Scope and Content Note

Series I. Richards - Lambert Families comprises photocopied letters to Rev. George Richards upon his departure from his Boston pastorate, several of the Reverend's discourses (photocopies), and genealogical information.

Series II. Debevoise - Elliott Families is primarily documented through a family album. Included are photographs of family members, many of them cabinet cards: Aletta (Voorhees) Hassert, Aaron Hassert, Luke and Phebe Hassert, Jason Elliott, Gilbert M. Elliott, Richmond Elliott, Letitia (Hassert) Elliott, Catherine Crocker Debevoise Cornell, Marietta (Harker) Debevoise, Foster Debevoise, Rachel (Elliott) Debevoise, Randolph and Elliott Debevoise, Williams Class of 1915 with Elliott Debevoise, Elliott and Randolph Debevoise with Delta Kappa Epsilon, also photographs of house parties, etc. The album also includes genealogical information regarding the Debevoise family, George Washington Debevoise's 1913 speech regarding his Civil War experiences, and an 1885(?) letter and poem from John Greenleaf Whittier to Rachel Elliott. This series also contains two oversize genealogical charts for Elliott Debevoise and his wife, Josephine Hunting Richards.

Highlights of Series III. Gilbert Molleson Elliott comprise photocopied correspondence between Gilbert and his brother James, and letters from Gilbert's friends upon his death. Gilbert fought at Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, losing his life in the Battle Above the Clouds in 1863. Research material is also included, all of which formed the basis of Dickinson R. Debevoise's Gilbert Molleson Elliott: a Life Forged in the Crucible of the American Experience (2002).

Series IV. George Washington Debevoise contains his letters (photocopies), 1861-1866, as well as research materials and his 1913 speech regarding his time in the Civil War. George served in the Ninth Regiment New York Infantry Volunteers (Hawkins' Zouaves) prior to being transferred to the Invalid Corps following his being wounded at Roanoke Island. His letters hail primarily from Camp Butler (Newport News, Va.), Camp Wool and Camp Winfield (Hatteras Inlet, N.C.), and Roanoke Island, N.C. His final letters are from the Office of the Acting Assistant Provost Marshall General at Brattleboro, Vt. and Indiana, where he finished his war service.

Series V. Elliott Debevoise (Williams Class of 1915) documents Elliott's participation in World War I. He was a lieutenant in the Navy serving on a destroyer engaged in convoy duty. Of special interest are Elliott's 1917 journal of his service aboard the patrol boat S.S. Florence, and his 1918 diary reflecting his time on the destroyer S.S. Porter out of Queenstown, Ireland. Also included are the 1917-1918 typescript diary of William Frederick Kurfess, who served with Elliott on the S.S. Porter, and the diary of Elliott's mother, Rachel, who described war efforts from the home front. Elliott's correspondence includes letters written Oct. 1917-Feb. 1918 while he was on the patrol boat and at the Naval Academy, and Feb. 1918-Jan. 1919 while he was on the S.S. Porter in foreign waters. Elliott's album contains a variety of appointments and orders (including two TDS Josephus Daniels, and a TDS 15 Aug. 1918 Franklin D. Roosevelt), as well as Naval Reserve training documents, the report of a 1918 collision between the S.S. Eskasonia and S.S. Midway, portraits and photographs of training and officers, and photographs taken at sea, including sinking vessels and rescue operations. A letter of thanks from a rescued French captain is included, as well as an envelope of snapshots primarily of Williams College reunion activities.

