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Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family papers, 1789-2000, bulk 1870-1996

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Series 1: Oliver Ingraham Lay and Marian Wait Lay Papers , 1789-1955
4.2 Linear feet
Boxes 1-5, OV 11

The papers of Oliver Ingraham Lay and Marian Wait Lay contain biographical materials, correspondence, diaries, writings and notes, family business records, printed materials, scrapbooks, photographs, and artifacts.
The series is organized into 9 subseries.
  • 1.1: Biographical Material, 1818-1888 (7 folders; Box 1, OV 11)
  • 1.2: Correspondence, 1814-1944 (1.2 linear ft.; Boxes 1-2)
  • 1.3: Diaries, 1856-1925 (8 folders; Box 2)
  • 1.4: Writings and Notes, 1789-1900 (0.4 linear ft.; Boxes 2-3)
  • 1.5: Family Business Records, 1810-1903 (14 folders; Box 3)
  • 1.6: Printed Material, 1840-1955 (9 folders; Box 3)
  • 1.7: Scrapbooks, 1854-1896 (0.3 linear ft.; Box 4, OV 11)
  • 1.8: Photographs, 1857-1933 (19 folders; Box 5)
  • 1.9: Artifacts, 1860-1890 (5 folders; Box 5)
1.1: Biographical Material, 1818-1888
This subseries contains biographical material on Charles Downing and various individuals from the Brown and Wait families. Files include handwritten accounts of Charles Downing by a family member and copies of obituaries on Charles Downing (Marian's uncle), a marriage certificate of William A. Brown and Phebe C. Brown, the wills of Robert Bagg and William Brown, respectively, and abstracts of the last Wills and Testaments of Robert Earle and his wife, Maria Earle (sister of William Brown).
Description Container
Charles Downing , 1885, undated
1
1-3
Various Family Members, 1818-1888, undated
Oversized material housed in OV 11
1
4-7
Oversized Biographical Material for Various Family Members , 1833-1834
OV 11
1.2: Correspondence, 1814-1944
Included are letters between Oliver Ingraham Lay and Marian Wait Lay, as well as the respective correspondence files of Oliver Ingraham Lay, Marian Wait Lay, Wilfrid Lay (Oliver's son), Charles Downing, and various family members, reflecting the mutual interaction between friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. Topics include daily events, personal reflections, creative activities, trips, and residences.
Oliver Ingraham Lay's letters to family members and friends describe his painting activities, working methods, and projects, including his commissioned portraits for Edwin Booth and Cyrus Field. Many contain references to Lay's prominent clients, such as Cornelia Curtis and family, Frederick and Mathilda Shelton, and Mary Shannon and the Shannon family. Also found are letters from Alexander Lawrie discussing his painting and financial difficulties. Lay's letters contain references to his colleagues, Henry Bellows, Fidelia Bridges, Sanford Gifford, Jervis McEntee, and William Trost Richards, among others. There are scattered references to Lay's exhibitions at the Artists' Fund Society, the Brooklyn Society of Artists, and the Century Association. One letter to Annie Brown describes his meeting with Oscar Wilde at the Century Association.
Condolence letters to Marian Lay upon Oliver Ingraham Lay's death include letters from Fidelia Bridges and George Henry Story. A file of transcriptions contains miscellaneous correspondence and two theatrical scenarios by Lay, reflecting the artist's enduring interest in the stage productions of his day.
Also of interest, are items found in the correspondence files of Lay family members. Charles Downing's letters to Marian Wait Lay discuss his experimental fruit plantings conducted at his residence in Newburgh, New York. The Brown family correspondence contains numerous references to Fidelia Bridges; also found is an illustrated letter from Annie Brown to Oliver Ingraham Lay. Letters exchanged between Samuel Wait and his son and namesake, Samuel, wholesale dealers in cattle and grain illustrate the manner in which mercantile activities were conducted during the early half of the nineteenth century.
