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Livingston family papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 680

Scope and Contents

The Livingston Family Papers spans the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries, and represents six generations of descendants of John Livingston (1750-1822) and their relatives by marriage in the Curran, Mulford, Hopkins, and Rogers families. The correspondence, legal and land records, photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, graphics, ephemera, and printed material chronicle the families’ business and social lives, travels, interests, and investments. Also documented are their participation in local government, their service in the American Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II, and their decades of student and alumni involvement with Yale University. Among the papers are deeds, ledgers, indentures, and other business records which provide detailed accounts of the Livingstons’ financial transactions and land holdings, with particular regard to their Oak Hill Iron Mining and Paramount Oil companies, and their ancestral estate, Oak Hill, all situated along the Hudson River in New York State’s Columbia County.

As is often the case with family papers, the scope and content of the collection is as varied as the careers and interests of the Livingston men and women themselves. Some of the earliest material in the collection (in Series I) concerns land holdings and family commerce in the Hudson River Valley and other areas of New York State; these records include John Livingston’s late eighteenth-century account book and other documentation of his speculative projects on both sides of the Hudson. Later, shipping and mining investments became prominent concerns, as seen in the papers of Herman Livingston (III) and his son Henry (VII). Cattle ranching in Montana and Wyoming attracted Edmund Livingston, while mining and the military were the chosen careers of his younger brother Archibald (V). Just one of several family members engaged in exploiting natural resources, his papers hold images of mines in the American West. After his college 1909 graduation Henry Livingston (VII) worked in the oil fields of West Virginia and Ohio and took photos while he was there, but closer to home and decades earlier, his father Herman (III) owned and operated a company which removed spathic ore from the mountains near his home. The records of the Oak Hill Iron Mining Company (IX) contain both substantive correspondence files and a variety of accounts detailing finances and production; family members were also investors and officers in a fuel oil distribution corporation, the Paramount Oil Company (X). Further south down the Hudson, three members of the New York City-based Curran family established literary careers in addition to those in law, education, and public service, and their series (XI) holds manuscripts, tear sheets, and other published works as well as their legal case files and political campaign memorabilia. Henry H. Curran, in particular, authored several books and regularly published columns and essays in New York City newspapers. Still further south, the life of a cotton buyer working below the Mason-Dixon Line is documented in the papers of the Mulford family (XI), another group of Livingston relatives by marriage.

There is a concentration of military-related material, both manuscript and visual, particularly for the Spanish-American War and World War I. Archibald Livingston (V) was a career army officer and a photographer, so his series, and that of his sister Anna, contain many images of his service and surroundings in both wars, as well as on Pershing’s Punitive Expedition into Mexico. His nephews Henry (VII) and Edmund Livingston both served in the military, as did Henry’s brother-in-law Henry H. Curran (XI) and cousin Charles V. Hopkins; their narratives are present in a few series via their letters and photographs. Anna Livingston’s wartime contribution documented here was also literary, as her files (IV) hold letters and photographs from Belgian pen-pal soldiers and from her friend Clyde V. Simpson, an American career officer. The American Civil War is present in the Curran family papers (XI), and World War II is represented in the papers of Henry H. Livingston (VIII), who served with the United States Army Air Corps.

Records documenting every family member or generation are not complete or even comprehensive, yet the records that exist give both snapshots and longer views of activities, domestic affairs, and home economics. A set of invoices kept by Susan R. Livingston (II) from just a few years in the early twentieth century detail expenses for keeping her two households and for some of her charitable donations, while the diaries kept by Herman Livingston (III) cover his daily activities between 1887 and his death in 1936. The Mulford family (XI) has the most extensive personal correspondence files, particularly Eliza (Lilla) Mulford Curran’s five boxes of letters from her parents, childhood friends, and husband. Commonplace and school exercise books are present in a few series, as well as a range of typical souvenirs of nineteenth-century society including invitations to balls and parties, at-home cards (two examples with their engraved printing plates are in Series XI), and autograph fans and albums. While there are good family portrait resources and genealogical charts, biographical writings on the Livingstons are rare until the mid-twentieth century, and then are largely dedicated to a review of the Oak Hill estate, the many Livingston homes, or the extended Livingston family, including Robert Livingston, the first Lord of Livingston Manor. Autobiographical works are also scarce, but include one essay in Herman T. Livingston’s papers (II) and several in the Curran family papers (XI).

