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The Jonah Sherman Collection at the Marist College Archives

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Jonah Sherman was a local businessman, native to Poughkeepsie, NY who operated the Sherman Furniture Corporation for many years. This company originally began as a family-owned appliance business and later evolved into a furniture retailer. A July 14, 1985 article of the Poughkeepsie Journal referred to Sherman as “an encyclopedia of business trivia, a man who inherited a family appliance store in the 1950’s and diversified to become a leading New York businessman and civic force.” Jonah Sherman served Marist College as a trustee for more the 25 years and several terms as an officer of the board. In 1993, Jonah and his wife Joan were established the Marist College Center for Lifetime Study, a program for senior citizens that has been subsequently adopted by other collegiate institutions. He served on many boards and civic organizations in the Poughkeepsie area and was instrumental as a board member of the Astor Home in Rhinebeck.

 

joan and jonah sherman

 

In 2007, Sherman donated a collection of material related to Poughkeepsie’s commercial and civic history to the college archives. Of particular note are documents related to local businesses and banking institutions. Much of the material is related to Luckey, Platt, and Company which began in Poughkeepsie in 1867 and operated continuously until closing in 1981. Documents include deeds, mortgages, contracts, insurance policies and claims, pamphlets, brochures, and architectural plans. Some of the more interesting documents relate to plans, specs, and proposals for the construction of the 1923 Classical Revival building by Poughkeepsie architect, Percival Lloyd. The “Luckey Platt Building” still stands at the corner of Main and Academy Streets in the city of Poughkeepsie. Scrapbooks related to Luckey, Platt, and Co., ranging from the early- to mid-twentieth century are excellent and succinct resources for historians studying Poughkeepsie businesses.

 

Banking history is documented well in Sherman’s collection. Two banks are featured prominently: the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank and the Merchants Bank of Poughkeepsie. Other banks include the Farmers and Manufacturers Bank and Fallkill National Bank. Typical documents in each of these folders include copies of articles of association, incomplete volumes of mortgage indexes, letters and correspondence, historical biographical material, and documents showing mergers with other banks. It is interesting to examine the various federal regulatory documentation, beginning in the 1930s and documented in the collection through the 1960’s.

 

Another box contained extensive material related to Marist College, Vassar College, Eastman Business College, and other academic institutions in Poughkeepsie. Records for Eastman Business College include financial statements, antique autograph books, and other administrative records. The collection on Vassar included pamphlets and historical material tailored to the general public.

 

The Sherman Collection is impressive in its volume of ephemeral material from local businesses and industry. These items include advertising material, postcard collection, and an impressive photograph cache of the business district.

 

Other noteworthy items in the collection include documents related to the Hackett and Williams law firm of Poughkeepsie. Henry T. Hackett, a partner in the firm, served as counsel to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on local matters and drafted his will. Hackett’s family settled in Hyde Park in 1852 from Ireland and rose to prominence as local attorneys. Henry was a 1909 graduate of Harvard University School of Law. The Roosevelt Presidential Library holds further material related to Henry Hackett and his dealings with President Roosevelt.

 

The Sherman Collection at the Marist College Archives is a comprehensive window into Poughkeepsie history of the 19th and 20th centuries and is an outstanding resource to someone researching industry in the region.

 

– Elijah Bender, Marist ’18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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