Series VI. Dickinson R. Debevoise (DRD) World War II material documents his service as a sergeant in the 2nd Platoon of company A of the 294th Combat Engineer Battalion. The 294th landed in Normandy on D+ (June 7, 1944). The Susan B. Anthony, the troop ship which brought the 294th to Normandy, hit a mine and sank June 7 as the troops were preparing to board the landing craft. DRD served in the campaigns in Normandy across northern France, the Huertgen Forest on the German border, the Battle of the Bulge (the Ardennes), and Central Germany completing an assignment to Berlin after the War. The Histories and reminiscences sub-series offers DRD's written history and presentation regarding the role of the 294th as well as typescripts, correspondence and notes. DRD's Correspondence covers his time at Camp Dix (1943), Camp Gordon, Ga. (1943), Tennessee Maneuvers (1943), Camp Pilot Knob Arizona (1943-1944), Europe (England, France, Belgium, Germany 1944-1945), and after V-E Day. This sub-series includes letters with European friends including the Denis family, whose son Leon was seven at the time the 2nd squad was billeted in their home after the Battle of the Bulge. Contemporary documents include orders and commendations, in addition to a variety of objects DRD kept upon his person or in his duffel during his time in Europe. This sub-series also includes collected maps and news sheets. Photographs and drawings include shots of Company A, Sherborne, and Germans disinterring the bodies of forced laborers. Also included here are the published drawings of Sgt. Rudy Wedow of bridges, boats and scenes. The 294th organized a memorial service in Jersey City (from which many of its members came) and Sherborne, England (where it trained prior to the invasion). Memorials and research material documents these and other services. Album A contains photographs and memorabilia from the 294th's basic training, training in England, and experiences in Europe from the Invasion to DRD's July 1945 occupation duty in Berlin. Album B documents, through photographs and a written account, a 1984 trip tracing the 294th's route from the Huertgen Forest back to Normandy.

Of special interest in Series VII. Dickinson R. Debevoise Williams College are his speeches as valedictorian and 1946 class reunion speaker, a wonderful caricature in colored pencil and pastel by George Pal, and numerous creative writing class submissions that were based on his World War II experiences.

Series VIII. Dickinson R. Deveboise Politics documents general political activities in which DRD was involved. These included Democrats for Good Government, a group organized in the late 1950s to oppose the regular Democratic machine and of which DRD was president. Also included is DRD's work for Kenneth Gibson's campaign for Mayor of Newark in 1970, and New Jersey Citizens for McGovern during this 1972 presidential campaign. (DRD was treasurer for the latter.) Also included in this series is DRD's essay, "Basic ideas: Reinhold Niebuhr," reflecting his underlying political philosophy.

"The summer of 1964 was designated the Mississippi Freedom Summer when hundreds of students and others went to Mississippi and elsewhere in the South to conduct voter registration, freedom schools and political organizing. The Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee was organized to provide legal representation to the civil rights workers . . .The civil rights organizations contested the elections of the Congressmen from Mississippi on the grounds that black voters had been prevented from registering and voting. Depositions were taken of civil rights workers who observed the voting interference." [from DRD collection description] Series IX. Dickinson R. Debevoise Civil Rights is organized into three sub-series: Reminiscences, recollections and reports; Mississippi Freedom Summer; and Later and collected materials. These recollections, reports, correspondence, depositions, court documents, etc. help document DRD's work with the Essex Co. Bar Foundation Civil Rights Committee and the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee. DRD himself went to Mississippi where he was engaged in civil rights work, ultimately urging the vacating of contested seats and the holding of new elections.

". . . President Johnson's anti-poverty programs . . . encouraged community organizing, including the formation of legal services projects to provide legal representation to the poverty community. DRD became President of the Newark Legal Services Project ("NLSP") that soon formed a headquarters and six local legal services offices in the City of Newark which provided desperately needed representation in civil (not criminal) matters. When the City became engulfed in riots in July 1967 several of the Legal Services officers were in the middle of the riot areas and their personnel were brought into the headquarters where they continued to represent members of the poverty community. The problems became, not the usual civil matters handled by a typical law office; rather the complaints concerned the conduct of the Newark police, State troopers and national guardsmen, who while subduing rioters and looters committed serious offenses against non-offending citizens. Considerable hostility developed between NLSP and law enforcement officers." [from DRD collection description] Series X. Dickinson R. Debevoise Newark Legal Services Project reflects DRD's involvement in the development of the Newark Legal Services Project and how this community project coordinated aid in the aftermath of the Newark race riots. The series includes planning documents, clippings, correspondence, reports, statements, etc. and is organized into three sub-series: NLSP; Statements, presentments, etc.; and Collected correspondence, reports and clippings. This latter sub-series comprises a variety of material that was primarily collected into binders by DRD.

Debevoise Family Papers, 1853-2009

Introduction