While most of the Livingstons remained based in the northeastern United States, some were adventurers, and their letters home describe their experiences. Because the collection is organized by provenance, with intergenerational correspondence between parents and children and between siblings filed by recipient, it may be necessary to consult two or more series to follow one story. For example, letters from the first Livingston to move west of the Mississippi, Edmund P. (1857-1888), can be found in both the papers of his father Herman T. (II) and his brother Herman (III); they tell of his journey, his start-up career in cattle ranching, and his illness before his early death. Edmund’s brother and sister Archibald (V) and Anna (IV) were the next to go west and their letters home appear in several series. Fortunately, the siblings were proficient and prolific amateur photographers who documented their lives and activities in snapshots, and composed the photograph albums present in their series.

The collection is rich in other visual materials, including posters and European campaign maps from World War I (IV, V, and XI), and European and Japanese prints (XI and IV), but primarily in photographs. Among the earliest of these are three daguerreotype and five ambrotype portraits; the former group (II) includes an image of the painter Frederic Edwin Church, and the latter (III) features three examples of rare double-sided viewing cases. Mid-nineteenth-century formats abound, including cartes de visite, tintypes (plus a gem album), and cabinet cards, along with samples of the mailing boxes (V) in which they were delivered. The Curran (XI) family members, particularly Eliza (Lilla) Curran, were regular patrons of commercial portraitists, as were her friends, as documented by the two boxes holding her pictures. Personal travel and tourism is another thread throughout the papers which is supported by a wealth of images, from the deluxe photograph album acquired by John Elliott Curran (XI) during his 1870 visit to Italy, to his wife’s excursions to England and Europe in the early twentieth century. In addition to photographs, John Curran also collected more than seventy-five Italian drawings by Maggiotto and Tiepolo, and more than fifty early nineteenth-century French engravings and lithographs. Anna (IV) and Archibald (V) Livingston’s trips to Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, and most especially throughout the American West, resulted in hundreds of images made between the 1880s and the 1950s, many of which were organized into albums. Anna often chose to travel by horseback and stopped to document the landscape and her campsites during her trips. As well as creating their own images, several Livingstons and Currans accumulated them in the form of commercial postcards purchased as souvenirs, and housed them in boxes and albums. Another collecting focus was maritime imagery; several series in the papers contain nineteenth- and twentieth-century prints and photographs of yachts, sloops, and schooners issued by notable marine artists.

Certain strong and common bonds span the generations and appear in almost every series: a love for and preservation of family heritage and local history; a reverence for the Hudson River and the navigation of it; and an equal reverence for Yale University, from which ten members of the family graduated between 1870 and 1945. Two large nineteenth-century bibles, one Livingston (II) and one Curran (XI), contain genealogical annotations which document family births, marriages, and deaths, and several of the Livingston women joined and participated in national heritage societies such as the Colonial Dames of America. The family was also proud of its ancestral material culture objects, and allowed their silver, paintings, and other items to appear in exhibitions ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to historical society displays, as well as in other publications. Livingston Manor and Columbia County history materials are especially prominent in the papers of Henry Livingston (VIII), who was an important participant in the Livingston Tercentenary celebrations of 1986, and whose series holds other groups of papers he acquired: the files of two Columbia County historians, and a set of translations from the Dutch of Robert Livingston’s seventeenth- and eighteenth-century correspondence. Each generation of John Livingston’s descendants produced one or more sailors, with most investing in both pleasure and commercial craft as well as crewing for a school, particularly Yale University. Including their collateral relatives in the Curran and Hopkins families, three generations of Yale alumni appear in the Livingston Family Papers, and chose to carefully preserve the student and alumni photographs, documents, and ephemera present here.


  • 1702 - 2003
  • Majority of material found within 1850 - 2003


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 161-162: Restricted Fragile Material. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Livingston Family Papers 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

Gift of Maria and Henry H. Livingston (Yale College 1940), 2003.


Organized into twelve series: Series I. Early Papers, 1772-1883. Series II. Herman T. and Susan Rogers Livingston Papers, 1856-1910. Series III. Herman and Emeline Hopkins Livingston Papers, 1820-1958. Series IV. Anna P. Livingston Papers, 1853-1968. Series V. Archibald R. Livingston Papers, 1880-1951. Series VI. Herman and Olga Kobbé Livingston Papers, 1897-1959. Series VII. Henry H. and Mary Eleanor Curran Livingston Papers, 1886-1969. Series VIII. Henry H. and Maria Burroughs Livingston Papers, 1840-2003. Series IX. Oak Hill Iron Mining Company Records, 1879-1889. Series X. Paramount Oil Company Records, 1919-1961. Series XI. Curran and Mulford Family Papers, 1770-1966. Series XII. Other Papers, 1702-1960.


