Henry Stevens papers (1812-1935)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Cheney J. Schopieray, August 2009, and Meg Hixon, November 2012
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Henry Stevens papers
Creator: Henry Stevens, Son & Stiles
Inclusive dates: 1812-1935
Extent: 2 linear feet
This collection is made up of correspondence, letter books, and transcriptions by rare book dealer and bibliographer Henry Stevens. The material primarily concerns his work obtaining books for prominent private collectors and libraries in the United States in the mid-19th century.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

Donated, 1934-1954. M-228, M-230, M-249, M-250, M-950, M-2535.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation

Henry Stevens Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:
  • Series I: Correspondence and Documents
  • Series II: Letter and Account Books
  • Series III: Henry Stevens Transcriptions and Notes

The Correspondence and documents series is arranged by correspondent and subject.


Henry Stevens was born in Barnet, Vermont, on August 24, 1819, the son of Henry Stevens, Sr., and Candace Salter. He attended several academies and preparatory schools before matriculating at Middlebury College in 1838. In 1840, he left for Yale College; he received a bachelor's degree in 1843 and an honorary master's degree ( in absentia ) in 1846. Stevens worked for Peter Force for two years, identifying and copying historical books and manuscripts. He left for London, England, in 1845. In London, he established himself as a dealer of rare books and manuscripts, and his clients included prominent collectors such as James Lenox and John Carter Brown.

On February 25, 1854, Stevens married Mary Newton Kuczynski, a widow, and they had one son, Henry Newton Stevens (b. June 7, 1855). Henry Stevens died on February 28, 1886. In 1885, Henry Newton Stevens became a partner in his father's firm, then called Henry Stevens & Son, and in 1895 Robert E. Stiles joined the firm, which then became Henry Stevens, Son and Stiles.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of correspondence, letter books, and transcriptions by rare book dealer and bibliographer Henry Stevens and his company. The material primarily concerns his work obtaining books for prominent private collectors and libraries in the United States in the mid-19th century.

The Correspondence and Documents series primarily consists of incoming letters to Henry Stevens about his book business. The correspondence concerns book catalogues, purchases, exhibitions, and other professional matters. Letters and documents from prominent individuals include materials from John Carter Brown (71 items), Obadiah Rich (26 items), and others. A small group of personal letters between members of the Stevens family, notes and drafts by Henry Stevens, and financial documents are also present. See the contributor list below for a partial list of letter-writers.

Seven items in this series pertain to Stevens's American Historical Nuggets, including manuscript and printed mock-ups of the title page and first page of the introduction. The papers also contain a manuscript of "Who Spoils our new English Books."

A group of 16 Letter and Account Books comprises the bulk of the collection. The volumes primarily contain outgoing business correspondence of Henry Stevens, related to his work as a bookseller and bibliographer in London, England. Recipients included John Carter Brown, Samuel Drake, William Deane, Charles B. Norton, and members of the Stevens family. The volumes also contain financial records.

The series pertains to the acquisition of materials for the libraries and individuals, including the following:
  • A. Asher & Co.
  • American Antiquarian Society
  • American Europe Express Company
  • Amherst College Library
  • Astor Library
  • Bodleian Library
  • British Museum.
  • Edinburgh University Library
  • Fry, Francis
  • Harvard College Library
  • Irving & Willey
  • Lawrence, Abbott.
  • Lenox, James.
  • Mercantile Library Association of the City of New-York
  • New York State Library
  • Pennsylvania State Library
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • United States Patent Office
  • University of Vermont Library
  • Vermont State Library
  • Virginia State Library
  • Yale College Library

The Henry Stevens Transcriptions and Notes series contains five transcriptions that Henry Stevens (1819-1886) made in the mid-19th century. The documents concern the years prior to the American Revolution, the New Hampshire Grants, Arthur St. Clair's defeat, and the Sullivan Rail Road.

The series contains the following items:
  • "Dr. Stiles' Account of the False Alarm in 1774" (By Ezra Stiles)
  • "Observations on the Right of Jurisdiction Claimed by the States of New York and New Hampshire, over the New Hampshire Grants (So Called) Lying on Both Sides of Connecticut River, in a Letter to the Inhabitants of those Grants" (Originally printed by E. Russel in Danvers, Massachusetts, 1778)
  • "A Public Defence of the Right of the New Hampshire Grants (So Called)..." (Originally printed by Alden Spooner, 1779)
  • "Lieut. Michl. McDonoughs Letter to His Brother. Dated at Fort Washington, Nov. 10, 1791"
  • "A Sermon Preached at Charlestown, N. H., on the First Sunday after the Opening of the Sullivan Rail Road, by J. Crosby" (By Jaazaniah Crosby, ca. 1849)

