Joseph J. Mickley collection

Collection 0647

(circa 1840-1880)
(0.4 Linear feet ; 1 box [21 folders])

Summary Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Mickley, Joseph J., 1799-1878.
Joseph J. Mickley collection
(circa 1840-1880)
0.4 Linear feet ; 1 box [21 folders]
Finding aid prepared by Anna Baechtold Georgi
Language of Materials note
Materials in this collection are mainly in Swedish and German, with some items in Dutch, English, Latin, and French.
Mixed materials [Box]

Preferred Citation note

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Joseph J. Mickley collection (Collection 647), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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Biographical/Historical note

Joseph Jacob Mickley (1799-1878) was a numismatist born in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania. The son of farmers, he moved to Philadelphia in 1811 to start an apprenticeship in making pianos. He later formed his own musical instrument-making business. In 1831 he received a prize from the Franklin Institute for his skills. He was married twice--first to Cordelia Hopfeldt, then to Diana Blummer--and had six children. Mickley also collected coins and owned one of the earliest important coin collections in America. His interest in coins earned him the nickname the “father of American numismatics.” He later shifted his interest to books about coins rather than the pieces themselves. Also, Mickley had interests in collecting autographs and books. His autograph collection included all the signers of the Declaration of Independence and all the presidents through Ulysses S. Grant. Mickley was also interested in historical research. In 1875 he published “A Brief Account of Murders by the Indians, and the Cause Thereof, in Northampton County, Penn'a., October 8th, 1763” and in 1881 "Some Account of William Usselinx and Peter Minuit: Two Individuals Who Were Instrumental in Establishing the First Permanent Colony in Delaware," a paper he had presented before the Historical Society of Delaware in 1874. Mickley, who was fluent in French, German, and Swedish and familiar with Italian, Spanish, and Russian, travelled extensively, and visited every mint in Europe. Mickley wrote journals throughout his life, but most did not survive to the present day. Minnie Mickley wrote “The Genealogy of the Mickley Family of America” (1893), and J. Bunting, "Joseph J. Mickley: A Biographical Sketch," originally published in Lippincott's Magazine, July 1885.

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Scope and Contents note

The Joseph J. Mickley collection, which is housed in one box, contains copies and translations of documents about the early Swedish settlement in America (Folders 2 to 21), as well as some letters to Mickley from the years 1871 to 1878 (Folder 1). They are part of his correspondence to Sweden and the Netherlands concerning the documents of this collection about New Sweden (an early Swedish Delaware Valley settlement) and its history. People from those regions copied the original documents for him in Swedish archives (the Swedish State Archives, Stockholm; the Oxenstjerna Archives, which belongs to the Swedish State Archives today; the Royal Library in Stockholm, University Library in Uppsala; and others). For more information about some of the people mentioned in this description and the collection, please see the reference list below.

These hand-copied documents (made at different times between 1830 and 1880) include the correspondence from Johann Printz to Peter Brahe, Axel Oxenstjerna and others, and also council records, official memoranda, orders of the queen, reports about New Sweden, travel accounts, calculations, lists of persons living in the settlement, instructions for Peter Minuit and Johann Printz, and more correspondence, all concerning the history of the colony New Sweden at the Delaware River, which existed from 1638 to 1655. Folder 18 contains a copy, plus a partial English translation of the Geographia Americana by Peter Lindheström, 1691 (Chapters II, IV, V and XXIX). Peter Lindheström (also Lindström) lived in New Sweden as a military engineer during 1654-1655. He kept a journal of his observations and experiences. Topics include weather, climate, local Indian tribes, colony’s agriculture, and his eye witness account of New Sweden’s fall to the Dutch.

Folder 19 contains an interesting manuscript: the handwritten English translation of "Seventeen Historical Documents" and additional notes both by "Charles Lewis Gustavi," pseudonym of Carl Love Almqvist (1793-1866), the famous Swedish author and one of the foremost Swedish social reformers of the 19th century. In June 1851 Almqvist fled from Sweden to Philadelphia on suspicion of fraud and poison attempts against a fellow writer. In America, he went by the alias Lewis Gustavi. While living in Philadelphia, he earned his living as a journalist. It is possible that Mickley retained Almqvist as a translator. The translation is followed by unique notes about certain aspects in the documents. The translation bears on its title page the pseudonym Charles Lewis Gustavi. Apparently, it is the only existing document with this adopted name written down. Unfortunately, this title page is only a copy, the original having been lost, which probably dates from the 1990s when the Almqvist Society discovered that his manuscript might be in Philadelphia. A few folders in the collection were noted as having missing documents as well, but it is difficult to discern exactly what items are no longer extant.

The documents in this collection are mainly in Swedish and German, with some items in Dutch, Latin, French, and English. A few documents are English translations of foreign materials.

There are some duplicates in different folders; for example, there are several instructions for governors in Sweden to send people to New Sweden, deeds of Queen Christina, and correspondence.

Several of the copies contain gaps where the transcriber in the archives could not decipher the original words.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2011

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research.


