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Finding Aid to the John Lloyd Stephens Papers, 1795-1882
BANC MSS Z-Z 116  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: John Lloyd Stephens Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1795-1882
    Collection Number: BANC MSS Z-Z 116
    Creator: Stephens, John Lloyd, 1805-1852
    Extent: Number of containers: 4 boxes and 2 oversize folders
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Pt. I : Mainly letters and papers of John Lloyd Stephens; papers for the settlement of his estate and some correspondence of his father, Benjamin Stephens. Concerning John L. Stephens' travels in Mexico and Central America, his publications and his association with the Panama Railroad. Some papers pertain to family land holdings in New York State.

    Pt. II : "Eventful expedition ... to Iximaya: material assembled by Wolfgang Von Hagen.

    Pt. II : Use positive microfilm only (BANC MSS Z-Z 116 FILM): $b Consult the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, regarding use.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English, Spanish and Yucateca

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

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

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John Lloyd Stephens Papers, BANC MSS Z-Z 116, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Materials Cataloged Separately

    • Proyecto de Alto Reformatorio de la Constitución. Bogatá. 1852.

    Biographical Sketch

    John Lloyd Stephens was born November 28, 1805, in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey, the son of Benjamin Stephens and Clemence Lloyd Stephens. He received his A. B. degree from Columbia College in 1822 and his M. A. from Columbia in 1828. In 1824, he was graduated from the Tapping Reeve Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut. Between 1834 and 1836, he traveled extensively through Europe and the Near East, including Egypt, Arabia Petrea and Russia, and in 1837 and 1838, published accounts of his travels. Stephens' archaeological expeditions to Central America, Mexico and Yucatan were in 1839 and 1842. He was accompanied on both of these journeys by Frederick Catherwood, the British architect and artist. The result of these two tours was Incidents of Travel in Central America, which Stephens published in 1841, and Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, published in 1843. In 1847, Stephens became an official of the Ocean Steam Navigation Company and traveled to Germany, where he met Baron Alexander von Humboldt in Berlin. He later wrote of this meeting in An hour with Humboldt, which appeared in the Living Age Magazine. From l848 to 1852, Stephens was engaged in building a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama and became president of the Panama Railroad Company. He died in New York City, Oct. 5, 1852, at the age of 47 -a victim of Chagres fever.

    Scope and Content

    Stephens' correspondence ranges from 1822 to 1852 and deals with his school days; his travels in Central America and Mexico; his appointment as diplomatic minister in charge of the American Legation in Guatemala during the revolution of 1838; his activities with the Panama Railroad Company, and correspondence and accounts, 1838-1839, of a venture to bring giraffes into the United States for various zoos. The miscellaneous papers include Stephens' will, legal accounts and deeds, dating from 1795 to 1882. Correspondence and legal Papers of Benjamin Stephens are also included. The collection was purchased from Dawson's Book Shop, Sept., 1948.