Burroughs (John) Family Papers: The Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley Collection. circa 1844-1973.

Summary Information

New York State Historical Association – Research Library
John Burroughs Family Papers: The Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley Collection
Coll. No. 439
circa 1844 – 1973
0.75 cubic feet + 1 oversize folder (OVS)
Funding Source
This collection was processed with funds provided by the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, Delhi, N.Y. A digital finding aid was created with funds provided by the South Central Regional Library Council, Ithaca, N.Y.

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Biographical/Historical Note

John Burroughs (1837-1921) was a writer and naturalist who was born and raised in the Catskill Mountain town of Roxbury, N.Y. While attending the Cooperstown Academy in Cooperstown, N.Y., he encountered the works of Samuel Johnson and Ralph Waldo Emerson and decided to become a writer. Burroughs published Catskill Mountain essays in Wake-Robin (1871) and achieved literary success. During his career he published many volumes dealing with nature. He lived at Riverby, a house he built at West Park, Ulster County, N.Y. where he worked as a writer and fruit farmer. Burroughs helped establish the nature essay as a literary genre and helped launch the first conservation movement in New York State.

Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley (1903-1999), Burroughs’ granddaughter, was the daughter of his son Julian Burroughs. She wrote several books and pamphlets about her grandfather and worked tirelessly to promote his legacy. Her life’s work was preserving her grandfather’s legacy for future generations.

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Scope and Content Note

Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley assembled this collection, which contains books owned by John Burroughs and his family (some with inscriptions), publications containing articles by or about John Burroughs, a Julian Burroughs account book (1892-1896), an account book concerned with grape shipments, an Edward Dorr McCarthy memorial book containing transcriptions of letters he wrote to John Burroughs, letters written to Burroughs by school children, souvenirs, 1858 papers on harness buckles involving Burroughs, two publications from schools named after Burroughs (1972-1973), newspaper articles, and a 1905 Harper’s Weekly supplement about Mark Twain’s 70th birthday celebration, attended by Burroughs.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

New York State Historical Association – Research Library
Special Collections
P.O. Box 800, 5798 State Highway 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326
(607) 547-1470


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Accession Number


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Collection Inventory

 439.1 – Box 1
 439.1/1 — Calling cards of Mr. John Burroughs; unidentified photograph of a woman; photocopies relating to the history of Hedding Literary institute; photocopy made in 1981 of a the John Burroughs poem “Waiting;” John Burroughs’ Poughkeepsie Trust Co. bank book, 1916.
 439.1/2 — Two books that belonged to the Burroughs family: a New Testament, 183?; Modern Geography, by J. Olney, 1828, with some pictures partly colored by watercolor.
 439.1/3 — Book: The Constitution of Man, by George Combe (New York : Collins, Keese & Co., 1836). On the flyleaf is the inscription, “J. Burroughs, Roxbury, Delaware Co., Sept. 1855.” On the next page is written, “The proper Study of mankind is man! – John.”
 439.1/4 — Book: Reading Lessons and Dictionary. Kelley describes the book as: “Title page missing. The book belonged to Eddie (Eden) Burroughs.”
 439.1/5 — Book: History of the United States [to] 1816. Note from Kelley: “Writing on the back pages faded, I made a copy of it but cannot read it.”
 439.1/6 — Book described in a note by Kelley: “Daboll’s Arithamatic [sic] (1842) that belonged to JB brother Wilson. Hiram owned it too. Hiram’s name in the back several times. There is also a ‘Promise to pay John Burroughs.'”
 439.1/7 — Book described by Kelley as: “Hedding Literary Institute ‘Elements of Geometry and Trigonometry’ … on title page is written, ‘John Burroughs, Esq., Hedding Literary Institute, Ashland, Greene [Co.] N. York, Nov. 16, 1854.'”
 439.1/8 — Contents described by Kelley: “Enclosed are papers of 1858 in regard to the harness buckle on which John Burroughs, then 21, hoped to make some money. For details see The Life and Letters of John Burroughs, Vol. 1, p. 47 …”
 439.1/9 — Contents described by Kelley: “From Woodchuck Lodge, two copies of the Galaxy with articles by John Burroughs Feb 1873, ‘From London to New York’ and Feb 1876, ‘A Word or Two on Emerson.'”
 439.1/10 — Contents described by Kelley: “JB Souvenirs of trips abroad (England 1871 and 1882 and his trip to the Yellowstone). His place card at the reunion dinner for those who went to Alaska … The boat on which he went to Catalina.”
 439.1/11 — Kelley description: “JB Classmate at the Cooperstown Seminary 1856 – Edward Dorr McCarthy … This memorial book contains some letters from JB …” Also death mask photograph of E.D. McCarthy.
 439.1/12 — Kelley description: “The card JB had as a member of the President’s immediate party on the President’s Tour of the Pacific Coast April to June 5, 1903. Also a card titling him what room in what car he had been assigned …”
 439.1/13 — Six letters from students at Public School 15 in New York to John Burroughs, April 6, 1911, remarking on his 74th birthday. Copy of “Letter from John Burroughs to the School Children,” dated April 1915. No source.
 439.1/14 — Contents as described by Kelley: “A paper with the Riverby Vineyard Stamp … A record Julian kept on wages paid to hired help, of crates of grapes sold, of Victrola supplies, etc. through 1917 …”
 439.1/15 — Kelley description: “Diamond Jubilee Issue of the Atlantic Monthly with a reprint of JB’s 1860 article on ‘Expression'” [1932 reprint of 1860 article].
 439.1/16 — Pamphlet, “John Burroughs’ Riverby Study,” by Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley.
 439.1/17 — Kelley description: “Article found in a second hand JB book – an account of JB house in Washington and picture of it” [Sunday Star, Washington D.C., February 4, 1945, p. C-4].
 439.1/18 — “Burroughs Reporter, 1973” [John Burroughs School, St. Louis, Mo.]; “The Burroughs Way, May 4, 1972” [John Burroughs Junior High School, Milwaukee, Wis.].
Oversize Folder (OVS)
 439.01 — Kelley description: “Souvenir of Mark Twain’s 70th Birthday Celebration, December 23, 1905 at Delmonico’s” and 1961 – an article about the Mark Twain celebration in 1905″ [Boston Sunday Herald, Dec. 31, 1961].

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