Arthur J. Weise


Arthur J. Weise was a prolific and well published author of historical works on North America from its first European settlement into the nineteenth century. His principal contribution to Albany history entitled The History of the City of Albany, New York from the Discovery of the Great River in 1524, by Verrazzano, to the Present Time, was issued by an Albany publisher in 1884 and stands as one of the most readable narratives on the founding and early history of the city.

According to subsequent census returns, Arthur James Weise was born in Virginia in 1838. We lament the almost four decade gap in this sketch during the era of the Civil War although an Arthur J. Weise was identified as an officer in a Maryland regiment. He appears to have Civil War pension information. We have not pursued any of this beyond the preceding links.

In 1877, the Troy city directory listed him as a map and book publisher in partnership with one A.G. Bardin at 45 Second.

In 1880, the Troy census recorded that he was living in a boarding house in Troy, New York run by the widow Frances Craven. He listed his occupation as historian.

His book published in 1884 was dedicated to his "late wife," one "Catharine V. Updegraff." No mention of children or other kin has been encountered. He apparently lived in a Troy boarding house for a number of decades into the twentieth century. He is best known as the author/compiler of several substantial works on the history of Troy and of Rensselaer County.

Arthur J. Weise is said to have removed to St. Barnardsville, New Jersey in 1910 and to have died there in January 1821 at the age of eighty three..

His history of Albany encompassed more than 500 pages (although he lamented the length constraints) and was well illustrated with engraved maps, diagrams, and other historical renderings all of which have been reproduced in publications and elsewhere many times since. It includes a number of useful appendices and was indexed in some detail.

Drawing on the massive and seminal contributions of antiquarian publisher Joel Munsell, in 1876 Weise described his efforts as a historian, ". . . talking with many people, copying their papers, and pursuing . . . researches in many directions, in dark garrets, unused closets, stores, offices, residences, in public and private libraries . . .." He said that he had read historic newspapers dated from 1787 on — altogether perhaps 10,000 separate issues. His principal chronicler concluded that "Troy was obviously fortunate [to have had] Weise as its historian, who avoided bias and pursued the truth by painstaking research."

In the future, we hope to be able to comment further on this essential thematic and reference tool.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Arthur J. Weise has no CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from community and Internet-based sources. An article about him by historian Samuel Rezneck, an emeritus RPI professor, appeared in The Times Record from Troy, New York dated February 27, 1971 (p. 39). Much of the biographical information on Weise relies on that article which also characterized him as a journalist.

Arthur Weise also compiled and published a family-based work under the title The . . . Ketelhuyn Chronicles, 1451-1899 (Troy, 1899), especially pp. 523-57. Follow this link to associated ethnographic resources.

Weise's history was one of the first two books I encountered on early Albany probably during the early 1960s when the Western Avenue bus began to take me to the main branch of the Albany Public Library then located on Washington Avenue and Dove Street. Those works first piqued my interest in learning more about my native city. I have read and re-read them many times since.

first posted 9/10/15; revised 3/7/16