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Preliminary Guide to the Jay Monaghan Collection
Wyles Mss 20  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Related Materials

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Jay Monaghan Collection,
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1840s-1980
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1930s-1970s)
    Collection Number: Wyles Mss 20
    Creator: Monaghan, Jay, 1891-
    Extent: 24.5 linear feet (47 document boxes, 4 records containers, and 5 oversize boxes.)
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
    Physical Location: Del Sur (Boxes 1-51) and Del Sur Oversize (Boxes 52-56)
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

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

    Preferred Citation

    Jay Monaghan Collection. Wyles Mss 20. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Jay Monaghan and estate, ca. 1960s-1981.


    The following biographical sketch was derived from: Donald C. Davidson, "James Jay Monaghan IV, 1891-1980; Mildred Eversole Monaghan, 1902-1980" in Soundings: Collections of the University Library (UCSB), v.12, no. 8, 1981; Irving Dilliard "Historian in Cowboy Boots: Jay Monaghan, 1893 (sic)-1980," in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, v.74, no.4, Winter 1981, and Ray Allen Billington, in his foreword to Jay Monaghan's Schoolboy, Cowboy, Mexican Spy, 1977).
    James Jay Monaghan IV was born on March 19, 1891 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He was known throughout his life as Jay Monaghan, the name under which he published his many works on western United States history, Abraham Lincoln and related subjects on which he was a recognized authority. Jay Monaghan's parents, James and Anna (Jackson) Monaghan were Quakers and they sent their son to the Friends Central School in Philadelphia for his early education. His pre-college education also included a period of schooling at Vevey, Switzerland. He entered Swarthmore College in 1909 where he obtained a B.A. in 1913. An M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania followed in 1918.
    At the same time that Monaghan was pursuing his education, he was also actively engaged in a life of adventure centered in the American west that he would later chronicle. During his summer breaks in 1908 and 1909, he traveled across the country, spending some of his time working on cattle roundups in Wyoming. The spring of 1911 found Monaghan involved in the Madero revolution in Mexico where he participated in an uprising against Porfirio Díaz, which led to his own arrest. Following his release, he helped drive an army mule team to New Mexico and took part in a bear hunt in Sonora before returning to Swarthmore for his junior year. Monaghan later described these adventures in his Schoolboy, Cowboy, Mexican Spy (1977), his only autobiographical work. During 1914-1915, he taught school on the Uintah Indian Reservation in Utah.
    After completing his graduate studies in 1918, Monaghan served during World War I as an instructor in aerial photography. Subsequently, he returned to the West and was owner and operator of sheep and cattle ranches in Utah and Wyoming for the next two decades. He also explored early trapper forts, made investigations into local historical sites and interviewed Indians for the Colorado Historical Society. The latter assignment was his first official foray into the world of historical scholarship. Undertaken in 1935, these interviews were a pioneering effort in what today is known as oral history.
    Monaghan spent a brief period as a professional researcher in Kansas and Nebraska and worked as a supervisor of a 1930s WPA writers' project that analyzed and indexed Illinois newspapers. This was the beginning of his career in historical record keeping. There followed a number of appointments to the Illinois State Historical Library. Monaghan served there first as research editor (1939-1945), and later as State Historian to the Library (1946-1951). While holding the post of State Historian, he also served as Secretary of the Illinois State Historical Society and editor of its journal.
    During this time, Monaghan undertook a number of writing and research projects. His definitive two- volume Lincoln Bibliography appeared in 1943 and in 1945 he published his first book in his own right, Diplomat in Carpet Slippers, a popular yet scholarly study of how Lincoln handled foreign affairs. It was one of the dozen books that he authored over the next thirty-five years along with numerous articles, essays and reviews, most emphasizing historical research on the Civil War and the American West.
    After a brief period spent abroad, Monaghan and his wife Mildred (Eversole), whom he had met at the Illinois State Historical Library, relocated to California where he had accepted an appointment as Fellow at the Huntington Library in San Marino. In 1953, they moved to Santa Barbara where Monaghan had been invited to serve as consultant to the Wyles Collection of Lincolniana at the Library of the University of California at Santa Barbara. His knowledge aided greatly in the development of the Wyles Collection and the helped enhance its reputation as a prominent collection on Lincoln, the Civil War, and westward expansion.
    While located in Santa Barbara, Monaghan traveled to the Caribbean and South America under the auspices of the State Department to give lectures on Lincoln. Earlier he had been invited by the government of Liberia to perform the same task as part of that nation's observance of Lincoln Day. Monaghan, under a Fulbright Fellowship, spent the year 1954-1955 at the University of Sidney in Australia where he served as a lecturer on the American West while also researching Australia's connection to the search for gold in California. He later published The Gold Rush: Californians and Down Under, 1849-1854 (1966), based in part on this research.
    Monaghan retained an active part in his role as Consultant to the Wyles Collection throughout the remainder of his life. He died in Santa Barbara, California on October 11, 1980. His wife, Mildred, died less than two weeks later

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection contains appointment books, biographical, personal and family files, correspondence, research files, scrapbooks, speeches and lectures, writings (including ms drafts), photographs and illustrations of Jay Monaghan, a Lincoln, Civil War, and western history scholar. Monaghan also played a major role in developing the William Wyles Collection at the UCSB Libraries.

    Related Materials

    Title: Monaghan [Jay] Oral History,
    Date: ca. 1975
    Identifier/Call Number: OH 10
    3 cassettes (interviews by Gibbs M. Smith, UCSB Library Oral History Program); 1 cassette: Jay Monaghan, "A Freight Wagon Trip with Specimen Jones in the Year 1908;" 1 cassette: Jay Monaghan; Friends Open House, Sept. 14, 1975.
    Title: McGuire[Harry] Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: SBHC Mss 54
    Papers and printed materials of an editor, publisher, writer who spent his later years in Santa Barbara. Monaghan was executor of his estate and brought the materials to UCSB.
    Title: Storke [Charles A.] Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: SBHC Mss 40
    Research files and drafts of a biography of Storke's life, based on his autobiographical After the Bugle, with introduction and editorial work by Monaghan.