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Turner (Frederick Jackson) Papers
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  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Frederick Jackson Turner papers
    Creator: Turner, Frederick Jackson, 1861-1932
    Identifier/Call Number: mssTU
    Physical Description: 220.2 Linear Feet (335 boxes, 1 oversize folder, 24 volumes, 1 map file box)
    Date (inclusive): 1862-1963
    Date (bulk): 1889-1932
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of American professor and historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932). Subjects covered: Turner's education; family affairs; business affairs, particularly with his publisher Henry Holt and Co.; ideas about the frontier, sectionalism, historical scholarship, professional matters generally, and politics; Turner's activities and experiences at Johns Hopkins University, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Harvard and the Huntington Library; teaching career; work with the Harvard Commission on Western History; work with the Dictionary of American biography project; and his role in the American Historical Association, particularly the "Bancroft insurrection" of 1915.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

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

    Conditions Governing Use

    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]. Frederick Jackson Turner papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Acquired by legacy from Frederick Jackson Turner and by gift from various members of his family, 1928-1965. Letters and copies of letters have also been contributed to the collection by individuals with whom Turner corresponded (see letters in the collection having to do with its establishment, in the years following Turner's death).

    Biographical / Historical

    American professor and historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932) was born November 14, 1861, in Portage, Wisconsin, the son of Andrew Jackson Turner, a journalist, politician, and local historian. After study at the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins, Turner embarked on a teaching career in American history, first at the University of Wisconsin (1889-1910) and later at Harvard University (1910-1924). With the publication in 1893 of his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," containing his thesis that American society owed its distinctive characteristics to experience with an undeveloped frontier, he became a figure of national importance historically. Though he wrote little, he was active in American Historical Association, and he was a guide and mentor to the future historians who passed through his classroom. His final years were spent in research at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, where his activities became increasingly curtailed as his health deteriorated. He died in Pasadena, California, on March 14, 1932.
    Turner was married November 25, 1889, to Caroline Mae Sherwood of Chicago. They had three children: two who died in childhood and Dorothy Kinsley (Turner) Main.

    Scope and Contents

    The following notes on the Turner papers were compiled after only a three-month examination of those papers. Hence they make no pretense of completeness or accuracy. They are compiled only to serve as a general guide to later users of the papers.
    The following outline, or index, of the sections of this report that follow may make its use easier:
    1: Correspondence and Documents
    Frederick Jackson Turner's correspondence, together with certain important documents, has been expertly arranged in a series of flat boxes, each bearing a number, date, and appropriate descriptive designation. Within each box the letters to and from Turner, or the documents, have been placed in folders, each of which bears a descriptive title and date. Arrangement within each box in chronological.
    The correspondence an document boxes may be conveniently divided into several categories:
    General correspondence during Turner's life. This is contained in Boxes 1 through 47. Included are letters written by and to Turner between the time of his boyhood and his death on March 14, 1932. Three letters from Woodrow Wilson are present, see descriptions for Boxes 3 and 9.
    General correspondence, 1932-1956. This is contained in Boxes 48 through 52. Many of the letters in these boxes relate to the efforts of the Huntington Library to assemble the Turner correspondence, to the publication of his posthumous books, etc. A large number are extremely valuable for an understanding of Turner, for they were written by friends and former students who frequently reminisced at length on his virtues. Form of citation: TU Box 48, Correspondence, Apr.-June 10, 1932.
    Biographical and Autobiographical Material. This is contained in Box 53, a large flat box. Contained in this box are diplomas received by Turner, certificates of membership in learned societies, honorary degrees, and the like. Box 62 also has biographical and genealogical data.
    Manuscripts and Documents. These are in Boxes 54 through 57, covering the years 1877 to 1932. Materials have been placed in blue folders, each labeled and dated, and arranged in chronological order. The boxes contain some of Turner's earliest historical writings, notes for lectures and seminars, drafts of essays, etc., clippings, and other personal data. For of citation: TU Box 54, Manuscripts & Documents, 1877-1900.
