Irving Browning
Autograph Collection, ca. 1461-1911


Quantity: 2 boxes (0.50 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Purchase: Mrs. Hester V. Browning, December 1976
Processed By: Kay deGonzague, Student, State University of New York at Albany, April 2010

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Related Materials: Browning Autograph Collection (NY Mayors and Governors) | Browning Picture Collection

Biographical Note:

Irving Browning (1895-1961) was a photographer, actor and avant-garde filmmaker. He is known for his photographs of New York City during the Great Depression, the construction of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, photomontages of Times Square, and a short city symphony (a form of silent film) called City in Contrast.

Browning and his brother Sam ran a photography business in New York City and received commissions from magazines, advertising agencies and architects. In his spare time, Browning would photograph New York City showing contrast between the fine life, rich shoppers and the vibrant building industry of the city and the weary Hoovervilles, street merchants and the unemployed.

As an actor, Irving Browning starred in several silent films, Wake Up in Society (1918), His Matrimonial Moans (1918), His Silent Fate (1918) and Chumps and Chances (1917).

In addition to taking still photographs for films, Browning worked as a director, cinematographer and director of photography on films. He produced City in Contrast (1931), U.S. Military Academy (1940), the biopic Women in Photography (1941), and Babies by Bannister (1943), and was the cinematographer for Unmasked (1929) and the original version of House of Secrets (1929) with director Edmund Lawrence.

Browning donated over 1,889 gelatin silver photographic prints and ephemera to the New-York Historical Society. After his death, his childhood friend Ira Meistrich acquired thousands of his photographic negatives covering the years 1918-1938 that show the genesis of Radio City Hall and the Empire State Building. This collection was shown at the Gettysburg Festival of 2009.

Meistrich wrote a memorial piece for Browning for American Heritage., in which he said Browning was “fascinated by history” and his office was “an eclectic museum” filled with old cameras and Native American artifacts and weapons.

Scope and Content Note:

A collection of documents assembled by Irving Browning that is related to prominent public figures of New York State history.  The collection is organized into six series: Correspondence, New York State Court Documents, Military and Government, Legal Matters, Contracts and Business. The major part of the collection is correspondence, 82 items dating from 1733 through 1904, with the bulk of the letters dated from the late 1700s through the early 1800s.

The 15 items in the New York State Court Documents series includes papers related to cases heard in courts of common pleas and the New York City Mayor’s Court and date between 1713 and 1857. The seven documents related to the military or government date from 1796 to 1911 and include an 1815 certificate of appointment of 14 men as coroners. The six documents related to legal matters, dated between 1778 and 1801, deal mainly with estates, and the five indentured contracts, dated 1799 to 1853, deal mainly with land transactions. The 13 items in the business series, dating between 1772 and 1851, includes a 1799 document certifying Nicholas Fish as supervisor of the Port of New York. The last several folders hold documents that didn’t fit any of the other series.

This repository also holds two other collections assembled by Irving Browning: a collection of autographs of the mayors of New York City and the governors of New York State (SC16596), and a collection of portraits and views of people, places or items dating from the seventeenth century through the early twentieth century, many of which are related to the history of New York State. The engravings were created in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries (PRI3595).