Description Container
Oliver Ingraham Lay to Marian Wait Lay, 1878-1887, undated
1
8-9
Oliver Ingraham Lay, 1871-1890, undated
1
10-29
Oliver Ingraham Lay, Condolence Letters, 1890, undated
1
30-31
Transcriptions of Letters and Writings by a Family Member, 1881-1890, undated
1
32
Marian Wait Lay, 1870-1895, undated
1
33-42
Wilfrid Lay, 1886-1944, undated
1
43-48
Charles Downing, 1851-1885, undated
1
49-55
The Brown Family, 1814- 1901, undated
1
56-81
The Brown Family, 1902-1923, undated
2
1-5
Alice Brown, undated
2
6-9
Annie Brown, undated
2
10-12
Ella Brown, undated
2
13-14
Phebe Crowell Brown, undated
2
15
William Augustus Brown, undated
2
16
Fragments, undated
2
17-19
The Wait Family, undated
2
20-28
Other Family Members, undated
2
29
Transcriptions of Letters of Various Family Members, 1835-1876
2
30-31
Loose Envelopes, 1882-1926, undated
2
32-34
1.3: Diaries, 1856-1925
This subseries houses the diaries of Marian Wait Lay, Oliver Ingraham Lay, Laura Brown, and Annie Brown.
Oliver Ingraham Lay's diaries record daily events, as well as include references to Lay's commissioned works, exhibitions, and professional and social activities; also found are loose items, including clippings, an exhibition announcement, receipts, letters, and sketches. Entries also contain numerous references to Lay's colleagues, including Samuel Putnam Avery, Fidelia Bridges, Henry Kirke Brown, Thomas Hicks, Eastman Johnson, John Sartain, William Trost Richards, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Worthington Whittridge, and Alexander H. Wyant, among others. Four volumes of Annie Brown's diaries record her daily activities and personal observations about family members and friends; entries also contain references to Fidelia Bridges.
Description Container
Marian Wait Lay, 1856-1857
2
35
Oliver Ingraham Lay, 1879-1889
2
36-37
Laura Brown, 1873-1874
2
38
Annie Brown, 1901-1925
2
39-42
1.4: Writings and Notes, 1789-1900
This subseries houses Oliver Ingraham Lay's notebooks, notes and writings; Marian Wait Lay's scattered notes and writings; and the student notebooks of Wilfrid Lay.
Oliver Ingraham Lay's notebooks include handwritten transcriptions of literary excerpts and quotations; a record of the artist's exhibitions at the Century Association; and a record of payments for his artwork. Also found is a ledger with entries of daily activities from 1889-1890; included are transcribed letters, printed material, clippings, and obituary notices on Lay's death. One notebook contains a list of the works of art by Lay and others that were a part of the artist's personal collection at the time of his death. Also found are transcribed poems, various literary compositions by Lay, including handwritten essays and a poem to Fidelia Bridges.
Other files contain Annie Brown's handwritten essays, her notebook of transcribed literary extracts, and address book; biographical accounts of Charles Downing; and the miscellaneous writings and notes of various family members.
Description Container
Notebooks of Oliver Ingraham Lay, 1866-1890
2
43-45
Notebook of Artwork, Photographs, and Miscellaneous Items, circa 1890
2
46
Various Notes and Writings by Oliver Ingraham Lay, 1867
2
47-50
Various Notes and Writings by Marian Wait Lay, 1859-1893
2
50
Notebooks of Wilfrid Lay, 1881-1900
2
51-54
Essays by Annie Brown, 1860-1887
2
55-56
Notebook of Annie Brown, undated
2
57
Address Book by Annie Brown, undated
3
1-2
Biographical Accounts of Charles Downing, 1789-1889
3
3
Miscellaneous Notes and Writings of Lay Family Members, 1789-1889
3
4-8
1.5: Family Business Records, 1810-1903
This subseries contains record books and various lists documenting Oliver Ingraham Lay's household expenses for the family's residences in New Rochelle, New York and Stratford, Connecticut. One notebook records the picture frames purchased by Lay for his paintings; included are a list of works of art sold and scattered receipts. A folder of loose receipts contains several items relating to Lay's business transactions on behalf of Alexander Lawrie.
