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Series IV: American Figures, 1770-2015



  • 1770-2015


All series and subseries within this collection are open for research, with the exception of a few files within the Academia series that are restricted. The Academia series contains financial and sensitive institutional records from Wilkes College, and financial report records from Princeton University that will remain restricted for 80 years upon creation.


From the Collection: 17 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Series IV: American Figures,

Series IV: American Figures, 1770-2015, is a comprehensive collection of American figures correspondence, autographs, drawings, photographs, and documents spanning over three centuries, with a significant concentration in the 19th century. Series IV is arranged into eight subseries:

Subseries I: Presidents of the United States, 1777-1959 Subseries II: Presidential Autographs,1986-2002; 2015 Subseries III: Butler Correspondence, 1770-1789 Subseries IV: Correspondence, General, 1772-1982, bulk 19th century Subseries V: Drawings/Sketches, ca. 19th century Subseries VI: American Autographs, 1720-1865 Subseries VII: Photographs,1850-1864 Subseries VIII: American Slavery, 1805

This series serves as a window into the political, societal, economic, and cultural milieu of American figures ranging from United States Presidents, politicians, scientists, abolitionists, writers, artists, and other notable figures who have made significant contributions throughout American history, ranging from the late 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The materials within this series offer glimpses into business dealings, personal relationships, and political negotiations across major historical events.

Subseries I: Presidents of the United States, 1777-1959

Subseries I: Presidents of the United States, 1777-1959 is arranged chronologically by president, and includes various types of materials including engravings of many of the figures, signatures, and many letters written by them or in some cases, their wives. As the name suggests, the subseries is centered around the Presidents of the United States, and includes items from every U.S president from George Washington up to Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are a few examples to this however, as there are also several items created by the wives of these figures, as well as some created by others. An interesting example of this is 9.9. Item 8, which is a letter “written” by James Madison, however the handwriting is actually that of his wife Dolley Madison (Payne). This subseries was personally collected by Gilbert Stuart McClintock throughout his life, with the subseries ending in 1959 and picking up with Subseries II: U.S. Presidents, 1986-2002, 2015 due to his death.

As previously noted, there are many portraits of the figures within the collection which can be seen in various mediums, such as engravings, prints, and photographs. Some notable artists involved with these include J. B. Longacre, B. Otis, G. Stuart, H.B. Hall & Sons, W.A Wilmer, J.W. Paradise, A.B. Durand, E. Wellmore, H. Inman, R.W. Dodson, J.R. Lambdin, J.B Forrest, and Charles Schlecht. Upon examining these pieces, however, a very large portion of them were created by H.B. Hall and/or his sons, with the names being attributed to pieces spanning from Thomas Jefferson all the way to William McKinley nearly a century later. The pieces we have within our collection under this name seem to mostly be created by Henry Bryan Hall himself or his son Henry Bryan Hall Jr.

The range of content covered within this subseries is quite vast due to multiple factors, mainly because of the large date range that it covers and because of how many different individuals the collection is attributed to. Some examples of the scenes and events covered within the the subseries include the assignment of troops during the American Revolutionary War, references to books written by presidents such as John Adams with “Discourses on Davila”, the purchase of property by President John Tyler’s daughter, the inauguration of President Zachary Taylor, a relief bill that was proposed during James Buchanan’s presidency, the affair between President Warren G. Harding and Caroline F. Phillips, and the construction of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park. There are also pieces that are in relation to the history of Wilkes University, such as a piece in which President Eisenhower specifically donated a letter to McClintock for it to become property of the institution, as he was aware of McClintock’s intention with his collection. These are just a few examples of the many topics covered within this subseries.

Subseries II: Presidential Autographs, 1986-2002;2015

Subseries II: Presidential Autographs, 1986-2002 is arranged chronologically by president, and contains letters, cards, and signatures from Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. Similarly to the previous subseries, this collection also contains items from the wives of these figures. As noted in the Subseries I description, this subseries is separated from Subseries I due to the death of Gilbert Stuart McClintock, the figure who collected Subseries I. Subseries II was collected by John Stachacz, the current Dean of the Library at Wilkes University as of 2022. Every item contained within this subseries was donated to the University by Mr. Willard Achuff. Mr. Achuff is a Wilkes University alumni from 1963.

