Information for Researchers
Scope and Content of Collection
Collection Title: Herbert Eugene Bolton papers
Date (inclusive): 1890-1953,
Date (bulk): bulk 1909-1951
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 840
Bolton, Herbert Eugene, 1870-1953
Number of containers: 99 cartons, 145 boxes, 5 file boxes, 79 oversize boxes and 5
Linear feet: 215 linear feet
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
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.
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:
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of
digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
[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.
Bolton Family Papers (BANC MSS C-B 841)
[Miscellaneous maps from the Herbert E. Bolton collection]. (BANC Map100.B6; BANC
National Park Service Record Group 79
Georgia Division of Archives and History, Mary Letitia Ross papers, 1561-1977 and
Pictorial materials transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library
(BANC PIC 1959.089--PIC)
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
University of California,
Berkeley. Dept. of History
History--Study and teaching
Southwest, New--Discovery and
Pacific Coast--Discovery and
Manuscripts for publication.
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.
Processed by Vivian Fisher in 1961. Processed by Anastasia Karel, Alexandra Black, Rachel
Gulbraa, and Arcadia Falcone in 2007-2008.
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