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Guide to the J. Ross (John Ross) Browne Papers, [ca. 1840-1875]
BANC MSS 78/163 c  
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Key to Arrangement


Papers of J. Ross Browne

Boxes 1-3

Letters written by J. Ross Browne, 1840-1875 & n.d.

Scope and Content Note

Primarily letters to his wife, Lucy (many of them written in the form of journals, on his travels) and to other members of his family; some also to his publishers, friends and business associates; some official letters written while minister to China, 1868-1869. Originals, drafts, photocopies and transcripts, arranged chronologically, with undated letters at the end.
See also: typed copies of J. Ross Browne letters transcribed by Lina F. Browne for her book, J. Ross Browne: His Letters, Journals and Writings, in Cartons 4-5.
Box 1


Box 2


Box 3

1871-1875 & n.d.

Box 3

Letters written to J. Ross Browne.

Scope and Content Note

Letters from friends and business associates relating to his writings, mining ventures, etc., and letters addressed to him as government agent and minister to China. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Partial list of correspondents follows the Key to Arrangement. Unlisted letters are in an alphabetical "Miscellany" at the beginning of the file. Letters from members of the Browne and Mitchell families are in a separate folder.
Ctn. 1

Journal of his whaling cruise, in two parts


Part 1 - July 2-Sept. 17, 1842.

Scope and Content Note

Also includes, from p. 50 on, the journal kept by his companion, Henry C. Wilson, on his return voyage from Fayal to the U.S., concluding Nov. 28, 1842.

Part II - begins July 2, 1842; (written at a later date?)

Scope and Content Note

Entries covering events from Sept. 19 begin on p. 12; concludes [Nov.?] 1843. Loose items removed from Part II in separate folder. For description of the journal see copy of John Seelye's introduction to facsimile edition of Etchings of a Whaling Cruise. (carton 5)

Manuscripts of his writings - holographs


An American Diplomat in China - incomplete draft and notes - 1868


The Banker 1860


Beauty and the Beast. A Lamentation from the House of Martyrdom 1860


The Chinese Question


A Christmas Story for the Children - incomplete


[Crusoe's Island]


Draft of title page (Mas-a-tierra: A Ramble in the Footsteps of Robinson Crusoe and Other Sketches).


Draft of portion of Chapter 1 and other pages.


Background material on his 1849 voyage, including manuscript newspaper, "Pacific Daily Journal" for the barque Atlantic.


Notation of charges brought against Capt. H. I. Tibbetts by the passengers.


Browne's address to passengers, July 4, 1849.


Notes on Rio.


Ephraim Tadpole - with illustrations


[Incidents of a Diplomatic Career in China] - incomplete draft


The Lady Gopher - removed from a letter addressed to his wife, Feb. 3, 1860


[Lecture on whaling]


The Old Fogy - removed from a letter addressed to his wife, Feb. 17, 1860


The Old Musician - incomplete


The Pale Spirit of Azamont (in oversize folder 1)


[Theatrical Sketch] - removed from a letter written to his wife, Dec. 31, 1859


[Untitled MS] - with a typed transcript entitled "Poem"


Miscellaneous MSS - fragmentary pages


Printed copies of his writings


Address to the Territorial Pioneers of California, on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Admission of the State into the Union. (Sept. 11, 1875)

Additional Note

Postscript number two to the San Francisco News Letter

Another Peep at Washoe.

Additional Note

Photostatic copies from the San Francisco Evening Bulletin (Oct. 24-Nov. 21, 1863)
(In oversize folder)

The Chinese Question: Mr. Robert Hart, Inspector General of Imperial Maritime Customs, on the Present Situation: Origin of the Chinese Embassy.

Additional Note

Reprint from the Daily Alta California, Sept. 19, 1869.

The Coast Rangers; A Chronicle of Adventures in California, Harper's (June-Dec. 1861; Feb. 1862)


A Dangerous Journey, Harper's (May 1862)


Explorations in Lower California, Harper's (Oct. - Dec. 1868)


Incidents of a Diplomatic Career. Photostatic copies from the San Francisco Examiner (Dec. 20, 1870-Jan. 11, 1871)


The Island of Santa Rosa, Overland Monthly (Sept.; Dec. 1874)


Melhatchee, the Enchanted Warrior, photocopy from the Southern Literary Messenger (June 1840)


The Old Sea King or the Wonderful Adventures of Little Mitche, Harper's Weekly (Jan. 19, 1861)


A Peep at Washoe, Harper's (Dec. 1860-Feb. 1861)


A Quarter of a Century, Overland Monthly, (Oct. 1875)


Reclamation of Marsh and Swamp Lands ... in California [cover title]. Agricultural Capacity of California. Overflows and Droughts, reprint from Overland Monthly (April 1873)


Report of the Bounty Allowances to Fishing Vessels (in Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the Finances.) 33d Cong., 1st sess., House of Representatives. Ex. Doc. No. 3. 1853


Ross Browne's Letters. European Correspondence of the Union.