57 Linear Feet ((163 boxes) + 5 broadside folders)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Livingston Family Papers spans the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries, and represents six generations of descendants of John Livingston (1750-1822) of Oak Hill and their relatives by marriage in the Curran, Mulford, Hopkins, and Rogers families. The correspondence, legal and land records, photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, graphics, ephemera, and printed material chronicle the families' business and social lives, travels, interests, and investments. Also documented are their participation in local government, their service in the American Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II, and their decades of student and alumni involvement with Yale University. Among the papers are deeds, ledgers, indentures, and other business records, which provide detailed accounts of the Livingstons' financial transactions and land holdings, with particular regard to their Oak Hill Iron Mining and Paramount Oil companies, and to their ancestral estate, Oak Hill, all situated along the Hudson River in New York State's Columbia County.

Livingston Family

The Livingstons are a prominent New York State family which has played an active role in American commerce, politics, military, industry, and society since 1686, when the British crown deeded Livingston Manor, 160,000 acres of land in the Hudson River Valley, to Robert Livingston (1654-1728). Within a century, through marriage and purchase, the manor grew to encompass over 250 square miles of land between the Hudson River and the present border of Massachusetts, comprising what is now the southern half of New York State's Columbia County. Throughout the manor lands family members and descendants developed nearly forty country houses, including Oak Hill, built in the mid-1790s by John Livingston (1750-1822), son of Robert Livingston (1708-1790), third and last Lord of Livingston Manor. The material that comprises the Livingston Family Papers was removed from Oak Hill in 2003 by Henry H. Livingston (1918-2008), the seventh owner of the house, and sixth-generation Livingston to live there. A Livingston family tree appears below; biographical sketches of John Livingston and his descendants appear in Series I through VIII of the finding aid. Additional family history, genealogical, and biographical information can be found within the papers, as well as in Ruth Piwonka's volume, A Portrait of Livingston Manor, 1686-1850 (1986).

Livingston Family Tree

Family members who are prominent in the papers appear in boldface, and the inheritors of Oak Hill appear in all capital letters (in 1997, Henry H. Livingston, Jr. sold Oak Hill to Susan C. Livingston, his sixth cousin once removed). The couple underlined, Henry H. and Mary Eleanor Curran Livingston , provide the key link within the family trees of the Curran and Mulford families, which follow that of the Livingstons; those family trees are of particular use in identifying the correspondents in Series XI.

JOHN LIVINGSTON (1750–1822) of Oak Hill, m. 1775 Mary Ann Le Roy (8 children, including
- - 2 HERMAN LIVINGSTON (1793–1872) m. 1821 Sarah Lawrence Hallet (1795-1868)
- - - - 3 John Henry Livingston (1822–1846)
- - - - 3 Cornelia Livingston (1824–1851) m. Clermont Livingston (1817–1895)
- - - - 3 HERMAN TONG LIVINGSTON (1827–1899) m. 1853 Susan Bard Rogers (1835–1911)
- - - - - - 4 HERMAN LIVINGSTON (1856–1936) m. 1882 Emeline Cornell Hopkins (1859–1940)
- - - - - - - - 5 HERMAN LIVINGSTON (1883–1951) m. 1909 Olga Kobbé (1883–1968)
- - - - - - - - - - 6 Alida Schuyler Livingston (1915–1940)
- - - - - - - - 5 HENRY HOPKINS LIVINGSTON (1887–1960) m. 1916 Mary Eleanor Curran (1884–1969)
- - - - - - - - - - 6 HENRY HOPKINS LIVINGSTON (1918–2008) m. 1942 Maria M. Burroughs (1919-)
- - - - - - - - - - - - 7 Isabel Church (1943-) m. Henry Blackiston; m. Raymond Wilson; m. Richard Stone
- - - - - - - - - - - - 7 Henry H. III (1945-), m. Pamela M. Forster; m. Susan C. Livingston
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8 Julia Pell Livingston (2002-)
- - - - - - - - - - - - 7 Richard H. B. (1947-) m. Elizabeth Dubben
- - - - - - - - - - - - 7 Catharine van Brugh (1949-) m. Robert Edmonds; m. Rhett Tyler
- - - - - - - - - - 6 Eleanor Mulford Livingston (1920-2018)
- - - - - - - - - - 6 Herman Livingston II (1923–2007) m. 1957 Janet Harris
- - - - - - - - 5 Edmund Pendleton Livingston (1889–1972) m. 1923 Kathleen Imelda O’Connor
- - - - - - - - - - 6 Edmund Pendleton Livingston Jr. (1924-) m. Dorothy Corser
- - - - - - - - - - 6 Kathleen Livingston (1925-) m. William Ward; m. Robert Watson
- - - - - - - - - - 6 Patricia Livingston (1927-) m. Paul Maynard; m. Arthur Langille
- - - - - - - - - - 6 John Livingston (1933-1946)
- - - - - - 4 Edmund Pendleton Livingston (1857–1888)
- - - - - - 4 John Callendar Livingston (1862–1956) m. 1892 Louise Foote Bowler (1861–1933)
- - - - - - - - 5 Louise Alida Livingston (1893–1967)
- - - - - - 4 Anna Pendleton Livingston (1866–1967)
- - - - - - 4 Archibald Rogers Livingston (1868–1952)
- - - - - - 4 Sarah Livingston (1871–1959) m. 1907 George H. Williams (1860–1937)
- - - - - - - - 5 Helen M. Williams m. Hermon McMillan
- - - - - - - - 5 Dorothy L. Williams (1908–1980) m. S. F. Brewster
- - - - - - - - - - 6 Dorothy Brewster (1932-) m 1952 Martin K. Hansell
- - - - - - - - - - 6 William Brewster (1932–2004) m. 1965 Ann Hutchinson (1931-)
- - - - - - -- 5 John V. V. Williams