Correspondence, 1733-1904

Box Folder Description Date
1 1 Auborn, Henry. New York, to  Hugh Peebles, Halfmoon, [N.Y.] May 30, 1797
1 2 Baldwin, T. B. Elmira, [N.Y.], to Secr[retary] of War James Barbour Ap[ril] 13, 1826
1 3 Benson, Robert. N.p., to Sam[ue]l Jones, Esq. June 11, 1798
1 4 Bloom, George. Poughkeepsie, [N.Y.], to Chief Justice Thompson, Albany [N.Y.] Nov[ember] 29, 1816
1 5 Breese, A. Utica [N.Y.], to Chief Justice Smith Thompson, Albany, [N.Y.] Nov[ember] 27, 1816
1 6 Broome, John. N.p. to Council of Appointments re: Capt. Thomas Hook for the position of harbor master Feb[ruar]y 8, 1796
1 7 Cadwalader, Thomas. Philadelphia, to Smith Thompson, New York June 1, 1824
1 7a Thompson, Smith. Poughkeepsie [N.Y.], to
T[homas] Cadwalader (on same letter as Item 7)
June, 7 1824
1 8 Carpenter, Tho[ma]s. New York, to John Fisher April 3, 1790
1 9 Carpenter, Tho[ma]s. New York, to John Fisher, Savannah, [Ga.] March 20, 1791
1 10 Cass, Joseph B. From the office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y., to Mr. B[urt?] n.d.
1 11 Chapin, Cyrenius. Washington, [D.C.], to Capt. Jasper Parrish, Canandaigua, N.Y. Aug[us]t 15, 1816
1 12 Church, J[ohn] B. New York, to Stephen Van Rensselaer March 22, 1815
1 13 Cullen, Geo[rge] W. Charleston S.C., to James T. Main, Esq., Troy, N.Y. June 13, 1855
1 14 Doughty, E. L. New York, to Smith Thompson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. July 8, 1831
1 15 Foote, Catherine. Newplaim [?],to Margaret Foote, Delhi, N.Y. August 12 [1810?]
1 16 Foote, Ch[arles] A. Delhi, [N.Y.], to Ebenezer Foote, Esq., New York July 3, 1818
1 17 Foote, Eli. Guilford, to E. . Foote March 22, 1784
1 18 Foote, Eli. New York, to Justin Foote, Farry Lowry Ap[ri]l 27, 1785
1 19 Foote, Erastus. Wiscasset, [Me.], to Joseph Williamson, Esq., County Atty., Belfast April 11, 1826
1 20 Foote, Harriet. Newburgh, to Ebenezer Foote, Esq., Delhi, Delaware County Feb[ruar]y 11, 1811
1 21 Foote, Justin. New York, to ‘My Dear E’ Feb. 23, [17]95
1 22 Foote, Justin. New York, to ‘Dear Brother’ [Ebenezer Foote] Thursday Morning 17[84]
1 23 Foote, Justin. New York, to Ebyor [Ebenezer] Foote, Crompond [N.Y.] April 23, 1784
1 24 Foote, Justin, New York, to Ebby [Ebenezer Foote], Crompond [N.Y.] May 31, 1784
1 25 Foote, M[aria]. N.p., to ‘My dear Father’ Saturday morning, ten o’clock [Sept. 1814]
1 26 Foote, Margaret. Delhi, [N.Y.], to [Ebenezer Foote, Esq.], New York November 29 [1810]
1 27 Foote, Richard. N.p., to Doct[e]r. David Stuart, Ossian Hall Sep[tember] 20, 1801
1 28 Hess, John. Camp Sullivan, to Geo[rge] W. Hess, Barbourville, Delaware Ave., N.Y. (with envelope) March 11, 1864
1 29 Hess, Joseph A. Morris Island, S.C., to George W. Hess, Barbourville, [N.Y.] (with envelope) August 31, 1865
1 30 Hillyer, W[illia]m S. Office of Revenue Agent, no 83, Cedar Street [IRS], to ‘the President’ Jan[uar]y 28, 1868
1 31 Hoffman, Josiah O. N.p., to ‘My good friends’ Saturday, April 1795
1 32 Hunt, W. Albany, [N.Y.], to Robinson  Nov. 2, 1850
1 33 Hunt, W. Albany, [N.Y.], to W[illia]m E. Robinson, Esq. Feb. 1, 1852
1 34 Jessup, Thomas J. Q[uarter] Master Gen[era]l Office, to Major J. Dalliba Comm[an]d[er]., Watervliet, [N.Y.] Jan[uar]y 16, 1824
1 35 Jessup, Thomas. Washington, [D.C.], to S.L. Southard, Secretary of the Navy, Washington City Nov. 26, 1828
1 36 Jones, Samuel. New York, to Egbert Benson, Esq., Philadelphia December 31, 1790
1 37 Lansing, John Jr. Albany, [N.Y.], to Governor Clinton February 10, 1804
1 38 Little, Jonathan. Estate of James Cooper to Smith Thompson, Poughkeepsie, [N.Y.] June 8, 1795
1 39 Livingston, William. New York, to Peter Van Schaack, Kinderhook, [N.Y.] May 26, 1787
1 40 Lloyd, J. H. Headquarters, Third Brigade, N.G.N.Y., to Major James H Manning, Albany, [N.Y.] (with envelope with stamp) Troy postmark May 26, 1904
