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George F. Usher papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 855

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily contains letterpress copybooks and other official papers sent, received, and kept by George F. Usher, Haitian consul in New York City under President Fabre Nicolas Geffrard, detailing his diplomatic and commercial work in New York City on behalf of the Republic of Haiti during the years 1859-1867, together with letters written during Usher's retirement in Bristol, Rhode Island, and related papers. Also present are letterpress copybooks kept by George Lawrence Jr., the New York Agent (and subsequently Commissioner) for Haitian Emigration operating from New York City between 1862 and 1865.


  • 1852-1877


Language of Materials

In English and French.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The George F. Usher 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

Purchased from Carmen D. Valentino on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2011.


Organized into three series: I. George F. Usher Papers, 1852-1877. II. George Lawrence Jr. Letter Book, 1862-1865. III. Other Papers, 1863.


0.83 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers contain four letter books and other official papers sent, received, and kept by George F. Usher, Haitian consul in New York under President Fabre Nicolas Geffrard; the correspondence primarily details Usher's diplomatic and commercial work in New York City on behalf of the Republic of Haiti during the years 1859-1867, which included, in 1862, the United States's official recognition of the Haitian government. Among the recipients of Usher's letters are Demosthenes Bruno and Ernest Roumain, chargés d'affaires in Haiti, and August Elie, Hatian secretary of state, as well as B. C. Clark, Haitian consul in Boston, and James Redpath. Some of the letter books include lists of cargo ships trading between Haiti and New York. Usher's papers also include personal letters written from New York and during his retirement in Bristol, Rhode Island, as well as a bound volume of manuscript records of the Sewing School for the Children of St. Michael's Parish, Bristol, conducted by his daughters Helen Maria Usher (1834-1892) and Irene (Ida) Frances Usher (1838-1925) between 1869 and 1873.

George F. Usher (1792-1877)

George Finney Usher was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, on October 22, 1792, the son of Hezekiah and Sarah Finney Usher. Through his positions as the United States Commercial Agent at Cape Haytien, Haiti (1842-1846) and at Port-au-Prince (1849-1853), Usher gained the financial, trade, and linguistic skills sufficient to win an appointment as Haiti's consul in New York City after General Fabre Nicolas Geffrard deposed Haitian Emperor Faustin Soulouque in 1858. Usher began work as consul on June 10, 1859, and remained in place until Geffrard was overthrown in 1867. Usher was replaced as consul by Elwood Cooper; he retired to Bristol in 1868, and died there on August 16, 1877.

Usher married Susan Maria Griswold (1797-1825) in 1817; she bore their daughter Elizabeth Griswold (1818-1879), who married Joseph Ames Sprague (d. 1876) in 1839. Usher married Rebecca Bourn (1810-1842) in 1833 and with her had two daughters, Helen Maria (1834-1892) and Irene (Ida) Frances (1838-1925). His third wife was Emily Fitzgerald French (born 1826), whom he married in 1857. Usher and his daughters are buried in Juniper Hill Cemetery, Bristol.

George Lawrence Jr.

Little is known about George Lawrence Jr., who was an African American abolitionist and activist for Haitian emigration. From 1861 to 1862 Lawrence was editor and publisher of the journal The Pine and Palm, which was owned by the Scottish-born reformer and promoter James Redpath, with offices in Boston and New York. In the fall of 1862 Lawrence became the head of the Haitian Emigration Bureau at 55 Liberty Street in New York, which Redpath had founded in 1859. The bureau's function was to promote and assist with African American emigration to Haiti; Lawrence signed his letters as agent of the Haytian Bureau, or Commissioner of Haytian Emigration. He was listed in the New York City directories through 1868 after which time he lived in Washington, D.C.

Processing Information

Much of the information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from material supplied by the vendor.
Guide to the George F. Usher Papers
by Beinecke Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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