New-York Historical Society, 1804 and Today


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By New-York Historical Society

Editor’s note: We are publishing this address that the New-York Historical Society produced in 1829 to recognize the organization’s founding in 1804. (This address is archived in the Library of Congress.) The city’s first museum is now adding a four-story structure and renovating its current landmark building. Turner Construction has been selected to provide construction services. Please see this advertisement for details on the New-York Historical Society Project, a virtual information session, and upcoming bid packages.
American Bridge 4.
The Address of the New-York Historical Society.
Having formed an association, for the purpose of discovering, procuring, and preserving whatever may relate to the natural, civil, literary, medical and ecclesiastical history of our country, and particularly of the State of New-York, we solicit the aid of the liberal, patriotic and learned, to promote the objects of our institution.
George Harms 4.
The utility of societies for the advancement of science, has been so fully proved by the experience of the most enlightened nations of Europe, and by that of our own country, that there can be no need, at this time, of any formal arguments in support of their claim to public patronage.
NYHS address 1829It is well known that many valuable manuscripts and papers relating to the history of our country remain in the possession of those who, though unwilling to entrust them to a single person, would yet cheerfully confide them to a public institution, in whose custody they might be preserved for the general benefit of society. To rescue from the dust and obscurity of private repositories such important documents, as are liable to be lost or destroyed by the indifference or neglect of those into whose hands they may have fallen, is a primary object of our attention.
The paucity of materials relating to the first settlement and to the colonial transactions of this State, and the extreme difficulty of procuring them can be fully appreciated by those only who have projected an historical monument of those events, and for this purpose have examined into the nature and amount of their resources. Without the aid of original and authentic documents, history can be nothing more than a well combined series of ingenious conjectures and amusing fables; and, therefore, as the cause of truth is interesting to all men, those who possess the means, however small, of preventing error, or of elucidating obscure facts, will confer a benefit on mankind by communicating them to the world.
We do not aspire to the higher walks of general science, but shall confine the range of our exertions to the humble task of collecting and preserving whatever may be useful to others in the different branches of historical inquiry. We aim not to be rivals to other institutions, but, on the contrary, shall rejoice to co-operate with them in pursuing the objects of our common researches; satisfied if, in the end, our efforts shall be attended with equal success.
Our inquiries are not limited to a single State or district, but extend to the whole Continent; and it will be our business to diffuse the information we may collect in such manner as will best conduce to general in[s]truction. As soon as our collection shall be sufficient to form another volume,* and the funds of the Society will admit, we shall commence its publication, that we may better secure our treasures by means of the press, from the corrosions of time and the power of accident.
That this object may be sooner and more effectually attained, we request all who feel disposed to encourage our design, to transmit, as soon as convenient, to the Society,
Manuscripts, Records, Pamphlets, and Books relative to the History of this Country;
Orations, Sermons, Essays, Discourses, Poems, and Tracts; delivered, written, or published on any public occasion; or which concern any public transaction or remarkable character or event;
Laws, Journals, Copies of Records, and Proceedings of Congresses, Legislatures, General Assemblies, Conventions, Committees of Safety, Secret Committees for General Objects, Treaties and Negociations with any Indian Tribes, or with any State or Nation;
Proceedings of Ecclesiastical Conventions, Synods, General Assemblies, Presbyteries, and Societies of all denominations of Christians;
Narratives of Missionaries, and Proceedings of Missionary Societies;
Narratives of Indian Wars, Battles, and Exploits; of the Adventures and Sufferings of Captives, Voyagers, and Travellers;
Minutes and Proceedings of Societies for the Abolition of Slavery, and the Transactions of Societies for Political, Literary, and Scientific Purposes;
Accounts of Universities, Colleges, Academies, and Schools; their origin, progress, and present state;
Topographical Descriptions of Cities, Towns, Counties, and Districts, at various periods, with Maps, and whatever relates to the progressive Geography of the Country;
Statistical Tables—Tables of Diseases, Births and Deaths, and of Population; of Meteorological Observations, and facts relating to Climate;
Accounts of Exports and Imports at various periods, and of the progress of Manufactures and Commerce;
Magazines, Reviews, Newspapers, and other Periodical Publications, particularly such as appeared antecedent to the year 1783;
Biographical Memoirs and Anecdotes of eminent and remarkable Persons in America, or who have been connected with its settlement or history;
Original Essays and Disquisitions on the Natural, Civil, Literary, or Ecclesiastical History of any State, City, Town, or District.
As the Society intend to form a Library and Cabinet, they will gratefully receive Donations of books and pamphlets relative to the above objects, they will be thankfully accepted, and all communications duly noticed in the publications of the Society. Coins and Medals will be very acceptable to the Society.
* Four volumes have been published by the Society.

The full text of The constitution & by-laws of the New-York Historical Society: instituted in the city of New-York, the 10th day of December, 1804., printed in 1829 and including the above address produced by the New-York Historical Society, is available through the Library of Congress at this permalink.

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