Scope and arrangement
This collection spans multiple generations and consists of mostly 19th- and 20th-century family correspondence, financial and legal documents, diaries, writings, scrapbooks, personal miscellany, photographs and genealogical research. The papers reflect the personal, social, economic, and professional histories of these related families.
The papers are divided into eight series. The first five are devoted papers of the Butler, Clinch, Cooke, Huntington, and Smith families. These papers fall into some combination of correspondence, financial and legal documents, and personal papers. The personal papers contain such material as diaries, writings, scrapbook content and other personal miscellany. The three remaining series are given over to photographs, genealogical papers, and the Davis family papers, which contain land deeds and a map.
Correspondence in this collection is copious, especially in the Butler and Huntington papers, and gives descriptions of family affairs and everyday life in the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. Although the bulk of the correspondence is personal, there are some letters regarding professional issues and associations. These types of letters can be found within the Custom House papers of Charles P. Clinch, letters regarding Josiah Parson Cooke's academic career, James Clinch Smith's letters received and the letters of Charles E. Butler and his son Prescott Hall Butler, which give insight into their careers as prominent lawyers in New York City.
In addition, notable correspondents within the Butler papers include George Santayana and Charles McKim. Santayana had a life-long friendship with Lawrence Smith Butler, and his letters are in Lawrence's correspondence. Mention of Stanford White along with McKim, Mead and White's designs, are present in correspondence between Prescott Hall Butler and Cornelia Smith Butler.
Financial and legal papers throughout the collection reflect the numerous homes and large amount of land that the families owned in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially the Butlers and Smiths. Many of these properties ended up with the Huntington children and later financial documents concerning these properties are within the Huntington financial and legal papers. Legal documents kept in Charles E. Butler's scrapbook are also of interest. In addition to some 18th-century deeds, there is also a release from mortgage signed by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was one of Charles E. Butler's clients.
Diaries and travel writings give insight into the lives of the family members. Hannah Hinckley Huntington and her twin sister Mary Hinckley's diaries and writings from the early to mid-19th century document life from a woman's perspective in small town Massachusetts. In contrast, Prescott Hall Butler's diary is written from the perspective of a wealthy lawyer in late-19th-century New York City. The children of Prescott Hall Butler and Cornelia Smith Butler also kept diaries, both personal and travel. Lawrence Smith Butler's diaries date from 1885-1916 and then again from 1941-1953. He and his sister, Susan Butler Huntington's travel writings from the early 20th century, document their excursions around the world.
The photographs consist of many portraits of family members, and also numerous images which depict the travel and leisure activities of the families. There are also many photographs of the families' properties in New York City, Long Island, and parts of Massachusetts.
The genealogical papers reflect Madge Huntington Cooper and other family members' research into the family genealogies. A rough draft of Charles S. Butler's "Butler and Allied Families" gives detail on the lives of many members of the families in this collection.
Within all series, folders are filed alphabetically; married woman in the collection are filed by their married names with maiden names expressed as the middle name. In many of the folders, there is a list of folder contents in the front of the folder prepared by Madge Huntington Cooper. When this is the case, it is stated in that line of the container list.
The Butler-Huntington-Smith family papers are arranged in eight series:
The Butler family papers are rich in family correspondence, financial and legal documents, and diaries. They mostly consist of the papers of Charles E. Butler, his son Prescott Hall Butler and Prescott's wife Cornelia Smith Butler, and their sons Lawrence Smith Butler and Charles Stewart Butler. The papers of Susan Butler Huntington, the daughter of Prescott and Cornelia, can be found in the Huntington papers.
The Clinch materials are mostly from the same generation of Clinch brothers and sisters, the children of Jacob Clinch and his first and second wives Susannah Bancker Clinch and Louisa Ireland Clinch.
In addition to the correspondence and financial and legal documents of the siblings, the Clinch papers also contain the Custom House papers of Charles P. Clinch. These include letters and other documents, to and from Charles Powell Clinch concerning property, an anonymous accusation of a Customs House scandal, assignment certificates, testimonial signatures from others to have his portrait be preserved in the Collector's room of the Custom House, and other business related correspondence.
The strengths of this series are the correspondence and diaries. The correspondence from Josiah to his wife Mary are especially rich and include love letters, letters to Mary in Niagara Falls, and letters letters written while traveling in Italy and Egypt. Of particular interest are his descriptions of the Pyramids and a journey up the Nile.
The letters received section of Josiah Cooke's correspondence contains letters mostly regarding his professional career as a chemist and professor at Harvard.
Mary's personal papers include her diaries, which give accounts of her daily life from 1860-1884. Prominent topics include family events and her travels. There is a listing in the 1860 folder that has some descriptions of subjects covered in the diaries. Also in Mary Cooke's personal papers are documents pertaining to the Female Humane Society. Mary Cooke was president of the organization and the papers document her involvement in its activities. Included are correspondence, a report on the past year's proceedings, a member list, and pamphlets.
The Huntington papers consist of correspondence, financial and legal papers and personal papers including diaries and writings.
The bulk of these papers consist of deeds and/or maps for properties eventually purchased by Judge John Lawrence Smith or members of his family in Smithtown and adjacent townships on Long Island, New York. There are also a few deeds and/or plans for properties in New York City. The earliest deed is dated 1791.
Letters to James Clinch Smith (the son of Judge John Lawrence Smith who perished on the Titanic) are included in this series. Most of these, which are from the years 1908-1912, are of a business or organizational nature, but there are letters from James Clinch's wife, Bertha Barnes Smith (filed under S). She was living in Paris at the time, and in some of these letters, she describes her illness and lack of money.
Also included in the Smith papers are the related names of Haight, Stewart and White. Sarah Haight was the first cousin of Judge John Lawrence Smith. She traveled extensively and had her travel writings published in the book Letters from the Old World. Her letters contain fascinating detail about her travels in 1836 and 1837.
The White papers include a copy of letter from Stanford White to Prescott Hall Butler, mortgage bond signed by Stanford White, articles on Stanford White's murder, and a writing by Lawrence White (Stanford's son) on the history of Smithtown.
The upper-class social and domestic arrangements in New York City, Long Island, and Massachusetts in the second half of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century are well-documented through the photos in this series. This series is divided into three sub-series including files, photo albums, and daguerreotypes.
The genealogical papers are arranged alphabetically by family name. Most of the information consists of notes taken on pieces of paper by various family members. This series also includes a rough draft copy of a book "Butler and Allied Families" which was compiled by Charles Stewart Butler in the 1950s. It gives a comprehensive overview of many of the members of the Butler and related families. There is also correspondence between Madge Huntington Cooper and family members regarding the Butler-Huntington-Smith collection.
- 1787-18091 folder
This series contains land deeds and a map concerning property owned by Phineas Davis (d. circa 1797) and his family in Islip and Smithtown, New York.