    The Turner-Hooper correspondence. This is contained in eight boxes, the first seven of which are devoted to letters between Turner and Mrs. William Hooper (Mrs. Alice Forbes Perkins Hooper). Mrs. Hooper, a daughter of Charles Elliott Perkins, president of the Burlington Railroad, and wife of William Hooper of a prominent New England family, became acquainted with Turner when he first moved to Harvard University in 1910. She played a leading financial role in establishing the Harvard Commission on Western History under his guidance. These initial contacts led to a lasting friendship, which endured to the time of Turner's death. Hence this is a unique correspondence, in which he discusses his political beliefs, his writing, his teaching, his reading, and the ordinary events of the day with a frankness that he displayed to few others. The correspondence is essential for biographical purposes, and reveals Turner at his witty best. The eighth box in the series contains letters between Mrs. Hooper and Max Farrand concerning the disposition of the letters after Turner's death. Her comments on Turner's character in these letters are revealing. Form of citation: TU-H Box 1, Turner-Hooper Correspondence, 1910-1912. Also in Turner-Hooper Correspondencs, Boxes A-D: correspondence from other people.
    Turner Family letters These are now in Boxes A-K.
    2: Manuscript Volumes
    Included in the Turner papers are a number of items of importance which have been separately preserved and catalogued. Notes on the contents of each of these volumes follow. Citation is to: TU Volume 1, etc.
    1. TU Vol. 1, Red Book. This contains letters from students and friends written to Turner a the time he left the University of Wisconsin to go to Harvard. They were solicited by one of his former students, Professor James Alton James. Mounted in a red-colored book, they are normally in the form of holograph letters. Folders in the correspondence boxes refer to each of these letters.
    2. TU Vol. II, Blue Book. When Turner retired from Harvard, his friends and former students held a dinner in his honor. This was arranged by his students in his seminar for 1923-1924. Letters and telegrams written by friends and former students who could not attend have been arranged in a blue-covered book inscribed: "Frederick Jackson Turner May 24, 1924." In the book also is an envelope holding newspaper clippings dealing with his retirement.
    3. TU Vol. III (1 & 2), Commonplace Book. These consist of two paper-bound notebooks in which Turner jotted down his thoughts, quotations that appealed to him, rough drafts of orations, and miscellaneous items during the period 1883-1887 when he was a student and graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. This is a valuable collection of materials which indicate his interests and the evolution of his historical concepts.
    4. TU Vol. IV, A. J. Turner, History of Portage. A volume prepared by Andrew Jackson Turner, Frederick J. Turner's father, entitled: "A History of Portage, Wisconsin: A Talk to the local Women's Club." Typescript, 12 pp., fol. c.1900, bound in hard covers.
    5. TU Vol. V, Letters of Condolence. Fifty-two letters of condolence and appreciation addressed to Mrs. Frederick Jackson Turner between March 15, 1932 and November 22, 1932. Chronologically arranged in a portfolio, entitled: "Letters of Condolence and Appreciation Addressed to Caroline Mae (Sherwood) Turner, on the death of Her Husband, March 14, 1932."
    6. TU Vol. VI, Collection of Syllabuses. These include both printed and manuscript syllabuses for period c. 1893 to 1909 on: English history (probably prepared by Professor Allen), The Colonization of North America, and The History of the West. Collected in hard-cover folder labeled: "Collection of Syllabuses: [c.1893-1909].
    7. TU Vol. VII, Bibliography of United States History. Manuscript bibliography of United States history, 1865-1910, prepared by Turner for his section of the Channing, Hart and Turner, Guide. Additions and corrections have been made in Turner's hand, and by others.
    8. TU Vol. VIII, Dictionary of American Biography. Turner was a leading instigator in the publication of the Dictionary of American Biography under the sponsorship of the American Council of Learned Societies. This bound volume, collected by Turner, contains most of his correspondence in connection with the project.
    9. TU Vol. IX, Town and Gown Club. A facsimile of a book entitled "Golden Anniversary Town and Gown, 1878-1928." The Town and Gown Club was an active organization in Madison, Wisconsin, to which Turner belonged. This book contains its records and history during his years of membership. His name is listed, but there are no comments or speeches by him recorded.