1 41 Macomb, Ali [Alexander]. Washington, [D.C.], to John St., Eaton Jan. 4, 1829
1 42 Mather, George. Plattsburgh, [N.Y.], to Isiah Townsend, Albany, N.Y. Feb[uar]y 24, 1815
1 43 Melvill, Allan. New York, to Thomas J. Rogers, Esq., Washington, [D.C.] (with transcript) Feb[uar]y 22, 1823
1 44 Mitchell, William. Walton, West Branch of the Delaware, to Sam[ue]l Leatham, Londonderry, Ireland August 8, 1805
1 45 Morris, Thomas. New York, to William P. Van Ness Esq., Albany, [N.Y.] April 2, 1811
1 46 Morris, Thomas. New York, to Judge William P. Van Ness, City of Hudson Post Office, Columbia County June 8, 1811
1 47 Morris, Thomas. New York, to William P Van Ness Kinderhook, Columbia County, [N.Y.] July 17, 1811
1 48 Morris, Thomas. New York – no addressee Jan[uar]y 14, 1812
1 49 Morris, Thomas. N[ew] York – no addressee Nov. 29 1812
1 50 Morris, Thomas. New York, to Judge W[illiam] P. Van Ness, Kinderhook, [N.Y.] Dec[embe]r 16, 1817
1 51 Morris, Thomas. New York, to W[illia]m P. Van Ness, Kinderhook, [N.Y.] Dec[embe]r 27 1817
1 52 Morris, Thomas. New York, to Charles E. Dudley,  Senate of the U. S., Washington, [D.C.] March 4, 1829
1 53 Morris, Thomas. New York – no addressee [William Morris?] March 6, 1829
1 54 Murray, Jos[eph]. N.p., to James Delancey March 25, 1733
1 55 North, Gen. New York, to Elkanah Watson, Albany, [N.Y.] June 3, 1819
1 56 Oothout, Magdalen. New York, to Smith Thompson, Washington, [D.C.] June 7, 1823
1 57 Page, Maria. N.p., to Major North n.d. [1786?]
1 58 Porter, P[eter] A. Niagara Falls, to Doctor Shelton May 29, 1861
1 59 Potter, P. Poughkeepsie, [N.Y.], to Smith Thompson, Albany, [N.Y.] Nov. 13, 1816
1 60 Randall, Henry I. Cortland Village, N.Y., to Nicholas P. Trist, Esq. Ap[ri]l 6, 1864
1 61 Rudd, T[heron]. N.p., to Smith Thompson, Albany, [N.Y.] Jan[uar]y 1818
1 62 Scott, Winfield. N.p., to Gen. Andrew Jackson – copies of several letters Aug. 14, 1817-Jan. 2, 1818
1 63 Shipboy, Thomas. Albany, [N.Y.], to Evert Banker, Jr., Esq., New York April 19, 1791
1 64 Shmik, Francis J. N.p., to Gen. J. Watts de Peyster, Watervliet Arsenal, [N.Y.] February 5, 1855
1 65 Simpson, John. Newark, to Ebenezer Foote, Crompond, N.Y. June 2, 1784
1 66 Stryker, J[ames]. Albany, [N.Y.], to Alfred B. Street, Esq. April 11, [18]50
1 67 Stryker, Peter. New York, to Peter Low; Esopus, [N.Y.] Dec[embe]r 4, 1784
1 68 Ten Eyck, Abraham R. N.p., to Stephen Van Rensselaer, Albany, [N.Y.] Sept[embe]r 19, 1804
1 69 Tillotson, Thomas. New York, to William Cockburn, Clermont, [N.Y.] Oct[obe]r  8, 1784
1 70 Trimble, George. Poughkeepsie, [N.Y.], to Ebenezer Foote Crompond, [N.Y.] June 2, 1785
1 71 Vanderkemp, Francis A. N.p., to Benj[amin] Walker, Utica, [N.Y.] Oct. 16, 1800
1 72 Vanderlyn, J. New York, to Alderman Schieffelin, 193 Pearl St. March 25, 1826
1 73 Vanderzee, Teunnis. New Baltimore, to David McCarty, Coeymans, [N.Y.] July 21, 1794
1 74 Van Gaasbeck, Peter. Kingston, [Mass.], to [Ebenezer] Foote Nov[embe]r 8, 1796
1 75 Van Rensselaer, K.K. Albany, [N.Y.], to General Ira Allen, Colchester, Vt. Feb[ruar]y 20, 1795
1 76 Van Rensselaer, S. New York, to Abraham Van Vechten Esq., Albany, [N.Y.] Jan. 26, 1795
1 77 Van Rensselaer, S. to Major General S. Van Rensselaer Albany postmark April 6 [no year]
1 78 Verplanck, Gulian. New York, to Alexander Hamilton, Esq., Philadelphia February 8, 1792
1 79 Ward, John. St. John, to Ebenezer Foote, A. New York July 20, 1788
1 80 Washburn, Israel, Portland, to J.S. Monill Jan[uar]y 28, 1865
1 81 Wool, John E. Troy, New York, to W[illia]m P. Fessenden (letter mounted with picture) July 21, 1842
1 82 Wool, John E. Troy, [N.Y.], to Major Davis, Doylestown, Penn. Dec[embe]r 17, 1851

