Among them is a colonial plot to defraud Native Americans of ancestral land

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens recently announced that it has acquired a recently discovered archive documenting an 18th-century investigation into a land deal—the so-called Walking Purchase—that defrauded the Lenni Lenape (known to Europeans as Delawares) out of more than 1 million acres in Pennsylvania. The collection of 75 manuscripts includes affidavits, depositions, sworn testimonies, maps, and letters that document the inquiry, which involved not only the agents of Pennsylvania’s proprietors, Delawares, and Quakers, but also Benjamin Franklin (who represented the colony of Pennsylvania in London), the British military command, and the British Crown. The collection was purchased at The Huntington’s 23rd annual Library Collectors’ Council meeting last month. 

The Council also purchased three original illustrated Japanese handscrolls—one measuring 12 feet, and each of the other two extending more than 21 feet in length—that record U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s maritime expeditions to Japan in 1853 and 1854. The unknown artists carefully recorded the measurements and movements of Perry’s ships, American machinery and technology, and detailed renderings of American sailors, their uniforms, and American tools and weapons, providing a Japanese perspective on the foreign incursions. Perry’s military and diplomatic actions in Japan ushered in a new era of U.S. dominance in Asia and accelerated Japan’s transformation into an industrialized nation, starting in the late 19th century.

In addition, The Huntington acquired Sketches of Camp Boone, a rare published album with 20 original photographs depicting the military camp life of the Kentucky State Guard in 1860, shortly before the start of the U.S. Civil War. The photographs were made by two virtual unknowns—the Louisville firm of C. Alfred Garrett and George H. Nickerson—who worked quickly and used a portable darkroom to develop a series of carefully composed views depicting soldiers, armaments, equipment, and activities of the 3,000 members of the Guard.

The Council also acquired the archive of novelist Jeanette Garr Washburn Kelsey, daughter of Cadwallader Kelsey, a businessman and politician who founded General Mills Inc. At the heart of the archive is a 435-page illustrated manuscript memoir that tells the story of a 14-year relationship between Jeanette G. W. Kelsey and her confidante, the British author Julia Clara Pitt Byrne, who was a prolific journalist and author of popular travel accounts and gossipy memoirs, as well as more serious works that documented abuses in English workhouses. The archive also includes extensive correspondence with an array of female cultural movers and shakers on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as the Kelsey family of writers, architects, artists, inventors, lawyers, and activists.

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