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Joseph J. Mickley collection


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Joseph Jacob Mickley (1799-1878) was a numismatist born in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania. The son of farmers, he moved to Philadelphia in 1811 to start an apprenticeship in making pianos. He later formed his own musical instrument-making business. In 1831 he received a prize from the Franklin Institute for his skills. He was married twice--first to Cordelia Hopfeldt, then to Diana Blummer--and had six children. Mickley also collected coins and owned one of the earliest important coin collections in America. His interest in coins earned him the nickname the “father of American numismatics.” He later shifted his interest to books about coins rather than the pieces themselves. Also, Mickley had interests in collecting autographs and books. His autograph collection included all the signers of the Declaration of Independence and all the presidents through Ulysses S. Grant. Mickley was also interested in historical research. In 1875 he published “A Brief Account of Murders by the Indians, and the Cause Thereof, in Northampton County, Penn'a., October 8th, 1763” and in 1881 "Some Account of William Usselinx and Peter Minuit: Two Individuals Who Were Instrumental in Establishing the First Permanent Colony in Delaware," a paper he had presented before the Historical Society of Delaware in 1874. Mickley, who was fluent in French, German, and Swedish and familiar with Italian, Spanish, and Russian, travelled extensively, and visited every mint in Europe. Mickley wrote journals throughout his life, but most did not survive to the present day. Minnie Mickley wrote “The Genealogy of the Mickley Family of America” (1893), and J. Bunting, "Joseph J. Mickley: A Biographical Sketch," originally published in Lippincott's Magazine, July 1885.

The Joseph J. Mickley collection, which is housed in one box, contains copies and translations of documents about the early Swedish settlement in America (Folders 2 to 21), as well as some letters to Mickley from the years 1871 to 1878 (Folder 1). They are part of his correspondence to Sweden and the Netherlands concerning the documents of this collection about New Sweden (an early Swedish Delaware Valley settlement) and its history. People from those regions copied the original documents for him in Swedish archives (the Swedish State Archives, Stockholm; the Oxenstjerna Archives, which belongs to the Swedish State Archives today; the Royal Library in Stockholm, University Library in Uppsala; and others). For more information about some of the people mentioned in this description and the collection, please see the reference list below.

These hand-copied documents (made at different times between 1830 and 1880) include the correspondence from Johann Printz to Peter Brahe, Axel Oxenstjerna and others, and also council records, official memoranda, orders of the queen, reports about New Sweden, travel accounts, calculations, lists of persons living in the settlement, instructions for Peter Minuit and Johann Printz, and more correspondence, all concerning the history of the colony New Sweden at the Delaware River, which existed from 1638 to 1655. Folder 18 contains a copy, plus a partial English translation of the Geographia Americana by Peter Lindheström, 1691 (Chapters II, IV, V and XXIX). Peter Lindheström (also Lindström) lived in New Sweden as a military engineer during 1654-1655. He kept a journal of his observations and experiences. Topics include weather, climate, local Indian tribes, colony’s agriculture, and his eye witness account of New Sweden’s fall to the Dutch.

Folder 19 contains an interesting manuscript: the handwritten English translation of "Seventeen Historical Documents" and additional notes both by "Charles Lewis Gustavi," pseudonym of Carl Love Almqvist (1793-1866), the famous Swedish author and one of the foremost Swedish social reformers of the 19th century. In June 1851 Almqvist fled from Sweden to Philadelphia on suspicion of fraud and poison attempts against a fellow writer. In America, he went by the alias Lewis Gustavi. While living in Philadelphia, he earned his living as a journalist. It is possible that Mickley retained Almqvist as a translator. The translation is followed by unique notes about certain aspects in the documents. The translation bears on its title page the pseudonym Charles Lewis Gustavi. Apparently, it is the only existing document with this adopted name written down. Unfortunately, this title page is only a copy, the original having been lost, which probably dates from the 1990s when the Almqvist Society discovered that his manuscript might be in Philadelphia. A few folders in the collection were noted as having missing documents as well, but it is difficult to discern exactly what items are no longer extant.

The documents in this collection are mainly in Swedish and German, with some items in Dutch, Latin, French, and English. A few documents are English translations of foreign materials.

There are some duplicates in different folders; for example, there are several instructions for governors in Sweden to send people to New Sweden, deeds of Queen Christina, and correspondence.

Several of the copies contain gaps where the transcriber in the archives could not decipher the original words.

Provenance unknown.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Anna Baechtold Georgi
Finding Aid Date
; 2011
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Letters to Mickley, (1871-1878).
Box 1 Folder 1
Copies of documents, 1636-1640, 1652, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 2
Copies of correspondence from Spiering and Blommaert, 1636 and 1637, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 3
Copies of Minuit's letter, 6/15/1636, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 4
Two copies of the Instructions for Minuit, 1637, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 5
Copies of correspondence from the Swedish government to governors of Swedish provinces, 1640 and 1641, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 6
Copies of lists of passengers, 1641, and copies of lists of persons living in New Sweden, 1644, 1648, and 1649, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 7
Copy of document by Johann Printz, 1644, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 8
Copies of Johann Printz' correspondence, 1643-1653, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 9
Copies of the "Relations" of Printz, 1644 and 1647, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 10
Copies of orders and other documents by the Swedish government, 1640-1655, and document on how to improve trade in New Sweden, 1642, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 11
Copy of "Ordinanz" for New Sweden by Johann Riesing, 1654, and copies of correspondence from Riesing to Oxenstjerna, 1654, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 12
Copies of correspondence between John Winthrop and Johann Printz, in Latin, 1644, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 13
Miscellaneous transcriptions (instructions for Johann Printz, Riesing's New Sweden report etc.), (undated).
Box 1 Folder 14
Miscellaneous transcriptions: The Swedes at the Delaware River after "New Sweden", 1693-1717, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 15
Miscellaneous transcriptions concerning New Sweden in the 1640's, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 16
Copies of miscellaneous reports by Blommaert and others in Dutch, Swedish and English, 1630's to 1650's, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 17
Copies out of "Geographia Americana", 1691, Swedish plus an English translation, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 18
"Seventeen Historical Documents concerning the early settlements of the Swedes on the River Delaware", English translations and notes by Carl Love Almqvist alias Charles Lewis Gustavi, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 19
Copy of a "Schuldt-Boeck" (dept register), 1648, in German, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 20
Miscellaneous, (undated).
Box 1 Folder 21

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