    10. TU Vol. X, Diary and Correspondence Relating to Children. This volume contains several telegrams and letters received by the Turners at the time of the birth of their first daughter, Dorothy Kinsey Turner, on September 1, 1890. It also contains two diaries that Turner kept to record the day-by-day or week-by-week development of his children. The first, describing Dorothy Kinsley Turner, covers the period September 1, 1890 to September 1893. The second, a briefer document, is a diary of Allen Jackson Turner, June 26, 1892 to October, 1892. Handwritten on cheap paper mostly by Mrs. Turner.
    11. TU Vol. XI, Journal of Camping Trip. A diary kept by Mrs. Frederick Jackson Turner during the summer of 1908 when the Turners camped with Mr. and Mrs. C. R. Van Hise, apparently in the Lake Superior country. Mr. Van Hise was president of the University of Wisconsin. Handwritten in pencil on small sheets of paper.
    12. TU Vol. XII, Household Account Book. Notebook containing the household accounts, with notes of expenditures, of Mrs. Frederick Jackson Turner, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for rent, food, etc. Covers parts of 1921 and 1922. Written in pen in Mrs. Turner's hand.
    13. TU Vols. XIII-XVIII, Student Notebooks. Common notebooks kept by Turner when he was a student at the University of Wisconsin. One bears notation: "Prof. Allen Hist. of U.S. Fred. J. Turner, Feb. 17, 1883." The remainder are undated, but presumably of the same period, and probably represent reading and lecture notes compiled in Professor Allen's course or later during Turner's graduate school career at Madison. Two notebooks marked "Am. History I 1492-1763," and "American History II 1763-1789," cover the colonial period. Three more on the "Period of the Republic" deal with aspects of that story: 1) Foreign Relations to 1820, 2) Political history to the Civil War, and 3) The Slavery Controversy to 1876. A final notebook covers the Civil War period, with heavy emphasis on battles.
    14. TU Vol. XIX, Retiring Allowance Correspondence. Eighteen letters bound in a folder by Turner concerning his allowance on retirement. Included is the letter appointing him to his first teaching post in American history.
    15. TU Vol. XX, References on the History of the West. Three copies of the Turner and Merk, List of References on the History of the West (1920 and 1922), heavily annotated by Turner.
    3: File Drawers 1-22
    These previously consisted of one bank of eighteen wooden, typewriter-size file drawers and four steel file drawers, numbered consecutively from one to twenty-two; now housed in 91 upright holinger boxes, numbered 1-22 and subdivided in consecutive letters. They contain the wide variety of materials accumulated by Professor Turner during his lifetime of reading American history: reading notes, occasional lecture notes, student papers, clippings from newspapers and magazines, maps that he prepared or found useful, offprints, magazine articles, and sections of books torn apart to e inserted at appropriate spots. Reference should be made to: TU File Drawer No. 1A, 1B, etc.
    A rough and tentative list of the contents of the various drawers follows:
    File Drawers 1 through 9. These contain materials noted above dealing with the period from early Colonial times to 1850. Contents of the separate drawers are as follows:
    • File Drawer No. 1. New England, 1492-1659; Middle Colonies, 1492-1659, South, 1492-1659, the West, 1492-1659; New England, 1660-1689; Middle Colonies, 1660-1689.
    • File Drawer No. 2. South, 1660-1689; General, 1690-1763; Middle Atlantic, 1690-1763; South, 1690-1763; New England, 1690-1763.
    • File Drawer No. 3. South, 1690-1763; West, 1690-1763; Far West, 1690-1763; General, 1761-1782; New England, 1764-1782; Middle Atlantic, 1764-1782.
    • File Drawer No. 4. West, 1764-1782; General, 1783-1788; New England, 1783-1788; Middle Atlantic, 1783-1788; West, 1783-1788.
    • File Drawer No. 5. General, 1789-1818.
    • File Drawer No. 6. General, 1789-1818 continued.
    • File Drawer No. 7. New England, 1789-1818; Middle Atlantic, 1789-1818; South, 1789-1818; West, 1789-1818; General, 1819-1829; New England, 1819-1829.
