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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: 171
    Collection Length: 0.40ft
    1979 to 1990

    The Natural Farmers Association (later, Co-operative) of the St. Lawrence Valley formed in late 1977 as the result of a number of organizational meetings among small farmers, gardeners and homesteaders in St. Lawrence County. The group’s aims were to foster and promote natural, organic and alternative farming, to promote a local food economy and act as a support system to small rural farmers and homesteaders. Almost immediately it became apparent that a major focus of the group would be direct marketing of local produce.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon Mss171fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 33
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    1933 to 1938

    The collection was donated to St. Lawrence University library by Dr. Mary Saleski, a member of the Modern Languages Department. The common word "Nazi" is a contraction of the German word Nationalsozialismus, or National Socialism, a political movement that emerged after W.W.I. The party was founded in 1920 and led almost from the outset by Adolph Hitler. In 1933 the party gained control of the German state and established a dictatorship, embarking on a program of domestic reconstruction and foreign conquest that culminated in W.W.II.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS33fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 21
    Collection Length: 1.00ft
    1787 to 1928

    William S. Connolly of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was president of the New York and Ontario Power Company. The company applied in 1918 to the International Joint Commission for approval for "...the obstruction of the waters of the St. Lawrence River at Waddington, N.Y." Connolly was also a manager of the Bank of Montreal for 40 years (1890-1930) and spent most of his earnings to gain control of the land in the area that he believed to be, because it was the narrowest part of the river, the logical spot for a power dam. The dam was never built in this location.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS21fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 28
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    1797 to 1803

    These documents, written in French, concern land transactions in Castorland, N.Y.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS28fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 30
    Collection Length: 5.25ft
    1867 to 1932

    The Noble family was from Gouverneur, New York (St. Lawrence County). Harvey H. Noble and Edna Wood Noble had three children: Katherine L. Noble, Robert N. Noble and Edward J. Noble (born August 8, 1882). Harvey ran a coal, wood and building supply business and served as an agent for the Rome and Watertown Railroad,. Robert attended Purdue University and studied engineering and Edward attended Yale. Katherine taught school in Weedsport and married Alger Conger.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS30fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 167
    Collection Length: 0.40ft
    1897 to 2011

    The North Country is that region of New York State north of the Mohawk and south of the St. Lawrence Rivers, east of Lake Ontario and west of Lake Champlain. It includes the Adirondack Park, the Tug Hill Plateau, the Thousand Islands, and the St. Lawrence River Valley. Within this area are over 2700 lakes, dozens of rivers, and thousands of ponds, streams and brooks. From the earliest times of human habitation boats have played an important role in the history, early settlement, and later development of this region.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon mss167 fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 122
    Collection Length: 4.25ft
    1895 to 1925

    The collection consists of glass plate negatives by unknown photographer(s) depicting people, places, and activities in the North Country (NY) between 1895-1925. Series 1 divided into groups and individuals (most unidentified). Series 2 consists of activities such as: children's games, dramatic groups, bicycling, boating and social gatherings. Series 3 consists of interiors and exteriors of homes - most unidentified.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS122fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 70
    Collection Length:
    Period: 1853

    Maps relating to the North Country, NY. The collection consists of, but not limited to, maps of St. Lawrence, Franklin, Jefferson and Lewis Counties ; St. Lawrence River, St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, Ogdensburg, Macombs Purchase, Adirondack Mountains, and New York State railroads.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS70fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 151
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    1852 to 1970

    This collection contains newspaper clippings, photocopies of news articles and other accounts of various murders committed in the North Country. Folders are organized alphabetically by the victim's last name.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS151fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 45
    Collection Length: 2.50ft
    Period: 1839

    The North Country Railroad collection is an on-going collection of materials relating to railroads in the North Country of New York. It was acquired over many years by gift and purchase from a number of sources. The collection consists of stock certificates and bonds, photographs, broadsides, timetables, and business papers and ledgers of railroad companies.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS45fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 144
    Collection Length: 2.00ft
    1933 to 1968