Subject Terms

  • American Antiquarian Society.
  • Amherst College. Library.
  • Astor Library.
  • Bodleian Library.
  • Book collecting.
  • Book collectors.
  • British Museum.
  • Edinburgh University Library.
  • Fry, Francis.
  • Harvard College Library.
  • Irving & Willey.
  • Lawrence, Abbott.
  • Lenox, James.
  • Masonian Patent (N.H.)
  • Mercantile Library Association of the City of New-York.
  • New York State Library.
  • Pennsylvania State Library.
  • Rare books.
  • Smithsonian Institution.
  • Sullivan Railroad Company.
  • United States--History--French and Indian War, 1754-1763.
  • United States. History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
  • United States. Patent Office.
  • University of Vermont. Library.
  • Vermont State Library.
  • Virginia State Library.
  • Yale College (1718-1887) Library.
  • A. Asher & Co.
  • Allibone, S. Austin (Samuel Austin), 1816-1889.
  • Arber, Edward, 1836-1912.
  • Barlow, Samuel L. M. (Samuel Latham Mitchill), 1826-1889.
  • Bartlett, John Russell, 1805-1886.
  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887.
  • Blades, William, 1824-1890.
  • Bradshaw, Henry, 1831-1886.
  • Brown, John Carter, 1797-1874.
  • Cesnola, Luigi Palma di, 1832-1904.
  • Dana, James Dwight, 1813-1895.
  • Deane, Charles, 1813-1889.
  • Drake, Samuel Adams, 1833-1905.
  • Drake, Samuel Gardner, 1798-1875.
  • Draper, Lyman Copeland, 1815-1891.
  • Drexel, Joseph W.
  • Frémont, John Charles, 1813-1890.
  • Frothingham, Richard, 1812-1880.
  • Gilman, Daniel Coit, 1831-1908.
  • Gilmor, Robert, 1774-1848.
  • Helps, Arthur, Sir, 1813-1875.
  • Kohl, J. G. (Johann Georg), 1808-1878.
  • Lenox, James, 1800-1880.
  • Lieber, Francis, 1800-1872.
  • Livermore, George, 1809-1865.
  • Major, Richard Henry, 1818-1891.
  • Murphy, Henry Cruse, 1810-1882.
  • Palfrey, John Gorham, 1796-1881.
  • Parkman, Francis, 1823-1893.
  • Pearson, John.
  • Pennypacker, Samuel W. (Samuel Whitaker), 1843-1916.
  • Quaritch, Bernard, 1819-1899.
  • Rich, O. (Obadiah), 1777-1850.
  • Shea, John Gilmary, 1824-1892.
  • Smith, Buckingham, 1810-1871.
  • Smith, Joseph.
  • Squier, E. G. (Ephraim George), 1821-1888.
  • Stevens, Benjamin Franklin, 1833-1902.
  • Stevens, Henry, 1819-1886.
  • Tenney, Harriet A. (Harriet Augusta), 1834-1899.
Genre Terms:
  • Accounts.
  • Drafts (documents)
  • Essays.
  • Invoices.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Notes.
  • Receipts (financial records)
  • Sermons.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Correspondence and Documents [series]
Box   1  
Incoming letters and financial documents to Henry Stevens
Letter and account books [series]
Box   2  
Volume 1:  1846 March 30-1846 May 16
Volume 2:  1846 May 16-1846 August 15
Volume 3:   1846 August 15-1846 November 14
Volume 4:  1846 December-1847 February 3
Volume 5:  1847 February 28-1847 July 18
Volume 6:  1847 July 19-1847 September 6
Volume 7:  [1847 November?]
Volume 8:  1850 May 15-1852 February 14 (474 pages)
Volume   9  
 1852 February 14-1853 July 19 (461 pages)
Box   3  
Volume 10:  1853 July 10-1855 April 17 (473 pages)
Volume 11:  1855 May 4-1856 June 13 (484 pages)
Box   2  
Volume 12:  1856 June 21-1859 March 12 (516 pages)
Volume   13  
 1859 March 14-1860 January 21 (518 pages)
Box   4  
Volume 14:  1860 January 21-1860 November 21 (487 pages)
Volume 15:  1861 August 20-1862 January 25 (506 pages)
Box   5  
Volume 16:  1863 August 17-1864 March 12 (519 pages)
Volume 17:  1865 September 7-1866 July 14 (500 pages)
Henry Stevens transcriptions and notes [series]
Volume   T1  
Dr. Stiles' Account of the False Alarm in 1774 (apparently from Ezra Stiles' diary). With additional accounts and a map showing the travel of news of the Powder Alarm in the days after September 1.
Volume   T2  
Observations on the Right of Jurisdiction claimed by the States of New York and New Hampshire, over the New Hampshire Grants... Danvers: E. Russell, 1778.
Volume   T3  
A Public Defence of the right of the New Hampshire Grants... Dresden: Alden Spooner, 1779.
Volume   T4  
Lieut. Michl. McDonoughs Letter to this Brother [Patrick McDonough] Dated at Fort Washington, November 10, 1791. St. Clair's Defeat.
Volume   T5  
A Sermon preached at Charlestown, N.H. on the first Sunday after the opening of the Sullivan Rail Road, by J[aazaniah] Crosby, ca. 1846.

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

The William L. Clements Library acquired many books through Henry Stevens Son & Stiles. Published works by Stevens (1819-1886) and Stevens (1855-1930) may be found by searching the library's online catalog.

UCLA holds an extensive collection of Henry Stevens papers, and other repositories have smaller collections of Stevens material.


Parker, Wyman W. Henry Stevens of Vermont: American Rare Book Dealer in London, 1845-1886. Amsterdam: N. Israel, 1963.