Overview of the Collection
Scope and Content
Overview of the Collection
Title: Baldwin Family Papers
Dates (inclusive): 1779-1886
Bulk dates: 1803-1865
Collection Number: mssBN 1-475
475 pieces in 8 boxes.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2129
Abstract: This collection chiefly contains correspondence of the family of
Ruth Baldwin Barlow (1756-1818) and her husband, poet and United States diplomat Joel Barlow (1754-1812), with
the bulk dating from 1803-1865. The letters discuss Baldwin family affairs, social life in
New Haven, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., travels in Switzerland, Italy, and France, and
contain only occasional references to political affairs.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department.
For more information, contact Reader Services.
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.
[Identification of item]. Baldwin Family Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino,
Gift of Rear Admiral M. H. Simons, Mrs. Frank O. Branch, and Mrs. R. K. Van Mater, 1956.
Ruth (Baldwin) Barlow (1756-1818), daughter of Michael Baldwin (1719-1787) was wife of the
poet and statesman Joel Barlow (1754-1812). Her sister Clara (Baldwin) Bomford (1782-1856)
married George Bomford (1782-1848), chief of the ordnance of the army.
For an account of these papers, see the Introduction to Four New Letters of Mary
Wollstonecraft and Helen M. Williams, ed. Benjamin P. [UNK] and Carrie C. Autrey (Berkeley,
University of California Press, 1937), pp. 8-10.
Scope and Content
This collection contains family correspondence and a few miscellaneous items, chiefly
addressed to Joel and Ruth Barlow, Clara Baldwin Bomford, and her daughter Ruth Bomford
Paine. Correspondents include Elizabeth Whitman and George William Erving (1769-1850), an
American diplomat. The letters discuss the Baldwin family affairs and contain only
occasional references to political affairs. Also included are a few documents and 1
The collection chiefly reflects the children of Michael Baldwin
(1719-1787) of New Haven, including Abraham Baldwin (1754-1807), American statesman and
founder of the University of Georgia; Henry Baldwin (1780-1844), justice of the United
States Supreme Court; Ruth (Baldwin) Barlow (1756-1818) and her husband, Joel Barlow
(1754-1812), American poet and statesman; Clara (Baldwin) Bomford (1782-1856), wife of
George Bomford (1782-1848), chief of ordnance of the army; and the descendants of George and
Clara Bomford. About one-sixth of the letters are addressed to Joel and/or Ruth Barlow,
1779-1816; about one-half to Ruth's sister, Clara (Baldwin) Bomford, 1803-1855; about
one-sixth to Clara's daughter, Ruth (Bomford) Paine, 1856-1891; and the remainder to others.
Perhaps the collection as a whole is best described as the remnant of a family archive which
has passed through a number of generations.
Subject matter include Baldwin family affairs; social life in New Haven, Connecticut; the Kalorama property in Washington,
D.C., purchased by the Barlows in 1807; sold to the Bomfords in 1818 and
subsequently sold by them in 1846; society in Washington, D.C., from 1803 to 1815; the Barlow's social life in Paris in 1811
and description and travel in Europe, with letters by George W. Erving describing Switzerland, Italy, and France. Includes
biographical material for: Abraham Baldwin; Ruth (Baldwin) Barlow
and Joel Barlow; Clara (Baldwin) Bomford and George Bomford; George William Erving; Robert and
Harriet Fulton; and other members of the Baldwin family and descendants of George & Clara
Of particular note are the letters of Elizabeth Whitman to Joel Barlow; the letters of
Ruth Barlow; and the extensive series of letters from George William Erving (1769-1850),
American diplomat, to Clara Bomford. Erving's letters are perhaps the most substantial part
of the collection and the earlier ones are particularly interesting. He never married,
occupied several diplomatic posts in Europe, travelled about a good deal, and lived for many
years in Paris. The letters contain nothing about his diplomatic work as such, but are full
of reflections and observations on a number of subjects and some of them run to a
considerable length--there is one of twenty-nine pages.
In the earlier part of the collection there are references to Joel Barlow and a number of
letters addressed to him, but only one document and several postscripts in his handwriting,
and copies of his will and one poem. There are occasional references to political affairs,
but the primary importance of the collection is for the picture it presents of the social
and day-to-day life of the time, and for the information it contains about the individuals
Persons represented by 3 or more pieces
(Figures in square brackets indicate number of letters addressed to the individual)"
Baldwin, Abraham (24 pieces, 1789-1807 )
Baldwin, Henry (8 pieces, 1813-1816)
Baldwin, William D. (4 pieces, 1882)
Barlow, Anica (Preble) (4 pieces, 1812-1855)
Barlow, Joel (3 pieces, 1797-1812 (38))
Barlow, Ruth (Baldwin) (67 pieces, 1795-1816 )
Bishop, Victor (7 pieces, 1845-1852)
Bomford, Clara (Baldwin) (21 pieces, 1811-1827 )
Bomford, George (7 pieces, 1844-1848 )
Bomford, James V. (6 pieces, 1883-1887)
Bomford, Mattie (4 pieces, 1856-1883)
Dall, Caroline Wells (Healey) (7 pieces, 1884-1892)
Derby, Richard C. (5 pieces, 1882-1886)
Erving, George William (116 pieces, 1812-1850 )
Eyre, Wilson (4 pieces, 1882)
Gaines, Edmund Pendleton (10 pieces, 1812-1814)
Lafayette, Marquis De (4 pieces, 1789-1827)
Linwood, Mary (3 pieces, 1805-1812)
Madison, Dolly (Payne) Todd (4 pieces, 1811-1842)
Maguire, Bernard (3 pieces, 1844-1848)
Marbois, Comte De (6 pieces, 1812-1814)
Maulsby, A. M. (5 pieces, 1882)
Moore, Margaret Jane (King), Countess Mountcashell (4 pieces, 1812)
Olmstead, Lemuel G. (11 pieces, 1854-1855)
Riddle, John S. (4 pieces, 1844)
Seymour, Louisa (5 pieces, 1886-1891)
Smith, J. B. H. (5 pieces, 1851-1856)
Thornton, Anna Maria (Brodeau) (17 pieces, 1812-1855 )
Whitman, Elizabeth (15 pieces, 1779-1782)
Williams, Helen Maria (6 pieces, 1812-1815)
Some notable items include:
- Baldwin, Abraham.
