Edward Stephen Harkness (1874-1940) was a trustee of the New York Public Library. His wife and co-collector, Mary Stillman Harkness, died in 1950. Collection consists of holograph manuscripts, autograph letters, documents, and signatures representing artists and literary and historical figures. Includes 15th-century illuminated Book of Hours and letters and documents of all American presidents from Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt, except for Herbert Hoover. Items are accompanied by typed transcripts, portrait photographs and illustrations, and related letters, clippings and other materials. Persons represented include Shirley Brooks, Frances H. Burnett, Thomas Carlyle, Walter Crane, George Cruikshank, General Henry Dearborn, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Louise, Empress of France, Mary, Queen of Scots, Edgar Allan Poe, Joseph Conrad, John Ruskin, William M. Thackery, Henry D. Thoreau, Samuel Clemens, George Washington, John G. Whittier, and Captain Isaac Woods.
Content: The Harkness Collection consists of autograph letters, documents, and signatures, chiefly of eighteenth through twentieth century British and American literary and historical figures. European figures and artistic and musical figures are also represented in the collection, some by items dating back to the fifteenth century. The items are usually mounted in volumes and accompanied by typed transcripts, portrait photographs and illustrations, and related letters, clippings, and other material. Charles Dickens; Benjamin Franklin; Marie-Louise, Empress of France; Mary Stuart; Edgar Allen Poe; John Ruskin; William Makepeace Thackeray; Henry David Thoreau; George Washington; and John Greenleaf Whittier are among the figures represented. Some volumes, as noted, have separate indexes.