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John G. Brady papers

Call Number: WA MSS S-1206

Scope and Contents

The John G. Brady Papers are arranged in eight series. Series I, Correspondence , is arranged in three sections. Family Correspondence, 1867-1919, includes letters exchanged by John G. Brady, Elizabeth (Patton) Brady, their children, and Brady's foster father, John Green. Many of Brady's letters to Elizabeth from Washington, D.C., New York, and elsewhere describe his efforts to promote Alaska's political and economic interests.

Incoming Correspondence, 1867-1926, consists primarily of personal letters received from friends, Yale classmates, and associates. The most frequent correspondent is Dr. Sheldon Jackson, Brady's missionary colleague and close friend for many years. In addition to personal letters, there is some correspondence received in Brady's official capacity as Governor of Alaska, from 1897 to 1906. A number of letters and petitions recommending Brady's appointment as governor, which had been sent to the President's office for consideration in 1888 and 1889, were turned over to Brady in 1894 when the Department of the Interior closed his applications file. Copies of similar recommendations from 1897 to 1904 are also included. These recommendations are most numerous for 1888 and 1889, when Brady first sought the appointment from President Harrison. Among those writing in his behalf were Frances Willard and other officers of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and representatives of the Presbyterian, Baptist, United Brethren, and Methodist churches. There are also a number of letters of condolence received on the death of John G. Brady in December, 1918. Four letters received by Henry Baldwin and his family, obtained with a group of letters written by Brady to Henry Baldwin, are filed in this section.

Outgoing Correspondence, is arranged in three parts. The first part consists of copies, drafts and a few originals of Brady's letters to friends and associates, dated from 1878 to 1918. The second part consists of pages cut from letter copy books, containing Brady's official correspondence as governor. The bulk of these letters is dated from August, 1901 to April, 1906, with no letters for the period October 1904 to March, 1905, inclusive. The third part of outgoing correspondence consists of bound letter copy books, containing Brady's official correspondence from May, 1899 to April, 1906.

Series II, Diaries, Notebooks and Scrapbooks , is arranged in three parts. Brady's diaries are brief and incomplete, covering the years 1873-80, 1897, 1900 and 1903-07. His notebooks include lecture notes from seminary, 1874-77; copies of letters of Harry D. Reynolds, 1903; copies of Reynolds Alaska Company invoices, 1907; and a guest book, 1899-15. Three of Brady's scrapbooks, covering the years 1885-86 and 1897-1907, contain newsclippings and other materials relating to Brady's career and personal interests.

Series III, Writings , contains autobiographical writings, published and unpublished articles, and research notes. Brady's autobiographical writings relate primarily to his youth, describing his experiences growing up on the streets of New York, living on an Indiana farm, and studying at Yale and Union Theological Seminary. Brady's articles range from brief accounts of incidents in Alaska's history to lengthy descriptions of Alaska's economic resources and political problems. Most of the articles exist in manuscript form, either holograph or typewritten. A large proportion of Brady's research notes on Alaska history and political affairs was compiled from sources at the New York Public Library during the years following his resignation as governor of Alaska.

Series IV, Official, Legal and Financial Papers , includes both official and personal papers. The official papers relate to Alaska governmental affairs for the years 1884 to 1914. The largest group of items in this section is printed Thanksgiving proclamations issued by the governor, from 1892 to 1905. Among the official financial records are payroll receipts, 1891-1899, for individuals serving with the Indian Police. Brady's legal papers include contracts and agreements, legal briefs, property plot maps, documents relating to Alaska business and industry, and a burial permit and an estate distribution decree relating to Brady's death. Financial papers, 1874-1915, consist of Brady's life insurance policies and receipts, and some of his personal bills and receipts.

Series V, Personal and Family Papers , consists of assorted papers of John G. Brady, Elizabeth (Patton) Brady, Mary B. Brady, John G. Brady, Jr., and Cassia Patton. There are six folders of articles and newsclippings about John G. Brady, including a Yale student paper by S.M. Bemiss, "John Green Brady and the Quest for Home Rule in Alaska" (1976). Brady's papers also include certificates, drawings, programs for banquets and meetings which he addressed, and other materials. Elizabeth (Patton) Brady's papers consist of her article on "The Government Community School at Sitka, Alaska," two diaries, and several notebooks. Mary B. Brady's papers consist of two published articles, on which she collaborated and one which she wrote for The Independent. There is a two-page typed diary by John G. Brady, Jr., and one folder of papers on the Alaska Society of History and Ethnology for Cassia Patton. Two notebooks and some unbound notes are unidentified.

Series VI, Printed Material , contains pamphlets, brochures, leaflets, articles, pictures and maps concerning Alaska; scattered issues of several Alaska newspapers; newspaper clippings about Alaska; and several books. The pamphlets, brochures and leaflets were published by United States and Alaska governmental agencies, church and civic organizations, and business firms. The largest groups of materials are United States Government reports and pamphlets, and reports and manuals prepared by the Alaska Department of Education. Although these publications date from 1875 to 1925, most were published after 1918. They were arranged alphabetically by organization. Articles about Alaska, 1885-1926, are arranged chronologically. There are also two folders of maps, 1882-1923, and one folder of printed pictures, 1898-1914.

Scattered issues of newspapers and periodicals include publications from Anchorage, Hyder, Juneau, Ketchikan, Metlakahtla, Rampart, and Sitka, Alaska; and from Boston, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, and Victoria (British Columbia). The earliest issues are the Alaska Herald (San Francisco), 1872-80; the latest issues are The Alaska Daily Empire (Juneau), for 1925 Jan-Nov and 1937 Apr 24. The first part of the newspaper clippings, 1923-24, is arranged by subject. Newspaper clippings not organized under subject headings have been arranged chronologically, from 1878 to 1930. The majority of these newspapers and clippings are dated after John G. Brady's death and were probably collected by Mary B. Brady. The four books in the collection are John G. Brady's Bible and New Testaments (in English and Greek).

