The Emperors Letters

The Access Team has been busy behind the scenes cataloguing the archive collection and scanning historic photographs.  

Thanks to a generous Lotteries grant we had eight staff working on this project which will make the significant archival and photographic holdings of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust more accessible locally, nationally and internationally. On opening we will have a user-friendly catalogue online so that people can explore our archive holdings and view 7,000 of our significant photographs.

One exciting discovery was a collection of letters and envelopes from the late 1840s and early 1850s. They are written by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte III (b.1808 – d.1873) to his friend, Mr Wikoff. Napoleon was the first President of the French Republic and, as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire. Wikoff was working in the White House as a confidant of Mrs Mary Lincoln. Bonaparte was not just passing on gossip and asking after mutual friends, he was also testing the waters to see if Wikoff would turn the ear of Mrs Lincoln to get her husband, President Lincoln, to support Bonaparte’s planned coup. Although this collection does not have any of Wikoff’s responses, history proves that Lincoln and the United States did not support Bonaparte’s successful coup in 1851.

Letters, Napoleon Bonaparte III, 1840s-1850s, Napoleon Bonaparte III, (b.1808, d.1873), collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, [67013]

Emily Murray & Sara Browne
Access Team
March 2013