Provenance unknown.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

Mickley family diary, 1852 (Am .1039)

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Controlled Access Headings


  • Land settlement--Pennsylvania.
  • Swedish Americans--Pennsylvania.

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Reference list of notable individuals

Beske, Hans Amundson - Captain of the ship Gyllene Haj (Golden Shark).

Blommaert, Samuel (1583-1651) - a Flemish/Dutch merchant, director of the Dutch West India Company from 1622 to 1629 and again from 1636 to 1642. Later he was a paid commissioner of Sweden in the Netherlands. He played a dubious but key role in Peter Minuit’s expedition that led to the founding of New Sweden. He was one of the main investors from the beginning. Blommaert’s letters to the Swedish chancellor Count Axel Oxenstierna from 1635-1641 are of great importance to the history of New Sweden.

Brahe, Peter (1602-1680) - count, Swedish soldier and statesman, privy councilor from 1630 and lord high steward from 1640.

Queen Christina (1626-1689) - queen regent of Sweden from 1632 to 1654.

Flemming, Claes (1649-1685) - Swedish baron and statesman.

Gardie, Jacob de la (1583-1652) - a statesman and soldier of the Swedish Empire. He also served as one of the five regents jointly ruling Sweden during the minority of Queen Christina.

Gustavus Adolphus, (1594-1632) - king of Sweden from 1611 to 1632.

Gyllenhielm, Carl Carlson, Baron (1574-1650) - Swedish soldier and politician, lord high admiral in 1620.

Kling, Måns - the second governor of New Sweden from 1638 until 1640.

Minuit, Peter (1580-1638) - director-general of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1633, and founder of the Swedish colony of New Sweden in 1638.

Oxenstierna, Axel (1583-1654) - count of Södermöre, Swedish statesman, lord high chancellor of Sweden from 1612.

Oxenstierna, Gabriel Bengtsson (1586-1656) - Swedish statesman, cousin of Axel Oxenstierna.

Printz, Johann (1592-1663) - governor of New Sweden from 1643 until 1653.

Riesingh, Johann (1617-1672) - the last governor of New Sweden.

Spiering, Peter (also Pieter Spiering or Pieter Spierinck) (1595-1652) - a Dutch financier, art dealer and diplomat in Swedish service. He was an associate in the New Sweden Company that built New Sweden in 1638; he was later given a title in Sweden.

Stake, Olof (1593-1664) - governor of Värmland.

Stuyvesant, Peter (c. 1612-1672) - Dutch governor in America from 1647 to 1664.

Tungel, Nicolas - secretary to the court.

Winthrop, John (1587/8-1649) - wealthy English puritan lawyer. He was one of the leading figures in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first major settlement in New England, and served as governor of the colony from 1629 to 1649.

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Letters to Mickley (1871-1878) 

1 1

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Copies of documents, 1636-1640, 1652 (undated) 

1 2

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Copies of correspondence from Spiering and Blommaert, 1636 and 1637 (undated) 

1 3

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Copies of Minuit's letter, 6/15/1636 (undated) 

1 4

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Two copies of the Instructions for Minuit, 1637 (undated) 

1 5

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Copies of correspondence from the Swedish government to governors of Swedish provinces, 1640 and 1641 (undated) 

1 6

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Copies of lists of passengers, 1641, and copies of lists of persons living in New Sweden, 1644, 1648, and 1649 (undated) 

1 7

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Copy of document by Johann Printz, 1644 (undated) 

1 8

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Copies of Johann Printz' correspondence, 1643-1653 (undated) 

1 9

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Copies of the "Relations" of Printz, 1644 and 1647 (undated) 

1 10

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Copies of orders and other documents by the Swedish government, 1640-1655, and document on how to improve trade in New Sweden, 1642 (undated) 

1 11

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Copy of "Ordinanz" for New Sweden by Johann Riesing, 1654, and copies of correspondence from Riesing to Oxenstjerna, 1654 (undated) 

1 12

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Copies of correspondence between John Winthrop and Johann Printz, in Latin, 1644 (undated) 

1 13

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Miscellaneous transcriptions (instructions for Johann Printz, Riesing's New Sweden report etc.) (undated) 

1 14

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Miscellaneous transcriptions: The Swedes at the Delaware River after "New Sweden", 1693-1717 (undated) 

1 15

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Miscellaneous transcriptions concerning New Sweden in the 1640's (undated) 

1 16

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Copies of miscellaneous reports by Blommaert and others in Dutch, Swedish and English, 1630's to 1650's (undated) 

1 17

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Copies out of "Geographia Americana", 1691, Swedish plus an English translation (undated) 

1 18

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"Seventeen Historical Documents concerning the early settlements of the Swedes on the River Delaware", English translations and notes by Carl Love Almqvist alias Charles Lewis Gustavi (undated) 

1 19

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Copy of a "Schuldt-Boeck" (dept register), 1648, in German (undated) 

1 20

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Miscellaneous (undated) 

1 21

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