Scope and arrangement
The Astor Library records span the years 1839-1911, with the bulk dating from the period 1870-1890. They consist of handwritten, typed, and printed documents. The records are arranged in four series: I. Administration, II. Collections, III. Readers, IV. Finance. Each series is further divided by adminstrative function and type of record.
Administration records include correspondence, annual reports, notebooks, and historical material pertaining to the Astor Library. Materials in the Collections series include acquisition records, book orders, catalogs, periodicals registers and want lists. Finance records consist of correspondence, statements, checks, bank books, and similar fiscal documents. Readers records include registers of library users with statistics on books consulted and subject lists.
The Astor Library records are arranged in four series:
- 1839-190420 linear feet
This series includes the 1849 pamphlet text of the Astor incorporation act and an 1890 reprint with the Library's by-law, rules, and regulations. Also included are printed annual reports issued by the Library from its incorporation to its consolidation with the Lenox Library and the Tilden Trust. There are multiple copies for some years. Correspondence consists of General Correspondence and Saunders' Letter Copybooks. General Correspondence is sorted by year and includes incoming letters and mail, invoices, clippings and related papers. There is no correspondence for the years 1843-1847, and 1866. Saunders' Letter Copybooks contain transfer-process copies of Saunders' outgoing correspondence. There are no letter copybooks for his early years at the Astor. Lists for Distributions of Annual Reports give the names of institutions and individuals to whom annual reports were mailed. There are lists for 1870-1880, 1882, 1886, 1888, and 1894, as well as one undated list. The Stock Account Book gives stock counts of the printed Astor Library catalog and lists the names of institutions purchasing it. The 1886 and 1888 Lists for Distributions of Annual Reports include stock accounts of the 1886-1888 new Nelson catalog. Saunders' Notebooks are his memo books containing notations of daily tasks. Historical Material comprises scrapbook albums on the Astor Library's history compiled by Saunders and an essay by Albert F.W. Kern reprinted from German American Annals, "Johan Jakob Astor und die Astor Bibliothek."
- 1849-189611 linear feet
Series consists of records pertaining to the Astor Library collections and includes various lists and catalogs. It is divided into five subseries: A. Acquisitions (1849-1895), B. Catalogs (1854-1886), C. Periodicals (1855-1895), D. Pamphlets (1866-1911), E. Unsorted Volumes (1876-1910).
Note that some records related to acquisitions and catalogs may be found in the Unsorted Volumes subseries. Some records pertaining particularly to the maintenance of books in the collections may be found in the Periodicals subseries.
- 1859-19117.5 linear feet
The Daily Record gives the author, title, volume, reader, and sometimes the reader's address for each book consulted for each day of the Astor Libary's operations from 1860 to 1882. There are separate volumes of records for the South and North buildings, with no record for the North Building for the years 1862 and 1863. The Diary of Subjects gives a daily listing of books used by subject, with monthly tallies of use at the end of each volume. There are separate volumes for the South and North buildings. The Statistics of Readers are the NYPL continuations of the Diary of Subjects. The Register of Readers & Volumes Consulted gives daily, monthly, and yearly totals of volumes and readers served, as well as percentage increases and averages for readership, calculated over time.
Alcove Readers are volumes including the subjects and signatures of alcove readers for each day of library operation. There are separate volumes for the South and North buildings to 1882, the South Building's records beginning in 1864. A list of Alcove Readers in the North Building during 1861 can be found in the Daily Record of 1861. There is no volume for the North Building for 1883. Both buildings have common records from 1884 to 1899. Alcove Admissions are books that give the name of alcove readers, their respective subjects, and sometimes the time periods for which they were granted privileges. Patents Index to Visitors lists the names and addresses of individuals who consulted the patents collection by date.
- 1848-189611 linear feet
Series includes Finance Committee Minutes for 1892. The Treasurer's Correspondence refers to properties of the Astor Library, as do the Mortgage, Loan, and Insurance Papers & Book. Monthly Statements are monthly accountings of credits and debits. Ledgers are extant for all years from 1876 to 1896 except 1882, 1883, and 1887. The Cash Book is a journal listing amounts paid to vendors and individuals by date. Invoice Books and Invoices contain invoices from vendors and books of transcriptions of billings. There are no invoice records for the years 1880-1886 and 1889-1890. The Receipt Books for Salaries are books where library employees placed their signatures upon receipt of salary payment. Petty Cash Books are records of cash dispensed for sundries.
Checkbooks are the stub records of checks written. The earliest are for checks drawn on the Gallatin National Bank (1858-1890), and there are also checks for the Pacific Bank (1876-1896) and the Union Trust (1890-1895). Canceled Checks are written on accounts with the National Bank (1848-1861), the Gallatin National Bank (1862-1876), the Pacific Bank (1876-1879, 1887-1896) and the East River National Bank (1878). There are Bank Books for the National, Gallatin National, East River, Second National and Pacific banks. The Receipt Book records sums of money received and dispensed by the Astor. Package Receipt Books from the United States Express Company comprise receipts for the shipment of packages.