bureau. Bacheller spent his final years in Winter Park, FL, home of Rollins College. The collection consists of business and personal letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, and manuscripts of published and unpublished works by Bacheller.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss1fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 186
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1930 to 1932
    Portrait of Dr. James Milton Payson

    Dr. James M. Payson was a founding faculty member of the State School of Agriculture, which was founded in 1907 at St. Lawrence University.  He was born in South Freedom, Maine in 1848.  He was educated in Maine and began a teaching career there until coming to Canton to enroll in the Universalist Theological School here.  He married Flora Bassett just before graduating in 1874.  He then spent 19 years as a minister in Sherman, New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin until returning to Canton to serve as pastor of the Universalist Church.  Upon the founding of the Ag school, Dr.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS 186fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 181
    Collection Length: 7.25ft
    Period: 1969 to 1977
    Portrait of J. Moreau Brown

    J. Moreau Brown was a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and a vice chairman of the Bicentennial Council of the Thirteen Original States; two of the dozens of organizations formed to plan and implement appropriate events for the celebration of the nations 200th birthday in 1976.  He had served earlier in his career as Director of Admissions for St. Lawrence University, as well as in positions at New York University and General Electric.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon View Finding Aid
  • Collection Number: 146
    Collection Length: 10.00ft
    Period: 1891 to 1915
    Photograph of a religious shrine in India by James Ricalton

    James Ricalton was born about 1844, in Waddington, NY, and died in Waddington in 1929. He was a school teacher, traveler, inventor, and photographer. After briefly attending St. Lawrence University (class of 1871) Ricalton left before taking a degree and moved to Maplewood, New Jersey in 1871 where he worked as a school teacher. By all accounts, he was an extraordinary teacher, and his legacy is celebrated in the South Orange-Maplewood School District.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS146fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 106
    Collection Length: 2.00ft
    Period: 1807
    Watertown Pubic Square, compliments of Jefferson County National Bank

    Jefferson County became a county on March 28, 1805. It is bordered on the north by the St. Lawrence River, the south by Lewis County, the east by St. Lawrence County and the west by Oswego County and Lake Ontario. The county has approximately 44 villages and towns and 1 city with the county seat in Watertown. The collection consists of high school yearbooks, almanacs, programs and flyers from various functions in the county and information on Watertown including a photo book.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS106fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 19
    Collection Length: 1.66ft
    Period: 1947 to 1993
    John De Pol wood carvings

    Born in 1913 in Greenwich Village, NY, John DePol taught himself to draw while still a teenager. During World War II he was stationed in Ireland, where he took time to study lithography at the Belfast College of Art. However, it was not until 1947 that he began to teach himself the art for which he was to become famous--that of wood-engraving.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS19fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 131
    Collection Length: 1.50ft
    Period: 1864 to 1920
    Photograph of the John Reckard family outside their home in Briar Hill, New York

    John Reckard was born on January 13, 1842 in Leeds, Ontario, Canada. He lived for most of his life in Brier Hill, a small village outside of Morristown, New York. During his life John worked as a Wheelwright in Brier Hill. He joined the United States Army on August 3, 1863 and served in the 14th Regiment of the New York State Heavy Artillery Division. John was married twice. John died on February 18, 1915 at the age of seventy-three years old; he is buried in the Morristown cemetery in Morristown, NY. The majority of this collection is made up of the diaries of John Reckard.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS131fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 149
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1832 to 1877
    1861 letter from John Van Vechten to Mary Van Vechten

    John Van Vechten (1822-1869) was the son of John Van Vechten (? - ?) and Letita Sebring (1790- 1854). Van Vechten's ancestors were among the early residents of New York City. It was through the extensive holdings of lumber interests in northern New York that he became a resident of Chateaugay when he came here to look after these interests.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS149fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 38
    Collection Length: 2.00ft
    Period: 1826 to 1866

    Jonathan Wallace, (1784-1873) was a Universalist minister in Potsdam, New York until he was asked to leave the ministry due to an inappropriate relationship with a parishioner. The collection consists of Wallace's sermon's (most of which are referenced to biblical verses) and long poems. Also included is a framed portrait of Rev. Wallace.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS38fa_0.pdf
  • Collection Number: 134
    Collection Length: 2.50ft
    Period: 1937 to 2001
    Joseph Doboze pictured with several women after the liberation of France, 1944