    • File Drawer No. 8. Middle Atlantic, 1819-1829; South, 1818-1829; Middle West, 1819-1829; Far West, 1818-1829; General, 1830-1850.
    • File Drawer No. 9. General, 1830-1850, continued.
    File drawer No. 10. This drawer, which is seemingly out of sequence, was found to contain far more useful material than the earlier drawers. Principally important are the lecture notes and completed lectures, especially those for the History of Liberty series given at Harvard University shortly after World War I. In these Turner reviewed many of his ideas concerning the nature of American society and its political institutions, often dwelling on his frontier and sectionalism themes in doing so. The drawer also contains notes for his lectures on political map studies, as well as a large number of maps that he apparently used for illustrative purposes while lecturing. The reading notes interspersed among these materials are largely for the 1830-1850 period.
    File Drawers 11 and 12. In these Professor Turner returned to his chronological sequence, as follows:
    • File Drawer No. 11. New England, 1830-1850; Middle Atlantic, 1830-1850; South, 1830-1820; Middle West, 1830-1850; Far West, 1830-1850; General, 1851-1865.
    • File Drawer No. 12. New England, 1851-1865; Middle Atlantic, 1851-1865; South, 1851-1865; Middle West, 1851-1865; Far West, 1851-1865.
    File Drawer No. 13. This, too, is seemingly out of place, a position probably explained by the fact that its contents were little used, and hence were relegated to the lowest level. It contains nothing but the research notes accumulated by Turner for his never-completed biography of George Rogers Clark.
    File Drawer No. 14. This drawer, and File Drawer No. 15, are the two most important for any student of Turner's historical concepts. Drawer No. 14 was apparently that occasionally referred to by Turner in his correspondence as the "Sectionalism" drawer; Drawer No. 15 he also sometimes designated as the "Frontier" drawer. The division, however, is by no means exact, and both drawers contain extremely valuable material on both subjects. In this drawer are the drafts, in various stages of completion, of several of his articles on sectionalism, notes and manuscripts of speeches, fragments of writing on the section, and the like. The materials have been placed in folders and many of them labeled.
    File Drawer No. 15. The contents of this drawer are even more important than those of Drawer No. 14 for a study of Turner as historian. It contains drafts of several of his articles, a number of speeches, essays in various stages of composition, and a wide range of biographical materials. Most of the items have been placed in folders, and labeled, many in the handwriting of Fulmer Mood. Any student with limited time available would do well to begin with this drawer, proceed to File Drawer No. 14 and to File Drawer 10, and then spend such time as remained on the other drawers in this bank.
    File Drawers 16 through 21. In these drawers Professor Turner filed the results of his reading and research on the period since 1866. They contain the usual items: reading notes, offprints, segments of books, articles, magazine clippings, maps, student notes, student papers, and an unusually large number of newspaper clippings, kept by Turner in his avid reading of contemporary events. Virtually the only material prepared by Turner in these drawers is his reading notes, and the drafts, usually first or second, of the sections that he prepared for the Channing, Hart and Turner Guide. There is little of interest on his frontier or sectional concepts, but the drawers do illustrate his catholic tastes, and his wide reading. Occasional research notes are buried midst the clippings, together with maps and charts that he probably used in teaching. The material emphasized in individual drawers is as follows:
    • File Drawer No. 16. General, 1866 to present.
    • File Drawer No. 17. General, 1866 to present.
    • File Drawer No. 18. General, 1866 to present.
    • File Drawer No. 19. General, 1866 to present.
    • File Drawer No. 20. New England, 1866 to present; Middle Atlantic, 1866 to present; South, 1866 to present; Middle West, 1866 to present. The bulk to the contents are in the latter category. At rear a few miscellaneous items, including skyscraper book.
    • File Drawer No. 21. The West, 1866 to present. In this drawer materials are arranged topically, under railroads, mining, cattlemen, agrarian movements, and the like. Many of the books and articles have been annotated or underlined by Turner, with his usual red pencil. At the rear of the drawer are several folders marked "Miscellany" which contain a variety of reading notes, bibliography, etc., dealing with an earlier period.