This subseries does not contain much useful information regarding historical events, etc., as it consists of congratulatory and celebratory letters addressed to Mr. Willard Achuff centered around anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. This subseries mainly serves as a collection of autographs.

Subseries III:Butler Correspondence, 1770-1789

Subseries III: Butler Correspondence, 1770-1820 is arranged chronologically and contains letters and various other types of written media all related to the life of soldier and politician Zebulon Butler.

Zebulon Butler was born on the 23rd of January 1731, and was the oldest son of John Butler and Hannah Perkins. Not much seems to be known about his youth outside of how he moved from his hometown of Ipswich, Massachusetts to Lyme, Connetticut when he was around 5 years old. This, alongside what would become Northeast Pennsylvania, would be the areas that became closely associated with his name. Butler is well known for his service in the military during the Revolutionary War, with a very large portion of the items contained within the collection being centered around his time commanding the Wyoming Garrison, which was situated in the area around modern day Forty Fort. Butler is most famous for his part in the Battle of Wyoming, suitably nicknamed the Wyoming Massacre, as while under his command more than 300 men were killed, resulting in a surrender and major loss. We are fortunate to have a letter written by Butler to the Board of War, a committee which oversaw the Continental Army’s administration during the Revolutionary War, which recounts the events that occurred during the battle written only a week after it occured; Item 5: Letter from Zebulon Butler to “The Board of War,” 1778 July 10. Butler was promoted to a colonel in the Continental Army almost a year later, and continued his military career over the course of the Revolutionary War before settling in Wilkes-Barre until his death on July 28, 1795.

Butler played a relatively large role in the infamous Susquehanna Controversy due to his relationship with the Susquehanna Company. There are more items related to Butler which have been separated from this subseries and were put into a separate one due to their relationship to the Susquehanna Controversy; that subseries is titled Subseries II: Susquehanna Controversy, 1770-1801. The Susquehanna Controversy is a term used to describe the conflicts that occurred between the settlers of Connecticut and Pennsylvania from around 1770 until the end of the century, and includes the wars commonly known as the Yankee-Pennamite or the Pennamite-Yankee Wars. The conflict was centered around the land along the North branch of the Susquehanna River during the mid-to-late 18th century. The dispute originally started in 1754 when Connecticut’s Susquehanna Company acquired a substantial amount of land in the region granted by King Charles II that was also promised to Pennsylvania settlers by Governor William Penn. This led to the validity of the company’s purchase coming into question. Connecticut claimed to own an entire third of Pennsylvania. Zebulon Butler became the director of the Susquehanna Company at some date close to 1775, although the exact start and end date seems to be unknown.

Subseries III of the Zebulon Butler collection covers various different subjects regarding the life of Zebulon Butler, however a large focus of this is centered around his time serving in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Through examining this subseries, we are able to roughly trace the path that he and his soldiers took during the Revolutionary War from around the middle of 1778 until the war’s end. The correspondence from this period of time provides crucial insight into some of the battles and struggles that this group of soldiers experienced, whether in relation to the troubles that came with acquiring provisions, or through struggles with the local Narive Americans. The items within our collection that come after this period are in relation to Butler’s role in the Susquehanna Controversy, his relationship to the Susquehanna Company, some legal issues, politics, and some items that surround land ownership.

Throughout this subseries we are able to see interactions between Butler as well as various other prominent figures of the time. A large portion of these individuals are military figures who played a role in the Revolutionary War or politicians from the Pennsylvania or Connecticut area. Some examples of the individuals that can be found within this subseries include: Col. Eleazar Fitch, Samuel Parsons, Major Backus, Eliphalet Dyer, Joseph Varnum, Colonel Nathan Denison, Captain Spaulding, John Durkee, General Hand, Major General Sullivan, Benjamin Harvey, Captain Schott, George Washington, William McClay, Colonel Blain, Capt Selin, and Colonel Antes.

