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Kane family papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Vault MSS 792

Scope and Contents

Materials contain the papers of the Kane family of Philadelphia and Kane, Pennsylvania. Includes papers created and collected by John K. Kane and his wife, Jane Duval Kane; and their children, specifically Thomas L. Kane and his wife, Elizabeth Kane. Contains letters to and from several important American political and historical figures, including Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Hancock, Andrew Jackson, Horace Greeley, and U.S. Grant. A large portion of the collection also deals with Thomas Kane's service in the American Civil War. The collection also includes Kane's correspondence with several Mormon leaders, including Brigham Young, and documentation of his relationship with the Mormons. Dated from 1690 to 1982.


  • 1690-1982


Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Kane family papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical / Historical

The Thomas L. Kane (1822-1883) and Elizabeth Kane (1836-1909) family was a prominent family from Pennsylvania, and friends of members to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 19th Century.

The Kane family was a prominent family of politicians, lawyers, and doctors in Pennsylvania. Thomas L. Kane (1822-1883) was born in Philadelphia to John K. Kane (1795-1858), judge and politician in the city. In 1853, Thomas married Elizabeth Dennistown Wood (1836-1909), and they had four children: Harriet, Elisha, Evan, and William, who later changed his name to Thomas after the death of his father. Thomas L. Kane was a friend of Brigham Young and the Mormons and helped facilitate their migration to Utah, and forged a compromise that kept the Utah War of 1857-58 from escalating to bloodshed. Elizabeth Kane wrote a book on her visit to Utah and interaction with the Mormons during the winter of 1872-73, titled "Twelve Mormon Homes." Following the Civil War, the Kane family moved to western Pennsylvania to found the town of Kane, Pennsylvania.


40 microfilm reels (12 linear ft.)

80 boxes (40 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in twelve series: 1. John K. Kane papers, 1773-1916. 2. Thomas L. Kane personal papers, 1835-1886. 3. Thomas L. Kane papers on the Mormons, 1846-1884. 4. Thomas L. Kane papers on the American West and politics, 1845-1930. 5. Thomas L. Kane papers on the Civil War, 1861-1906. 6. Elizabeth Wood Kane papers, 1830-1921. 7. Kane family personal papers, 1869-1965. 8. Kane family business papers, 1844-1943. 9. E. Kent Kane papers, 1830-1982. 10. Thomas L. Kane deeds, letters, and other material, 1690-1912. 11. Kane family lithographs, clippings, and other material, 1815-1931. 12. Kane family photographs, approx. 1850-1982.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

This collection has come to the Brigham Young University Library from three main sources over about twenty years. The first installment came in 1978 and was acquired from Sybil Kane. The second came in November 1983 when the Library purchased Kane material from the E. Kent Kane estate. These two groups were integrated into one collection by 1995 under the direction of Dennis Rowley, then Curator of Manuscripts. He was also given a collection of typescripts of mostly Thomas L. Kane letters by Lyndon W. Cook. The Cook typescripts were integrated into the collection by 1995. These have since been removed and can be found as a separate collection (MSS 2221).

Then, in 1996, BYU Library acquired its largest collection of Kane family manuscripts. These materials, including printed material and photographs, were purchased from Thomas L. Kane and his wife Dorothy through their representative, Cameron Treleaven, a rare book dealer in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This acquisition was passed down from Elizabeth Kane to her son Evan O'Neill Kane, to his son Elisha K. Kane III and to his wife Gladys S. Kane, who is the mother of Thomas L. Kane, the individual from whom BYU acquired the materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Sybil Kane; 1978.

Purchased; E. Kent Kane estate; November 1983.

Purchased; Thomas L. and Dorothy Kane; December 1996.


Utah and Western American cultural, family, social, intellectual, and religious history (19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts collection development policy, V, b, v, 4; March 2020)

Related Materials

See also the Thomas L. Kane autograph, 1846 (MSS 991), John Kintzing Kane letter, 1846 (MSS SC 2474), Brigham Young letter, 1873 (Vault MSS 144), Jesse C. Little letters received and pamphlets, 1844-1892 (MSS SC 1124), Samuel Allis statement, 1846 (MSS SC 187). See also Thomas L. and Elizabeth W. Kane Family Collection (MSS 3190)


Box 78 has been vacated and the materials moved to Box 77 to be housed.

Processing Information

Processed; Meghan Hoesch, student manuscript processor, and Ryan Lee, curator; March 2020.

Register of Kane family papers
In Progress
Leslie Evens
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States