    File Drawer No. 22. In this drawer are the lecture notes apparently used by Professor Turner during his last teaching days at Harvard. The first portion contains notes for a course that begins about 1860 and continues through Reconstruction; the latter portion contains his notes for the second half of History 39, spring semester, 1924. These cover the period 1880 to 1920. The notes for each lecture are usually in rough form, with tables, maps and charts drawn by Turner to use as illustrative material, and the like. In only a few instances are the lectures written out in complete form.
    4: File Drawers A-L
    These previously consisted of one bank of twelve steel file drawers, typewriter paper size, numbered consecutively A through L; now housed in 45 upright holinger boxes, numbered A-L and subdivided in consecutive numbers. They contain (with one exception noted below) the materials used by Professor Turner in writing his last book, The United States, 1830-1850. Included are, in most instances, his reading notes, outlines and fragments in Turner's hand, student theses, seminar reports, rough drafts of maps, charts, and elaborate tables and statistical data on which the maps were based. Rough drafts of the various parts of chapters are also to be found in some of the drawers.
    A rough and tentative listing of the contents of the various drawers follows: (Cited as TU File Drawer A1, A2... etc.)
    File Drawer A. [In folders at the front of the drawer are the correspondence between the Huntington Library and Henry Holt & Co. concerning the publishing of the book, and the accounts of Merrill H. Crissey, Professor Turner's secretary.] *All Holt correspondence has been placed in TU Box 63.* Then follow drafts of the chapters, usually typed carbons heavily corrected in Turner's hand. Drafts of the introduction and some other parts of chapters are in Turner's hand. Each chapter is accompanied by a series of notes and memoranda by the editors, which admirably illustrate the problems of posthumous publication.
    File Drawer B. This contains the rough data and Turner's notes for political developments during the period covered by the book. The large quantities of statistical data gathered by Professor Turner as the basis for his analysis of elections and for the maps of elections and congressional votes provide admirable evidence of the factual basis for each of his generalizations. This evidence was too voluminous to be shown in footnotes.
    File Drawer C. The material contained in this drawer deals largely with the public issues of the Jackson-Tyler administrations: nullification, the tariff, the bank war, the independent treasury, foreign relations, etc. Included are many copies of documents from archives in the United States and Europe, in addition to the usual reading notes, seminar reports, offprints, etc.
    File Drawer D. Included in this drawer are materials for the later political history of the period 1830-1850. Reading notes, maps, seminar reports, offprints, documents, etc. are supplemented by a few of Turner's rough-draft chapters extending through the Polk Administration. The rear of the drawer contains materials not yet reduced to written form when death intervened, extending the story to 1850.
    File Drawer E. In this drawer are various drafts of the manuscripts for the Lowell Institute Lectures that Turner delivered in Boston in 1918 on "The United States and its Sections, 1830-1850." Because many pages of the lectures were later removed to be incorporated in "the" book, most of the lectures are not complete. Enough of them remain to indicate the scope and interpretation of the subject.
    File Drawer F. This is devoted to materials for the chapter of the North Central States, 1830-1850. In contains a draft of the chapter, as well as the usual notes, maps, reading materials, etc. Specific items such as the effect of glaciation, population movements, the cost of moving west, and the like, illustrate again the staggering amount of evidence that underlay each generalization in the final draft.
    File Drawer G. This is also devoted exclusively to materials on the North Central States, with notes, memos, and manuscript drafts on such topics a agriculture, transportation, business, banking,and the land system. These are a number of preliminary drafts in Turner's hand of sections on canals, and other small parts of the whole.
    File Drawer H. In this drawer are comparable materials dealing with the political and cultural history of the North Central States, 1830-1850.
    File Drawer I. This drawer contains reading notes and similar materials for the first five chapters of the book: the introduction, the United States in 1830, and the discussions of New England, the Middle Atlantic states, and the South Atlantic states. In each case various drafts of the chapters or fragments of chapters are filed with the other notes.
