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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: 51
    Collection Length: 1.25ft
    Period: 1953 to 1975
    St. Lawrence Figure Skating Club group in 1970

    The St. Lawrence Figure Skating Club was established May 5, 1953 and has its headquarters at Appleton Arena, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY. The purpose of the club is to encourage instruction, practice and advancement of the members in school figures, free skating, dancing, and all types of figure skating. The St. Lawrence Figure Skating Club is affiliated with the United States Figure Skating Association. This collection consists of correspondence, financial statements, minutes of meetings, rules and regulations of the club, its constitution and by-laws.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS51fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 40
    Collection Length: 30.00ft
    Period: 1907 to 1960
    House of Representatives resolution creating St. Lawrence Seaway System

    The idea of a "seaway" dates back to 1892 when U.S. Rep. John Lind of Minnesota sponsored a resolution in Congress for a joint U.S.-Canadian investigation into the possibility of building a deep-draft waterway from the head of Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean. In 1921 the International Joint Commission recommended that the U.S. and Canada enter into a treaty for a joint power and navigation project on the St. Lawrence River and Roosevelt recommended it again in 1943 but each time was rejected by the Senate.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS40fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 147
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1942 to 1946
    Soldiers and sailors outside the Stage Door Canteen in New York City

    The Stage Door Canteen was started by the American Theatre Wing in 1942 and ended in 1946. Its location was the basement of the 44th Street Theater in New York City. Caterers and local merchants provided food and beverages while performers entertained the crowd. There were about 1,700 performers and service staff members who were in charge of keeping the Canteen in operation even during black-outs and curfews. About 3,000 to 4,000 servicemen from all over came to the Canteen to sing, dance, eat and drink before they went off to war.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS147fa_1.pdf
  • Collection Number: 187
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1910
    Stereoscopic photo card of Scraggy Club

    The collection consists of eight stereoscopic  photo cards depicting activities related to a moose hunt by members of the Oh You! Scraggy Club in 1910.  None of the people in the photos are identified but five of the three-dimensional images have some writing on the back.  The collection also includes a viewer for the images called a Holmes stereoscope.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss187fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 65
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1944 to 1958
    A deer kill at the Stillwater Club

    The Stillwater Club, an Adirondack hunting club, occupies 14,600 acres on the North and Middle Branch of the Grass River in the town of Clare, St. Lawrence County. It was founded by a group of men from Canton, New York on May 13, 1893, as a hunting and canoeing club; from its first days, the club showed an interest in conservation as a way to preserve its deer herds for future hunters and its trout for future fishermen. This collection has mainly two types of materials: photographs and notebooks.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS65fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 54
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1978 to 1982
    Pamphlet from the Stop the Olympic Prison Collection

    The first known meeting to discuss the idea of a federal prison in the Lake Placid area occurred in May, 1976. In January, 1977 the Office of Management and Budget (part of the Executive branch of the federal government) approved plans for the Bureau of Prisons to build the prison. On March 22, 1977 at a meeting of the NYMPC (New York Moratorium on Prison Construction) the NMPC (National Moratorium on Prison Construction) agreed to formally establish and co-sponsor S.T.O.P. (Stop the Olympic Prison). This collection was donated to St.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS54fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 123
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1898
    Photograph of the Sudds family in the yard of their home in Chippewa Bay, New York

    William F. Sudds (1843-1920) was born in England but grew up in Gouverneur, N.Y. He attended Boston Conservatory and composed musical scores published by Oliver Ditson & Co. as well as others. The family had a summer home in Chippewa Bay, N.Y. Photos show family portraits, interiors and street scenes in Gouverneur, N.Y. as well as river scenes in Chippewa Bay, N.Y. May also include Todd family photographs.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS123fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 126
    Collection Length: 0.75ft
    Period: 1861 to 1867
    Letter written by Darwin Sunderland to his sister Emma

    Darwin W. Sunderland and John R. Sunderland, brothers from Rensselaer Falls, NY, were the sons of Albert and Prudence Sunderland. Both served in the Union Army during the Civil War. This collection consists of 65 letters (64 originals & 1 photocopy, .75 linear feet)

    Letters describe camp life, battles, hospitals, and medical care during the Civil War.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss126fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 100
    Collection Length: 0.50ft
    Period: 1979 to 1987
    Watertown Daily Times story on North Country Poet

    Thomas John Carlisle was born October 11, 1913 in Plattsburgh, N.Y. and died August 17, 1992. He was educated at Williams College, Union Theological Seminary, and was ordained as a United Presbyterian minister in 1937. He was the author of a number of books of religious poetry, as well as a tutor and teacher various colleges. He wrote the lyrics to "Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One" and "Two Famous Men", and contributed more than 1500 articles and poems to newspapers, religious and literary publications and magazines.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS100fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 91
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    Period: 1809 to 1819

    Thomas Purves was born on September 28, 1785 in Whitebank, Scotland. He brought his family to the United States in 1819 hoping to work for the Parish family at the iron works in Rossie, NY. He received a cold reception from Parish's agent and instead went to work for Governor Ogden in Waddington, NY as a gardener. He died January 12, 1853 in Waddington. The collection consists of two manuscript notebooks written by Purves donated to St. Lawrence University in 1989 by Allegra Fourtanati (relative of Purves) of California.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS91fa.pdf
  • 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
    Period: 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: 219
    Collection Length: 3.50ft
    Period: 1929 to 1978
    A collage of eight books from the collection


    Writing in Hardboiled America: The Lurid Years of Paperbacks, Geoffrey O’Brien summarizes the rise of the modern American paperback book:

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS219fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 18
    Collection Length: 1.00ft
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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
    Period: 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