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George Dudley Seymour papers

Call Number: MS 442
Scope and Contents
Correspondence, writings, photographs, research files, printed material, and miscellanea of George Dudley Seymour, a lawyer, antiquarian, historian, author and city planner in New Haven, Connecticut. Seymour's personal papers and collected manuscripts document the history of the Seymour family, the patriot Nathan Hale, the city planning movement in New Haven, Connecticut, and local history, 1684-1948. General correspondence files contain the bulk of personal correspondence, with many figures from the fields of art, education, politics, and sculpture represented, including William Howard Taft, a close friend of Seymour's. Family genealogy files include extensive correspondence, papers, and photographs Seymour accumulated in the course of his research on The Seymour Family (1939). Seymour also collected information and manuscripts relating to Nathan Hale, the Connecticut hero. As a pioneer in New Haven's early city planning movement, Seymour amassed correspondence with such figures as Cass Gilbert and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., minutes of commission meetings, and clipping files which detail much of the city planning activity engaged in during the early 1900s. Topical files and scrapbooks document a wide range of literary and professional activities, including Seymour's writings on New Haven and Connecticut history, and his legal practice in patent law.

The George Dudley Seymour papers total 57 linear feet and are arranged in 128 boxes. The papers are arranged in the following six series: I. GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1831-1944, II. FAMILY GENEALOGY, 1709-1943, III. NATHAN HALE, 1701-1948, IV. NEW HAVEN CITY PLANNING, 1835-1935, V. TOPICAL FILES, 1684-1945, and VI. SCRAPBOOKS, 1883-1944.
Series I, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, contains the bulk of Seymour's personal correspondence, including both incoming letters and carbon copies of outgoing correspondence. Seymour corresponded with many important figures from the worlds of architecture, art, education, history, politics, and sculpture. Letters with several family members are also arranged here.

Among the important correspondents included in this series are: James R. Angell, Paul Wayland Bartlett, Cass Gilbert, Henry Solon Graves, Arthur Twining Hadley, Gifford Pinchot, James Gamble Rogers, Charles Seymour, Anson Phelps Stokes, Horace Dutton Taft, and William Howard Taft.

Series II, FAMILY GENEALOGY, contains the correspondence, photographs, miscellanea, and other papers Seymour compiled in the course of his search for information on the genealogy and history of his family. Detailed information on the individuals and family branches outlined in this series can be found in Seymour's published volume, The Seymour Family (1939).

In addition to Seymour's own correspondence, writings, and materials, this series includes the letters and documents of several early family members. Seymour "inherited" some items from other family members, including Seymour Morris, Nathan Perkins Seymour, and Mary Kingsbury Talcott. Other letters, deeds, documents, and photographs were acquired as Seymour expanded his research. Material for the Seymour, Churchill, and Welles family lines is quite detailed.

Series III, NATHAN HALE, contains the letters, writings, research materials, photographs, printed material, and clippings relating to Seymour's personal and professional interest in the American patriot, Nathan Hale. Letters with Hale family members, Hale scholars, and other individuals document Seymour's efforts to preserve and promote Hale's name. Files for numerous speeches, articles, and books are included in this section. Hale and Wyllys, and Documentary Life of Nathan Hale are Seymour's major works on Hale. Seymour's collection of manuscripts relating to Hale contains letters from Timothy Dwight, Eleazar Fitch, Richard Hale, James Hillhouse, and William Hull. (Seymour's collection of Hale manuscripts was donated separately to Yale in 1942 and is presently housed in the Beinecke Library.)

Seymour also obtained the papers of Victor Paltsits, a contemporary Hale expert, and manuscripts and photocopies of the letters and papers of Cyrus Parker Bradley and Jasper Gilbert, two nineteenth century Hale biographers.

As owner of Nathan Hale's birthplace Seymour compiled extensive files on the design, furnishings, and maintenance of the homestead. Seymour also participated in several celebrations, tributes, memorials, and monuments to Hale, including the placing of a Hale statue on the Old Campus of Yale University. Seymour also lobbied for the issue of a federal postage stamp honoring Hale. Many clippings and printed materials relating to Nathan Hale are also arranged this series.

Series IV, NEW HAVEN CITY PLANNING, contains correspondence, photographs, printed material, architectural drawings, clippings, and miscellanea from Seymour's work in urban planning. Correspondence with Cass Gilbert, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., Anson Phelps Stokes, and Lewis S. Welch is arranged here, as are files for the City Beautiful Committee, City Plan Commission, National Conference on City Planning, and the New Haven Harbor Development Commission.

Letterbooks Scrapbooks on New Haven City Improvement, (1901), 1907-1935; New Haven City Improvement Committee, 1907-1912; and the New Haven Harbor Commission, 1913-1923, further document the course of New Haven's municipal development and Seymour's leading role in this movement.

Series V, TOPICAL FILES, contains correspondence, research notes, clippings, photographs, printed materials, and writings on a wide variety of subjects. Many of Seymour's shorter-length articles, essays, and writings are arranged here. His interests in antiques, architecture, art, furniture, houses, and silver are also well-documented. Biographical files, containing partial bibliographies, and material from foreign and domestic travels provide an insight into Seymour's personal life. Correspondence with several clubs, societies, and organizations Seymour joined complements this material.

Other topics included in this section are: the law firm of Seymour, Earle, and Nichols; patent seals and certificates from the late 1800s; and such historical figures as David Austin, Daniel Burnap, William Burnham, Henry Caner, Amos Doolittle, Ralph Earle, and Ithiel Town.

Series VI, SCRAPBOOKS, contains thirty-five scrapbooks compiled by Seymour from 1883-1944. These scrapbooks contain clippings, printed material, photographs, correspondence, and miscellanea. Among the individual items arranged here are news stories and obituaries of friends and associates, and invitations, programs, and announcements for social occasions, university functions, and political forums.

One scrapbook, number 28, pertains to Seymour's 1902-1903 excursion to the Philippines with Gifford Pinchot. Volume twenty-six contains a series of clippings from the New Haven Daily Morning Journal and Courier (1883-1884), with thirty-two installments on the New Haven Elms and Green.

The George Dudley Seymour Papers were donated to Yale University on October 24, 1947, in accordance with Seymour's will. This donation, as enacted by the executor of the Seymour estate, culminated years of gifts and donations to the university by Seymour. His other manuscript donations to the university include the letters of Nathan Hale and a photograph album of William Howard Taft.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. 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
Donated by George Dudley Seymour, in accordance with his will, in 1947.
Arranged in six series: I. General Correspondence, 1831-1944. II. Family Genealogy, 1725-1943. III. Nathan Hale, 1701-1943. IV. New Haven City Planning, 1835-1935. V. Topical Files, 1684-1943. VI. Scrapbooks, 1883-1944.
72.52 Linear Feet (131 boxes)
Related Names
Seymour, George Dudley, 1859-1945
Language of Materials