Mulford and Curran Families

The Curran family of Utica, New York, and Mulford family of New Haven, Connecticut, and New York City, became related to the Livingstons in 1916 when Henry H. Livingston married Mary Eleanor Curran; the Currans and Mulfords had been united forty years earlier through the marriage of Mary Eleanor's parents, John Elliott Curran and Eliza Phillips Mulford. Biographical sketches of these families, along with pertinent genealogical material, is found in Series XI; family trees for each appear below.

Curran Family Tree

Edward Curran (1803-1856)
m. 1828 Amanda Hamilton Bartlett (1807–1837)
- - 2 Celia Frances Curran (1829-)
- - 2 Charles Carroll Curran (1830–1858)
- - 2 Amanda Maria Curran (1833-1838)
- - 2 Edward Curran Jr. (1835-1894)
- - 2 Horatio Bartlett Curran (1837-1916)
m. 1839 Mary Jane Langford (1815–1893)
- - 2 George Langford Curran (1840–1925) m. Cornelia Douglas (1840–1922)
- - - - 3 Gertrude Douglas Curran (1868–1927)
- - - - 3 Stanley Douglas Curran (1870–1911) m. Ella M. (1870–1942)
- - 2 Henry Hastings Curran (1841–1864)
- - 2 Philip Clinton Curran (1843–1877)
- - 2 Mary Langford Curran (1846–1925) m. Willard Peck (1844–1924)
- - - - 3 Philip Curran Peck (1874–1954) m. Evelyn Williams (1874–1936); m. Zeneida Swegen (1919–2004)
- - - - 3 Darius Edward Peck (1877–1944) m. Juliette M. Brown (1895-)
- - - - - - 4 Willard Langford Peck (1923–2004) m. Colleen Murphy
- - - - - - - - 5 Elizabeth Peck (1957–2000)
- - - - - - 4 Molly Curran Peck (1928–1974)
- - - - 3 Mary Langford Peck (1881–1973) m. Lloyd Burdwin Holsapple (1884–1959)
- - 2 John Elliott Curran (1848–1890) m. 1875 Eliza (Lilla) Phillips Mulford (1852–1936)
- - - - 3 Henry Hastings Curran (1877–1966) m. 1905 Frances (Fanny) Ford Hardy (1881–1971)
- - - - 3 Gerald (Jay) Mulford Curran (1879–1960) m. 1904 Marguerite Maurice Bartow (1881–1953)
- - - - 3 Mary Eleanor Curran (1883–1969) m. 1916 Henry Hopkins LIVINGSTON (1887–1960)

