Guide to the Hittell Family Papers, 1855-1916

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History --History, California --General Geographical (by Place) --California

Guide to the Hittell family Papers, 1855-1916

Collection number: BANC MSS C-B 405

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
The Bancroft Library staff
Encoded by:
Xiuzhi Zhou
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Hittell Family Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1855-1916
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 405
Origination: Hittell family
Extent: Number of containers: 6 cartons, 1 box, 1 volume Linear feet: ca. 9
Repository: The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: Primarily papers of lawyer and author Theodore H. Hittell--letters, journal of voyage to California, 1855, biographical sketches, legal papers, and MSS of his writings (including unpublished account of Walker's Nicaragua filibuster and history of California Academy of Sciences); some papers of his wife, Elise Wiehe Hittell, including a few items pertaining to Ladies' Silk Culture Society of California; some papers of his brother, John Shertzer Hittell, journalist and author (a few letters and MSS, notes, financial papers, etc.); and miscellaneous papers of other members of the family.
Languages Represented: English

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Hittell family papers, BANC MSS C-B 405, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Related Collections

  • Title: Hittell family papers: additions, 1869-1925,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 70/37 c,
    -gift of Mrs. Edwin Grabhorn, April 1969.
  • Additional papers of Theodore Hittell are in the Sutro Library, San Francisco.

Material Cataloged Separately

  • Briefs of cases in which Theodore Hittell was attorney (see book catalog under his name)
  • Identifier/Call Number: Portraits 12653-12667
  • Statement of William T. Coleman on the Vigilance Committee (cataloged as
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-D 181 A
  • Memorandum written for Hittell by John Clar (cataloged as
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 1064

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

The Hittell family papers were given to the Bancroft Library by Elgin T. Hittell and Mrs. Franklin Hittell, 1948-1950. Two items were added in August 1962, purchased from John Howell Books. The papers are described in the Key to Arrangement.

Brief Family History

The Hittell family papers consist primarily of the papers of Theodore Henry Hittell, but include also some papers of his wife, Elise Wiehe Hittell; his brother, John Shertzer Hittell; and other members of the family.
Both Theodore (1830-1917) and John (1825-1901) were born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Ohio. Both received good educations, John graduating from Miami University and Theodore, from Yale. In 1849 John joined the gold rush to California, settling in San Francisco in 1852 and working for the Alta California.Theodore began the practice of law in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1852, but in 1855, he followed his brother to California. Settling also in San Francisco, he began as a newspaperman, joining the staff of the Bulletin, but in 1862, he again took up the practice of law, handling many famous cases involving land titles. Both men also took up writing careers. Much of John's work was on guide books and almanacs done for Hubert H. Bancroft's publishing house. Among his best known works are A History of the City of San Francisco and Incidentally of the State of California (1878); The Resources of California (1867); and The Commerce and Industries of the Pacific Coast of North America (1882). Theodore's first published work was The Adventures of James Capen Adams (1860), and was followed by several contributions to law literature and by his History of California (4 v., 1885-97).
In 1858 Theodore married Elise Wiehe, who was active in the California Academy of Sciences, and one of the founders of the San Francisco Foundling Asylum and of the Ladies Silk Culture Society of California. They had four children, of whom three survived. John never married.

Key to Arrangement


Papers of Theodore H. Hittell

Box 1

Incoming letters

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically according to name of person or organization, with a miscellany, for single letters, at the beginning of the file. A partial list of correspondents follows the Key. Many of the letters comment on Hittell's History of California

Outgoing letters, ca. 1852-1916

Scope and Content Note

Drafts or copies of Hittell's letters, arranged chronologically. An oversize letterbook has been placed in Carton 1.
Carton 1

Letterbook, 1910-1917


Drafts of letters copied in a notarial record book


Biographical sketches, genealogical information, etc.


Journal of his voyage from New York to San Francisco, via Panama, 1855


Agreements with his publishers


Clippings of reviews and prospectus for History of California


Miscellaneous deeds, agreements, receipts, accounts, etc.


Pamphlets written by Hittell


The Civil Practice Act of the State of California. 1868


George Bancroft and His Services to California, 1893


Sketch books


"Our Trip to Sonoma"


"Russian River Recreation May 1868"


Manuscripts of his writings




Goethe's Faust


Young America


The Seven Cities of Cibola


William Walker, the Filibuster (with related notes)


Portions of MS on history of Hawaii (with related notes)

Carton 2

Two MSS on Sierra Club outings, with snapshots


Poems, including translations


Historic account of the California Academy of Sciences (with related notes)


Introduction and postscript to Adventures of James Capen Adams ...