Also found are a bill of sale to William Brown for property, miscellaneous receipts, Thomas Lee Gill's statement of expenses, and Mary Downing's handwritten bequest to Marian Wait Lay. An account ledger contains printed material, clippings, and reproductions.
Description Container
Record of Expenses, 1878-1903
3
9-12
Lists of Expenses, 1865-1886
3
13
Notebook of Frames Purchased, 1881-1889
3
14-15
Receipts, 1882-1898
3
16
Various Family Members, 1810-1890
3
17-21
Account Ledger, 1823-1826
3
22
1.6: Printed Material, 1840-1955
This subseries houses an exhibition announcement for Oliver Ingraham Lay at Reichard's Gallery (New York) and news clippings, including obituaries and memorials for Andrew Jackson Downing, Charles Downing, and other family members.
Description Container
Exhibition Announcement, 1888
3
23
Clippings on Lay Family Members, 1885-1955
3
24-25
News Clippings, Various, 1940
3
26
Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1885-1903
3
27-28
Monographs, 1840-1875
3
29-31
1.7: Scrapbooks, 1854-1896
This subseries contains the scrapbooks of Mary Downing's leaf and flower cuttings and Charles Downing's scrapbook of leaf cuttings. Two scrapbooks with notations by Mary Downing include sketches and miscellaneous letters.
Loose scrapbook pages include Oliver Ingraham Lay's sketches, handwritten literary extracts, letters, printed material, calling cards, and Charles Downing Lay's bookplate designs, reproductions, and printed material.
Description Container
Mary Downing, Leaf and Flower Cuttings, 1854-1856
4
1
Mary Downing, Leaf and Flower Cuttings, 1865-1879
4
2
Charles Downing, Leaf Cuttings, 1870
4
3
Oliver Ingraham Lay and Charles Downing Lay, Loose Scrapbook Pages, 1884-1896
Oversized material housed in OV 11.
4
4
Oversized Scrapbook Pages, 1884-1896
OV 11
1.8: Photographs, 1857-1933
This subseries houses photographs, cartes de visites albums, tintypes, glass plate negatives, and one negative. There are images of Oliver Ingraham Lay, Marian Wait Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Wilfrid Lay, individually and with others. Photographs of other Lay family members include Charles Downing, Mary Downing, Samuel Wait (Marian's brother), William A. Brown, Phebe C. Brown (William's wife), and their daughters, Alice, Annie, and Laura. Tintypes include Charles Downing Lay with an unidentified individual; two tintypes of Marian Wait Lay in her youth; three tintypes of Laura Brown; and three tintypes of an unidentified woman.
Three cartes de visites albums contain images of various family members and friends; many individuals are unidentified. The albums were received with numerous images missing. Also found are glass plate negatives of Oliver Ingraham Lay's portrait of Aaron Burr and his portrait of Edwin Booth as Hamlet.
Description Container
Photographs and Tintype of Oliver Ingraham Lay and Charles Downing Lay, 1873
5
1
Photograph of Oliver Ingraham Lay and Wilfrid Lay?, undated
5
2
Photograph of Wilfrid Lay, 1933
5
3
Photographs and Tintypes of Marian Wait Lay, undated
5
4-5
Photographs, Tintypes, and Negative of Lay Family Members, 1857-1874
5
6-12
Group Photograph at the Art Students League, undated
5
13
Miscellaneous Photographs, undated
5
14
Cartes de Visites Albums of Lay Family Members, 1857-1888
5
15-17
Glass Plate Negatives, undated
MGP 5
1.9: Artifacts , 1845-1890
Artifacts consist of locks of hair from Marian Wait Lay, a monograph cover, inscribed to Marian Wait Lay from Charles Downing on the verso, Annie Brown's stationery plate, and one silk purse.
Description Container
Lock of Hair from Richard Wait?, 1860
5
18
Locks of Hair from Marian Wait Lay, 1866
5
19
Monograph Cover, Loose, 1890
5
20
Stationery Plate, undated
5
21
Silk Purse, undated
5
22

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.