Subseries IV of the Butler collection contains correspondence from Butler’s family members, with a large portion of the correspondence centered around Chester Butler, Zebulon’s grandson from his oldest son, Lord Nelson Butler Sr.. Chester Butler was a rather prevalent political figure in Pennsylvania; becoming a member of the House of Representatives from 1832, and continuing his political career until his death in 1850 through his work in Congress. Gilbert Stuart McClintock, the individual who collected the pieces from this collection is related to Chester, his step-great-grandfather; this gives a possible reason for the focus on Chester as opposed to other Butler family members within this subseries.

Subseries V of the Butler Collection contains very few items, all of which are in relation to John Butler; this is not Zebulon’s father who holds the same name, this is John Butler, loyalist and commander of Butler’s Rangers during the American Revolution. From what we are aware, there is no relation between John and Zebulon genetically, and if there is, it is distant. Ironically, John was the opposing commander of Zebulon during the Battle of Wyoming. The life of John Butler is mainly notable due to his roles in the French and Indian/Revolutionary Wars, however he also is cemented in the history of Ontario Canada as he became a political leader in the area post-Revolutionary War. John also played a role in the settling of Niagara, a location which his family stuck relatively close to.

Correspondence, General, 1772-1982, bulk 19th century

Subseries IV: Correspondence, General, 1772-1982, bulk 19th century, is a comprehensive collection of correspondence and autographs spanning over three centuries, with a significant concentration in the 19th century. Containing a majority of correspondence, this subseries serves as a window into the political, societal, economic, and cultural milieu of the late 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Whether between everyday individuals or notable historical figures, the letters offer glimpses into business dealings, personal relationships, and political negotiations. The creators of these letters include: William Bainbridge, Spencer Baird, John Bangs, William Belknap, Park Benjamin Sr., Nicholas Biddle, Montgomery Blair, John C. Breckinridge, William Cullen Bryant, John Cadwalader, John C. Calhoun, Simon Cameron, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Lewis Cass, James E. Church, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Henry Clay, Samuel L. Clemens, Roscoe Conkling, George W. Cullen, Alexander J. Dallas, George. M. Dallas, William H. DeLancey, Anna Bowman Dodd, Hippolyte Durand, William M. Evarts, Edward Everett, Henry Fawcett, Edwin Forrest, John W. Foster, Gustavus Vasa Fox, Horace Greeley, James H. Hackett, Hannibal Hamlin, Winfield S. Hancock, Henry Harland, Thomas A. Hendricks, Gabriel Hiester, Edward H. House, John W. Houston, William D. Howells, Leavitt Hunt, John Keating, Howard Kennedy, John Laporte, Nicholas Longworth, John M. C. Marble, William L. Marcy, John Marshall, J.W. Masone, John Mclean, Return J. Meigs Sr., Smith W. Miller, Silas Weir Mitchell, Robert Morris, Levi P. Morton, Lucretia Mott, James E. Murdock, L. E. Parsons, David R Porter, Thomas Wharton, Condy Raguet, Richard Rush, John Singer Sargent, John Sedgwick, George Sharswood, William Buell Sprague, Samuel Southard, Alexander J. Dallas, Horatio Southgate, Edmund Clarence Stedman, Caro Reynolds Strong, John Hart Stockton, Harriet Beacher Stowe, Francis R. Shunk, Charles Sumner, Samuel Tilden, William Tilghman, Anthony Thornton, Charles Henry Van Wyck, Charles Warren, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Bush, Dan Webster, Gideon Welles, Walt Whitman, Edwin H. Miller, Edward F. Grier, Emma Willard, Joseph C.P., James Wilkinson, Henry Wilson, James Wilson, Levi Woodbury, and Charlotte Yonge.

This subseries specifically, encompasses a wide array of topics, from daily affairs to significant historical events like elections or conventions. Some common themes among the letters include confirming receiving different payments, political updates within different legislatures, military operations, as well as general updates about lives.