    Born in 1909, Joseph Dobose entered military training in the U.S. Army in 1942. On June 13, 1944 he arrived in Greenock, Scotland. On August 10, 1944 he landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy. He crossed into Germany in early December 1944 and then returned to the U.S. in October of 1945 and was honorably discharged. In 1945 he was awarded the Combat Infantry Man's badge for exemplary conduct. This collection consists of correspondence, photographs, clippings, maps and personal documents of Joseph Doboze mostly relating to his service in the Second World War.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS134fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 101
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1840 to 1876
    Universalist pamphlets from the Joshua Britton papers

    Joshua Britton was born in Westmorland, NH in 1803 and died at Fork Atkinson, WI in 1878. He was ordained as a Universalist Minister in 1832 and served as pastor in Dudley, MA; Stoddard, NH; Bradford, VT and Fort Atkinson, WI. The collection consists of Universalist pamphlets and clippings as well as letters to Britton from the 1840's and the 1850's.

  • Collection Number: 166
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1850 to 1950
    Burmese Kammavaca

    An example of a Buddist religious text from Burma, Southeast Asia. This collection consists of a total of 12 leaves of Burmese Kammavaca manuscript on gilt palm leaves or lacquered cloth. 10 of the manuscript pages have a cover of lacquered boards, representing a complete text used in a Buddist ordination ritual.

  • Collection Number: 129
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1859 to 1883
    Portrait of Charlotte Knapp

    Born in Pierrepont, New York, in 1839, Orlando Knapp moved to Indiana, sometime around 1859, where he met and married Armina Cordelia Edmonds. They had two children before she died in 1862. At this point Orlando enlisted in the 12th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry. While away from home he wrote to his sister, Charlotte, who lived in Pierrepont. After the war Orlando became a traveling salesman, working in Indiana, New Hampshire eventually settling in Howard City, Michigan. In the mid 1870's he ran a grocery store with his son James. He died in Howard City in 1917.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS129fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 152
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1895
    Photograph of Fisher Hall, St. Lawrence University

    Leroy Wilson Coons (1872-1948) received his Bachelors of Divinity from St. Lawrence University in 1895, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by SLU in 1915. He was ordained in Universalist Church in Winthrop, NY in 1895 and led a number of Universalist churches in Maine and Massachusetts over the course of his career in ministry. In 1922, Rev. Coons was appointed Superintendent of the Universalist Church in Massachusetts, a position he held until his retirement in 1942. Rev. Coons married Elsie Loraine Thomas, (SLU n 1900) in the Canton Universalist Church in 1897.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS152fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 173
    Collection Length: 16.25ft
    Period: 1840 to 1962
    The Lee family outside John Stebbins Lee's home in Canton

    John Stebbins Lee (1820-1902) was born in Vernon, Vermont and was educated at Amherst College, graduating in 1841. He became a respected minister in the Universalist church and held teaching positions and pastorates in New Hampshire and Vermont. From 1858 to 1869, Lee taught Latin and Greek at St. Lawrence University, while also serving as the college's first President. After travelling through Europe and the Holy Land, Lee returned to SLU and taught at the Theological School for many years. He died in 1902 in Canton.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss173_fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 107
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1833
    Map of Lewis County

    Lewis County became a county March 28, 1805. Lewis County is bordered on the north by St. Lawrence County, on the south by Oneida County, and on the east by Herkimer County and on the west by Jefferson and Oswego Counties. The county has approximately 30 towns and villages with the county seat in Lowville. This collection consists of a 1833-1868 land ledger, a fair souvenir program (1935), and a 1949-1950 flyer on the highway department.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS107fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 114
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1958 to 1966
    Photograph of ledger book containing the log of ships on the St. Lawrence River

    Log book of ships passing Massena, N.Y. on the Saint Lawrence Seaway kept by the Cook family from 1958-1966. Includes name of each ship, length, dates and direction.

  • Collection Number: 73
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1798 to 1892

    Lucia Millham (Mrs. Newton Millham) from Glen Cove, New York was the former Lucia Pink of Kew Gardens. In 1932 she graduated from St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York. This unprocessed collection consists of correspondence dating from 1798 until 1892, with most letters are from the Hazelton (Haselton) family. Other items included are a stockholder meeting notice of the Potsdam and Watertown Railroad Company (1853), pamphlet on Hon. William Kelly (Democratic Candidate for Governor of State of New York), deed between Louisa Olin and S. W.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS73fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 24
    Collection Length: 4.00ft
    Period: 1893 to 1953
    Image of mother and baby with poem from Mabel Sprague Laidlaw scrapbook

    Diaries of Mabel S. Laidlaw and her daughter Helena Laidlaw Livermore of Canton, St. Lawrence County, N.Y. Collection consists of diaries kept by a wife and a daughter of a Doctor in Canton, N.Y., and provides a daily log of domestic life in the first part of the century. Other items include automobile records, autograph books, scrapbooks, photographs, clippings, correspondence and microfilm of diaries.

