Union College

Department: Schaffer Library
807 Union St.
Schenectady, New York 12308

Rebecca Fried - digitalservices@union.edu

Union College


This website provides a glimpse of the many kinds of unique cultural resources held among the library collections at Union College in Schenectady, New York. Founded in 1795, Union College was the first college chartered by the state’s Board of Regents and is situated in a campus that was the first in the nation to have been designed according to a comprehensive architectural and landscape plan.

A small, residential, independent liberal arts community, Union today remains one of the oldest non-denominational colleges in the country with a rich history that blends respect for tradition with an emphasis on integrating the humanities and social sciences with the natural sciences and engineering in dynamic and innovative ways. Union’s unique cultural resources are housed in the Special Collections and Archives Department of Schaffer Library, in its Permanent Collection, and at the nearby Adirondack Research Library of the Kelly Adirondack Center. Works of enduring value in the collections include archival records related to the College’s history, over 600 manuscript collections in a variety of subject areas, maps, drawings, photographs, other visual material, sound recordings, ephemera, and three-dimensional objects ranging from scientific instruments to works of art from ancient through modern times. Among the library’s book collections are nearly all of the materials purchased to create the first College library in 1795 as well as numerous first editions that span the disciplines; samples of the latter include Isaac Newton’s Principia, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and a complete elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which was purchased directly from the artist himself when he visited the Union campus in 1844. Thus many of these primary resources document not only the reach of Union’s programs but the social and cultural history of upstate New York and the involvement of its citizens in the wider world.

Union College is a member of the Capital District Library Council.


Butler Family Papers

This collection consists primarily of letters written by William Butler to his brother Edmund during the Civil War period from 1861 to his death in 1864. William served with the 69th Regiment of the New York Militia.

Diary Cover

The diaries of Jonathan Pearson, a notable Union College graduate who served as a professor, librarian, and treasurer at the college after graduating top of his class in 1835. It includes reflections on his time as both a student and faculty member, along with accounts of his travels.

Hiram S. Wilson Civil War Letters

This collection includes letters written by Captain Hiram S. Wilson, primarily to his wife Elizabeth during the period of 1861 to 1864. Captain Wilson served in Company H of the 93rd New York Volunteer Infantry.

John McConihe Collection

This collection contains letters written by Captain John McConihe to his business partner, John B. Kellog.

John S. Apperson Jr. and Paul Schaefer Collections

A collection of photographs, pamphlets, letters, and other materials highlighting 20th century citizen political activism, grassroots conservation, daily life, and outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks in New York State.

Joseph Jacques Ramee Architectural Plans for Union College

This is a collection of Union College architectural plans which includes Schaffer Library and the Nott Memorial, drawn by Joseph Jacques Ramée in 1813.

Kay Flickinger Dockstader Papers, 1910-1995

This collection contains photographs with personal descriptions taken by Kay Flickinger Dockstader during the 1930s through the 1950s of the Adirondack Mountains, regional scenery, and members of various outdoor clubs hiking, skiing, and camping.

Osmond D. Putnam Photographs

Images taken by Osmond D. Putnam in Warren and Essex Counties, New York, in the Adirondacks.

Schaffer Library Postcard Collection

This collection includes postcards of the campus, its vicinity, artifacts, individuals, events, activities, and sites and scenes associated with the College, Schenectady, and surrounding areas.

The Encyclopedia of Union College History

This collection contains documents sharing the history of Union College.

Union College Aaron J. Feingold Judaica Collection

This collection contains North African Postcards of Jewish women, children, and families dating back to the early 20th Century.

Union College Civil War Era Patriotic Envelopes

This collection comprises a series of unmailed Civil War-era patriotic envelopes or covers that was presented to Union College by John M. Pearson. The patriotic covers featured in this collection primarily depict themes supporting the Northern or Union cause. This includes political cartoons and caricatures of patriotic symbols and political messages both for and against the Northern and Southern leaders of the time.

Union College Elizabeth Taylor Postcard Collection

This collection contains black and white postcards of the Union College campus collected in the first half of the twentieth century by the daughter of Civil Engineering Professor Warren Crosby Taylor.

Union College Frank Santaro Postcard Collection

This collection contains postcards of the Union College campus and its vicinity,with a particular emphasis on scenes and buildings in the city of Schenectady.

Union College Robert N. Michaelson, UC 1972, Postcard Collection

This collection contains postcards of the Union College campus and its vicinity, including postcards of student activities, individuals, and off-campus sites associated with prominent College alumni.

Union College William Hahn Postcard Collection

Postcards of various Union College campus views. This collection shows exterior views and select buildings from the early twentieth century.

Westinghouse Family Papers

This collection includes correspondence, an autograph book, legal documents and photographs from the Westinghouse Family from 1833-1913.

World War I Era Postcard Collection

This collection is a collection of World War I-era postcards that were a gift to Union College from William Nelson Potter Dailey, a member of the class of 1884.