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Freeman H. Cross Daybooks

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 25 Sep 2009

Biographical History

Freeman H. Cross (1848-1911) was an American designer and producer of custom orthopedic braces. Born in Pulaski, New York, he joined the Union Army as a drummer boy at the age of 14 and served for three years. After the war he trained as a machinist and turned his skills to the design and production of foot and leg braces and other orthopedic appliances. According to his obituary he "has made the lame to walk in hundreds of cases. He was so skilled that no deformity of limb seemed too severe for him to help the patient. His work was not confined to this locality but was called for in the remotest parts of the country."

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Freeman H. Cross Daybooks consists of nine "Comprehensive Diary" books spanning more than forty years.

In eight of the daybooks Freeman Cross recorded not only sales and purchases but also extensive daily annotations on activities and appointments (both personal and professional), the weather, and current local news and events in the town of Pulaski. Here and there Cross pasted in newspaper clippings, and the front pages of some of the daybooks have handwritten "receipts," or recipes, for concoctions as varied as rubber cement, sealing wax, and "eye water."

There is no daybook for 1876; a few loose pages from late 1876 are laid in inside the back cover of the 1870-1875 volume. Also laid in here is a short essay by Cross on "The Knee Joint."

A sample entry from January 22, 1907, notes that Cross delivered "drawings for the Eva Ar[illegible] left weak ankle"; there was a wind from the southeast with clouds and snow; he received $5.05 for alterations to a club-foot brace and spent 25 cents on soap; and gives details of a fire that damaged D. E. Brooks and Sons' grocery store.

The ninth daybook, more sparsely annotated, is by an unknown person, possibly a relative. No name is inscribed in the book, although there is a deed and two obituary clippings from Erie County, Pennsylvania.

Arrangement of the Collection

Books are arranged in chronological order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has numerous collections relating to Central New York area businesses and merchants, including the Central New York Trade Catalogs and Business Ephemera. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Cross, Freeman H.


Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- History.
Orthopedic braces -- Design and construction.


Pulaski (N.Y.) -- Commerce.
Pulaski (N.Y.) -- History.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Freeman H. Cross Daybooks,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2009.

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