The portion of the Emmet Collection housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Division consists of approximately 10,800 historical manuscripts relating chiefly to the period prior to, during,and following the American Revolution. The collection contains letters and documents by the signers of the Declaration of Independence as well as nearly every prominent historical figure of the period. The manuscripts are arranged in 28 topics, most of them milestones in early American history. Topics include the Albany Congress of 1754, the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, the Continental Congresses, 1774 -1789, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Annapolis Convention, the Federal Convention, and the First Federal Administration. The Revolutionary War is well documented in the correspondence and letterbooks of generals and other officers, as well as in orderly books, muster rolls, and returns. Additional material documents the history of New York City. Highlights of the Emmet Collection include Thomas Jefferson's manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence, an engrossed copy of the Bill of Rights, and manuscript minutes of the Annapolis Convention.
Funding: Digitization was made possible by a lead gift from The Polonsky Foundation.
Biographical/historical: These items represent a holding that is part of even larger collection of some 30,000 items assembled by the New York physician Thomas Addis Emmet (1828-1919), and donated to the Library in 1896 by trustee John Stewart Kennedy. Emmet developed a passionate interest in American history after a boyhood visit to Philadelphia, when he first saw the original Declaration of Independence, and went on to collect, for some fifty years, drawings, engravings, maps, and manuscripts relating to the American Revolution and the early history of the United States. Other portions of the Emmet Collection are visual items in the Print Collection of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints, and Photographs, and Maps in The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division.