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Finding Aid to the Herbert Eugene Bolton Papers, 1890-1953, bulk 1909-1951
BANC MSS C-B 840  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Herbert Eugene Bolton papers
    Date (inclusive): 1890-1953,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1909-1951
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 840
    Creators : Bolton, Herbert Eugene, 1870-1953
    Extent: Number of containers: 99 cartons, 145 boxes, 5 file boxes, 80 oversize boxes and 5 oversize folders Linear feet: 215 linear feet
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Herbert Eugene Bolton Papers document the career of an eminent historian who, as director of the Bancroft Library and Chairman of the University of California at Berkeley's History Department in the 1920s and 1930s, was a leader in the field of study known as the Spanish Borderlands.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English and Spanish
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Herbert Eugene Bolton Papers, BANC MSS C-B 840, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Collections

    Bolton Family Papers (BANC MSS C-B 841)
    [Miscellaneous maps from the Herbert E. Bolton collection]. (BANC Map100.B6; BANC G3290.S4 svar.B6)
    National Park Service Record Group 79
    Georgia Division of Archives and History, Mary Letitia Ross papers, 1561-1977 and n.d.

    Separated Material

    Pictorial materials transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 1959.089--PIC)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Archivo General de Indias
    Archivo General de la Nación
    University of Texas
    Stanford University
    University of California, Berkeley. Dept. of History
    History--Study and teaching
    Southwest, New--Discovery and exploration
    Pacific Coast--Discovery and exploration
    California--History--To 1846
    Manuscripts for publication.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Herbert Eugene Bolton Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by the Bolton family estate in 1959.


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Vivian Fisher in 1961. Processed by Anastasia Karel, Alexandra Black, Rachel Gulbraa, and Arcadia Falcone in 2007-2008.

    Biographical Information

    Herbert Eugene Bolton was born on July 20, 1870 in Wilton, Wisconsin. At the University of Wisconsin (class of 1895) he studied under Frederick Jackson Turner; after two years of graduate work there he left to pursue a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, which he earned in 1899. In 1901 he joined the history department at the University of Texas, Austin, where he developed his lasting interest in the history of Spanish-American exploration. His next stop was California, first at Stanford from 1909-1911, and then Berkeley for the remainder of his career. In 1916 he became the Curator of the Bancroft Library (a title that was soon switched to Director), and he took over the helm of the History Department after the death of Henry Morse Stephens in 1919.
    During the 1920s and 1930s Bolton was especially active as a professor, guest lecturer, and scholar. The bulk of his writings were published during these two decades, including The Spanish Borderlands. In 1931-1932 he was the president of the American Historical Association, which is only one example of his public service. Though the University required that he retire in 1940 (or at the age of 70), a war-time shortage of faculty caused him to return to teaching from 1942-1944.
    Bolton's zest for history is perhaps best represented in the journeys he made by mule or horseback in an effort to retrace the footsteps of famous explorers. This activity continued into his 80th year, by which time he had traced the complete routes of Coronado, Kino, De Mézières, Portolá, Anza, Garcés, and Escalante.
    In June 1952 Bolton suffered a stroke that ultimately led to his death in January 1953.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Herbert Bolton Papers are essentially two collections in one. Bolton's research materials are one distinct entity, and his correspondence, writings, teaching materials, and professional activities make up a different type of collection. Researchers looking for an insight into Bolton's career will do best to concentrate on the latter materials, because this is where one can see what occurred during a particular event or what a student might have experienced in one of his courses. While there is very little personal material in this part of the collection, there are clues to Bolton's personality (especially his sense of humor) scattered throughout his papers.
    In contrast, Bolton's research materials are the result of his life's work and have a different purpose for scholars. Many of the manuscripts copied by Bolton also exist on microfilm in the Bancroft Library. This is certainly the case of those documents from the Archivo General de la Nación of Mexico and the Archivo General de Indias of Spain. Please note that the finding aid does not show which documents are also on microfilm (except for select folders in the Correspondence series), but the researcher may consult other guides to the library's microfilm in order to effectively use the Research Materials series.