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Provenance of the Materials in "Witness to the Early American Experience"

The contents of Witness to the Early American Experience are drawn from the collections of New York University and the New-York Historical Society.

The Richard Maass Collection of Westchester and New York State is part of the archives and manuscript collections of the Fales Library, New York University. It contains over three hundred documents relating to the early history of New York State, with a particular focus on the American Revolutionary War. Richard Maass was an alumnus of New York University, having graduated from the School of Commerce (now the Stern School) in 1949 with a degree in economics. He was appointed as mayor of White Plains in 1974 and also held the office of Westchester County Historian from 1974 to 1981. In addition, Maass has served his community as the President of the Purchase College Council, and has been a member of the American Jewish Committee and the Westchester County Historical Society. A highly successful investment banker, Maass amassed this unique collection of historical documents over a fifty year period. Maass was inspired to begin a collection of his own by the example of his father-in-law, Richard M. Lederer, who served for many years as the Village Historian for Scarsdale. Along with his father-in-law, Maass was involved with the Manuscript Society from its earliest inception, and served as president of the organization from 1954-1956. The Richard Maass Collection of Westchester and New York State was donated to the Fales Library by Mr. Maass in two installments during the fall and winter of 1996.

The Fales Library Web Site: http://www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/research/fales/

The New-York Historical Society is one of the oldest independent research libraries in the United States. Its collections, gathered over the course of over two centuries, include approximately 350,000 books and pamphlets and 2 million manuscripts, over 10,000 newspaper titles, over 10,000 maps, and hundreds of thousands of prints, photographs and architectural drawings. It is one of 16 libraries in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association (IRLA).

The following materials from the holdings of the New-York Historical Society are made available through this website:

The Erskine-DeWitt Maps:

For the period of the American Revolution, The New-York Historical Society holds a significant number of maps. Chief among them is the series of field sketches and finished maps of projected battle sites in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania begun by Robert Erskine, geographer and surveyor-general to the Continental Army, and completed by his successor, Simeon De Witt. The Erskine- De Witt series culminates with the detailed Winter-Cantonment of the American Army and it's [sic] Vicinity for 1783, which shows the final encampment of the Continental forces at New Windsor, New York, during the winter of 1782-83.

The Papers of William Alexander, "Lord Stirling" 1767-1782

These selected papers of William Alexander, spanning the years 1767 to 1782 (with a gap between late December 1779 to June 1781), consist of correspondence sent and received, military orders and reports, and bulletins to the Continental Congress. The earliest documents relate Lord Stirling's early commercial dealings, but the bulk of the papers chronicle his activities during the American Revolution. Alexander's baptism by fire emerges from the records of numerous campaigns and conflicts; the Battles of Long Island and Trenton in 1776, and of Brandywine the following year are well documented. Also covered in the Alexander Papers are civil and military affairs in New Jersey; military intelligence and troop movements in New Jersey and the Hudson Highlands; communication with enemy forces; and various matters of army administration. Alexander's frontier command is particularly well documented. Notable correspondents include the most of the military and political leaders of the new state and national governments, as well as prominent merchants in New York and New Jersey.


The New-York Historical Society has an extensive collection of broadsides that document the American Revolution and the tumultuous events leading up to it. Broadsides, the technical term for any document, large or small, printed on one side of a single sheet of paper, served as posters, handbills, official proclamations, advertisements, and conveyors of ballads and poetry. They were plastered on walls, distributed by hand, or read out loud and are especially important for the study of the Revolutionary period. Because broadsides bring a sense of immediacy to very specific long-ago events, they can be a challenge to interpret. Well-documented published histories of the Revolution can thus be very helpful; historians have indeed mined this material, and a surprising number of these broadsides are "explained" within the text or in the footnotes of modern histories. For New York City broadsides, The Iconography of Manhattan Island by I. N. Phelps Stokes is very useful.

New-York Historical Society Web Site: http://www.nyhistory.org/.

Phillips, Samuel, DS (Congressbridge, October 16, 1776), 2 pages.