William L. Clements Library Purchases Significant Collection of Revolutionary War Papers:
Sometimes good things really do come to those who wait--and who never give up
|Image from New York Times article about the Strachey papers.|
On October 15, the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan purchased the Sir Henry Strachey Collection, an important British figure who was a leader in Revolutionary War peace negotiations and diplomacy. The collection was purchased at the Sotheby's auction of the James S. Copley Library. As a research library, the Clements is pleased that these important papers will be available to the public for research and examination. Our archives are open to the public and we welcome those who are interested in researching the Strachey papers and the insights they shed on this defining time in our nation’s history.
The William L. Clements Library houses original resources for the study of American history and culture from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century. Its mission is to collect and preserve primary source materials, to make them available for research, and to create an environment that supports and encourages scholarly investigation of our nation's past.
The Strachey Papers are a significant acquisition for the Clements Library. It is rare today to see a large collection of American Revolution manuscripts come on the market, and adding the Strachey material to the voluminous primary sources already at the Clements makes the Library even more attractive as a destination for all researchers working on Revolutionary War topics.
In purchasing the Strachey papers on October 15, we have closed the book on an acquisitions hunt that began more than 70 years ago. Randolph G. Adams, first director of the Clements Library, saw the Strachey collection in England in the late 1920s , but he was unable to persuade Henry Strachey's descendants to part with them. The Clements bought half of the papers at auction in 1982, but the other half went to the Copley Foundation six years later. Now the two halves are reunited, making a rich array of unpublished material on Anglo-American relations and events of the American Revolution, English investments in North America, and the social history of the late 18th-century available for the first time to researchers.
The purchase of the Strachey papers at Sotheby's auction was a remarkable collaborative effort. The Clements Library is grateful to many individuals who donated funds to the initiative, including the anonymous donor who created the successful Copley Challenge, the University of Michigan administration for its strong support and the Board of Governors of the Clements Library Associates for their individual and collective assistance. Since its founding in 1923 the Library's collections have grown in large part through the generosity of our friends and supporters, and the Strachey acquisition is further proof that Americana collectors and scholars alike see the Clements as the kind of institution Augustine Birrell had in mind when he wrote, 'A great library easily begets affection, which may deepen into love.'"
The Strachey papers document his work in attempting to negotiate peace between the colonies and England in 1775-1776 and during the negotiations that led to the 1783 Treaty of Paris and the end of the Revolutionary War. The newly-purchased Strachey material complements our holdings. We are particularly strong on Anglo–American history from 1763-1783. Strachey’s papers give a perspective from the British side, at the highest level of strategy and negotiation.
With the addition of the Strachey collection from the Copley auction, we are bringing together important papers that will provide a treasure trove for scholars and researchers.
To learn more about the Henry Strachey papers, read the Sotheby's auction catalogue of the collection.