Additional Note

Photostatic copies from the Sacramento Daily Union (March 19-Sept. 10, 1861)

The Suppressed Intelligence from California.

Additional Note

Photostatic copy from the New York Evening Post (Jan. 17, 1849)

A Tour through Arizona, Harper's (Oct. 1864-Mar. 1865)


Tropical Journeyings, Harper's (March-April 1858)


Under the Dragon's Footstool: The Chinese Embassy to the West, Overland Monthly (Feb. 1871)


Under the Dragon's Footstool: Arrival at Pekin, Overland Monthly (March 1871)


Miscellaneous papers


Appointment as 3rd Lieutenant in U.S. Revenue Service, Dec. 26, 1848.

Physical Description: (phot.; original in oversize folder)

Passport issued by the Consulate General of the U.S.A., Frankfort on the Main, Jan. 30, 1861

Physical Description: (in oversize folder)

Memorandum of duties to be performed by J. Ross Browne on the Pacific Coast [as special agent of the Dept. of the Interior to examine into the condition of Indian affairs, 1863].

Additional Note

Draft copy in J. Ross Browne's hand.

Discharge paper from Arizona volunteers - typed transcript - 1866


"Memorandum for Lucy" from J. Ross Browne, Apr. 9, 1866.

Additional Note

Instructions on handling his affairs

[Announcement of service as an agent in Washoe to examine and report on mining claims] n.d.


Statement of my affairs, Nov. 17, 1874.

Additional Note

Statement of assets and liabilities

Sketchbook, n.d.


Miscellaneous accounts, 1868-1869


Papers re royalties


Land papers - leases, memoranda, etc.

Physical Description: (2 folders and oversize folder)

Papers re Pittsburg Mine (Nevada Co.), 1871-1874. See also oversize folder


Papers re swamp lands, 1869-1883


Memorandum of agreement, July 29, 1871, with Leonard Wray, to act as his agent in acquiring mining property in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties


Items re J. Ross Browne


Translation of an article from the Riga Journal, 1865


Tear sheet of article, Making the Magazine, from Harper's, Dec. 1865


Papers re the settlement of his estate




Joaquin Miller's tribute to Browne - typed transcript


Frank Soulè's tribute to Browne (copy)


Report on the Chips Quartz Mine, Sierra Co. By William A. Farish, Sept. 20, 1872, made for James R. Johnson


[Report on potentials on mining property owned by Tumacacori Company in Mexico] n.d. Author unknown.


Remarks on Ballenas and Scammons Lagoon with Sailing directions; Notes on the Coast of Lower California and Wind and Weather by C[harles] M[elville] Scammon

Ctn. 2

Papers on China


Additional articles to the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Ta-Tsing Empire, of June 18, 1858. [Marked "Confidential"] Washington, July 28, 1868 (printed)


Alcock, Sir Rutherford. Printed British government reports on Chinese situation, including two despatches (1869-1870) from Alcock, British Minister to China, and Memorial of the Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce ... on the ... Revision of the Treaty of Tientsin, addressed to Alcock


Appointment of J. Ross Browne as Minister to China, March 11, 1868

Physical Description: (photo) Original in oversize folder

Authorization to Draw Salary, Department of State, Washington, May 22, 1868. Marked "Duplicate." Photocopy also included


Calling cards of J. Ross Browne and Ross Hoffmann


Browne's Despatches, while Minister to China, to the Secretary of State William H. Seward. No. 15, Peking, Jan. 14, 1869


Browne's Despatches, while Minister to China, to the Secretary of State Hamilton Fish. No. 40, 42, 47-48, 50-51, 53, Peking, June-July 1869.

Additional Note

(some photostats)

Great Britain. Official correspondence relating to China, 1862-1864.

Additional Note

(Printed and presented to the Houses of Parliament).

Great Britain. Official correspondence relating to China, 1869.

Additional Note

(Printed and presented to the buses of Parliament).

Hart, Robert. Note on Chinese matters. Peking, June 30, 1869.

