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William Gillet Ritch Papers: Finding Aid
mssRI 1-2270  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Material
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: William Gillet Ritch Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1539-1901
    Bulk dates: 1845-1882
    Collection Number: mssRI 1-2270
    Creator: Ritch, W. G. (William Gillet), 1830-1904.
    Extent: Approximately 2,390 pieces in 41 boxes and 24 volumes (29.97 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: 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 Mexico.
    Language: English and Spanish.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    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 necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. William Gillet Ritch Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Acquired from Watson L. Ritch, May 1923.

    Processing Information

    Collection was cataloged by Huntington staff after May 1923. In July 1998, Jennifer L. Martinez and Peter Blodgett created a finding aid. Xiuzhi Zhou encoded the finding aid in 2004 and Brooke M. Black edited the encoding in 2017. In June 2019, Gina C Giang added clippings, scrapbooks, and printed matter (Boxes 35-41) to the collection and finding aid, which had previously been separated and handled as ephemera.

    Separated Material

    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

    The collection contains clippings, correspondence, manuscripts, documents, maps, and scrapbooks 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).
    Correspondents include Manuel Armijo, William Frederick Milton Arny, James Henry Carleton, Miguel Antonio Otero, Donaciano Vigil, and others.


    Arranged in two series: Bound Volumes and Boxes. Boxed materials are chiefly arranged chronologically in Boxes 1-31, followed by newspaper clippings (Boxes 32-33), oversize materials (Box 34), and additional clippings and scrapbooks (Boxes 35-41).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Personal Names

    Abert, J. W. (James William), 1820-1897
    Abbreu, Santiago
    Allen, William S. (William Stickney), 1805-1868
    Alvarez, Manuel, 1794-1856
    Armijo, Manuel
    Arny, W. F. M. (William Frederick Milton), 1813-1881
    Axtell, Samuel B. (Samuel Beach), 1819-1891
    Baca, Ramon
    Baird, Spruce M. (Spruce McCoy), 1814-1872
    Baker, Grafton
    Bandelier, Adolph Francis Alphonse, 1840-1914
    Beall, Benjamin Lloyd
    Beaubien, Carlos
    Beck, Preston
    Becknell, William, 1787 or 1788-1856
    Benedict, Kirby, 1810-1874
    Blumner, Charles
    Buell, Salmon A.
    Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881
    Bustamante, Anastasio, 1780-1853
    Calhoun, James S., 1803?-1852
    Carleton, James Henry, 1814-1873
    Carson, Kit, 1809-1868
    Chandler, Zachariah, 1813-1879
    Clark, William, 1770-1838
    Clever, Charles P., 1830-1874
    Concha, Fernando de la
    Cooke, Philip St. George, 1809-1895
    Ewell, Richard Stoddert, 1817-1872
    Fernandez de la Cueva Enriquez, Francisco, duque de Alburquerque, 1666-1733
    Gregg, Josiah, 1806-1850
    Houston, Sam, 1793-1863
    Howe, Timothy O. (Timothy Otis), 1816-1883
    Houghton, Joab, 1810-1876
    Jones, Anson, 1798-1858
    Kearny, Steven Watts, 1794-1848
    Kennedy, John Pendleton, 1795-1870
    Lamy, John Baptist, 1814-1888
    Lane, William Carr, 1789-1863
    Leavenworth, Henry, 1783-1834
    Mackenzie, Ranald Slidell, 1840-1889
    Martínez, Antonio José, 1793-1867.
    McMullen, William, 1824-1901
    Magoffin, James Wiley, 1799-1868
    Maxwell, Lucien Bonaparte, 1818-1875
    Meriwether, D. (David), 1800-1893
    Messervy, William S.
    Otermin, Antonio de, active 1678-1682
    Otero, Antonio Jose
    Otero, Miguel A. (Miguel Antonio), 1829-1882
    Paredes y Arrillaga, Mariano, 1797-1849
    Philip III, King of Spain, 1578-1621
    Prince, L. Bradford (Le Baron Bradford), 1840-1922
    Rencher, Abraham, 1798-1883
    Riley, Bennett, 1787-1853
    Ritch, W. G. (William Gillet), 1830-1904.
    Robidoux, Antoine, 1794-1860
    Rynerson, William Logan
    Salcedo y Salcedo, Nemesio, 1754-1814?
    Santa Anna, Antonio Lopez de, 1794?-1876
    St. Vrain, Ceran, 1802-1870
    Sturgis, Samuel Davis, 1822-1889
    Sumner, Edwin V. (Edwin Vose), 1797-1863
    Vargas, Diego de, 1643-1704
    Vigil, Donaciano, 1802-1877
    Vigil y Alarid, Juan Bautista
    Waldo, Jose David
    Wallace, Lew, 1827-1905
    Washington, John Macrae, 1797-1853
    Watts, John S. (John Sebrie), 1816-1876
    West, J. R. (Joseph Rodman), 1822-1898

    Corporate Names

    New Mexico. Secretary of the Territory -- Archives


    Apache Indians -- History -- Sources
    Comanche Indians -- History -- Sources
    Indians of North America -- New Mexico -- History -- Sources
    Manuscripts -- Collectors and collecting -- New Mexico.
    Mexican War, 1846-1848 -- New Mexico -- Sources
    Navajo Indians -- History -- Sources

    Geographic Areas

    New Mexico -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    New Mexico -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
    New Mexico -- Politics and government -- 19th century -- Sources


    Clippings (information artifacts) -- United States -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
    Maps -- New Mexico -- 19th century
    Journals (accounts) -- Kansas-- 20th century
    Personal papers -- New Mexico -- 19th century
    Professional papers -- New Mexico -- 19th century
    Scrapbooks -- New Mexico -- 19th century