    File Drawer J. In this are comparable materials for the chapters on the South Central states and for Texas and the Far West. There are no drafts of chapters included, but fragments of drafts are tucked in with the other materials.
    File Drawer K. This is devoted to materials on the Far West that formed a basis for the latter part of the Texas and Far West chapter. The usual reading notes, theses, pamphlets, offprints, etc. deal with such subjects as Indians, trade, settlement of Oregon, etc.
    File Drawer L. Largely compiled after Turner's death, and having little relation to the other materials in this bank of drawers, this drawer deals largely with the preparation posthumously of Turner's book of essays on Sections in American History. Included is the correspondence between the editors and Henry Holt & Co., the publishers, a folder of permissions from prior publishers of the materials, copies of each of the original essays sent to the publishers to be reproduced, and a variety of materials on sectionalism that have no connection with the book: many maps by Turner, one manuscript on sectionalism, jottings by Turner on the subject, offprints, articles, and similar materials on the subject.
    5. Contents of 3 x 5 Files
    The following brief notes on the contents of the drawers are based only on a hurried examination, and are tentative. They are designed only to provide some introduction to a 778 rather complex note-taking system. Citation: 3 x 5 File Drawer No. 1.
    Drawer No. 1. Internal evidence (handwriting, a few scattered dates, etc.) suggests that this drawer was compiled and used in the 1890's and to about 1904. It contains bibliographical notes and brief reading notes on the social and economic history of the United States, and was perhaps compiled in connection with Professor Turner's course on that subject, given at the University of Wisconsin. A number of notes suggest the type of reading that he was doing at the time of the preparation of the "Frontier" essay. At the rear of the drawer is a section on "Immigration" apparently of the same period. This was possible collected when he was preparing the articles on immigration for the Chicago Record-Herald, August-October, 1901.
    Drawer No. 2. This drawer was also probably compiled during Turner's early teaching career. Material has been added later, however, distinguished by a later handwriting and differing paper types. Most of the cards contain bibliographical or reading notes, with the emphasis on sovereignty and nationalism. The Revolutionary Period receives most attention, but early social compacts are included as well as some later periods. Probably these notes were connected with Turner's course on American Constitutional History, given at Wisconsin.
    Drawer No. 3. A calendar prepared by Turner of three collections of manuscripts in the Library of Congress: the James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Albert Gallatin papers. Individual cards, arranged chronologically, describe each manuscript item.
    Drawer No. 4. A similar compilation and abstracting of the papers of James Barbour, Rufus King, and George Clinton, with a chronological arrangement employed under the heading of each individual. The latter portion of this drawer also contains a series of bibliography cards on American newspapers, and others on American public figures in the period 1820-1850.
    Drawer No. 5. This drawer contains a bibliography for the period 1820-1830. Arrangement is topical, with headings under "Gazetteers," "Newspapers," etc.
    Drawer No. 6. A chronological file of the period 1820-1830. Cards are arranged by year, and sometimes even by month within the yearly division. Most of the cards contain brief notes on research, dealing with all of the public issues of the day. (Note: for the probable use of this material by Turner in his writing, see note on his methodology, below, immediately after the description of Drawer No. 21).
    Drawer No. 7. This drawer contains research and bibliographical notes for the period 1820-1830, as does Drawer No. 6. Those in this drawer are, for the most part, arranged by subject, and deal largely with social, economic, and political events during the decade.
    Drawer No. 8. In this drawer Turner has arranged his biographical notes on which he based his essay on "The Children of the Pioneers." The first card in the box has a brief note in Turner's hand suggesting the method that he was to follow. The drawer is especially interesting in revealing the staggering amount of detailed work that underlay his statements.
    Drawer No. 9. Internal evidence suggests that this drawer, and those that follow, were for the most part arranged by Turner in his Harvard period. This drawer contains bibliographical material and brief research notes on the period from the Civil War to the 1880's, largely during the Grant and Hayes Administrations. Within each presidential administration, material is arranged under topical headings: "labor," "tariff," etc.
    Drawer No. 10. The contents of this drawer are comparable to those for Drawer No. 9, but for the period of the Harrison and Cleveland Administrations. Bibliographical information and brief reading notes are arranged topically.