Series VII, Photographs , is the largest series in the Brady papers. It includes photographic paper prints, photograph albums, negatives, glass negatives, a printing block, and glass lantern slides. There are approximately 760 photographic prints, including both amateur and professional photographs (see List of Photographers at end of this register), arranged by subject. There are portraits of John G. Brady and his family and photographs of his home and garden at Sitka. Other prominent subjects include buildings, churches, landscapes, mining industry, portraits of groups (native Alaskan and white), portraits of individuals (native Alaskan and white), ships, social activities, totems, and towns. Many of the other photographs depict commercial activities, industry, transportation, social customs, and other aspects of Alaskan life. The photograph albums contain Alaska scenes by Partridge and by Winter and Pond. The negatives include original negatives and negatives prepared from photographs in the Brady collection (see list in box 30, folder 197).

There are approximately 450 glass lantern slides, which Brady used to illustrate his lectures about Alaska. These include most of the subjects found in the photographs. Although there are copies of some of the photographs in the collection, most of the glass slides do not duplicate the paper prints. Important subjects found only in the glass slides include maps, portraits of Laplanders, and the St. Louis World's Fair.

Series VIII, City of Sitka Records , consists of papers of the mayor, City Council, and other offices of the City of Sitka, from 1867 to 1873. These papers include correspondence received by the mayor and by the City Council, minutes of City Council meetings, resolutions and ordinances passed by City Council, court records, election records, and financial records, including tax lists, bills and receipts.


  • 1867 - 1937


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The John G. Brady Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The John G. Brady Papers were given to Yale University Library in 1954-55, by the children of John G. Brady. Seventeen letters from Brady to Henry Baldwin and two letters from Mrs. Sarah Baldwin to Henry Baldwin were purchased by the Library in 1959.


18 Linear Feet ((40 boxes) + 1 broadside)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection consists of the personal and official papers of John G. Brady documenting early missionary work in Alaska, the history and political and economic development of Alaska, and Brady's life and career. There are early 20th century publications by Alaskan government bodies and missionary groups, as well as the public records of the City of Sitka. Included are photographs, negatives, and glass lantern slides of Alaskan scenery and subjects, native Alaskans, and Brady's family.

JOHN GREEN BRADY (1848-1918)

John Green Brady was born June 15, 1848 in New York City. Following his mother's death, he ran away from home and was later sent to a refuge for homeless boys on Randall's Island. In 1859 the Children's Aid Society sent him to live with John Green, at that time a state legislator and later a judge, on his farm near Tipton, Indiana. Brady worked his way through Yale College, graduating with the Class of 1874, then entered Union Theological Seminary, where he was active in city missionary work. After graduating in 1877, he travelled to Texas, where he planned to open a training farm for New York slum boys. However, lack of funds forced him to abandon this project.

In March, 1878, Brady arrived in Alaska, under the auspices of the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, to establish a mission school at Sitka. His fellow missionary, Dr. Sheldon Jackson, became a close friend and associate for many years. In 1881, Brady founded the Sitka Boys' Home, but he soon resigned his official position when the Presbyterian mission board objected to the personal profits he gained from opening a saw mill business as a trade school for boys. Yet Brady continued to serve the native Alaskans as an independent missionary, while working as manager of the Sitka Trading Company.

John G. Brady married Elizabeth Patton on October 20, 1887, in Cochranton, Pennsylvania. Their five children were John Green, Jr., Hugh Patton, Sheldon Jackson, Mary Beattie, and Elizabeth Patton.

Brady soon became interested in Alaska politics. In December, 1884, President Arthur appointed him to the Sitka Commissariat. As a United States commissioner, Brady became a vocal opponent of Governor Alfred P. Swineford, whom he considered an enemy of Alaska's missionaries. Brady and his friends campaigned unsuccessfully for his appointment as governor after Benjamin Harrison was elected president in 1888. However, in June 1897, President McKinley appointed John G. Brady to be the fifth territorial governor of Alaska.

In his annual reports to Congress, beginning in October, 1897, Governor Brady extolled Alaska's bountiful resources and demanded changes in the territory's laws to meet local needs. As early as 1899, he called for statehood as the only remedy for the political and civil disadvantages under which Alaska languished. Brady's administration promoted development of Alaska's natural resources, expansion of trade, and increased settlement. He was re-appointed governor in 1900 and again in 1904, by President Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1905, Brady met H.D. Reynolds of Boston, an adventurer who headed the Reynolds-Alaska Development Company. He invested all his money in Reynolds' enterprises and allowed his name to be advertised as a shareholder and guarantor of the Company. Newspaper articles criticized this apparent conflict of interest, and Secretary of the Interior Ethan A. Hitchcock charged that Brady had acted improperly. This public clamor led Brady to resign as governor in January, 1906. However, Brady vigorously denied that he had been guilty of wrongdoing. Reynolds' various enterprises crashed in 1907, and Brady lost the savings which he had invested. Yet he refused to condemn Reynolds and worked for two years to restore the investments of stockholders who had relied on his advice in supporting Reynolds' schemes.

In 1909, Brady moved to New York to become vice-president of the Corporation Finance Company. He spent most of his remaining years travelling through the United Stages lecturing on Alaska and writing about its history, resources, commercial possibilities, and political needs. He later returned to Sitka, where he died on December 17, 1918.

Guide to the John G. Brady Papers
Under Revision
by Randall C. Jimerson
November 1978
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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