ABSTRACT

It is something of a truism that archival-based historical research is tedious and time-consuming, with published results slow to come. In consulting the extensive archives available on Charles P. Daly at the American Geographical Society and at the new York Public Library over a number of years, I have had plenty of time to wonder how such a one-time prominent public figure as Charles Daly – this very public intellectual – could drift into almost total obscurity today, within the geographical community but also within histories of new York City as well as those of the legal profession.1 True, Daly had something of a self-deprecating manner that led him to resist certain positions of power and authority. He resisted attempts to be recruited as mayor or governor of new York, or Supreme Court justice, for example, and also opposed the erection of a statue of himself in new York’s Central Park. Yet Daly was a renowned new York judge, community leader, and geographer, appearing hundreds of times in newspapers of his day and before immense public crowds. His disappearance today is interesting not only because he was such a notable figure within his milieu, but also because he went to such great lengths to carefully collect and store extensive records of both his personal and professional lives for, presumably, future generations.2 As far as I know, though, only one other individual has consulted the Daly papers to any great extent, Daly’s biographer Harold Hammond, whose 1954 book I relied upon a great deal throughout my research.3