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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: 163
    Collection Length: 2.25ft
    Period: 1990 to 2006
    North Country Gardener newsletter

    Philip Harnden, a community activist and passionate gardener, was a founding member of two organizations whose papers are part of this collection. Alternatives to War and North Country Gardener, and the founder of North Country Garden School.

    Alternatives to War described itself as "a coalition of people in northern New York who advocate a sensible and nonviolent approach to resolving national and international conflicts". It was formed shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the lead up to the war in Afghanistan.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS163fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 118
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1854 to 1857

    Logbook containing accounts, maps, and newspaper clippings for lots sold in Potsdam, N.Y. by W. M. Hitchcock. Also included is Trustee book for school district no. 6, 1842-1892.

  • Collection Number: 13
    Collection Length: 7.25ft
    Period: 1829 to 1893
    June 12, 1850 letter from the Preston King/Simeon Smith papers

    Preston King, politician, was born October 11, 1806 in Ogdensburg, New York. He was educated in Ogdensburg and graduated from Union College in 1827. He passed the bar after a study of law in Silas Wright's office. In 1830 he established the St. Lawrence Republican. From 1831-1834 he served as postmaster in Ogdensburg at which tine he was elected to the Assembly. From 1834 until 1847 he was a member of congress and also served from 1849 to 1853. Mr. King was involved in the Canadian Rebellion of 1837-38. In 1854 he left the Democratic party and joined the Republican party.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS13fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 193
    Collection Length: 3.50ft
    Period: 1992 to 1999
    The Prism Newsletter of the gay and lesbian concerns group of Northern New York

    North Country Prism is a Canton-based organization advocating for the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community in Northern New York.  The organization formed in the early 1990s and produces a monthly newsletter, Prism.  The group’s website describes North Country Prism as a member organization for LGBT people that meets monthly and provides community members with a place to meet, communicate and promote self-identity and awareness.  It notes that meetings of the group are confidential.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS193fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 6
    Collection Length: 1.25ft
    Period: 1860 to 1965
    Portrait of Pryce Lewis

    Pryce Lewis was born in 1828 in Newton, Wales and emigrated to the United States in 1856. During the Civil War, he was employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency and worked as a spy for the Union in Richmond, Va. He was captured and sentenced to be hanged but managed to escape death because of his British citizenship. After his release he served as bailiff and special detective officer of Old Capitol prison in Washington, D.C. until the end of the war. In January, 1868 he married Maria Thwaites. They had two children, Mary and Arthur.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS6fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 69
    Collection Length: 4.70ft
    Period: 1754 to 1970
    Photograph of the St. Lawrence County Courthouse in Canton

    Richard Collins Ellsworth, was born July 17, 1875 in Canton, N.Y. and died there on September 21, 1948. Ellsworth was a member of the St. Lawrence University Class of 1895, served for 26 years on the Board of Trustees (1922-1948) holding the office of secretary for 20 years (1922-1943) and as curator and founder of the Richard C. Ellsworth Museum. He was recognized as an outstanding authority on north country history, and had a particular interest in railroad and circus history.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS69fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 155
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1917 to 1919
    Letter from Robert Cottrell to his mother dated May 31, 1918

    Robert G Cottrell (1896-1958) a native of Gouverneur, NY attended area schools and graduated from Gouverneur High School in 1916. In 1917, he enlisted in the United States Army where he served in England and Germany during World War I. Robert received honorable discharge from the Army in August 1919. He returned to Gouverneur, NY and where he married Erdine Morris (1894-1983) in 1922. Mr. Cottrell worked several jobs after returning to civilian life. In 1944, he became village clerk and remained in that position until his retirement in 1952.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS155fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 215
    Collection Length: 0.25ft


    Robert G. Haldeman Jr. spent 11 days in Quebec several years ago with college friends on a wilderness canoe trip. The experience inspired him to become involved in the collection of books, magazine articles, catalogs and ephemera related to paddle and oar boating.


