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Collection George Washington Papers

Series 3, Varick Transcripts, 1775-1785

Forty-four letterbooks containing copies of the correspondence Washington accumulated as Commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. These were made by Richard Varick, at Washington’s direction, in 1781-1785.

In May, 1781 George Washington, headquartered at New Windsor, New York, hired Lt. Col. Richard Varick to copy and organize the letters, orders, proceedings, and other papers his military headquarters had created since the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Varick and a group of clerks set up an office at Poughkeepsie, New York and began copying the papers into letterbooks according to a scheme devised by Washington. Once Varick finished copying the accumulated papers he started on current ones that Washington sent him. The resulting 44 letterbooks, containing copies of documents dating from May, 1775 to June, 1785, are the Varick Transcripts that constitute Series 3 of George Washington's papers. Varick officially finished his work in December, 1783 (see George Washington to Richard Varick, January 1, 1784), even though they continue to June, 1785. The Varick Transcripts are organized according to Washington's scheme, as follows:

  1. Continental Congress
  2. Continental and State Military Personnel
  3. Civil Officials and Private Citizens
  4. Foreign Officers and Subjects of Foreign Nations
  5. Enemy Officers and British Subjects
  6. Continental Army Council Proceedings (War Council Proceedings)

Two additional categories are:

  1. General Orders
  2. Personal Correspondence (Washington called this category P)

Varick's clerks used this scheme to docket the original papers they copied. Their dockets can be seen on originals (usually on the back) in the George Washington papers. For example: a draft of Washington's January 5, 1777 letter to Congress is docketed: No.3 AII 142 to show that it is in Varick category A, Volume 2, page 142. Washington's August 22, 1779 letter to Joseph Reed is docketed: No.154 P1 324. It is in Varick category H (P, personal = H), volume 1, page 324.

To learn more about the Varick transcripts see Index, pp. v-vi.