Archives and Collections
Located in the Paddock Mansion
The Society maintains a collection of over 100,000 artifacts, including letters, portraits, photographs, American Indian artifacts, militaria, textiles, clothing, farm implements, furniture, and even automobiles. Some of our more outstanding collections include Victorian costumes once owned by Emma Flower Taylor, the Tyler Coverlet Collection, Paddock Estate furniture, over 15,000 Huested glass plate negatives from the Huested Photography Studio, and large number of G.A.R- and Civil War- related artifacts.
The collections are stored in our 4,500 sq. ft. curation facility which is atmospherically controlled and monitored. The collections are protected by a modern security and fire alarm system that instantly alerts city fire and police in case of emergency.
The archives are open for research by appointment only. Please contact the Collections Manager to arrange for an appointment. A $10/day access fee applies for non-members. This fee supports our staff's time helping you and the care of our archive collection. Please note: we cannot accept research requests via phone or e-mail. As much as we'd like to be able to help everyone, our limited staff and funding simply do not allow us to provide research. If you would like us to query our catalog system for you, please send a check for the $10 query fee along with a SASE. We'll return a listing of what we have in our archives pertaining to your subject. Please consult the Jefferson County Genealogy Society website or NNY Genealogy for help with research.
To make your research visit to the archives as productive as possible, please visit the Archives Frequently Asked Questions page.
Interested in donating an artifact to the Society? Please read our Artifact Donation Guidelines.
The manuscript collection contains unique hand- and typewritten letters, diaries, account books, records of governments and organizations, and research notes. The collection is particularly strong in land surveys, agriculture, railroads, personal accounts of military conflicts, religion, emigration, government and politics, and early crafts and trades. For the most part the Manuscript Collections are organized by donor and/or subject. At this time there is limited cross referencing by individuals. Significant collections include:
|Governor Roswell P. Flower papers||First Presbyterian Church records|
|Robert Lansing papers||Joe Spratt G.A.R. Post records|
|Paddock papers||Isaac & Ethel Bronson papers|
|Sherman family papers||Benjamin Wright ledgers|
Books and pamphlets
One of he largest group of materials in the archives are books and pamphlets that date from the early-1800s to the present and cover all aspects of New York history. Most of the books and pamphlets are located in the archives' library, which also has materials related to the history of other surrounding states and neighboring Canada. Notable within the collection are histories of Jefferson County dating from the mid-1800s, Watertown and Jefferson County Business Directories from 1840 to present, and numerous histories of Jefferson County and New York participation in various conflicts starting with the French & Indian War.
The archives' library of the Jefferson County Historical Society is a non-circulating research library, so no materials may leave the museum.
Contained within the map collection are some of the earliest maps of the City of Watertown and Jefferson County. The collection includes atlases, railroad maps, highway department city and county maps, late-1700s and early-1800s survey maps, and the Sanborn Insurance Maps for the City of Watertown.
The photograph collection may be the library's most popular holding. Among the most important images in the collection are the glass plate negatives of Herbert Huested and the Oren Johnston Studio. The majority of the photographs are arranged in the picture files by size and subject; glass plate negatives, daguerreotypes, stereoviews, family photo albums and postcards are filed separately. A photographic duplication service is available for a fee.
The digitization of our paper and photographic collections is progressing; however, the volume of material precludes putting most of it online. To provide as much information as possible to researchers, an index and samples of major collections will be available once a substantial portion of the collection has been digitized. In keeping with that, the following collections are now available for online review:
|Huested Studio Collection||Johnston Studio Collection|
|Gégoux Art Collection||Tyler Coverlet Collection|
|Kinne Water Turbine Collection|