Visitors to Albany

Outside observers who came to Albany during its first two hundred years have left us their impressions and observations. Traditionally, their accounts have been central resources in the writing of early Albany history. Early on, the Colonial Albany Project began to experience great difficulty in reconciling outsider outlooks with the Albany that emerged from our comprehensive sweep of community based resources. Nevertheless, those narratives are extremely interesting and bear repeating. Links have been arranged chronologically.

The widespread use of the Internet has brought reproductions and other public offerings of so many "classic" travelers' accounts to our fingertip. So many of them visited Albany in the days of river-defined travel. This open-ended chronology is in its early stages and will be augmented in the future!

1643   Isaac Jogues

1680   Jasper Danckaerts

1695   Reverend John Miller

1700s   Reverend William Burgiss

1744   Dr. Alexander Hamilton

1749   Peter Kalm

1760s   Anne Mc Vickar Grant

1768     Journal of a Quebec Merchant (John Lees's description - summer 1768)

1774     Journal of Abraham Lott (trip up the Hudson - summer 1774)

1774   A Tour Through Part of the North Provinces of America, 1774-1775, by Patrick M'Robert (first printed for the author in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1776). Republished in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (April 1945); and offprinted individually by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Mc Robert noted the farm of newcomer John Tunnicliff.

1776 Journal of Charles Carroll (April-May 1776) - Diplomatic mission with Benjamin Franklin and others to Montreal (Albany April 7)

1782: Yankee schoolteacher Simeon Baldwin in Albany (posthumous memoir)

1783-1831   "Memoirs of an emigrant: The journal of Alexander Coventry, M.D.; in Scotland, the United States and Canada during the period 1783-1831," (working title) transcription of a lengthy document not readily available.(Typescript reportedly at AIHA, NYSL, and other Albany area libraries: 1978)

1787  The American Journals of Lt. John Enys, edited by Elizabeth Cometti (Syracuse, 1976), pp. 183-88.

1789   Men and Times of the Revolution, the memoir of Elkanah Watson as completed and presented by his son in 1856.

1790s   Levi Beardsley's (1785-1857) Reminiscences of a trip by sleigh with a load of wheat.

1793    Castorland Journal, the journal of French adventurers Simon Desjardins & Pierre Pharoux which also chronicles their time in Albany

1794  Travels in New England and New York, by Timothy Dwight, recalling his travels which included a trip to Albany in 1794. First published in four volumes between 1821 and 1823.

1800   Albany-related portion of John Maude's "Journal" (June 25 - July 1) to be continued

1810    Description of Albany about 1810 by Englishman John Melish.

1831    "Brief History of the City of Albany"

Subsequent observations by "Visitors" have been chronicled by Munsell in his multi volume Collections.



Visitors: These outsider observations are much more obviously descriptive than the community-based resources that together form the backbone of the portrait of Albany and its people that emanates from the work of the Colonial Albany Social History Project. Literate and in-print, they have been much more accessible than the scattered records we use every day! Our goal of presenting leads to all relevant observations is ongoing! This bibliography from Wikisource is entitled "American History Told by Contemporaries" and represents a logical starting point.

Coventry: Reference to a copy in the Walter H. Bradish Papers 1862-1907, "Included is a typescript copy of the diary, ca. 1785-1830, of his ancestor, Alexander Coventry, a Scot who emigrated to America in 1785, which includes a description of his trip." Collection transferred to the New York Public Library from the NYG&B perhaps in 2008.
        Alexander Coventry (1766-1831): Additional works by Coventry; sources needed

Notes: Look for descriptions by Isaac Jogues, William Burgiss, delegates to the Albany Congress in 1754, Governor Tryon, Thomas Anburey, and others!

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first posted 3/25/03; last revised 7/11/17