Munsell, Joel, 1808-1880

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Founder of a printing and publishing house in Albany, New York.

From the description of Papers, 1845-1873. (New York State Library). WorldCat record id: 50150575

Printer, publisher, editor, and author of works on historical subjects and printing history. Born in Northfield Massachusetts and relocated to Albany, New York, in 1827.

From the description of Diary, 1828 May-1834 Jun. (New York University, Group Batchload). WorldCat record id: 58770460

Joel Munsell (1808-1880), printer and antiquarian, was born in Northfield, Mass., the son of Joel (1783-1865) and Cynthia Payne Munsell ( -1864). In 1825, at the age of seventeen, he was apprenticed to the Franklin Post and Christian Freeman in Greenfield, Mass. Later, he worked in a print shop in Albany, N.Y., where in 1827 he went into the newspaper business for himself. Munsell printed many newspapers (e.g., Albany Morning Express) and periodicals (e.g., New York State Mechanic) and edited several. He also published reference books in history and prepared a few compilations, including Outline of the History of Printing (1839) and Typographical Miscellany (1850), a limited edition. Munsell gathered a large personal collection of works on printing and a large collection of newspapers. He was a founder of the Albany Institute and a member of the American Antiquarian Society.

From the description of Papers, 1835-1922. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 207159190

Joel Munsell was born in Northfield, Massachusetts, on April 14, 1808, the son of wagon-maker Joel Munsell, and his wife, Cynthia Paine. In 1825, he began an apprenticeship in a printing shop in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and two years later, became associate editor of the Albany Microscope, a newspaper that he later purchased. In 1834, Munsell married Jane Bigelow, with whom he had three children before her 1854 death. He remarried, to Mary Ann Reid, in 1856, and had six additional children with her.

By the 1840s, Munsell had acquired another printing plant. His publications increasingly emphasized American history, genealogy, and the history of printing. He became interested in the circumstances surrounding the 1777 murder of Jane McCrea, which had attained mythic proportions during the Revolutionary War and its aftermath. Around 1847, he began investigating the truth of the many conflicting accounts of McCrea’s death, most of which blamed a Mohawk named Le Loup. He solicited further information from several historians who had written about the murder, including Charles Neilson and Epaphras Hoyt, and publicized his research through the New York Historical Society, in which he was active. During the period of 1861-1864, he published the New England Historical and Genealogical Register . Munsell’s voluminous output and contributions to American history and the study of typography earned him a reputation as one of the most important printers of his time. He died January 15, 1880.

From the guide to the Joel Munsell collection, Munsell, Joel collection, 1848-1913, 1848-1866, (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Munsell, Joel, 1808-1880. Joel Munsell collection, 1848-1913, bulk 1848-1866. William L. Clements Library
creatorOf Harris, Caleb Fiske, 1818-1881. Papers, 1867-1881. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
creatorOf Joel Munsell collection 1848-1913 1848-1866 Munsell, Joel collection William L. Clements Library
creatorOf Stone, George, 1811 or 12-1864. Scrapbook, 1860-1877. Gadsden Public Library
referencedIn George Bancroft Correspondence, 1844-1881 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Munsell, Joel, 1808-1880. Papers, 1845-1873. New York State Library
referencedIn Henry S. Bannister Collection Relating to Joel Munsell, before 1993 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Joel Munsell Collection, 1861-1958 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Munsell, Joel, 1808-1880. Diary, 1828 May-1834 Jun. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Munsell, Charles. Albany scrapbooks. American Periodical Series I
creatorOf Munsell, Joel, 1808-1880,. Autograph letter signed from Joel Munsell to Charles C. Moreau [manuscript], 1860 March 22. Folger Shakespeare Library
creatorOf Riggs, George Washington, 1813-1881. Letter : Washington, D.C., to Joel Munsell, Albany, 1869 Oct. 28. George Washington University
referencedIn Preble, George Henry, 1816-1885. Papers, c. 1861-c. 1882. American Antiquarian Society
referencedIn Parsons, Enoch, 1769-1846. Parsons family papers, 1769-1878. Library of Congress
creatorOf Denham, Edward, 1849-1925. Papers, 1876-1888. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn McAdoo, W. G. (William Gibbs), 1820-1894. William Gibbs McAdoo letter, 3 February 1872. University of Georgia Main Library
creatorOf Wiggin, J. K. Letters to J.K. Wiggin, 1860-1867. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Munsell, Joel, 1808-1880. Papers, 1835-1922. American Antiquarian Society
referencedIn Parsons Family Papers, 1769-1878 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Munsell, Joel, 1808-1880. Letter, 1862, March 13, Albany, to Mr. Reuben A. Guild. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
creatorOf Henry Phillips Jr. letter to Joel Munsell American Numismatic Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848. person
associatedWith Albany Minerva. corporateBody
associatedWith Bancroft, George, 1800-1891 person
associatedWith Bannister, Henry S. person
associatedWith Bruce, George, 1781-1866. person
associatedWith Denham, Edward, 1849-1925. person
associatedWith Guild, Reuben Aldridge, 1822-1899, person
associatedWith Harris, Caleb Fiske, 1818-1881. person
correspondedWith Hough, George Washington person
associatedWith Hoyt, E. (Epaphras), 1765-1850. person
correspondedWith McAdoo, W. G. (William Gibbs), 1820-1894. person
associatedWith McCrea, Jane, 1753-1777. person
correspondedWith Moreau, Charles C. person
associatedWith Munsell, Charles. person
associatedWith Munsell, Charles, b. 1852. person
associatedWith Munsell, Jane. person
associatedWith Neilson, Charles. person
associatedWith Niles, Hezekiah, 1777-1839. person
correspondedWith Parsons family of Connecticut and Ohio family
associatedWith Preble, George Henry, 1816-1885. person
associatedWith Riggs, George Washington, 1813-1881. person
associatedWith Stone, George, 1811 or 12-1864. person
associatedWith Timperley, C. H. (Charles Henry), 1795?-1861. person
associatedWith Wiggin, J. K. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--Albany
United States
United States
New York (State)--Albany
Albany (N.Y.)
Albany (N.Y.)
New York (State)
Albany (N.Y.)
Publishers and publishing
Publishers and publishing
Publishers and publishing
Mohawk Indians
Newspaper publishing
Type and type-founding
Printers (people)


Birth 1808-04-14

Death 1880-01-15



Ark ID: w6xp78qg

SNAC ID: 46275610