From: wwalker
Date: December 31, 2006 8:56:54 AM EST

Sandi Gorin has graciously given permission for the following explanation of the Draper Manuscripts to be added to this site. Sandi concentrates on KY research, but these documents can be helpful in Tennessee also.

THE DRAPER MANUSCRIPTS: What are they? Where are they? We've all heard about them; will they help us in our Kentucky research?

The Draper Manuscripts (often referred to as the Draper Papers) were compiled by Lyman Copeland Draper. He had planned to do a book which he had named "Sketches of the Lives of the Pioneers". The book was never realized. But, his collection of interviews does exist. The collection is a series of interviews which he conducted (or acquired), many in person, some in letters, about the old pioneers. The time frame is expansive - from the 1740's through the War of 1812 time frame. The territory covered is just as impressive - 21 states east of the Mississippi River, Iowa, Missouri and parts of Canada!

The papers also include documents, 575 early maps and manuscripts. His interviews ranged from the heroes of the time to the unknown little settler. And, bless his historical heart, he sensed that we in later years needed more than a list of their names. He included their names, parents and grandparents; sometimes more.

When Draper died in 1891, he had been working on the manuscripts for over 50 years. Draper himself, a New York man, was so intent on his research that he caught the attention of his cousin's husband, Peter Remen. Having the finances to help, Remen was a strong supporter of Draper's quest.

The original collection is housed at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. You are allowed to see the originals there, but cannot photocopy them. Some of the information contained is absolutely a gold mine of information and includes information such as color of hair and eyes, where the individual was born, military service and much more.

How many manuscripts are there? 491 volumes on 123 reels of microfilm which are divided into 50 separate series. The series are labeled A through ZZ (with the letter I and II not used). The George Rogers Clark Papers are Series J and are 65 volumes on 15 reels alone. The Joseph Brant Papers, Series E contained 22 volumes on 6 reels.

A Guide to the Draper Papers was published by Josephine L. Harper, she the Curator of the Draper Manuscripts, gives a description of each series, an index to the people named and places cited; it includes 4 appendices. There are also Calendars to 11 of the series in the collection which give an over-view of the documents by date and an index to the actual documents. Five of these Calendars are in print and may be ordered from McDowell Publications, of Utica, KY. Printed Calendars include the Calendar of the Kentucky Papers of the Draper Collection, Calendar of the Tennessee and King's Mountain Papers of the Draper Collection, and The Preston and Virginia Papers of the Draper Collection. See their web site at:

These Calendars can be found on microfiche and may be ordered from., 623 Martense Ave., Teaneck, NJ 07666 (1984 address): Calendar of the George Rogers Clark Papers of the Draper Collection; Calendar of the Frontier War Papers; Calendar of the David Shepherd Papers; Calendar of the South Carolina Papers; Calendar of the South Carolina Papers in the Revolutions Miscellanies and Calendar of the Thomas Sumter Papers. (Unable to locate a web site).

The State Historical Society of Wisconsin will loan their film out of state. You might want to check their web site. The Newberry Library in Chicago have complete collections but will not loan out the film. The Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN will not loan.

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