Founding Collections

Nicholas H. Noyes ’06 and Marguerite Lilly Noyes

Arthur H. Dean
Nicholas H. Noyes ’06, ca. 1965

Nicholas H. Noyes, the son of Frederick W. Noyes (class of 1876), entered Cornell in the fall of 1902. While an undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences he was a member of the Freshman Baseball Team, the business manager of the Cornell Daily Sun, and a member of Psi Upsilon, Sphinx Head, the Glee Club, and other societies. After his graduation in 1906, he began a distinguished career in business and civic affairs, as a member of the Business Advisory Council of the U.S. Department of Commerce, a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and a director of Eli Lilly and Company. He was also an exceptionally loyal alumnus, serving on Cornell’s Board of Trustees and contributing his skills and devotion to countless fundraising drives and committee activities.

In 1949, in recognition of her husband’s nearly fifty years of service to Cornell and its ideals, Marguerite Lilly Noyes presented to Cornell University Library the Nicholas H. Noyes Collection of Historical Americana. The Noyes collection contains spectacular treasures, providing generations of students and scholars with a memorable and tangible introduction to the ideals of American democracy. Featured in the Noyes collection are a complete set of autograph letters and documents signed by the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, letters by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, a signed manuscript copy of the Thirteenth Amendment, and one of five surviving copies of the Gettysburg Address in the hand of Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln. The Gettysburg Address. February 29, 1864.
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Cornell University Library’s copy of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is one of five known copies in Lincoln’s hand, and the only copy owned by a private institution. The four other copies are owned by public institutions: two at the Library of Congress, one at the Illinois State Historical Library, and one in the Lincoln Room at the White House.

Cornell’s manuscript of the Gettysburg Address was written out by President Lincoln at the request of George Bancroft, the most famous historian of his day. On February 23, 1864, Bancroft attended a White House reception and asked Lincoln for a copy of the Gettysburg Address in his own handwriting, to be included in a lithographed volume of facsimiles offered for sale by the Baltimore Sanitary Fair. The Fair was to provide funds to assist soldiers, especially those ill in hospitals. Lincoln agreed, and a week later he mailed a copy to the historian.

Gift of Marguerite Lilly Noyes in honor of Nicholas H. Noyes ’06, 1949

Conservation and rehousing of the Gettysburg Address was supported by a generous grant from the Nicholas H. Noyes, Jr. Memorial Foundation, Inc.

Travel Case Belonging to Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier, [ca. 1800]
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This portable travel case or nécessaire, belonged to the widow of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, the “father of modern chemistry,” who was executed during the French Revolution. Designed when closed to look like two books bound in red gilt leather, the mahogany interior consists of eleven compartments, some with detachable sliding lids, containing writing, sewing, cosmetic, and manicure implements.

The Lavoisier Collection was purchased with the assistance of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas H. Noyes and Mr. and Mrs. Spencer T. Olin.

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