The Fort Ticonderoga Museum has welcomed visitors since 1909. Over the past century the museum has actively collected books, maps, manuscripts, and historical artifacts associated with the history of the Fort and military history of the Lake Champlain and Lake George valleys. Today, the museum is operated by the nonprofit Fort Ticonderoga Association. The museum’s collections are the culmination of over a century of very tightly focused collecting. The dream of the museum’s founders, Stephen H.P. and Sarah G.T. Pell, was to assemble a collection of 18th-century military manuals, and all the documentation and historical artifacts necessary to accurately reconstruct Fort Ticonderoga and interpret its dramatic history in the most accurate and engaging way possible.
The Library Collection
The library contains nearly 14,000 published works focusing on the military history of northeastern North America and New France during the 18th century. The library’s cornerstone collection is the library of the 19th century historian and author William L. Stone. These books were Stone’s personal copies of the major historical works that influenced generations of scholars on America’s colonial past. Many of Stone’s books are rich with his personal annotations and tipped-in collections of correspondence and supporting documentation.
Another significant focal point of Fort Ticonderoga’s library is the collection of original 17th, 18th and early 19th-century military manuals. Here are found most of the major French, English and American works on the art of war, military discipline and fortification. These include the works of Bélidor, Bland, Coehorn, Muller, St. Remy, Saxe, Stevenson, Steuben, Vauban and many others.
The museum’s collection of 18th century English and American newspapers and literary magazines is an additional valuable resource. The London Magazine and Annual Register cover periods of the Seven Years’ War and American Revolution in their entirety. Significant runs of newspapers including the London Chronicle, Boston Gazette, Providence Gazette and Pennsylvania Evening Post provide the “breaking news” coverage of all the major events in these conflicts.
The Archival Collections
The archival collections consist of thousands of manuscripts, diaries, orderly books, maps, and photographs. The manuscript collection includes correspondence of both officers and common soldiers who served at Fort Ticonderoga in the 18th century. Preserved within the library are extensive collections of military correspondence related to Ethan Allen, George Washington, Benedict Arnold, James Abercromby, the Marquis de Montcalm, Robert Rogers, John Burgoyne, Philip Skene and Jonathan Potts, surgeon to the Northern Department of the Continental Army. Over thirty manuscript journals and orderly books contain first-hand accounts and day-to-day orders of an army at Fort Ticonderoga and the Lake George / Lake Champlain valleys during the Seven Years’ War and American Revolution.
Original maps, engraved portraits and photographs provide an indispensable visual link to the past. The museum’s collection of maps documents change in the landscape from the 1690s to the mid 19th century. Engraved portraits bring researchers face-to-face with the key figures involved in the conflicts for North America. The photographic collections document the preservation and reconstruction of Fort Ticonderoga, now a National Historic Landmark, in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
The Artifact Collections
Fort Ticonderoga is also home to one of America’s largest collections of 18th-century military material culture. The weapons collection is composed of over one thousand muskets, bayonets, pistols, swords and pole arms representing most of the major types of weapons used in the colonial wars and struggle for American Independence. The museum’s collection of 18th-century artillery is considered the largest collection of its type in the western hemisphere.
Fort Ticonderoga preserves an important collection of American art spanning three centuries. The art collections includes 18th-century military portraiture and battle scenes, 19th-century view of the Fort’s ruins and works depicting events in Ticonderoga’s dramatic history. Highlights in the art collection include Thomas Davies’ View of the Lines at Lake George, 1759 depicting General Amherst’s military camp at the south end of Lake George on the eve of the British siege of Fort Ticonderoga in July 1759. Apart from the historical importance of the scene depicted, this painting also has the distinction of being the earliest-known painted view of Lake George. Thomas Cole’s dramatic painting Gelyna, or A View Near Ticonderoga is one of the museum’s most significant works. The painting, Cole’s earliest-known signed and dated painting illustrates the popular, although fictional story of the death of Edward Rutledge, an officer of the British army mortally wounded in the 1758 British attack on Ticonderoga.
A collection of nearly 100 engraved powder horns spanning the last half of the 18th century highlights a unique form of American art popular in military camps. In addition the museum preserves a major collection of uniforms and headgear numbering over 150 objects. This important collection includes several 18th-century American and British uniform coats and headgear as well as dozens of early 19th-century military uniforms and hats.
The library, archival and artifact collections are accessible for research purposes. The museum maintains several thematic research bibliographies that serve as finding aids to aid scholars in understanding the breadth of the collections. Historical inquiries may be made by mail, e-mail telephone, or by fax. Researchers are encouraged to schedule an appointment for large or specialized inquiries.
Use of the collections is by appointment only. Researchers are asked to register each day, provide positive photographic identification and abide by the established collection use policies. A limited number of photocopies may be made available for research use, as the materials’ condition, access restrictions, and staffing permit.
Materials in the museum’s library are not available through interlibrary loan.
Location and hours
Fort Ticonderoga’s library, archives and artifact collections are preserved in the Thompson-Pell Research Center. Collections are accessible by appointment only, Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., year round (closed national holidays).
For inquiries about the collections, please contact:
Thompson-Pell Research Center
P.O. Box 390
Ticonderoga, NY 12883
Tel. (518) 585-2821
Fax (518) 585-2210