    The image at left comes from Mrs. Laidlaw's scrapbook.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS24fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 26
    Collection Length: 0.75ft
    Period: 1899 to 1917
    Photograph of the Mabel Wait diaries

    The diaries for 1901 and 1902 have been published as: Dear home Mabel Lila Wait was born in Canton, N.Y. on October 2, 1876. After her parents death she managed the family farm alone until she married Fred Roberts in 1901. Mabel and Fred continued to live on the Wait farm throughout their lives. They had one daughter, Gladys, born in 1908. In addition to doing farm work, Fred taught school in the Brick Chapel district. They both attended Grange functions in Crary Mills, and Mabel was active in the Presbyterian Ladies' Aid Society at Brick Chapel.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS26fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 117
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1829 to 1868
    Page from Book of Public Land in the Toiwn of Madrid, New York, 1841

    Two account books for the town of Madrid, N.Y. Town Supervisor's account book 1829-1868 and "Book of public land of the town of Madrid", 1840-1859. Both contain names of individuals, dates, and amounts paid.

  • Collection Number: 99
    Collection Length: 0.75ft
    Period: 1951 to 1986

    Maitland C. De Sormo was born August 26, 1906 in Canton, N.Y., was educated in Malone, N.Y., Hamilton College, New York University and Columbia University. He was a high school teacher for almost 40 years. He was the owner of Adirondack Yesteryears in Saranac Lake and was the author/editor of many articles and books on the Adirondacks. Maitland C. De Sormo died January 24, 1993 in Saranac Lake, N.Y. The collection consists of 117 letters from various historians (Paul Jamieson and Atwood Manley), the bulk of the correspondence is from individuals at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS99fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 150
    Collection Length: 0.75ft
    Photograph of McCormick home in the late 1800's

    Malcolm McCormick, born in Gouverneur, NY to parents James F (1889-1978) and Eula M. Mckenney McCormick (1892-1979) studied the arts and dance. Malcolm, a 1945 graduate from Canton High School was the soloist(lead dancer) at the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York City from 1951-1959. He returned to northern New York after teaching in the department of dance and theater at UCLA. Malcolm brought with him an interest in the founding of Canton, NY and his father's alma mater, St. Lawrence University.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS150fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 17
    Collection Length: 1.25ft
    Period: 1830 to 1903
    Portraits of members of the Man Family

    The Man brothers, Alric and Dr Albon, moved to Westville, Franklin County, New York from Addison, Vermont in 1803. Albon had two sons; Buel and Ebenezer. Ebenezer Man was on the first Board of Commissioners of the Water Works, at the time of the Salmon River development, and land agent for Edward Ellice of London who owned large parcels of land around Malone. The papers are closely connected with the Parish-Rosseel collection (MSS. COLL. NO. 005) as Joseph Rosseel, land agent for David Parish, was the general agent for Edward Ellice.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS17fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 49
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1936 to 1972
    Portrait of Marianne Moore

    Marianne Craig Moore, American Poet, was born November 15, 1887 in Missouri and died February 5, 1972 in Brooklyn, NY. Miss Moore graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1909. She taught school at the United States Indian School in Carlisle, Pa., was a secretary to a girls school, 1921-1925 was an assistant librarian at the Hudson Park Branch of the New York Public Library, and from 1926-1929 edited the literary magazine "The Dial". Miss Moore was the recipient of many awards including the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the National Book Award for Poetry and the Pulitzer Prize.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS49fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 50
    Collection Length: 5.50ft
    Period: 1882 to 1959
    Bound materials from the Marion Anderson Hyman F.D.R. Collection

    Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, was born in Hyde Park, New York on January 30, 1882 and died April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was educated at Groton in Massachusetts, received a B.A. in history from Harvard in 1903, and studied law at Columbia University. He married Anna Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905 and they had six children. He was Governor of New York in 1928 and became President in 1932 until his death in 1945. The Franklin D. Roosevelt collection was donated to St. Lawrence University in February 1965 by Dr. Harold T.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS50fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 207
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 2002 to 2004

    Mark Swanson spent much of his life as a resident of the Adirondack Park, and has written extensively in the form of personal journals and diaries over the last 50 years.  Mr. Swanson describes his writings as “Thoreauvian in nature”, documenting the author’s “day to day life in and relationship with the region”.  He has lived in Saranac Lake since 1981, and was brought up around the Adirondack Park, where his grandfather was a state game warden and his great uncle a caretaker at Bog Lake Camp.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss207fa.pdf