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Access and Use

Acquisition Information:

Part of the original donation of William M. Darlington’s family library to the University of Pittsburgh in 1918 and 1925 by his daughters, Edith Darlington Ammon and Mary Carson Darlington.

Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.


No copyright restrictions.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Angela Manella and Kate Colligan in December 2007. Revision of the finding aid with the addition of Series IX was completed by Matt Gorzalski in July 2008.

Physical Characteristics & Technical Requirements:

Many of the manuscripts in this collection are very fragile and require particular care when handling. Some have been encased in Mylar.

Custodial History:

George Mercer procured the papers of the Ohio Company in 1763 from Charlton Palmer, the company’s solicitor and former agent, in order to prepare his Case of the Ohio Company for publication. Upon George Mercer’s death in 1784, his papers were most likely bequeathed to his brother, James Mercer, who passed them on to his son, Charles Fenton Mercer. Following Charles Fenton Mercer’s death in 1858, the papers remained at "Howard," the Alexandria, Virginia, home he shared with his niece, Judith, and her husband, John Page McGuire.

According to Baldwin's and Mulkearn's "'The Lost Records' of the Ohio Company," "When Alexandria was occupied by Federal troops in 1861, 'Howard' was converted into a temporary hospital. Vandalism was rampant among the soldiers and the personal belongings of the family were destroyed. Trunks containing the records of the Ohio Company were broken open and their contents were thrown upon a campfire. A shoe box full of the records was carried away by a Federal soldier and was sold to a secondhand book dealer in the Mohawk Valley in New York." Indeed a typewritten letter in the collection case file dated October 9, 1884, indicates that the papers were purchased by William M. Darlington in the spring of 1876 from Morven M. Jones in Utica, New York, through an "old book dealer."

William R. Mercer, descendent of George Mercer, contested the ownership of the papers, which eventually ended up in the office of Darlington’s attorney, Frank C. Osborne. Mrs. Osborne forwarded the papers to the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society upon her husband’s death in 1940. The papers were identified by Franklin C. Holbrook, director of the Historical Society, as a part of the materials gifted and bequeathed to the University of Pittsburgh by Edith and Mary Darlington, and subsequently forwarded them to the Darlington Memorial Library.

This collection was located in the Darlington Memorial Library in the University’s Cathedral of Learning until 2007 when it was moved to the ULS Archives Service Center for processing, storage, preservation and service. However, it remains in the custodianship of the ULS Special Collections Department.


  • Abbott, Phyllis R. Review of George Mercer Papers Relating to the Ohio Company of Virginia, by Lois Mulkearn. Agricultural History 30, no. 1 (January 1956): 44-45.
  • Bailey, Kenneth. “Christopher Gist and the Trans-Allegheny Frontier: A Phase of Westward Expansion.” The Pacific Historical Review 14, no. 1 (March 1945): 45-56.
  • Baldwin, Leland and Lois Mulkearn. "'The Lost Records' of the Ohio Comapny." PITT: A Quarterly of the University of Pittsburgh. Winter, 1941-42.
  • Darlington, William. Christopher Gist’s Journals. Pittsburgh, Pa.: J. R. Weldin & Co., 1893.
  • Ellis, Thomas H. “The Ohio Company.” William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine no. 1 (October 1896): 129-131.
  • Mulkearn, Lois. George Mercer Papers. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1954.
  • Pownall, Thomas. A Topographical Description of North America. 1776.

Related Material:


Leland Baldwin Research Files, 1935-1941, DAR.1957.01, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh

Darlington Autograph Files, 1610-1914, DAR.1925.07, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh

Lois Mulkearn Research Files, 1937-1956, DAR.1981.01, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Waste Book and Papers of the Fort Pitt Trading Post, 1757-1765, DAR.1925.03, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh

Papers of Alfred Proctor James, 1932-1963 (1960-1963), MSS# 149, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania


Bailey, Kenneth P. The Ohio Company of Virginia and the westward movement, 1748-1792 : a chapter in the history of the colonial frontier. Glendale, California: Arthur H. Clarke Co, 1939.

James, Alfred P. The Ohio Company: Its Inner History. Pittsburgh, Pa: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1959.

Treaty of Loggstown. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (October 1905): 143-174.

Preferred Citation:

Ohio Company Papers, 1736-1813, DAR.1925.02, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh