James Terry family papers, 1838-1953 (majority within 1879-1894)
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Terry family
- The Terry family papers contain correspondence, documents, and other items pertaining to the family of James Terry, Jr., who was curator of the Department of Archaeology and Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History in the early 1890s. The materials concern Terry's lawsuit against the museum regarding his private collections, his archaeological career, and life on the Terry family farm in the 1830s.
- 0.75 linear feet
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Naomi Herman-Aplet and Meg Hixon, February 2013
- Scope and Content:
The Terry family papers (0.75 linear feet) contain correspondence, documents, and other items pertaining to pertaining to the family of James Terry, Jr., who was curator of the Department of Archaeology and Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History in the early 1890s.
The James Terry, Sr., Diary contains 27 pages of daily entries about Terry's farm and the progress of his crops between July 17, 1838, and September 16, 1838. The diary entries are followed by 7 pages of notes about the 1838 hay, rye, and turnip harvests, with additional references to wheat and corn. One note refers to crops planted the following spring (March 21, 1839).
Items pertaining to James Terry, Jr. , are divided into 5 subseries. The Correspondence and Documents subseries (235 items) contains letters, legal documents, and financial records related to James Terry's archaeological career, as well as drafts of letters written by Terry. From 1879 to 1891, Terry received letters from archaeologists and other professionals, such as Albert S. Bickmore and R. P. Whitefield of the American Museum of Natural History, about his work and personal collections. Correspondents also shared news related to the American Museum of Natural History and to archaeological discoveries. Receipts pertain to items shipped to the museum.
Items dated after 1891 relate to Terry's work at the American Museum of Natural History, including an agreement regarding the museum's acquisition of, and payment for, Terry's personal collection of artifacts (June 5, 1891). Correspondence from Terry's time as a curator at the museum (1891-1894) concerns the museum's internal affairs and relationships between Terry and members of the Board of Trustees; one group of letters pertains to the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 (July-August 1893). Terry received notice of his dismissal on March 21, 1894. From 1897-1898, Terry was involved in a lawsuit against the museum, and the collection contains court documents, correspondence, and financial records related to the case; the suit was settled on June 22, 1898, when the museum paid Terry $18,000. Five receipts dated 1906-1908 concern Elmira's Terry's purchases of household items. Some items were once collected in a letter book; a partial table of contents is housed in Oversize Manuscripts.
The James Terry, Jr., Diary contains 86 pages of entries from June 2, 1891-January 26, 1894, concerning Terry's work at the American Museum of Natural History. Pages 4-8 have a list of items "liable to moth destruction," including each artifact's catalog number and a brief note about their condition. The final pages contain notes related to Terry's curatorship and a copied letter from Terry to the archaeologist Marshall H. Saville (December 9, 1893). Terry's Datebook (January 1, 1883-December 31, 1833) contains notes about his daily activities. The final pages hold records of Terry's expenses.
Drafts and Reports (14 items) relate to Terry's work at the American Natural History Museum, the museum's history and collections, archaeological expeditions, and the early history of Santa Barbara, California. The series contains formal and draft reports, as well as notes.
Newspaper Clippings (50 items) include groups of items related to a scandal involving the pastor of a Congregational church in Terryville, Connecticut; to a controversy raised by German archaeologist Max Ohnefalsch-Richter about the integrity of Luigi Palma di Cesnola's collection of Cypriot artifacts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; to controversial behavior by Columbia University president Seth Low; to a meteorite that Lieutenant Robert E. Peary transported from the Greenland to New York in October 1897; and to novelist John R. Musick's alleged plagiarism. Individual clippings concern topics such as Yale College, a dispute between Harvard and Princeton constituents (related to a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes), and religion in New England.
The James Terry, Jr., Ephemera and Realia subseries (14 items) contains business and calling cards, promotional material for the American Natural History Museum, a black-and-white reproduction of a painting of African-American agricultural laborers, metal nameplates and decorative plates, and an engraving of the Worcester Town Hall pasted onto a block of wood.