    Drawer No. 11. Bibliographical and reading notes, arranged topically, for the period since 1900.
    Drawer No. 12. This contains a variety of material, largely bibliographic. Included, moving from the front to the rear of the drawer, are: a topical bibliography for the period 1865-1910, a bibliography on economic history, largely in this period, a bibliography on immigration and racial groups, apparently compiled later than that in Drawer No. 1; a small packet of cards held by a clip containing notes that appear to be related to Turner's early research and thought on sectionalism; and a miscellaneous bibliography dealing largely with the period 1865-1900.
    Note: The remaining drawers in the file were those used by Turner in writing his United States, 1830-1850. Their purpose will be made clear only after reading the following note on Turner's methodology and writing techniques. This was sent by Merrill H. Crissey, his secretary, to Avery Craven, on July 5, 1932, and is in TU Box 49, Correspondence, June 11-Dec., 1933:
    "Throughout the dictated portion of the book (including all the chapters on Presidential Administrations), the procedure, in the case of each chapter, was, first, to make a chronological card file of the raw material. Earlier researches had yielded a mass of notes, partly on cards (3" x 5", white), partly on paper. The former were at once put into a pasteboard-box file, by date; the latter were transferred to cards, which likewise went into the file. Additional cards were then prepared; material for these came from both secondary works (general histories and biographies --for a skeleton of events --and special studies deemed valuable for a particular phase of the narrative) and sources (principally the writings of political leaders, the debates in Congress, and contemporary journals). Guide cards, in color, were used for the years and months. Subject tabs (improved from gummed manila paper) were affixed to note cards bearing on topics or events of chief importance. This arrangement of notes made it easy to bring together material on any outstanding subject an d facilitated correlations. The file of notes was supplemented by sectional tabulations of Presidential-election votes and important votes in Congress."
    Mr. Crissey goes on to explain that Turner dictated from these notes, with the first draft recorded in triple-space; the resulting manuscript was then corrected and revised in several more versions.
    The following listing of the contents of drawers used in the compilation of this book uses the words employed by Turner in labeling each of the cardboard boxes from which the notes were transferred to the metal file cases:
    Drawer No. 13. "Correlation 1827-35."
    Drawer No. 14. "Campaign 1836 and Topics."
    Drawer No. 15. "1836 by States."
    Drawer No. 16. "1837."
    Drawer No. 17. "1838, 1839, 1840."
    Drawer No. 18. "1841-1843."
    Drawer No. 19. "Administration of James K. Polk, 1845-1849." In addition to the research notes referred to in Mr. Crissey's note above, the drawers of this series contain occasional small maps drawn by Turner, usually of congressional votes.
    6: Black Boxes Nos. 1-14
    The materials in these fourteen black boxes were apparently arranged by Mr. Merrill h. Crissey, Professor Turner's secretary, either before or after Turner's death. They consist of offprints, clippings from magazines and newspapers, pamphlets, small booklets, and an occasional student paper. Many of the items have been heavily underlined or annotated by Turner, and are valuable in indicating the nature of his historical reading and thinking. The items are numbered throughout, in Mr. Crissey's hand, from 1 to 298; the numbers that follow the drawer numbers below refer to this classification. Suggested form of citation: TU Black Box No. 1 (1-25), Item 1.
    Box No. 1 (1-25) Material dealing with the origin and outbreak of the Civil War. In some instances heavily annotated and with side comments by Turner.
    Box No. 2 (26-40) Continuation of materials on the Civil War. In addition to the usual offprints, clippings, pamphlets, etc., this box contains three student papers prepared in Turner's courses.
    Box No. 3 (41-64) A continuation of Civil War materials, with emphasis on military events. one student paper, from Turner's Harvard period, is included.
    Box No. 4 (65-83) Largely magazine clippings, but with a few additional items, dealing with the military history of the Civil War. Greatest emphasis is on the Battle of Gettysburg.
    Box No. 5 (84-100) A continuation of materials on the military history of the Civil War, with later battles emphasized.
