A Guide to the John Russell Bartlett Papers, 1850-1853
John Russell Bartlett, boundary commissioner, was born on October 23, 1805, in Providence, Rhode Island, to Smith and Nancy (Russell) Bartlett. The family moved to Kingston, Ontario; Bartlett was educated in the common schools there and at Lowville Academy in upstate New York. His schooling brought him a knowledge of accounting and a love of history and literature that gave his writings a romantic turn. In addition, he also was an artist of considerable competence. On June 15, 1850, thanks to his standing in the Whig party, Bartlett was appointed United States boundary commissioner to carry out the provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Despite his ignorance of the Southwest he accepted this post because he wanted to travel, because he wanted to see Indians, and because he needed the money.
Bartlett returned to Rhode Island and wrote a two-volume Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission, during the years 1850, 51, 52, and 53 (1854), which became a standard early source of information about Texas and the Southwest. From 1855 to 1872 he was secretary of state for Rhode Island. He helped put together the collection that is the nucleus of the John Carter Brown Library and published numerous books, including a Bibliography of Rhode Island (1864), Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation (10 vols., 1856-65), The Literature of Rebellion (1866), Bibliographic Notices of Rare and Curious Books Relating to America . . . in the Library of the Late John Carter Brown (4 volumes, 1875-82), Letters of Roger Williams, 1632-1682 (1874), and Letters of Roger Williams to Winthrop (1896), in addition to various monographs and bibliographies of lesser importance. Bartlett married Eliza Allen Rhodes on May 15, 1831, and they had seven children. She died on November 11, 1853. Bartlett married Ellen Eddy on November 12, 1863. He died on May 28, 1886, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Information taken from Handbook of Texas Online entry on Bartlett.
Papers resulting from John Russell Bartlett's travels in the Southwest and used in writing his Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua. Microfilm edition. Originals at Brown University.
Access to portions of this collection are restricted. Contact repository for further information.
John Russell Bartlett Papers, 1850-1853, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Detailed Description of the Papers