California History Stories


History of California - draft, p. 81-919


History of California - manuscript copy, p. 61-499

Carton 3

History of California - manuscript copy, p. 500-2596


History of California v. III - manuscript copy, p. 1-348

Carton 4

History of California - manuscript copy, p. 349-1477


Brief History of California, Books I-III, manuscript copy


Brief History of California, Books II & III, typescript


Notes on California history


Miscellaneous MSS

Carton 5

Miscellaneous MSS


Notes on various topics


Manuscripts of speeches


"Letter of instructions to Printer and Proof-reader"

carton Cartons 5-6

Legal papers

Scope and Content Note

Relate to various cases including Syndicate Water Company v. Magdalena Williams et als, Emeric v. Alvarado, Adams v. Hopkins, Castro v. Adams; land grant cases; survey of the pueblo of San Francisco; and the John S. Hittell will case; some legal correspondence; notes on legal precedents and points of law; etc.
volume volume

Index to Hawaiian MS


Papers of Elise (Wiehe) Hittell (Mrs. Theodore H. Hittell)

Carton 6

Diary, 1884-1888

Scope and Content Note

Sporadic entries. Some refer to meetings of the Ladies' Silk Culture society of California

Letters addressed to her


Miscellaneous notebooks and papers


Sketches - drawn by her children, Charles and Franklin


Letters addressed to her daughter, Catherine


Papers of John Shertzer Hittell

Carton 6

Letters addressed to him, including two from his father, Jacob


Correspondence relating to the invention of the flume for transporting lumber and to other inventions


MS - The Religion of Truth


Miscellaneous MSS


MS of address to Society of California Pioneers, 1887


MS of Spanish vocabulary


Agreements with publishers


Copyright notices


Notes on inventions; circulars describing inventions


Notes for handbook of mining


Notes on volcanoes


Notes for his history of San Francisco


Miscellaneous notes


Miscellaneous indentures, agreements, receipts, etc.


Tax receipts, statements of rent collected, etc.


Papers relating to land in Washington Territory


Papers of other members of the Hittell family

Carton 6

Journal of voyage of George W. Hittell to California, via Nicaragua, 1854


Papers relating to the estate of Amelia Hittell


Documents relating to Hittell family land in Ohio


Autobiographical sketch of Jacob Hittell [incomplete]


Drafts of wills of Catherine and Jacob Hittell [parents]

Partial List of Correspondents


A - Z Miscellany (single letters)


Bancroft, George, 1800-1891


Letter, Jan. 27, 1886


Davidson, George, 1825-1911


Letter, Nov. 30, 1897


Davis, John Chandler Bancroft, 1822-1907


Letter, June 11, 1894


DeYoung, Michael Harry, 1849-1925.

See San Francisco Chronicle


Fernald, Charles


Letter, May 27, 1892. Relative to a review of H. H. Bancroft's History of the Pacific States by William Carey Jones.


Ford, Henry I.


Letter, Mar. 2, 1889. Concerning his father, Henry L. Ford.


Gatschet, Albert Samuel, 1832-1907


Letter, Jan. 29, 1886


Harned, Rebecca


Letter, July 5, 1915. Contains genealogical information on the Hittell family.


Hunt, Rockwell Dennis, 1868-


Letter, Oct. 27, 1898


Jones, William Carey, 1854-1923


Letter, Jan. 13, 1888


Keith, William, 1838-1911


Letter, [Apr. 1900]


Kellogg, Martin, 1828-1903


Letter, Dec. 1, 1897. With This: statement by Kellogg re Hittell's History of California.


King, Charles J.


Letter, June 24, 1904. With this: letter, June 14, 1904, from Rufus P. Jennings to King, and letter, June 4, 1904, from Charles S. Aiken (copy) to Jennings re date of discovery of gold.


Muir, John, 1838-1914


Letter, Apr. 7, 1899


Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919


Letter, Dec. 27, 1897


Rowell, Chester, 1840-1912


Letter, Sept. 8, 1880. Included also: copy of Rowell's letter, same date, to Judge Alexander Campbell.


Rowell, Joseph Cummings, 1853-1938


Letter, Mar. 15, 1886


San Francisco Chronicle


Letter, Jan. 2, 1895. From M. H. de Young.


Shinn, Charles Howard, 1852-1924


Letter, Apr. 10, 1897


Smiley, Thomas J. I.


Letter, May 25, 1892. Addressed to William T. Coleman. Letter of introduction for Hittell.


Stebbins, Horatio


Letter, Dec. 30, 1897


Stuart, C. D.


Letter, Dec. 24, 1909


Taylor. Edward Robeson, 1838-1923


Letter, Dec. 28, 1897


Barnes, Mary [Downing (Sheldon)], 1850-1898


5 letters, 1896


Doubleday & McClure Co.


2 letters, 1899-1900


Field, Stephen Johnson, 1816-1899


6 letters, 1886-1897


Hittell, John Shertzer, 1825-1901


10 letters, 1882-1883. One undated.


Jordan, David Starr, 1851-1931


2 letters, 1897-1898


McClurg (A. C.) & Co.


2 letters, 1900


Moses, Bernard, 1846-1930


4 letters, 1885-1893. One a form letter, written for the California Historical Society.


Shinn, Milicent Washburn, 1858-1940


2 letters, 1885-1887


U. S. General Land Office


3 letters, 1877-1879. Two relate to the reconsideration of approval of the Stratton survey of the Pueblo of San Francisco.