This collection contains the personal and professional papers of
historian and New Mexico territorial governor William G. Ritch (1830-1904) and his
collection of historical manuscripts, documents, and maps related to the history of New
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interest in the history of New Mexico and began collecting historical documents in hopes of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.
Approximately 2,390 pieces in 41 boxes and 24 volumes (29.97 linear feet)
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