    Box No. 6 (101-110) Materials dealing with diplomatic aspects of the Civil War.
    Box No. 7 (111-138) Reprints, pamphlets, clippings and the like concerning the early phases of Reconstruction, and particularly the administration of Andrew Johnson.
    Box No. 8 (139-159) A continuation of materials of reconstruction, with some also on the purchase of Alaska.
    Box No. 9 (160-168) Miscellaneous materials, having little relationship to contents of earlier boxes. Two items deserve special mention. One is a series of pages clipped from the 1890 census report containing the well-known passage on the closing of the frontier, underlined by Turner. The other is an 1891 advance sheet on the 1890 census, dealing with the spread of population between 1790-1890. (Items 163 and 164).
    Box No. 10 (169-206) Pamphlets, magazine articles, and newspaper clippings on technological developments and especially on the depletion of natural resources in relation to growing population needs. Source materials for Clark University address.
    Box No. 11 (207-228) Materials dealing with political history after Reconstruction, and emphasizing the Progressive Period. The last items are on labor and immigration history and policies for the period.
    Box No. 12 (229-249) Materials on labor are continued from the last box; this box also contains items on the South in the twentieth century. Newspaper clippings are more numerous than in many earlier boxes.
    Box No. 13 (250-274) Beginning with a few items on the South, this box also contains some materials on the Pacific Northwest and the northern Great Plains. A few items deal with foreign policy in the twentieth century.
    Box No. 14 (275-298) Clippings predominate in this box, on politics in the 1880's and 1920's.
    7: Miscellaneous
    The following items are included in the collection of Turner papers:
    Maps. Maps drawn or used by Turner are in two filing-case size drawers. These include many political maps ofir others of a like nature used to illustrate his sectionalism concept. Note: In addition to the maps in these two drawers, hundreds of others are scattered through the large file drawers containing his research and reading notes.
    Student Thesis. One large file drawer contains a number of theses prepared in Turner's classes and seminars. These have been arranged alphabetically and labeled by Merrill H. Crissey, Mr. Turner's secretary. They have also been dated where this is possible. Note: Many other theses, term papers, and seminar reports prepared in Professor Turner's classes are scattered through File Drawers 1-22 and A-L.
    Lantern Slides. The lantern slides used by Turner in his teaching and lectures are collected in nine special boxes. These are apparently exactly as they were left by Turner, with one box containing slides for the lecture given at Pasadena, probably untouched since the lecture was given. Many of the slides are of political maps, elections, congressional votes, etc., prepared by Turner.
    Ephemera. Miscellaneous materials having only a remote connection to Turner's career as teacher or scholar have been assembled in a flat cardboard box labeled "Ephemera." Most of these are of little value to the student. Included are many of the advertisements and similar material received through the mails after his death.
    8: Index cards
    These index cards consist of typewritten and handwritten notes regarding Turner and Western history.

    Processing Information

    This finding aid was updated in 2022 by Melissa Haley as part of the American Presidential Papers Project with enhanced description of the presidential material present.


    There are roughly eight sections in this collection: 1) Correspondence and Documents, 2) Manuscript Volumes, 3) File Drawers 1-22, 4) File Drawers A-L, 5) 3 x 5 File Drawers 1-19, 6) Black Boxes 1-14, 7) Miscellaneous, 8) Index cards

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Frontier and pioneer life--United States
    Frontier thesis
    Historians--United States--19th century
    Historians--United States--20th century
    Sectionalism (United States)
    United States--History--19th century
    United States--Politics and government--19th century
    West (U.S.)--History--19th century
    Clippings (information artifacts)--United States
    Ephemera--United States
    Essays--United States
    Lantern slides--United States
    Lectures--United States
    Letters (correspondence)--United States
    Manuscripts for publication--United States
    Maps--United States
    Photographs--United States
    Research notes--United States
    Speeches--United States
    Turner, Frederick Jackson, 1861-1932--Archives
    Turner, Frederick Jackson, 1861-1932--Frontier in American history
    American Historical Association
    Harvard University
    Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
    Johns Hopkins University
    University of Wisconsin--Madison
    Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924