Scope and Content Note
Title: William G. Ritch Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1539-1901,
Date (bulk): bulk 1845-1882
Ritch, William G.
Extent: The collection numbers 2,274 pieces.
Number of manuscript boxes: 33 (boxes #1-33)
Number of bound volumes: 24
Number of oversize materials: 1 flat box (box #34);1 rolled document
San Marino, California 91108
Collection is open to qualified researches by prior application through the Reader
Services Department. For more information please go to following
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material,
nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and
obtaining permission rests with the researcher.
[Identification of item], William G. Ritch Collection, The Huntington Library, San
Source of acquisition: Watson L. Ritch, May 1923
William Gillet Ritch (1830-1904) was territorial secretary of New Mexico from 1873 to
1885 and authored several books about New Mexico history. He was a native of New York who
moved to Michigan in 1855 and later settled in Wisconsin. After serving in the 46th
Wisconsin Cavalry in the Civil War, Ritch returned to Wisconsin and was elected state
senator. He was later proprietor and editor of the Winnebago County Press. Failing health
forced Ritch to seek a better climate, and in 1873 he was appointed secretary of the
Territory of New Mexico. He served in this capacity until 1885, with the added
responsibility of serving as acting territorial governor in 1875. He was active in the
establishment of a public school system in the Territory and became a regent of the State
Normal School. He developed an interest in the history of New Mexico and began collecting
historical documents in hopes of circumventing their destruction or dispersal. He was
elected as the first president of the New Mexico Historical Society in 1880.
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, documents, and maps in both English
and Spanish related to the history of early and territorial New Mexico collected by
William G. Ritch. The very early portion of the collection (1539-1700) contains original
manuscripts, contemporary copies, and later translations of official documents and
journals of explorers, correspondence, papers of various governors, court records, church
inventories, and passport lists of American traders. The papers for the years 1846-1873
cover the American military occupation, New Mexico politics and government, New Mexico
during the US Civil War, and Indian affairs relating to the Navajo, Apache, Comanche, and
Pecos tribes. Items after 1873 tend to be the personal papers of William G. Ritch,
including biographical sketches of significant New Mexicans, drafts of articles, and
notebooks of research materials (including the biography of Father Antonio Jose Martinez
by Santiago Valdez).
13 scrapbooks from the Ritch Collection were transferred to the Rare Books Department and
are cataloged under the heading "Collection -New Mexico" in the printed book card
catalog. The call number for the set is #128134.