Legal and Archival Recordkeeping Surrounding the Letters

The letters discussed on this website are available to us today through two different strands of recordkeeping—the one dictated by law, and the other by custom. The court case letters appeared in legal proceedings held in the New York court system during 1901-1908.[1] They are copies of handwritten ones, becoming court records when transcribed by a court stenographer. The originals were returned to those who provided them and, as far as we can tell, do not exist today. The other letters, called here the McConnell letters, were irrelevant to the cases presented in the court system but retained by Tulane University lawyer James McConnell, Sr. These letters ended up in his family papers. They did not become copies until we transcribed them here.

For both sets of letters, their presence amidst other materials allowed their survival. For the court case letters, their continued existence depended on rules of courts in New Orleans and New York, people in charge of court materials, the buildings, the institutions, families, and structures that held them. For the private papers, their continued existence depended on the practices of the office McConnell headed and then after he left practice and died, others who followed him, as attorneys and as family members. This section of the website addresses some of the factors in their survival via an exploration of how the court case unfolded, and how a few of the many records related to the case were created and retained. To read this longer exploration, go here.


[1] In re Newcomb’s Estate, 192 N.Y. 238, 84 N. E. 950 (1908); In re Newcomb’s Estate, 122 A.D. 920, 107 N.Y.S. 1139 (1907). For the letters presented as evidence, see The Judgment Rolls and three volumes of evidence and testimony, in the Google Scanned Volumes, linked in the Sources section of this website: For the letters in the McConnell Family Papers, see McConnell family papers, LaRC/Manuscripts Collection 156. Box 15; Box 40. Louisiana Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.