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Inventory of the William G. Ritch Collection, 1539-1901, bulk 1845-1882
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical/Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: William G. Ritch Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1539-1901,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1845-1882
    Creator: 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
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open to qualified researches by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William G. Ritch Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Source of acquisition: Watson L. Ritch, May 1923

    Historical/Biographical Note

    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 He developed an interest in the history of New Mexico and began collecting historical documents in hopes of circumventing their destruction or dispersal.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).

    Separated Material

    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.