    Scope and Content

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss215fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 95
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1862 to 1865
    Letter from Robert Gilmore to Richard Gilmore

    Robert Gilmore of Ellenburgh, Clinton County, New York, served with the N. Y. S. Volunteers 91st Regt., Company G. The collection consists of 13 letters; 2 small broadsides, and a used patriotic cover with cancelled stamp. Correspondence details Gilmore's army life at Fort McHenry, Hatches Run and his recovery at Campbell Hospital after he was wounded.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS95fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 203
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1944 to 1945

    Lt. Robert H. Van Slyke was born on February 20, 1925 in Little Falls, NY and enlisted in the U. S. Army following his junior year in high school at age 18, joining his three older brothers in the war effort. After basic training in Fort Dix, NJ and aviation cadet training in Alabama and Texas, he served as a bombardier and navigator aboard a B-26 Marauder, flying a total of 41 missions over Germany with the 454th Bomb Squadron. Van Slyke was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war, he returned to Little Falls to finish high school and went on to St.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss203fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 205
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1944 to 1955
    Scrapbook cover

    Robert J. Williams served as director of publicity for St. Lawrence University from 1948-1956 and later as SLU Registrar from 1968 until his retirement in 1981. Before his affiliation with the University, Mr. Williams spent the years 1944-1948 as a writer and editor of the Watertown Daily Times based in the Canton area.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS205fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 25
    Collection Length: 312.00ft
    Period: 1964 to 1980
    Congressman Robert McEwen and Mrs. Edna Horton

    Robert C. McEwen was born January 5, 1920 and died June 15, 1997 in Ogdensburg, New York. He was educated at Mount Hermon private school, University of Vermont, and graduated from Albany Law School in 1947. In 1952, McEwen married Anita M. "Pat" Sharples. After service in the Army Air Force, McEwen returned to practice law in Ogdensburg in 1946. On January 5, 1964 he entered the New York State Senate as a Republican and served for 10 years. In 1964 he became New York's thirty-first representative in the United States House of Representatives where he served until his retirement in 1980.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS25fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 175
    Collection Length: 5.00ft
    Period: 1914 to 1971
    Rockwell Kent's Child and Lamb

    Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) was born in Tarrytown, NY and spent much of his early life in and around New York City. In his late teens he studied painting with William Merritt Chase. He studied architecture at Columbia University before withdrawing to become an artist. Painters Robert Henri and Abbott Thayer were later teachers. His first solo show was in 1907 in Manhattan.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS175fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 204
    Collection Length: 1.00ft
    Period: 1880 to 2014
    Portrait of the Rodee Family of Canton, New York

    Leslie Earl Rodee was born in Enosburg, VT in 1868, and moved to the Canton area with his parents, Hiram and Cornelia Rodee as a young boy. In 1880, Leslie’s parents in siblings moved to the Dakota Territory while Leslie stayed behind to help his grandmother and three aunts run the family farm near Waterman Hill in Canton, which remains in operation as Brick Chapel Acres. Leslie attended Potsdam Normal School and in 1888 relocated himself to South Dakota, where he taught school. He returned to Canton in 1890 and married Jessie May Truesdell in 1894.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss204fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 77
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1895 to 1937
    Image of Rudyard Kipling from the collection

    Scrapbook of newspaper and magazine clippings by and about Rudyard Kipling assembled by Nathan Ford Giffin, St. Lawrence University class of 1895. Also contains 1 letter (tls) from Kipling.

  • Collection Number: 43
    Collection Length: 0.40ft
    Period: 1829 to 1914
    Potrait of the Russell Family

    The Russell family originated in England with the first ancestor settling in Massachusetts. John Leslie Russell was born at Fairfax, Vt., February 11, 1805 and moved to Malone, N.Y. in 1807 with his family. He was educated at the University of Vermont graduating in 1826. In 1829 he moved to Canton, N.Y. and practiced law there until 1844. He was also a postmaster. He married Mary S. Wead of Malone in 1832 and they had four children, Adeline, Mary J., Sibyl and one son, Leslie W. who became a lawyer in Canton.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS43fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 119
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1881 to 1963
    An Old Home Week schedule from the Russell Scrapbook collection.

    Scrapbook kept by Hugh Kelly about events and people of Russell, St. Lawrence County, N.Y. between 1881 and 1963.

  • Collection Number: 185
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1898 to 1900
    Letter to S. L. Clark and Son from Charles Taylor Hall


    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS 185fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 194
    Collection Length: 13.50ft
    Period: 1978 to 2010
    Brochure called Help Save the River 1987

    This collection documents the activities of Save The River, from its founding in 1978 to present, although some of the earliest years have gaps. The original order of the records is uncertain, reflecting the early evolution of the organization. The collection has been arranged into series in consultation with the current administration of Save The River.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS194fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 202
    Collection Length: 10.00ft
    Period: 1990 to 2015

