Scope and arrangement
The bulk of the papers consist of Ely's general correspondence (1832-1871) and family correspondence (1838-1850) both of which consist of letters received. The general correspondence reflects Ely's activities as dry goods merchant, commission agent, and real estate agent in New York City. There is some correspondence of a more general nature relative to political and church affairs including letters from a student at Princeton Theological Seminary who solicited a position as interim pastor at Ely's congregation, the Brick Presbyterian church. Ely's principal correspondent, is John B. Lesieur who wrote approximately 125 letters (1832-71) to Ely from Paris which contain interesting comments on political events in France and in Europe, his attendance at the French court, the Revolution of 1848, the Franco-Prussian War, American politics, social and family affairs, as well as his extensive real estate investments in New York which Included is a set (incomplete of typed transcript were managed by Ely. The family correspondence includes copies of this correspondence. letters from Ely's nephews and cousins, his brothers-in- law, Solomon, Richard and Thomas Mead, his sister-in law, Laura Mead, and his brother John. The correspondence from John Ely/a Lawyer who wrote from Washington, D. C. and from Boston concerns cases involving mercantile law being tried (in part) before the U. S. Supreme Court. The correspondence from his cousin, Seth M. Ely who resided at Ripley, New York concerns shipments of butter and cheese for the New York market.
Included also is a mortgage, an indenture, and a copy of an obituary of Ely; and a few legal and financial papers of other members of the Ely family including Horace S. Ely, his nephew, and John Ely, his brother. There is also present a printed pamphlet entitled History of Horace S. Ely & Company of New York (privately printed, 1955) by Richard Ely Nevius (1907 -), a lineal descendant of Abner Lord Ely, together with research notes which Nevius made for his history.