Manuscripts & Papers

The depth and uniqueness of the manuscripts and papers housed in Special Collections and University Archives offer limitless opportunities for scholarship and document and support a wide range of disciplines.

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Letter, George Washington to Benjamin Tallmadge. September 16, 1780.The division is recognized for: its expanding and extensive Long Island Collection of rare books, maps, manuscripts, pamphlets, newspapers, and ephemeral materials that date back to the seventeenth century; the Senator Jacob K. Javits Collection; and the William Butler Yeats Collection, the most extensive collection of the famed Irish poet and author’s manuscripts housed outside of Ireland.


In 2006 and 2009, Special Collections acquired two rare American Revolutionary War-era letters authored by George Washington, documenting spy activities in Setauket, NY during 1779 and 1780. The Culper Spy Ring was assembled in 1778 by Major Benjamin Tallmadge at the request of Washington and operated on Long Island and in New York City during the war. Codes and aliases were used to conceal the identities of the members. The purchases were made possible with a generous gift from Dr. Henry and Marsha Laufer and laid the foundation for the establishment of a Long Island Historic Documents Collection. The collection includes primary and secondary source material on the history of Long Island from the earliest settlers through the present, with a strong emphasis on the period of the American Revolution through the War of 1812 (1764-1812).
Significant archives relating to the arts, literature, and the history of technology have been acquired in the past five years, including the papers of Italian American author Pietro di Donato; the national organization Environmental Defense Fund, and the AIDC 100 (Automatic Identification and Data Capture industry). A complete listing of the collections and accompanying finding aids can be accessed online. Alternate formats are available upon request.
Manuscripts and Papers, Alphabetical List (coming soon)

Manuscripts and Papers, Subject List



Letter, George Washington to Benjamin Tallmadge. September 16, 1780.