    Seedcorn was established in 1991 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization “dedicated to public education and community empowerment”.  Until it’s dissolution in 2015, Seedcorn provided organizational assistance and other support to fellow North Country non-profits concerned with social justice, peace and environmental sustainability.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss202fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 61
    Collection Length: 40.00ft
    Period: 1960 to 1985
    Portrait of Seymour Siegel

    Seymour Siegel was born September 12, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois. He was educated at University of Chicago, received his M.H.L. in 1951 and D.H.L. in 1958 from Jewish Theological Seminary, New York City where he was a professor of Jewish Ethics and Theology. He was the author of hundreds of articles, editor of two books, lecturer, and was an authority on religious law. He served as Director of the United States Memorial Holocaust Commission, opened the door for the ordination of female rabbis, and articulated the Conservative view on abortion.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS61fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 7
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1816 to 1847

    Silas Wright, Jr. was born in 1795 in Amherst, Massachusetts, the fifth child of Silas and Eleanor (Goodale) Wright. After graduation he studied law at Sandy Hill, New York and was admitted to the bar in 1819. Silas Wright Jr. began his law practice in Canton, New York where he lived with his father's friend Medad Moody whose daughter, Clarissa, he married in 1833.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS7fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 16
    Collection Length: 1.75ft
    Period: 1536 to 1985
    Sol Feinstone's My Credo

    Sol Feinstone, philanthropist, collector of Americana was born in Lithuania in 1888 immigrated to the United States in 1902 at the age of fourteen and died in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania on October 17, 1980. With no elementary or high school education he first entered the University of Missouri, transferred to Syracuse University where he received a bachelor's in 1915 and master's in 1916, degrees in Forestry and spent two years at the University of Pennsylvania in their graduate chemistry department.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS16fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 76
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1845 to 1987
    Newspaper advertisements for Solomon Barrett's books

    Solomon Barrett Jr. was born in Washington, Mass. April 1, 1800 and died in Madrid, N.Y., November 19, 1882. He was a teacher and an author of several grammars including Barrett on the Languages and The Principles of English Grammar. He traveled extensively in the United States and Canada but returned and lived most of his life in Madrid, N.Y. The collection consists of newspaper and magazine articles on Solomon Barrett, two copies of his book Principles of English Grammar, and a manuscript subscription book he used when selling his work in New York State and Canada.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS76fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 22
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1833 to 1968
    Letter from the Southworth collection dated November 8, 1902

    The Southworth family in St. Lawrence County goes back to Rev. Constant Southworth, minister at Brick Chapel, Canton, who came from Vermont in 1820. In 1836 the family returned to Vermont but Egbert Henry Southworth, a young boy, remained with the Leonard family. He had various jobs throughout his life; a merchant selling from a cart between Plattsburg and Utica, a clerk for Ebenezer Miner in Canton, a sawmill operator, as well as jobs in the butter and cheese industry, before he turned to farming. He was known as a progressive farmer by building modern barns and using modern methods.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS22fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 192
    Collection Length: 1.50ft
    Period: 1972 to 2002

    While the St.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss192fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 64
    Collection Length: 1.00ft
    Period: 1992

    The "St. Lawrence and North Country Studies Award" collection was started in 1992 and was renamed the "Josephine G. Mentley St. Lawrence and North Country Studies Award" in 1995. The competition is sponsored by the Friends of Owen D. Young and Launders Libraries for the purpose of supporting and encouraging student research projects on institutional or regional topics.

  • Collection Number: 108
    Collection Length: 1.00ft
    Period: 1802
    Outdoors in St. Lawrence County:  A map for all seasons

    St. Lawrence County is the largest county in New York State and has the longest frontage on the St. Lawrence River. St. Lawrence County is bordered on the north by the St. Lawrence River, the south by Lewis, Herkimer and Hamilton Counties, on the east by Franklin County and on the west by Jefferson County. The county has approximately 47 towns and villages and 1 city with the county seat in Canton.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS108fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 188
    Collection Length: 2.00ft
    Period: 1792 to 1814
    1792 deed between Samuel Ogden & Henry Knox

    This collection contains letters, maps deeds and other documents describing land speculation, purchases and other transactions in parts of St. Lawrence County prior to 1815.


    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss188fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 141
    Collection Length: 2.00ft
    Period: 1847 to 1850
    Births in the town of Canton in 1848

    Lists of births, deaths and marriages recorded in the Town Clerk's offices of all 25 St. Lawrence County towns then organized between the years of 1847 and 1850. The collection is organized alphabetically by town. The collection was given to St. Lawrence University by Mary Smallman.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS141fa.pdf