Darlington Library Manuscript Collections: 78

Collections with Digitized Content: 34

Manuscripts Online: 1735 items (35,245 images)

To view only those collections with digitized content, please follow the linked collection names in the paragraphs to the left.

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William Darlington collected papers and manuscripts that focus primarily on the early history of western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley; they mainly date from the 1700s through the mid-1800s. Records indicate that Darlington acquired at least fourteen collections which were subsequently donated to the University of Pittsburgh by his daughter, Mary, upon her death in 1925. From this initial gift, curators of the Darlington Library increased the holdings of the collection through acquisitions and gifts. Today, more than seventy collections represent the manuscript holdings within the Darlington Library. The collections selected for digitization comprise the original Darlington gift plus several other noteworthy collections, including the Darlington Family Papers.

The Darlington Autograph Files contain hundreds of letters associated with persons of importance to the early history of the United States, such as Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon Bonaparte, William Penn, Robert Fulton, Robert R. Livingston, King George III, and Patrick Henry. Prominent citizens of the Pittsburgh area are also represented, including Mary Croghan Schenley, James O’Hara, William Wilkins, and Richard Butler. The Alexander Addison letters comprise correspondence from Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Bouquet.

Mr. Darlington collected other letters written by prominent military figures (Daniel Brodhead and Robert Stobo), political leaders (William Pitt, First Earl of Chatham), and businessmen (Eliphalet Smith). The Ohio Company Papers include handwritten copies of journals of Christopher Gist, treaties, orders, releases, and correspondence of George Mercer, John Mercer, Adam Stephen, George Mason, and Thomas Cresap. Mr. Darlington edited and published (posthumously) Christopher Gist’s Journals.

An Iroquois Land Deed from 1754 documents a secret agreement between the Susquehanna Land Company and the Iroquois Nation regarding the sale of the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania to Connecticut settlers. Mr. Darlington also acquired material documenting a conference held in Philadelphia in April of 1756 between the Six Nations of the Iroquois and the Quakers which was an attempt to create peace for innocent inhabitants during the French and Indian War. A journal kept by Jonathan Forman describes his march from New Jersey in 1794 into Pennsylvania to quell the Whiskey Rebellion. Although brief, his account includes a dinner party with President George Washington.

Several collections amassed by Mr. Darlington document the history of Fort Pitt, the English outpost established at the “forks of the Ohio.” An account book records transactions between Indians and settlers at the Fort Pitt trading post, together with letters and documents relating to the conduct of business from 1759 to 1765. Mr. Darlington himself hand copied other records about Fort Pitt, including business transactions from 1752 to 1782 and a list of some of the names of the inhabitants at the fort. A single bound volume contains copies of letters to and from Brigadier General William Irvine who commanded Fort Pitt from November 6, 1781 to September 30, 1783, when Fort Pitt served as the headquarters for the western theatre during the Revolutionary War.

Several collections document the early history and formation of Pittsburgh by prominent citizens such as Hugh Henry Brackenridge, and his son, Henry Marie Brackenridge. The collection contains a minute book that describes the extension of the Pittsburgh City Limits between 1836-1841. The Dunning McNair Papers relate to the family’s involvement in land development and trade in western Pennsylvania, especially in the Pittsburgh vicinity. The Robert McKnight diaries offer a glimpse of city councilman and U.S. Congressman McKnight’s daily routines and activities during the mid-1840s.

The papers of General James Wilkinson consist largely of letters addressed between 1804 and 1809 to Major Samuel Smith, an officer of the American Revolution, and relate to Aaron Burr's conspiracy and trial. A letter book created by Robert J. Walker, who served as Secretary of the Treasury under the James Polk Administration, includes copies of correspondence with several prominent nineteenth-century political figures regarding the Mexican War, the annexation of Texas, and support for John Tyler, among other topics.

Other collections in the Darlington Library document early Pittsburgh history and were digitized during Spring 2012. Ephraim Douglass, a trader in western Pennsylvania and a soldier in the Revolutionary War, documented the stock and sale of supplies at Forts Pitt and Kittanning during the 1770s in four ledgers. Douglass's business partners during these years were his brother, Joseph, Devereaux Smith, and Richard Butler. The Rolling Rock Training Camp Ledger contains information from July 9-August 4, 1917 of guard duty in the military training camp near Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Information such as names, hours worked, and addresses were recorded in this ledger. The Monongahela Navigation Company collection summaries from annual reports (1840-1897) the damage to locks and dams on the Monongahela River due to floods and ice. The Thomas Mellon and William B. Negley Day Book contains names of clients and records of payment from their seven-year partnership. Mellon, founder of Mellon Bank and patriarch of the Mellon family, began his professional career as a lawyer, but in 1853 he established a firm with his nephew, William B. Negley. The Northern Liberties Bridge Company Ledger comprises transactions, minutes from meetings, and contracts made with the state of Pennsylvania regarding the Mechanics Street Bridge, which was built in 1836 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.