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J. S. Holliday research collection on the William Swain family

 Collection
Call Number: WA MSS S-2408

Scope and Contents

The J. S. Holliday Research Collection on the William Swain Family consists of papers relating to the Swain family, which Holliday gathered in the course of his research for The World Rushed In. The collection is housed in eight boxes and is organized into two series: Swain Family Papers and J. S. Holliday Research Files.

Series I, Swain Family Papers , 1862-1980, boxes 1-3, is organized into five subseries: Correspondence, Writings, Documents and Financial Papers, Other Papers, and Photographs. The correspondence includes 27 letters to forty-niner William Swain from his wife Sabrina and brother George, dated April 15, 1849 to September 8, 1850. Also included are "A Forty Niner," William's dictated recollections, and his will, made out before leaving for California. Other family papers include William's father Isaac's account books, letters of family members and neighbors, including a draft of a letter to William's half-sister Rebecca Swain Williams in 1839 announcing the death of Isaac and the family's reaction to Rebecca's conversion to Mormonism, and a daguerreotype and cased albumen prints, presumably of family members.

Series II, J. S. Holliday Research Files , 1862-1980, boxes 4-8, is organized into four subseries: Correspondence, Writings, Printed Material, and Other Papers. The files include approximately 150 letters from Sara Swain to Holliday and another 70 to her Mormon cousin Nancy Williams, with much information on the history of the Swain family and Niagara County, New York. These are accompanied by Holliday's notes, transcripts of the Swain letters, photocopies of materials related to the Wolverine Rangers, Sara Swain's notes on family and local history, and After 100 Years, Nancy Williams' biography of Rebecca and Frederick Granger Williams.

Dates

  • 1799-1980

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research. Box 9: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The J. S. Holliday Research Collection on the William Swain Family is 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

Purchased from Yerba Buena Books on the Frederick W. Beinecke Fund, 1988.

Associated Materials

William Swain Journals and Letters (WA MSS 466)

Extent

3.77 Linear Feet ((9 boxes) + 1 broadside folder)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.swain

Overview

J.S. Holliday's collection relating to the Swain family acquired while doing research for his book The World Rushed In. The collection includes 27 letters from Sabrina and George to William, dated April 15, 1849 to September 8, 1850. Also included are "A Forty Niner," William's dictated recollections, and his will, made out before leaving for California. Other family papers include William's father Isaac's account books, letters of family members and neighbors, and a daguerreotype and cased albumen prints, presumably of family members. Holliday's research files include approximately 150 letters from Sara Swain to Holliday and another 70 to her Mormon cousin Nancy Williams, with much information on the Swain family and Niagara County, New York. These are accompanied by Holliday's notes, transcripts of the Swain letters, photocopies of materials related to the Wolverine Rangers, Edward Eberstadt's notes, Sara Swain's notes on family and local history, and After 100 Years, Nancy Williams' biography of Rebecca and Frederick Granger Williams.

J. S. HOLLIDAY AND THE WILLIAM SWAIN FAMILY

J. S. Holliday's gold rush history, The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience (New York: Simon and Schuster, c1981), is based in large part on the experiences of forty-niner William Swain. Swain was born in Youngstown, New York in 1821, the second son of Isaac and Patience Swain. He taught school from 1844 to 1846, and married Sabrina Swain in 1847. Their first child, Lila Crandall Swain, was born in June 1848. When the gold discoveries in California were announced at the end of 1848, William decided to go to California. At Independence, Missouri, they joined a company of men from Marshall, Michigan, the Wolverine Rangers. In May 1849 they started on their overland journey, reaching California in November of that year. A year later, Swain started for home via Panama, reaching New York in February 1851.

J. S. Holliday was introduced to the William Swain journals and letters by Edward Eberstadt, the New York rare book and manuscript dealer who had acquired them from William Swain's daughter Sara Sabrina Swain. Eberstadt had intended to publish the journal and diary but had been unable to do so due to the press of business and ill health, and asked Holliday, a recent Yale graduate, to take over the project. Holliday did so, and met Sara Swain in 1948. Born in 1860, Sara was a school teacher and amateur historian of Niagara County, New York. Holliday discovered that she still held letters that her mother Sabrina and uncle George had sent to her father during the gold rush. Sara gave Holliday the letters, which form part of the present collection, in 1951. She died in 1953.

The Swain collection includes documents concerning William Swain's father, Isaac, who had first been married to Elizabeth Hall. Their daughter, Rebecca, married Frederick Granger Williams, who was a counselor to Joseph Smith. The Williams family followed Joseph Smith to Illinois and Missouri and made the overland journey to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Her grandson, Frederick Granger Williams, married Nancy Clement, who later corresponded with Sara Sabrina Swain.
Title
Guide to the J.S. Holliday Research Collection on the William Swain Family
Status
Under Revision
Author
by Diana Smith
Date
July 2001
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

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977

Location

121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.