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Lester J. Cappon Papers

Identifier: Mss. 90 C17

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Materials relating to the career of Lester Jesse Cappon (September 18, 1900-August 24, 1981), historian and formerly the Archivist for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia, Director of the Institute of Early American History and Culture, and Senior Research Fellow at the Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois.

Professional papers (1909-1981) include primary source material, typescripts, notes, drafts of articles, critiques, maps, and historical journals. Topics researched cover the Southern iron industry, the journals and writings of Jared Sparks, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Howe, and early American maps [material used in the Atlas of Early American History, 1976].

Papers showing Cappon's activities with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Institute of early American History and Culture, the Society of American Archivists, the Archival Institute [associated with Radcliffe College], The Papers of John Marshall, the National Archives, the National Historical Publications Commission, the Newberry Library, the University of Virginia, and the College of William and Mary. Papers and articles showing Cappon's involvement with archival procedures and principles are also included.

Correspondence (1923-1982) includes individuals associated with professional organizations, other historians, such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, personal friends, and family members. Personal papers outline Cappon's affairs and interests. Cappon's diaries (1954-1981) are also included in the collection. (They were closed to the public until August 24, 2006.)

News clippings, magazines, maps, certificates, and photographs complete his papers.


  • Creation: 1809-1981


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from the Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.


14 Cubic Feet




Professional papers arranged alphabetically by name of organization.

Custodial History

Addition 1989.12 contains a brief sketch of Lester J. Cappon by Walter C. Holzbog for his autobiography. Concentrates on Cappon as his College roommate.

Addition 2008.203 contains photographs, possibly of Lester Cappon's daughter (none of photographs are identified) and members of the Institute. Letter from "JCW" about a note on a 1939 "The Collegian" about a new publication "The Virginia Lyceum."

Two copies of a reprint from the October 1951 "The American Archivist" entitled "Comprehensive Historical Indexing: The Virginia Gazette Index" by Stella Duff Neiman and Lester J. Cappon are filed in Box 13, Folder 14.

The following additions have been added to Box 13 as folders 17, 18 and 19: Minutes for Colonial Williamsburg - Interpretation (Presentation) Division, 1961-1969, Colonial Williamsburg - Presentation Division Minutes,1964-1969 and Library of Congress reports on the National Union Catalog of Mss Collections.

The following addition has been added to Box 17 as folder 33: Reprint of "The Royal Society of London: Retailer in Experimental Philosophy" as a gift of the author, Raymond P. Stearns; pamphlets for "Archives of University of Wyoming" 1946, "University Archives and Western Historical Collections, University of Wyoming" 1948, "Radcliffe Women's Archives" 1953, "The Women's Archive at Radcliffe College" 1954, 1958, 1960 and undated and "Publications of the National Archives and Records Service" 1966; report of the Ad Hoc Committee of Manuscripts of the American Historical Association in 1951; brochure "The Print Collector" from Kenneth Nebenazahl, Inc. of Chicago; Library of Congress "News from the Center: No. 2, Fall 1967; "Library Journal", October 15, 1965 and two American Philosophical Society publications, "Dr. Rush to Governor Henry on the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Constitution" as a gift of the author, Lyman H. Butterfield and "Franklin and the 'Wagon Affair,' 1755 by Whitfield J. Bell and Leonard J. Labaree.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Estate and will bequest of Lester J. Cappon, Walter Holzbog and John Haskell. Gifts in 1981 and 1982.

1989.12 Gift of Walter C. Holzbog through Thad Tate.

2008.203 Gift of John Haskell.

Guide to the Lester J. Cappon Papers
SCRC Staff. Updated with additions by Anne Johnson in 2010 and 2011. Karen King in 2018.
September 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository