This collection contains papers relating to the Duane family and families related to the Duane family. The majority of the collection concerns the papers of James Duane, a prominent New York lawyer, patriot, and land developer. There are also a substantial number of papers relating to Duane's son, James Chatham Duane, a lawyer of Duanesburg and Schenectady, and of his son-in-law George William Featherstonhaugh. The collection also includes a substantial number of papers, largely correspondence, relating to other Duane family members, predominantly William North Duane Jr., great-great-grandson of James Duane, his mother Anne Dalliba Duane, and others.
James Duane (1733-1797) also known as James the Jurist, was the son of Irishman Anthony Duane, who came to New York as an officer in the British Navy in 1698. After his father's death (ca. 1734), Duane became the ward of Robert Livingston. Duane fell in love with and married Livingston's daughter Mary in 1759. He took the bar and made a number of profitable real estate investments and was a prominent lawyer by the time of the American Revolution. He was a member of the Revolutionary Committee of New York, the Continental Congress, and was one of the signers of the Articles of Confederation. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention, served as mayor of the city of New York from 1794-1789, and as a U.S. District judge from 1789-1794. James Chatham Duane (1770-1842), son of James Duane, was a lawyer in Schenectady, New York. He married Marianne Bowers, daughter of Henry Bowers of New York City. Duane spent his life working on the development of the Duane estate at Duanesburg, both political changes, industrial unrest, financial panics, and anti-rent riots combined to decrease his holdings drastically.