New York State Court Documents, 1713-1857

Box Folder Description Date
2 83 Return of Commissioners of Albany Court of Common Pleas re: Catskill patent for division of lots 3 & 4; Leonard Bronck, Josiah Winnie, and John Brandon;  Assistant Judges Elbert Willet & Philip L. Van Rensselaer October 5, 1799
2 84 Resolution relative to the Heirs of Anneke Jans Bogardus vs. Trinity Church. Printed form, New York Council of Revisions February 16, 1857
2 85 The King [George the Second] v. Joseph Forman. Narration on the debt of bond. D.S. John Tabor Kempe, Atty. Gen.   April 1, 1758
2 86 Indictment of William Tribe for assault and battery on Mary Nicholson. D.S. Jacob Brewerton February 2, 1773
2 87 Order of investigation for Green v. Prendergast. D.S. John Wilkes, Notary Public, New York City April 21, 1804
2 88 John Hephens v. James and Margaret Elms. D.S. John Dyer November 10, [1713]
2 89 New York City Mayor’s Court. Assignment relative to Peter Colwell v. Daniel Loorht. D.S. David Jamison October 4, 1717
2 90 New York City Mayor’s Court. Narration relative to the case of Godfrey Lydeback v. William Betts. D.S. Thomas Smith August 13, 1761
2 91 New York City Mayor’s Court. Narration relative to the case of Thomas Smith v. Edward  Patten. D.S. William Tapp and Edward Patten September 3, 1789
2 92 New York City Mayor’s Court. Affidavit relative to the case of Yellis Bartholf v. Garret Bartholf. D.S. Robert Morris, Attorney January 12, 1790
2 93 New York City Mayor’s Court. Narration relative to the case of John Barnes & Robert Gilbert Livingston v. Andrew Billings & Peter Stuyvesant. D.S. Thomas Smith, Attorney April 12, 1790
2 94 New York City Mayor’s Court. Narration relative to the case of James Barry v. David Hennessy. D.S. Charles Richardson, Attorney June 16, 1794
2 95 New York City Mayor’s Court. Transcript of record relative to the case of James Duff v. Francis Roach. D.S. Richard Harrison Aug. 6, 1799
2 96 Orange County Court of Common Pleas. Narration relative to the case of Joseph Wadsworth v. James Wadsworth, Hezekiah Taylor and Paul Lee. D.S. John Duer 1808
2 97 Schoharie Court of Common Pleas. Panel of Jurors. D.S. Jacob Livingston n.d.

Military and Government, 1796-1911

Box Folder Description Date
2 98 Ulster County supervisor’s certificate of elections May 31, 1796
2 99 Certificate of appointment of Andrew McCord, James Burt and James Graham for a road inspection in Orange County; counter-signed by B. DeWitt. D.S. George Clinton April 4, 1800
2 100 Certificate of appointment of Richard H. Vary and 13 others as coroners, Rensselaer County, N.Y. D.S. Daniel D. Tompkins,  Governor; Peter B. Porter, secretary March 15, 1815
2 101 Military exemption for Lewis W. Leamy signed by Brig. Gen. William Hall and Col. Thomas F. De Voe June 27, 1853
2 102 One mounted engraving of a photograph of Daniel Manning with attached personal check from National Commercial Bank made out to George W. Bender for $42.  Check’s date: March 15, 1882, n.d. on picture
2 103 Three notices of death of Brig. Gen. James H. Lloyd, general orders 3, 14 and 25 of Albany; printed forms May 22, 1911
2 104  Photographs of Major General John E. Wool (10 items) No dates

