Lafayette College 
The Marquis de Lafayette Collections

The Manuscript Collection, 1777 - 1889

 The Marquis de Lafayette Manuscript Collection, 1777 - 1889 (4 linear feet -- 11 boxes), consists of approximately 350 manuscript pieces and is divided into four series:
Series I. Hubbard Collection (Box 1-4) Inventory
Series II. Letters (Box 5-7) Inventory
Series III. Documents and Miscellaneous Manuscripts (Box 8) Inventory
Series IV. Manuscripts in Copy (Box 9-11) Inventory
Series I (Box 1-4) consists of approximately 200 letters written by Lafayette to George Washington presented by Mrs. John Hubbard of New York.  These letters had been returned to Lafayette from Mount Vernon by Washington's nephew Bushrod Washington in response to a request from Lafayette in 1811.  In his December 15, 1811 letter to Bushrod Washington, Lafayette lamented the loss of his papers "in the revolutionary storms of Europe" and asked that his letters and copies of General Washington's letters be sent to him.  These letters remained at Lafayette's home outside Paris, LaGrange, until after World War I, when they were sold to Mrs. Hubbard.  Most of the letters of this collection date from the American Revolution and are extremely valuable as primary sources describing the military strategies employed by the American and French forces against the British.  The letters record the development of the special friendship between Lafayette and Washington.  Lafayette often refers to himself as Washington's "adopted son," and his admiration of the general is eloquently revealed in his letters, from the earliest ones written from Valley Forge in 1777 to the 1790 letter by which Lafayette sends to Washington the key to the Bastille.

The majority of the manuscripts in the Hubbard Collection are signed autograph letters, with the exception of four letters in copy with Lafayette's signature and 55 letters bound in a "Letter Copy-Book" of 1781.  All letters are written in English, with approximately half sent from military camps in America and half from France.  Most letters appear on sheets measuring 7" x 9", with a few smaller.  Close to 30 of these letters are on larger sheets in small folio, measuring about 8" x 13".  81 letters have been docketed in Washington's hand, usually on the reverse of the last sheet, with the note "From Marq. de la Fayette" and the date of the letter.  Seven letters in the Hubbard Collection also contain deciphering of Lafayette's military code in Washington's hand.  Lafayette indicates locations and military forces using this coded numbering system; Washington's deciphering of the code appears above each number within the manuscript as seen here in the letter of  March 30, 1782.

The Letter Copy-Book in the Hubbard Collection contains copies of 55 letters written from Lafayette to Washington in the year 1781.  This bound volume of letters is very possibly one created in response to a request made by Lafayette to Washington's nephew George Augustine Washington for copies of his letters written to the general during the Yorktown Campaign.  "When I grow old," he wrote in a letter of December 22, 1781, "I will find great satisfaction in reading over correspondence during the last campaign."  The original manuscripts for which there are copies in the Letter-Copy Book are located at the Library of Congress as well as the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Lafayette College.  Four of the original manuscripts are part of the Lafayette College Hubbard Collection.  In two cases, the original manuscripts have been lost, only existing as copies in the Hubbard Letter Copy-Book.

A card index to the Hubbard manuscripts is available at the repository.  This exhaustive index is arranged alphabetically and includes names, places, and important events mentioned in Lafayette's letters to George Washington.  Each letter is also listed chronologically in a separate card inventory which briefly summarizes the contents of every manuscript in this collection.  Only the individual letters have been indexed; there is no index to the contents of the Letter Copy-Book of 1781.

Series II (Box 5-7) is comprised of manuscript letters written by, to, and about the Marquis de Lafayette.  These manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by sender's name.  Of the more than one hundred letters housed in this part of the manuscript collection, most are signed autograph letters written by Lafayette.  These manuscripts date from 1777 to 1858 and their contents relate to a range of historical topics, most notably the American Revolution.

Series III (Box 8) contains manuscript documents and other miscellaneous manuscripts arranged chronologically, most of which carry the signature of Lafayette.  The bulk of the documents date from 1789 to 1833 and reflect Lafayette's involvement in the political uprisings in France at the time.  One of the most noteworthy of these documents is Lafayette's manuscript address to the American House of Representatives during his Farewell Tour of 1824-25 (Box 8, Folders 13-14).  Miscellaneous manuscripts include manuscript pieces written by others about Lafayette, such as a poem written after his death in 1834 (Box 8, Folders 29-30).

Manuscripts in copy are located in Series IV (Box 9-11).  These items are organized chronologically and include photocopies, transcriptions, and facsimiles of Lafayette manuscripts.  The original manuscripts for these copies are held at various repositories or in private collections throughout the world.

[Complete inventory to the Marquis de Lafayette Manuscript Collection]
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