    An extensive collection of magazines that explore all aspects of nudism including philosophy, lifestyles, camps, and societal issues. Titles include American Sunbather, American Nudist, American Nudist Leader, Nudism Today, Sunbathing Annual, Sunbathing Review, Sun Love, and a number of foreign titles. The collection was donated to St. Lawrence by William Hull of Canton in 2006

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS144fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 143
    Collection Length: 2.00ft
    1798 to 1890

    Oliver Seymour Phelps (1816-1902) was the son of Oliver Phelps (1779-1851) who was a leader in the Welland and Erie Canal Projects. Oliver S. married Hester Anne Dexter (1816) of Lockport who died in 1848. Later he married Eliza Rebecca Lawton (1831-1888) also of Lockport, New York. Phelps then relocated with his family to St Catharines, Ontario where he had a brief political career. Later, he returned to the United States where he controlled a large part of the shipments of grain along the Erie Canal.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS143fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 84
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    1864 to 1865

    Orson Reyonlds of Bombay, Franklin County, New York, enlisted in the 6th New York Heavy Artillery. The collection consists of 25 letters written to his wife

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS84fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 87
    Collection Length: 500.00ft
    1874 to 1962

    Owen D. Young was born on October 27, 1874 in VanHornesville, New York, educated at St. Lawrence University and Boston University. He died July 11, 1962 in St. Augustine and is buried in VanHornesville, New York . The Young collection documents five decades of national and international business and political history, including the post World War I reparation period which saw Young as the key figure in the Dawes Plan of 1924 and the Young Plan of 1929 with its provisions for the still existing Bank of International Settlements.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS87fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 5
    Collection Length: 38.00ft
    1807 to 1816

    David Parish arrived in America (Philadelphia) in 1805 from Antwerp. In 1807 Gouverneur Morris, a family friend, told Parish of the property in northern New York that was for sale. In 1807, with Joseph Rosseel as his land agent, he began purchasing land in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties. Parish with Rosseel's help proceeded to make Ogdensburg into a main forwarding station on the St. Lawrence River and built sawmills, gristmills and help set up farmers and businesses in the area. He developed the iron and lead industry, opened shipping trade on the St.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS5fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 42
    Collection Length: 8.75ft
    1929 to 1951

    Parrish Wells was born November 12, 1890 in Johnstown, New York. He was educated at the University of Rochester and graduated as a Civil Engineer. Mr. Wells worked as a hydraulic engineer in Rochester, New York and in 1946 he moved his family to Plattsburgh, New York where he remained until just before his death in October 1963. He had for many years a great interest in the French and Indian War and did research all over the state.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS42fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 74
    Collection Length: 3.75ft
    1948 to 1990

    Paul Fletcher Jamieson was born on August 8, 1903 in Iowa. He was educated at Drake University, Columbia University and taught English at St. Lawrence University from 1929 to 1965 when he retired. Jamieson, a crusader for the opening of the Adirondack waterways for recreational use, has been involved in hiking, canoeing, showshoeing and camping in the Adirondacks for over 50 years. He is an acknowledged expert on the Adirondacks and a member of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers by virtue of climbing all peaks of 4000 feet and more.

    Finding Aid: PDF icon MSS74fa.pdf
  • Collection Number: 163
    Collection Length: 2.25ft
    1990 to 2006

    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
    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
    1829 to 1893

    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
    1992 to 1999
    North Country Prism

    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
    1860 to 1965

    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
    1754 to 1970

    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
    1917 to 1919

    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: 95
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    1862 to 1865

    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: 25
    Collection Length: 312.00ft
    1964 to 1980

    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
    1914 to 1971
    Rockwell Kent Collection

    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: 77
    Collection Length: 0.25ft
    1895 to 1937

    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
    1829 to 1914

    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
    1881 to 1963

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