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Lossing (Benson John) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Arrangement
  • General
  • Related Materials

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Benson John Lossing papers
    Creator: Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891
    Identifier/Call Number: mssLS
    Physical Description: 17 Linear Feet (30 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1825-1906
    Date (bulk): 1848-1890
    Abstract: A collection of manuscripts and correspondence related to Benson John Lossing, American artist and historian.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Benson John Lossing papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The manuscripts and drawings were purchased from the Anderson Galleries, January 1917; the correspondence was purchased from Paul F. Hoag, 1960-1964. All the material was assembled at the Library into the Benson John Lossing papers.

    Biographical / Historical

    Benson John Lossing (1813-1891) was an American artist and historian. Lossing was born in Beekman, New York, his father was descended from a family of old Dutch stock and his mother was a Quaker; they both died during his childhood. He had little formal education and was mainly self-taught through reading history books. At the age of thirteen he was apprenticed to a Poughkeepsie watchmaker and was soon taken into partnership; at twenty-two, he became joint owner and editor of two local papers: "The Telegraph" and "The Casket," a monthly, which Lossing illustrated with wood engravings. Throughout his career he was author-illustrator of some thirty major works of history, as well as a collaborator on many other publications. He received several honorary degrees and was a member of numerous learned societies. On June 18, 1833, Lossing married his first wife Alice Barrit, who died in 1855; he married Helen Sweet in 1868. During his life, Lossing collected over 5,000 books and documents related to the American Revolution and the framing of the Constitution. He died at home in Dover Plains, New York, in June 1891.

    Scope and Contents

    A collection of material related to the life and work of Benson John Lossing. The collection includes his original manuscripts of published and unpublished works, travel notebooks, drawings, and sketches; also included are letters, chiefly addressed to Lossing, reflecting his literary interests and research methods. Many of the manuscripts include Lossing's notes, revisions, corrections, and additions. The published works include: The American Centenary (1876); The Empire State: A Compendious History of the Commonwealth of New York (1888); Our Countrymen, or, Brief Memoirs of Eminent Americans (1855); Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution (1850 to 1852); Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812 (1868); Harper's Popular Cyclopedia of United States History (1881), and other works. The pocket notebooks were kept by Lossing during his travels to the battlefields of the Civil War from 1864 to 1866.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Huntington Library Staff, circa 1920-1965. In 2022, Gayle Richardson created the finding aid derived from a legacy summary report.


    Arranged by subject and format.


    Individual call numbers included in the collection: mssLS 1-289.

    Related Materials

    Benson John Lossing papers addenda 1 (mssLS1); Benson John Lossing papers addenda 2 (mssLS2); Benson John Lossing papers addenda 3 (mssLossing3).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Artists -- United States
    Historians -- United States
    Illustrated books -- United States -- History -- 19th century
    Slavery -- United States -- History -- 19th century
    Travelers' writings, American
    United States -- Description and travel
    United States -- History
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
    Drawings (visual works) -- United States -- 19th century
    Histories (literary works) -- United States -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
    Notebooks -- United States -- 19th century
    Professional papers -- United States -- 19th century
    Research (documents) -- United States -- 19th century
    Shakers -- New York (State) -- New Lebanon -- History