TABLE OF CONTENTS
Guide to the Wilson and Jane Rantus Papers
|Title||Wilson and Jane Rantus Papers,|
|Abstract:||The Rantus Papers though not very voluminous cover most of the span of the lives of Wilson and Jane. This collection has been completely photocopied. Originals will be serviced only on an individual document basis whenever requested or needed. By and large they consist of receipted bills, with several letters or other documents included as well. These papers have been divided into the following series: Bills (personal family bills), Bills (village and town bills), Letters from Thomas Hamilton, Financial Notes Involving Thomas Hamilton, and Miscellaneous Items.|
|Extent:||1 box, .2 cubic feet|
|Location:||The material is located in the Archives at Queens Library.|
A sketch of the life of Wilson and Jane Rantus can be found in the July 1962 issue of the Long Island Forum. There, in an article titled "William Rantus, Negro Leader”, Father Richard K. MacMaster, S.J. has outlined the life and times of Rantus who though “not a national leader in the struggle for abolition of slavery, civil rights and equal educational opportunities ... was typical of the articulate, free Negro who helped to further the cause on state and local levels".
Rantus (sometimes the family spelled it Rantous) was born in the Town of Jamaica on January 25, l807, the son of Troy and Catherine Rantus. Throughout his life he took an interest in his people, and was closely associated with a pioneer African-American journalist, Thomas Hamilton. Rantus died on May 13, 1861 His wife, Jane, survived him until 1889.
The Rantus Papers though not very voluminous cover most of the span of the lives of Wilson and Jane. This collection has been completely photocopied. Originals will be serviced only on an individual document basis whenever requested or needed. By and large they consist of receipted bills, with several letters or other documents included as well. These papers have been divided into the following series: Bills (personal family bills), Bills (village and town bills), Letters from Thomas Hamilton, Financial Notes Involving Thomas Hamilton, and Miscellaneous Items.
Bills (Personal Family Bills) These bills were submitted to Wilson or Jane Rantus by various individuals for having rendered services or supplied materials. Among these bills are found some submitted by grocers, building contractors, and fuel dealers. Virtually all bills have been receipted for payment received. They range in date from the 1830s to 1898 and undated.
Bills (Village and Town Bills) these bills were submitted by the village and town of Jamaica for the collection of real estate taxes, school taxes, or other taxes. All have been receipted by the official collector for having received payment. The period, 1856-1883 is covered by this series. There are about 45 items divided almost equally between village and town.
Financial Notes Involving Thomas Hamilton This small series consists of an insurance policy taken out by Thomas Hamilton on his "frame Tenant House situated on Douglass St. in the Village and Town of Jamaica”. Besides the policy there are several financial notes regarding Hamilton and the Glen Cove Mutual Insurance Company. There is also a similar policy (probably involving the same house) but made out to an Edward H. Hays, and similar financial notes. These items are dated 1856-1868 and are about 10 in number.
Letters from Thomas Hamilton Thomas Hamilton was a pioneer African-American journalist who collaborated with Wilson Rantus in several ventures. The letters in this series were written to Rantus during the years 1854, 1858, 1860, 1861, and one is undated. There are 17 letters, few of which are of any great length. All were written from New York, and those letters for 1858 (of which there are 3) were written on the letter head of the Office of the American Abolition Society, 48 Beekman Street. Hamilton was probably an officer of the Society, as was, no doubt, Rantus. Though most of the later dated letters seem to refer to money owed by Hamilton to Rantus, at least two of the earlier ones refer to a school proposition put forward by Rantus. (Xerox copies of these letters have been made)
Miscellaneous There are some dozen documents in this file. Among them are a Letters of Administration granted to Jane Rantus and Amos Denton regarding the estate of Wilson Rantus; a list of the names and ages of the children of Troy Rantus; a one page draft of what appears to be a sermon or speech; and a fugitive item, probably from the records of the Veteran Volunteer Firemen’s Assoc. of Jamaica consisting of a petition signed by various African-American inhabitants of the village of Jamaica complaining of assaults made upon them by some village rowdies.
Published citations should take the following form:
Creator of item, date of item (if known), identification of item, if a photograph its control number. The Wilson and Jane Rantus Papers, Archives at Queens Library, Queens Borough Public Library.
Open for research without restrictions. Manuscripts are only available in the Archives at Queens Library, please call (718) 990-0770 for hours. Manuscript users will be required to complete the division's Manuscript Usage Form and deposit their photograph identification or Queens Borough Public Library card with a staff member. The identification will be returned to the user after she/he has returned the material. Manuscript users will deposit all their personal items behind the reference desk. Manuscript users must use the division's loose sheets of paper for note taking. To reiterate, no pen of any type is permitted. Paper and a pencil are available upon request. Manuscript users may be required to use special handling procedures depending on the conditions of the material.
Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the:
- Archives at Queens Library
- Queens Borough Public Library
- 89-11 Merrick Boulevard
- Jamaica, NY 11432
- Phone: (718) 990-0770.
- Hamilton, Thomas, 1823-1865
- Rantus, Jane
- Rantus, Wilson
- Jamaica (New York, N.Y.)
[The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.]