Mulford Family Tree

James Hervey Mulford (1802–1885)
m. 1826 Rebecca Gorham Atwater (1802–1843)
- - 2 Hervey M. Mulford (1827–1866) m. 1856 Fredericka S. Ironside
- - - - 3 William Remsen Mulford (1857-)
- - - - 3 Dexter Walker Ironside Mulford (1865-) m. Annie F. Beetson
- - 2 Mary (May) Mulford (1829–1898) m. 1854 James Henry Coghill (1817–1898)
- - - - 3 Sarah (Sade) Adeline Coghill (1849-)
- - - - 3 Henry Coghill (1854–1857)
- - - - 3 Howard Coghill (1858–1922)
- - 2 Elizabeth Atwater Mulford (1831–1879) m. Charles W. Crosby (ca. 1827-)
- - - - 3 Charles Crosby
- - - - 3 Wellington Crosby (ca. 1858–1890) m. 1883 Belle Alexandria Frazer
- - 2 James Hervey Mulford (1836–1885)
m. 1849 Mary Moore Cunningham Porter (1810–1897)
- - 2 Emma S. Mulford (1851–1851)
- - 2 Eliza (Lilla) Phillips Mulford (1852–1936) m. 1875 John Elliott Curran (1848–1890)
- - - - 3 Henry Hastings Curran (1877–1966) m. 1905 Frances (Fanny) Ford Hardy (1881–1971)
- - - - 3 Gerald (Jay) Mulford Curran (1879–1960) m. 1904 Marguerite Maurice Bartow (1881–1953)
- - - - 3 Mary Eleanor Curran (1883–1969) m. 1916 Henry Hopkins LIVINGSTON (1887–1960)

Custodial History

The Livingston Family Papers represent a collection created, collected, or deposited in one ancestral home, Oak Hill, along the Hudson River at Greendale, Columbia County, New York, by six generations of descendants of John Livingston (1750-1822). The house was built around 1795, and passed through the Livingston male line to John's son Herman (1793-1872), then to his son Herman T. (1827-1899), to his son Herman (1856-1936), to his son Herman Jr. (1883-1951), then laterally to Herman Jr.'s brother Henry H. (1887-1960), and to Henry H.'s son Henry H. (1918-2008). The collection also includes some papers of Anna (1866-1967) and Archibald (1868-1952), the two unmarried siblings of Herman Livingston (1856-1936), as well as ancestral material of women who married Livingston men, in particular members of the Curran, Mulford, Hopkins, and Rogers families. In 2000 the papers were gathered from all corners of the house and the case furniture at Oak Hill by Henry and Maria Livingston's daughter Isabel, who prepared a preliminary inventory. After Isabel Livingston and her close friend Nan Taylor assessed the papers, they approached the Beinecke Library and packed the papers for transfer to Yale; the papers arrived at the library in two accessions, received August and December of 2003.


In English, French, and German.

Processing Information

The order established during processing follows a roughly chronological and provenance-based arrangement, with a series for each owner of Oak Hill and some siblings. This was a relatively simple task for sorting correspondence, personal papers, and personal photographs, but more difficult for other visual materials, land records, and random family papers that spanned and likely were actively used by two or more generations. In some cases, such as the family real estate and legal papers in Series I, records were put or left together as a group; in other cases, as with the dozens of maritime images, the best guess was made regarding which Livingston might have owned or displayed them, and the items were filed accordingly.

One carte de visite and cabinet card photograph album attributed to Series II, Herman T. and Susan Rogers Livingston Papers, was dismantled when the collection was processed. It was received in poor condition, with a broken binding, covers detached, and the majority of the slots for photographs empty. The remaining images had been removed at an earlier point by family members who noted sitter names (when known) on their versos and returned them to their slots. All photographs from this album are now in folders in Series II, and are primarily members of the Rogers, Livingston, and Iselin families.

Some of the books and most of the pamphlets received with the papers were left in place or added to the files; records for these publications appear in Orbis, the library's online catalog, where they can be located by searching Orbis for local call number GEN MSS 680. However, most of the books were removed from the collection to be cataloged independently from the family papers and to carry a provenance note linking them to the family. Yale University class books (alumni biographical record books) and other university publications were separated out and transferred to Manuscripts and Archives at Sterling Memorial Library; class, athletics, and alumni photographs featuring Livingston men were retained with the family papers.

Three genealogies were used in the preparation of this finding aid: A Livingston Genealogical Register, compiled by Howland Davis and Arthur Kelly (Friends of Clermont, 1995); Livingston Genealogy, by Reuben Hyde Walworth (Friends of Clermont, 1982); and Genealogical Histories of Livingston and Allied Families, by Ruth Lawrence (National Americana Society, 1932), as well as A Portrait of Livingston Manor, 1686-1850, by Ruth Piwonka (Friends of Clermont, 1986).

Guide to the Livingston Family Papers
by Sandra Markham
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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