Scope and arrangement
The papers of James Speyer consist of correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs and miscellaneous papers. While some of the material dates from the 1890s most of the papers are concentrated in the years 1911 to 1939.
The correspondence is mostly personal, and letters of birthday congratulations and tribute upon Speyer's retirement predominate. There are a number of letters in German. Additional correspondence can be found in Scrapbook 4 (condolence letters on the death of Mrs. Speyer in 1921) and Scrapbook 10 (letters re: Speyer's retirement in 1938 and the dissolution of the firm in 1939).
Miscellaneous papers include speeches and addresses by Speyer, genealogical and biographical notes, photographs, clippings and printed matter from organizations with which Speyer was involved. Also included are the specifications for Speyer's home at 1058 Fifth Avenue and the catalog for the auction of its contents in 1942.
The scrapbooks are for the most part made up of clippings reflecting the Speyers' involvement in the business and social life of New York City and in the various organizations to which they belonged. Prominent among these were the University Settlement Society, the Provident Loan Society, the Ellin Prince Speyer Hospital for Animals, the Speyer School, the Museum of the City of New York, the United Hospital Fund and the New York World's Fair. Scrapbooks 4 and 10, as previously noted, are made up of correspondence. Scrapbook 2 is devoted to Waldheim (the Speyer home at Scarborough on Hudson), Scrapbook 6 to the Museum of the City of New York and Scrapbook 11 to Speyer Hall of the University Settlement Society. In addition to clippings and correspondence, some of the scrapbooks also include photographs, invitations, menus, brochures and other ephemera.