Additional Note

[Published in The Chinese Question; see Carton 1]

Hart, Robert. Progress of China. Peking, June 18, 1869, with Remarks on the foregoing, by J. Ross Browne.


[Robertson, J. Barr] The Political Situation in China. III. To the Editor of the Daily News. 1869 [?]


Miscellaneous newspapers and newspaper clippings re China 1867-1869, includes Shanghai (English-language) papers.


Miscellaneous printed and published material on China 1867-1872, including:


The United States Consulates in China.

Additional Note

A Letter with Enclosures of the Consul-General in China to the Secretary of State. 1867

Notice of the Reception of the Ministers of Western Powers by the Emperor of China. (translation) [Feb. 23, 1873]


Lay, Horatio N., C. B. Our Interests in China. A Letter to the Right Hon. Earl Russell, K. G., ..... London, [1864?]


Returns of Trade at the Treaty Ports in China, For the Year, 1868. Part I. - Abstract of Trade and Customs' Revenue Statistics, From 1864 to 1868. Shanghai, 1869



Additional Note

Including copy of greeting from the Emperor of China to the U.S. President; Dept. of State circulars on diplomatic dress; Chinese calling cards; Chinese calligraphy; etc.
See also J. Ross Browne MSS and printed copies of his writings (Carton 1)


Ctn. 2

Lucy Anna (Mitchell) Browne [Mrs. John Ross Browne]


Letters written by her to her children and to various members of the family, 1868-1894 & n.d.,

Physical Description: (1 folder)

Scope and Content Note

arranged chronologically. Some are copies.

Lucy Croghan Browne [daughter-in-law; wife of Spencer C. Browne]


Letters written from Peking, China, to her husband, describing life there, 1869.

Physical Description: (1 folder)

MS, An American Family in Peking, by a Junior Member, with related material


Scrapbook, containing miscellaneous clippings, programs, etc., 1870s-'90s; some material pertaining to J. R. Browne. Loose items from the scrapbook in a separate folder.


Spencer Cochrane Browne [son]


Letters to him, including two from John H. Boalt and one from Harper & Brothers


His article, Queer Sights and Ways in Pekin, as published in The Overland Monthly, Sept. 1871


Spencer Cochrane Browne, Jr. [grandson]


Letters written by him

Physical Description: (1 folder)

Additional Note

(drafts and carbon copies), relating primarily to J. Ross Browne, 1941-1944

Letters written to him

Physical Description: (2 folders)

Scope and Content Note

Primarily relating to his research on Browne and Browne family genealogy. Arranged alphabetically.

MS of The Curious Observer, unpublished biography of his grandfather

Additional Note

Ctn. 3

Notes for The Curious Observer

Physical Description: (11 folders)

Notebooks used for the biography


His bibliography of the published works of J. Ross Browne


Scrapbook, ca. 1862-1906.

Scope and Content Note

Contains material re Spanish-American War, clippings about J. Ross Browne, etc. Also pasted in: letter, Aug. 26, 1849, from J. Ross Browne to his wife, Lucy and Browne's humorous recommendation for employment of his daughter-in-law, Lucy C. Browne, who served as his personal secretary in China. Loose items removed from the scrapbook are in a separate folder.

Copy of The Truth about China, a series of articles reprinted from the Peking & Tientsin Times, Feb. 1921


Lina (Fergusson) Browne [Mrs. Spencer Cochrane Browne, Jr.]


Letters written by her, 1949-1972 & n.d.

Physical Description: (4 folders)

Scope and Content Note

Carbons and drafts of letters to publishers, libraries, family, etc., primarily relating to research for and publication of her book, J. Ross Browne: His Letters, Journals and Writings. Arranged chronologically.

Letters written to her, from publishing firms, editors, scholars, and family members, pertaining to her research on J. Ross Browne and publication of her book.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically according to person or organization. A partial list of the correspondents follows the Key to Arrangement. Unlisted letters are in an alphabetical "miscellany" preceding the rest of the letters.

Biographical material re J. Ross Browne


Material re Browne and Mitchell families


Miscellaneous notes


Notebook with notes on China material, on material "from Evelyn's trunk," and miscellaneous notes


Text of her talk on Browne to California Writers' Club, 1970


Tear sheet of article, J. Ross Browne in the Apache Country, edited by Lina F. Browne. From New Mexico Quarterly, Spring 1965, and typescript of her introduction


MS, Pagoda Hill, with related notes


Notes on material loaned by Evelyn Browne and for Muleback to the Convention


MS of Muleback to the Convention

Ctn. 4

Notebook containing notes on books by Browne


Notebook containing notes for J. Ross Browne ...


