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Bernhard Knollenberg collection

Call Number: MS 26

Scope and Contents

The Bernhard Knollenberg Collection comprises original and copied manuscripts of American historical interest which were collected by the former Yale University Librarian in connection with his historical studies and presented to the Yale University Library in 31 accessions since 1939. Covering the entire span of American history, the collection is of major importance for the Colonial, Early National and Ante-Bellum Periods and is frequently consulted by the leading scholars of these periods. The typed and photostatic copies of manuscripts were obtained from many libraries and historical societies and from private collections.

Bernhard Knollenberg (b. 1892) was University Librarian from 1938 to 1945 and Lecturer on the Law of Taxation during the academic year 1941-1942. A student of law and history, he held the following government posts: senior deputy administrator, Lend Lease Administration, 1943-1944; division deputy, Office of Strategic Services, 1944-1945; and, United States Commissioner for the North-West Atlantic Fisheries, 1950-1958. Mr. Knollenberg was the recipient of five academic degrees: B.A. Earlham, 1912; M.A. Harvard, 1914; LL.B. Harvard, 1916; Honorary M.A. Yale, 1939; and LL.D. Earlham, 1944. The following books by Mr. Knollenberg as well as a number of journal articles were based in whole or in part on the manuscripts in the collection: Washington and the Revolution: A Reappraisal, 1940; Whitewater Valley, 1946; Samuel Ward, 1952; Origin of the American Revolution, 1960; and George Washington: The Virginia Period, 1964.

The manuscripts and copies are arranged in chronological order in 1220 folders (15 document boxes) and are individually foldered and described. Most of the items are individually catalogued in the Union and Departmental Manuscript Catalogues. The collection was established with the gift of the Alvah Hunt Papers in 1939. Over 100 letters written during the period 1838-1855 to Alvah Hunt of Greene, Chenango County, New York describe the political issues of the time, especially Whig politics. The principal correspondents include Hamilton Fish, Horace Greeley, William H. Seward, and Thurlow Weed. Other groups of papers of interest are listed below:

1. The Leffingwell Collection of manuscripts at the New Haven Colony Historical Society. Gift, 1942. Photostats.

2. The George Panton Papers which were presented to the Reverend Dr. Chorley by the Bishop and the Synod of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney in 1934 and given to the Library in 1940. The letters are from Anglican ministers who were Loyalists and who escaped to England during the Revolution. A few are from men who were never in America, but were deeply interested in the Church of England in America. The two principal correspondents are Daniel Batwell and Thomas Bradbury Chandler. Chandler graduated from Yale in 1745 (see Dexter's Yale Biographies and Annals , 1701-1745), moved to England in 1775 and returned to America in 1785. He was an important figure in the Anglican Church in America. George Panton, according to Sabine's American Loyalists, was in New York in 1783 and was one of the 55 Loyalists who petitioned for lands in Nova Scotia at that time.

3. Homer Sackett Curtiss Papers, consisting of 171 letters written to members of the Curtiss Family during his Civil War service in the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Regiment, Heavy Artillery. Gift, 1939.

4. Nathanel Greene Papers, including 35 original letters and documents by and relating to General Greene, 1779-1804. Gifts, 1943, 1944.


  • 1560-1943


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Correspondence to George Panton is available on microfilm (circa 125 frames on 1 reel, 35mm.) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, at cost. Order no. HM199

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown, though much of the material in this collection is likely in the public domain. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts from Bernhard Knollenberg from 1939


Arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, 1560, 1622-1942. II. General File, 1747-1827, 1858-1868, 1901-1940.


8.75 Linear Feet (15 boxes, 2 folios)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, diaries, manuscripts of writings, narratives, biographical sketches, documents, reports, addresses, deeds, tax receipts, printed material, and other papers, relating to early American colonial settlement, the American Revolution, settlement of the West, slavery, the Civil War, Spanish-American War, women's suffrage, and various political questions. Includes circa 100 letters (1838-1855) to Alvah Hunt, of Greene, Chenango Co, N.Y, describing current political issues, especially Whig politics, from Millard Fillmore, Hamilton Fish, Horace Greeley, Washington Hunt, William H. Seward, and Thurlow Weed; 171 letters written by Homer Sackett Curtiss to members of his family during his Civil War service in the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Regiment, Heavy Artillery; papers of George Panton, loyalist, of New York, containing letters from Daniel Batwell, Thomas Bradbury Chandler, other loyalist Anglican ministers who escaped to England during the Revolution, and others interested in the Church of England in America; 35 letters and documents (1779-1804) by and relating to Nathanael Greene; correspondence, deeds, and tax receipts, relating to Joel Barlow and the Ohio Company; 2 volumes of letters and papers by François Alexandre-Frederick La Rochefoucauld Liancourt; correspondence and writings of Seth Reynolds; and diaries of Alfred Brammer, English workman.

Biographical / Historical

Yale University librarian (1938-1945); administrator in the Lend Lease Administration (1943-1944), Office of Strategic Services (1944-1945); U.S. Commissioner for the North-West Atlantic Fisheries (1950-1958).

Processing Information

Materials related to Aaron Burr, B. Silliman, Theodore Woolsey, and E. G. Salisbury were transferred to the the Burr Family Papers (MS 303), Silliman Family Papers (MS 450), Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), and Salisbury Family Papers (MS 429) respectively. Additionally, some materials were transferred to folio-sized folders for preservation. The transfers resulted in gaps in the folder sequence.

Guide to the Bernhard Knollenberg Collection
Under Revision
Compiled and edited by Margaret Boutwell
October 1969
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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