The Terry Family series is made up of 2 subseries. The Terry Family Account Book contains 11 pages of financial records related to the estate of George Terry (April 9, 1889-June 7, 1890). An additional page of accounts is laid into the volume, and 3 newspaper obituaries for Terry are pasted into the front cover. A tax bill is affixed to the final page of accounts.
The Terry Family Photographs (90 items) include formal and informal portraits and photographs of scenery. One photograph of a summer home called "Rocklawn" is mounted onto a card with a calendar for the year 1899. Another photograph shows the post exchange at Thule (now Qaanaaq), Greenland, in September 1953.
- Biographical / Historical:
James Terry was born in Terryville, Connecticut, on August 5, 1844, the son of James Terry and Elizabeth Miles Hollister. The village of Terryville was named for his grandfather, clockmaker Eli Terry. The younger James Terry left Connecticut for Kansas in the 1850s, and returned a year later to join his family's business, the Eagle Lock Company. After serving as the company's acting president, Terry became an anthropologist and artifact collector, focusing his research on the present-day southwestern United States. From 1891-1894, Terry was a curator for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he moved his private collection. After a dispute with the museum's Board of Trustees and its president, Morris Ketchum Jesup, Terry was dismissed from his position. He later sued the museum for payment on his collection, and was awarded a settlement of $18,000. Terry's later private research focused on colonial-era libraries.
James Terry married Elmira Sedgwick Sanford, the daughter of Porter Sanford and Sarah Ann Allen, on August 30, 1865; they had one daughter, Maria Elizabeth (b. July 2, 1884). James Terry died on October 17, 1912.
- Acquisition Information:
- 1993. M-2946.2 .
- Processing information:
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
- Series I: James Terry, Sr., Diary
- Series II: James Terry, Jr., Papers
- Subseries I: James Terry, Jr., Correspondence and Documents
- Subseries II: James Terry, Jr., Diary and Datebook
- Subseries III: James Terry, Jr., Drafts and Reports
- Subseries IV: James Terry, Jr., Newspaper Clippings
- Subseries V: James Terry, Jr., Ephemera and Realia
- Series III: Terry Family Papers
- Subseries I: Terry Family Account Book
- Subseries II: Terry Family Photographs
Each series is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
Some of the photographs are housed in the Graphics Division (F.11.43 and C.8.2).
The Connecticut Historical Society, the Winterthur Library, and the American Antiquarian Society also have collections related to James Terry, Jr.
Allen, George P. A History and Genealogical Record of the Alling-Allens of New Haven, Conn., the Descendants of Roger Alling, First, and John Alling, Sen., from 1639 to the Present Time. New Haven: Press of the Price, Lee & Adkins Co., 1899.
"James Terry is suing the American Museum of Natural History..." The Antiquarian 1.6 (June 1897): 164.
Osborn, N. G. Men of Mark in Connecticut: Ideals of American Life Told in Biographies and Autobiographies of Eminent Living Americans. Volume 4. Hartford, Conn.: William R. Goodspeed, 1908.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Archaeological museums and collections.
Executors and administrators.
World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)
African American agricultural laborers.
Card photographs (photographs)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Receipts (financial records)
American Museum of Natural History.
Di Cesnola, Luigi Palma, 1832-1904.
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894--Poetry.
Jesup, Morris K. (Morris Ketchum), 1830-1908.
Low, Seth, 1850-1916.
Musick, John R. (John Roy), 1849-1901.
Ohnefalsch-Richter, Max Hermann, 1850-1917.
Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920.
Saville, Marshall H. (Marshall Howard), 1867-1935.
Terry, James, 1844-1912.
Bickmore, Albert S. (Albert Smith), 1839-1914.
Constable, James M.
Prince, L. Bradford.
Winser, John H.