Henry Wikoff Collection
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. 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
Henry Wikoff was an American author and adventurer related to the Conover, Hartshorne, Hendrickson, Schureman, and Wikoff families of Monmouth and New Brunswick, New Jersey. He attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) for some time but did not earn a degree. Wikoff was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in June 1834, after which time he departed on an extended tour of Europe. He was a man of wit, intelligence, and captivating charm and manners, and soon was able to penetrate the most exclusive circles of European society. He was also a devoted friend of Napoleon I of France, and he received a decoration from the queen of Spain, hence the ns2:title "Chevalier." When one of his theatrical friends who had contracted to bring the famous dancer Fanny Elssler to America died, Wikoff took responsibility of bringing her over from Europe, and contributed to the success of her American tour in 1840. In 1836 he was made an attaché of the United States in London, and, while in England in 1850, he accepted work as an agent of the British Foreign Office.
Wikoff also worked as an "undercover" journalist for the New York Herald. He was able to befriend and attain the confidence of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and became part of her inner circle of friends. His most important literary work is The Reminiscences of an Idler (1880). Wikoff died of paralysis in England in 1884.
Charles I. Hendrickson, a relative of Henry Wikoff, was a merchant. Between 1830 and 1831, he had a family home built in Middletown Village in New Jersey, which was called "Locustwood." From 1837 to 1857, he was a rug merchant for A. McCallum & Company in Philadelphia.
The collection consists of correspondence and other material by and about the American author and adventurer Henry Wikoff. Most of Wikoff's letters are addressed to his friend and relative Charles I. Hendrickson, but some are addressed to Hendrickson's daughter "Tillie" or Matilda Hendrickson. Three of Wikoff's early letters (1839) to Hendrickson were written while both men were in Paris. In other letters from the 1860s and 1870s, Wikoff writes to Hendrickson about his frequent travels to Europe, the people he meets, and books he is writing, and he inquires about family and friends back home. One letter of Tillie's mother and two letters of Joanna Neuell are about being invited for parties and dinners by Mrs. Abraham Lincoln as Wikoff was a friend of Mrs. Lincoln. There is a letter by Agnes E. Brunning to Mrs. Julia Hendrickson informing her of Henry Wikoff's death on April 28, 1884. There are two portrait engravings: one of the Comte d'Orsay, inscribed to Wikoff by the Comte, and another of Wikoff by P. C. van Geel, dated 1836. Included are a carte-de-visite photograph of Wikoff by the New York firm of Charles D. Frederick and Co. and a photograph of the family home "Locustwood" built by Hendrickson in Middletown, New Jersey. Also included are a small bankbook of Wikoff and several loose sheets showing George H. Wikoff's financial transactions with Henry Wikoff, with entries dated from April 1839 to January 1846.
The collection is organized alphabetically by personal name.
The bulk of the material, gifted by Mrs. Hartshorne, was kept in a trunk belonging to Wikoff, mentioned in his letters, which he left with Charles Hendrickson at Locustwood for safekeeping.
The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.
Lithograph of Henry Wikoff was a gift of Alison Delarue, Princeton Class of 1928.
Letters to Charles and Tillie Hendrickson, lithograph of the Comte d'Orsay, and other related material were the gift of Mrs. Louise Hartshorne on May 15, 1954.
Photographs of Wikoff and of Locustwood and bankbook were the gift of Alison Delarue, Princeton Class of 1928, on November 24, 1964.
Letter to Leland was purchased on July 21, 1977.
Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.
No appraisal information is available.
- Hendrickson, Charles I.
- Hendrickson, Matilda
- Lincoln, Mary Todd, 1818-1882.
- Orsay, Alfred Guillaume Gabriel, comte d', 1801-1852
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.