Notebook containing list of Browne letters typed through Oct. 26, 1853 with approximate number of words


Notes on Browne letters

Physical Description: (3 folders)
Ctn. 4-5

Typed transcripts of J. Ross Browne letters for her book. In two series: "first sheets" and "Second sheets."

Physical Description: (34 folders)
Ctn. 5

Typed transcripts of China material


Typed transcripts of material re voyage to California


Portions of J. Ross Browne: His Letters ...


Typed transcript of Browne's whaling cruise journal, 1842


Typed excerpts from Browne's Yusef and Crusoe's Island


Announcement of publication of her book, Muleback to the Convention, by The Book Club of California


Reprints and tear sheets of articles about Browne


Reviews of Browne's books

Additional Note


Reviews of her book, J. Ross Browne ...


Copy of Francis J. Rock's dissertation, J. Ross Browne: A Biography, Catholic University of America, 1929


Notices from book dealers' catalogs, etc., on prices of books by Browne


Xerox copies of John Seelye's introduction to facsimile edition of Browne's Etchings of a Whaling Cruise


Material relating to Thomas Egerton Browne

Physical Description: (2 folders)

Miscellaneous family papers


Biographical Sketch of the Ancestors of Evelyn Ross Browne written by her father, Ross Egerton Browne. Privately printed, 1915.

Additional Note

Three variant annotated copies. Together with typed copy of Ross E. Browne's words of tribute for Charles F. Hoffman.

Miscellaneous Browne family letters, 1849-1954.

Scope and Content Note

Include letters (some typed transcripts) written by Mary ("Dart") (Mitchell) Hoffman, [Lucy] May[otta] Browne, C. E. Browne and Elana (Buck) Browne. A few letters addressed to various members of the family.

Clippings from newspapers and magazines; transcripts of a few clippings


Scrapbook of clippings on various subjects.

Additional Note

Loose items removed from the scrapbook in a separate folder.

Partial List of Correspondents

Letters to J. Ross Browne


Alcock, Sir Rutherford, 1809-1897


2 letters, 1868. British Minister to China.


Boalt, John Henry, 1837-1901


2 letters, 1876-1878. To Spencer C. Browne (carton 2).


China. Prince Kung.


5 letters, 1868-1869.

Additional Note

Copies and typed transcripts, one incomplete.
Letter, July 3 1869, addressed to S. Wells Williams, U.S. Secretary and Chargé d'Affaires.

Clay, Henry, 1777-1852


Letter, March, 1851.

Additional Note

Typed transcript of letter of introduction for J. Ross Browne.

Cole, Cornelius, 1827-1924


Letter, Jan. 15, 1872.


Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870


Letter, March 14, n.y.

Additional Note

Typed transcript.

Great Britain. Embassy, Peking

See Alcock, Sir Rutherford


Harper & Brothers (firm)


Letter, 1895. To Spencer C. Browne (carton 2).


Harte, Bret, 1836-1902


Letter, Dec. 23, 1870.

Additional Note

Typed transcript.

Latham, Milton Slocum, 1827-1882


Letter, Feb. 27, 1871. To Junius S. Morgan, as letter of introduction for J. Ross Browne.


McCormick, Richard Cunningham, 1832-1901


Letter, April 11, 1872.


Morris, William Gouverneur, d. 1884


Letter, Feb. 7, 1872.


Nye, Gideon, Jr.


2 letters, 1869. To George F. Seward, U.S. Consul General, Shanghai, enclosing copies of correspondence with N. B. Dennys, 1868-1869.


Orth, Godlove Stein, 1817-1882


Letter, Dec. 21, 1870.


Poston, Charles Debrill, 1825-1902


2 letters, 1869 and n.d.

Additional Note

Undated letter encloses calling card of William Goodwin.

Reid, Whitlaw, 1837-1912


2 letters, 1872-1873.


Richthofen, Ferdinand Paul Wilhelm, freiherr von, 1833-1905


3 letters, 1868-1869.

Additional Note

Two are typed transcripts, addressed to May[otta] Browne; one addressed to J. Ross Browne.

Robertson, J. Barr


2 letters, 1869 and n.y.

Additional Note

Commenting on Chinese affairs.

Russia. Legation, Peking


Letter, July 8, 1869. From the Secretary (in French).


Sargent, Aaron Augustus, 1827-1887


Letter, Dec. 20, 1870.


Seward, Frederick William

See U.S. Department of State


Seward, George F.

