Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Lafayette mss., 1572-1939, consist of correspondence and papers assembled around the central figure of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 1757-1834, general. Included are personages preceding and following the life span of the Marquis de Lafayette as well as those of his contemporaries of the period of the American and French Revolutions. Among these are 8 members of the Albany Conference of 1754, 36 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 27 of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the presidents of the United States from George Washington to Martin Van Buren and the rulers of England from Queen Anne to Queen Victoria, the rulers of France from Louis XIV to Louis Philippe, many of the outstanding figures of the Napoleonic Era and the Restoration period, and the members of the family of the Marquis de Lafayette.

The Lafayette household account book, 1814-1818, prepared by T. M. Pontonnier, which consists of forty leaves and is bound in modern red morocco, bears the approval signatures of General Lafayette and his son George Washington Lafayette with later appended dates of 1819, Jan. 1; May 18; and 1824, Jan. 30. The signature of W. P. Gardner on a fly leaf indicates the volume was formerly a part of the Gardner collection.

Most of the manuscripts are written either in English or French; four in Dutch (1674/5, Mar. 11; 1778, Mar. 29; 1790, Mar. 1; 1796, Aug. 19); seven in German (1749, Aug. 3; 1765, Jan. 5; 1785, Jan. 16; 1787, Jan. 28; 1808, Apr. 30; 1814, Apr. 1; 1824); one in Italian (1815, Dec. 4); five in Latin (1726, Mar. 26; 1726, Aug. 8; 1791; 1796, June 16; n.d. (Pius VII)); two in Russian (1790, June 10; 1808, Oct. 11).

The red wax seal of Lafayette bearing his cypher and surrounded by his motto "Cur Non" is found on the letter of the Marquis de Lafayette to Bushrod Washington on 1825, Aug. 13 (see Jules Cloquet, Recollections of the private life of General Lafayette, London, printed for Baldwin and Cradock, 1835, page 184 Lilly DC146 .L2 C6).

The manuscripts were collected by Walter Pennett Gardner, 1869-1949, banker of Jersey City, New Jersey, and include correspondence with his contemporaries about several Lafayette items. They were acquired from Gardner for Indiana University by George Alexander Ball, 1862-1955, manufacturer of Muncie, Indiana, acting for the Ball Brothers Foundation in 1947.

The material originally was mounted in fifty loose-leaf volumes and arranged so as to interleave the texts of four printed works; John Frederick Schroeder, Life and Times of Washington, Charlemagne Tower, The Marquis de Lafayette in the American Revolution, Brand Whitlock, La Fayette, and August Levasseur, Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825. The volumes, except for the two index volumes, have been dismantled, the manuscripts arranged chronologically, and the major portion of the printed illustrative material of pamphlets, broadsides and portraits distributed to the Book Department of Lilly Library.

The two bound volumes of the index and the two notebook copies of the index remain with the manuscript collection.

Published sources for the Lafayette mss. include: Roger Montmort, Antoine Charles du Houx, baron de Viomenil, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press, 1935 (E265 .V76); Memoirs of Lafayette...Boston...E.G. House, 1824, pages 214-215 (DC146 .L2 M5); Jared Sparks, Life of Gouverneur Morris, Boston, Gray and Bowen, 1832, 3 vols., vol. 1, pages 406-410 (E302.6 .M7 S7); Brand Whitlock, La Fayette, New York, D. Appleton, 1929, 2 vols., vol. II, between pages 22 and 23 and page 246 (DC146 .L2 W6); W.E. Woodward, Lafayette, New York, Farrar and Rinehart, 1938, pages 155-156 (Lilly DC146 .L2 W8); Manuscripts, Vol. X, No. 2, Spring 1958, page 14; The letters of Lafayette to Washington, 1777-1779, edited by Louis Gottschalk, privately printed by Helen Fahnestock Hubbard, New York, 1944 (E207 .W2 W18); Lafayette letters in the Bostonian Society, edited by Horace Henry Morse, Bostonian Society Publications, 2nd Series, Vol. IV, 1924 (F73.1 .B8 2nd series v. 4); Lafayette in Virginia, unpublished letters from the original manuscripts in the Virginia State Library and the Library of Congress, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press, 1928 (E237 .L16); Lida Rose McCabe, Ardent Adrienne, New York, D. Appleton, 1930, pages 296-298 (Indiana State Library, call no. 923 .L1611mc); Jules Cloquet, Recollections of the private life of General Lafayette, London, printed for Baldwin and Cradock, 1835, pages 294-295 (Lilly DC146 .L2 C6).

Printed matter includes the following: an envelope of commemorative postage stamps; two boxes of facsimile and printed correspondence, arranged chronologically 1067-1936; one folio container of oversize facsimile-printed correspondence; five boxes of pictures; four boxes of miscellaneous printed items; one folio container of oversize picture and printed material; one box of Marquis de Lafayette printed and pictorial material; one box of Gardner memorabilia; four boxes of Schroeder's Washington; two boxes of Tower's Lafayette; one box of Whitlock's La Fayette; one box of Lavasseur's Lafayette in America.

The original of the Lafayette letter to Friedrich List, 1824, July 13, which had arrived as a photocopy with the collection assembled by Gardner was acquired in November, 1972.

NOTE: Access to this collection requires advance notice. Please contact the Curator of Manuscripts for additional information.

Related manuscripts: Lafayette mss. II, Lafayette mss. III

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.