Legal Matters, 1778-1801

Box Folder Description Date
2 105 Certification of the authenticity of the last will and testament of John Marschalk (copy enclosed). D.S. Samuel Bayard August 4, 1778
2 106 Citation to David Matthews to produce an inventory and account as sole executor of the estate of David Provoost. D.S. Samuel Bayard October 23, 1783
2 107 Power of Attorney: George Ormsby of Tobervaddy,  Roscommon County, Ireland, to James Morris to care for inheritance from Captain John Ormsby, Queens County, N.Y. April 26, 1790
2 108 Deposition I before the Court Duchess County, N.Y., relative to the receipt of produce from the estate of John Holloway. D.S. Jeronimus Rapalje, October 23, 1801
2 109 Opinion relative to the settlement of the estate of John Van Benthuysen. D.S. Peter W. Yates n.d.
2 110 Draft of an opinion relative to the deed of conveyance between Stephen Van Rensselaer and L. Rysdorp. D.S. Peter W. Yates May 6, 1792

Indentured Contracts, 1799-1853

Box Folder Description Date
2 111 J. [name crossed out] indentured to Atkinson P. Ferguson,  Esopus, Ulster County, N.Y. February 26,  ----
2 112 Deed: Livingston Billings, Randall S. Street, for lot number 20 in the division of Great Lot 2 in the Hardenburgh Patent, N.Y. September 21, 1818
2 113 Lease: William Briggs to John Frost, dwelling house in Croton, Westchester County, N.Y. 1841
2 114 Warranty deed: Luther and Ann Hannum to Charles and Amelia Smith, land in Oswego County August 18, 1853
2 115 Conveyance: John and Rebekah Vreelandt  to Frederick Devoe for lot of ground being situated in the 7th Ward of New York City May 10, 1799

Business, 1772-1851

Box Folder Description Date
2 116 Alsop, John. Account of received funds from Elias Desbrosses, W. Jauncey, Philip Livingston, J. Roorbach, and others Aug. 10-Nov. 12, 1772
2 117 Brett, Robert. Promissory note to Peter Monfoort May 29, 1783
2 118 Fish, Nicholas. Certification as supervisor of Port of New York; countersigned by John Lasher, inspector Nov. 5, 1799
2 119 New York – Port of New York, Owner of Consignee’s Oath on Entering Merchandise [8 items] March 5, 1802-May 20, 1804
2 120 New York – Port of New York, Owner of Consignee’s Oath on Entering Merchandise [20 items] April 12, 1810-May 1, 1810
2 121 New York – Port of New York, Owner of Consignee’s Oath on Entering Merchandise [21 items] Sept. 8, 1810-Sept. 11, 1810
2 122 New York – Port of New York, Owner of Consignee’s Oath on Entering Merchandise [20 items] Sept. 12, 1810-Sept. 28, 1810
2 123 Account of Johannis E. Lott and Cornelius V.D. Veers against executors of Cornelius Van Duyn’s estate June 10, 1785 - Feb. 3, 1787
2 124 Shepherd, William. Receipt of payment from Timothy Church Oct. 27, 1786
2 125 Smith, Melancton. Account of notes, hand delivered, belonging to partnership of Melancton and Samuel Smith August 23, 1788
2 126 Smith & Wyckoff receipt and bill to Captain James Cooper June 28, 1787
2 127 Spinner, F.E. Three receipts and bills to R.H. Pomeroy 18 April 1848, 12 June 1848, 19 May 1851
2 128 Waldron, James. Receipt against estate of David Verplanck paid by Daniel Van Antwerp August 29, 1776

Miscellaneous Documents, 1461(?)-1864

Box Folder Description Date
2 129 Vroman family account of payments (in Dutch) June 17, 1752
2 130 Unknown document (in French) 1532
2 131 Unknown document with seal (possibly Latin) 1461 (?)
2 132 Envelope addressed to R.P. King, postmarked Georgetown June 3, 1861
2 132 Letter addressed to Major Manning, unsigned, on Utica, New York’s Surgeon General Office stationery 1840 (?)
2 132 Recollections of W[illia]m Gorham Esq., Canandaigua, N.Y. November 1864
2 132 Envelope addressed to Aubrey H. Smith from Sylvester Wolle and others, marked ‘contract for engraving’ July 28, 1862
2 132 Cut letter to Charles Manning from J[oh]n F. Hogeboom re: Cha[rle]s Foote Oct 26, 1838
    Items on original inventory list not found in April 2010  
Frost, William  to D. G. Calb (with receipt) May 20, 1804
Wadsworth, Joseph to Frances D. Wadsworth May 1808
Last Updated: May 24, 2021