See U.S. Consulate. Shanghai


Smith, Grant Horace, 1865-1944


Letter, Nov. 29, 1933. To Spencer C. Browne, Jr. (carton 3).

Additional Note

Re similarity of Mark Twain's description of Mono Lake to Browne's. Included also: copy of Smith's article, "Did Mark Twain Visit Mono Lake?"

Taylor, Alexander Smith, 1817-1876


2 letters, 1870-1872.


Taylor, Bayard, 1825-1878


2 letters, 1862.

Additional Note

Letter, Oct. 9, a typed transcript.

U.S. Consulate. Shanghai


3 letters, 1869, as despatches numbered 164, 166 and enclosure to 42. From George F. Seward, consul general.


U.S. Dept. of State


2 letters, 1868, from Frederick W. Seward, Acting Secretary, informing Browne of his appointment as Minister to China.


U.S. Legation. Peking

See Williams, S. Wells


U.S. Treasury Department


Letter, Jan. 1, 1849, from R. J. Walker, Secretary of the Treasury, to Lt. John Ross Browne, U.S. Revenue Marine, re assignment as special messenger to Oregon, via San Francisco.


Walker, Robert John, 1801-1869

See U.S. Treasury Department


Williams, George Henry, 1823-1910


Letter, Dec. 30, 1870.


Williams, S. Wells


2 letters, 1868-1869.

Additional Note

Secretary and interpreter, U.S. Legation, Peking. Include typed transcript of translation of a formal note addressed to Prince Kung, President of the Board of Foreign Affairs.

Yusef, Simon Badra


Letter, Jan. 16, 1854.

Additional Note

With photostats and typed transcript.

Letters to Lina Fergusson Browne


American Heritage


9 letters, 1963.


Arizona Historical Foundation


Letter, Oct. 3, 1962.

Additional Note

Re material on Charles D. Poston in Lina F. Browne's possession. With transcripts of Poston-Browne correspondence, etc.

Arizona State Museum


2 letters, 1972.

Additional Note

Re Browne's painting of Mission San Xavier.

Belknap, George Nicholas, 1905-


Letter, April 18, 1961.


Brophy, William Aloysius, 1903-1962

See Fergusson, Erna


Browne family


24 letters, 1949-1968 and n.d.

Additional Note

From various family members, primarily re her book.

California Historical Society


3 letters, 1949-1954.

Additional Note

Enclosure to 1949 letters: copies of agreements for loan of material to the Society.

Dickey, Roland


2 letters, 1966-1969.

See also New Mexico. University. Press


Dillon, Richard Hugh, 1924-


17 letters, 1960-1970.

Additional Note

Some are copies of letters to John Seelye and others.

Fergusson, Erna, 1888-1964


Letter, n.d.

Additional Note

Included also: copies of two letters, 1950, (with attachment) to and from William A. Brophy, Special Attorney for Pueblo Indians re J. Ross Browne's work as inspector of Indian agencies.

Fergusson, Francis, 1904-


3 letters, 1960-1969.

Additional Note

Include carbon of letter, Dec. 6, 1960, to Angus Cameron, editor, Alfred E. Knopf, Inc.

Hart, James David, 1911-


Letter, Aug. 5, 1955.


Harvard University. Press


2 letters, 1965.


Hine, Robert V., 1921-


2 letters, 1958-1960.

Additional Note

Letter, June 24, 1958, addressed to Erna Fergusson.

Howell, Warren Richardson, 1912-198(?)


Letter, July 27, 1960.


Knopf (Alfred A.) Inc.


2 letters, 1961, from Angus Cameron, editor.

See also Fergusson, Francis


Lottinville, Savoie

See Oklahoma. University. Press


New Mexico. University. Press


32 letters, 1961-1971.

Additional Note

Many written by Roland Dickey, director.

Oklahoma. University. Press


Letter, Aug. 8, 1961. From Savoie Lottinville.


Faisano Press, Balboa Island, Calif.

See Parker, Horace


Parker, Horace


13 letters, 1960-1969.

Additional Note

Writing as editor/publisher of Paisano Press.

Poston, Charles Debrill, 1825-1902

See Arizona Historical Foundation


Rutgers University. Press


4 letters, 1962.


Seelye, John


4 letters, 1965-1967.

Additional Note

Re his work editing Etchings of a Whaling Cruise.
See also Dillon, Richard Hugh

Shumate, Albert, 1904-


3 letters, 1967.


Walker, Franklin Dickerson, 1900-1979


3 letters, 1968-1969.