Subseries V: Drawings/Sketches, ca. 19th century

Subseries V: Drawings/Sketches, ca. 19th century, is a short collection of various sketches from 19th century artists. Organized by alphabetical order of artist, this collection… There are drawings from the following people: Peter Newell, Thomas Nast, and Herman Strecker. This subseries specifically highlights different themes and usages for art within the 19th century. The drawings reveal political motives, racial stereotyping, scientific observation, and general sketching for practice. Each of the four items in this subseries reveals the different purposes through which these artists created their works.

Subseries VI: American Autographs, 1720-1865

Subseries VI: American Autographs, 1720-1865, is a collection of short memos and clippings of autographs from different American figures ranging from the 18th to mid-19th century. Organized alphabetically by either the creator, this subseries provides a diverse insight into the exchange of autographs between various American individuals, organizations, and famous historical figures. There are autographs from the following people: Phineas T. Barnum, Bryan Blundell, William C. Bryant, Chang and Eng Bunker, Jacob Burnet, Ambrose Burnside, Aaron Burr, John Cadwalader, John C. Calhoun, Simon Cameron, George Chalmers, Lydia Maria Child, Sylvester Churchill, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Elihu Root, Charles James Wilson, Davy Crockett, Andrew G. Curtin, George William Curtis, John Long Davis, Stephen A. Douglas, Dan Drake, Charles H. Davis, John Gray Foster, Lyman J. Gage, Thomas R. Gray, John W. Griggs, Charles Henry Van Wyck, Sarah Josepha Hale, Halifax, James Hall, John Hancock, Winfield Scott Hancock, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Milton Hay, Ethan A. Hitchcock, Washington Irving, Jared Irwin, James Jackson, Thomas A. Janvier, Charles Kearns, Thaddeus Keeler, Lilian Kemble, Winthrop Welles Ketcham, Philander C. Knox, William H. Leavitt, Henry W. Longfellow, James R. Lowell, William H. Lytle, James Mackintosh, William C. Macready, Joshua Marshman, George McClellan, John McLean, James B. McPherson, Eliphalet Nott, Alfred Noyes, Robert Paine, George Peabody, Richard Peters, Zebulon Pike, Peter Pypers, James W. Ripley, John Singer Sargent, E.G. Squier, John Sherman, William T. Sherman, Emory Smith, Thomas Smith, Charles S. Stratton, George Stoneman, Peter Stuyvesant, George Turner, Octavia Walton Le Vert, Francis Wayland, John Wesley, Emma Willard, J.S. Wilson, David Wilmot, John E. Wool, and Harrison Wright. This subseries specifically highlights autographs ranging from the early eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century America. These entries range from clippings of specific autographs, letters exchanged between persons requesting autographs for their respective collections, and folders linking to autograph collections popularized in the twentieth century.

Subseries VII: Photographs, 1850-1864

Subseries VII: Photographs, 1850-1864, is arranged alphabetically by subject’s last name and contains various photographs such as carte de visites, photo cards, and cabinet cards of significant American figures such as J.S. Arthur, Josiah Quincy II, J.H. Stockton, and Charles Sherwood “General Tom Thumb” Jackson. This subseries provides physical depictions of the mentioned parties, while also displaying changes in photographic technology and trends over the nineteenth century. These photos highlight individuals involved in politics, ministry, and entertainment. Examples include carte de visites, photo cards, and cabinet cards.

Subseries VIII: American Slavery, 1805

Subseries VII: American Slavery, 1805, is arranged in alphabetical order by item title and contains two separate items concerning slavery in the early nineteenth century. These items reveal the transactional nature of slavery in the United States through an appraisal list and correspondence concerning transport of enslaved persons.

The two items reveal trends associated with enslaved persons ledgers as well as transport, highlighting ships like the Mars and Angola ships and captains William Gibson and William Broadfoot.

Repository Details

Part of the Wilkes University Archives Repository

84 W South St.
Wilkes-Barre PA 18701 US
570-408-7823 (Fax)