- To Ruth Barlow. 1789, July 3. "These Politicians Keep Such A Talking Round My
Ears, That I Cannot Write You Any More At Present."
- To Joel Barlow. 1791, Mar. 13. "Many Of The Atlantic Settlers Wish The Western
Country Not To Be Settled, And Take All Opportunities To Throw Blocks In The
- Will. 1807, Mar. 1.
- Barlow, Joel. Will. 1797, Apr. 15. Certified Copy, Dated 1813.
- Barlow, Ruth (Baldwin).
- To Clara Bomford. 1810, Mar. 10 abd 14. Re: Clara'S Change Of Name; Mrs.
Madison; Mme. Bonaparte; Napoleon'S Divorce; Etc.
- To Clara Bomford. 1812, Sep. Letters Describing Her Visit To Mme. De Villette.
- Will. 1813, Aug. 24.
- To Clara Bomford. 1814, Mar. 13. "...Yet The World Suppose Him [Robert Fulton]
Swimming In Wealth, Whilst In Reality He Is Oppressed With Debts Which He Can Hardly
Find The Means Of Meeting. How Little My Dear Clara, We Know Of Peoples Real
Situations & Feelings."
- Bomford, Clara (Baldwin).
- To Anna Maria (Brodeau) Thornton. 1811, Nov. 13. Re: Paris Opera, Joel Barlow'S
Presentation To The Emperor, Etc.
- To Anna Thornton. 1814, Dec. 11. Our [Connecticut] neighbors are mostly people
of fortune or independant farmers, all delighted to see their friends &
acquaintance, they call a visit from 2 in the afternoon till 9 in the evening--about
4 they have a table groaning with the weight of all the good things they can
muster--chickens sausages, apple sauce, sweet meats, bread & butter cakes &
pies & in the evening cider apples & nuts.
- Erving, George William.
- To Joseph Gales. 1814, Oct. 22. Re: the misinterpretation by the British press
of American news.
- To Clara Bomford. 1819, Oct. 6-20. Re: his life in Paris; Mrs. Decatur (she is
a charming woman; she was not absolutely a flame, but a little flamelet of mine many
years ago, but all calculations duly made, I thought it most prudent to withdraw.);
Lafayette (he is one of those in whom hope will never die, who will always see
'couleur de rose' tho affairs be as black as ink,--he thinks that good principles
& a good heart is every thing,--tho a soldier he does not calculate well the
power of bayonets...)
- To the same. 1825, Nov. 20. I am glad that you like Mr Vaughan, but I neither
presume or desire that you see much of him;--tho' he is a very estimable man,
perhaps more respectable (morally speaking) than ministers are in general, yet I
shoud not have given him a letter to you (for this is against my rules) but that he
almost compelled me to do so:-- with all Vaughans apparent simplicity &
frankness, put this well into your head, that he is as thorough an Englishman as any
of them; nor could they find in all England a more fit man to send to Washington;
for his modesty, his want of all pretension,--his 'bonhommie' & his moderate
calm manner, are the very qualities suited to our gullibility;...
- To the same. 1826, June 8. Monroe... demands great 'swads' of our money without
even the shadow of any right at all; thinking no doubt that as the mouth of the
publick purse has opened for poor Lafayette, he may as well thrust his big fist into
it; before the delicate paw of Madam Decatur shall have quite exhausted it, for the
sake of her future husband.... [In Washington] You live precisely in the centre, the
best position for observation--look about you,--probably you will not find one man
excepting your good husband, who is devoid of this mania; look at their gray or bald
foreheads--laden with care; see all the younger ones--rushing--& jostling &
fighting & worrying each other, their hearts full of bitterness & envy;
their nights sleepless; see what a proportion leave their families, neglect their
business, impair their fortunes & ruin their constitutions, for the
gratification of empty vanity--called 'ambition':--for do not mistake, not one in an
hundred is there to 'serve his country' as a duty. Poor Rufus King!--he has been
minister & Senator, & not being able to arrive at the Presidency for which
he has been struggling all his life, must needs be minister again; well he dies in
the effort! Poor Monroe! he arrived by dint of perseverance, he retires, health
& fortune ruined, reputation in not much better condition,--he is to be consumed
by mortification! Poor Crawford! the best years of his life sacrificed, his estate
& profession neglected;--all his prospects defeated,--he vegitates!--so of the
- To the same. 1835, Mar. 18. You & I who knew so well must sympathize in the
loss of that most excellent friend Mr Crawford; I have never seen in publick life
anyone of such perfect & disinterested patriotism, or in private of more pure
- Fulton, Robert. To Joel Barlow. 1809, Mar. 1. Re: Explanation of his moving away
from Kalorama; Barlow's interest in the steamboat (you had little faith in the success
or profits of the boat); Barlow's financial affairs; and getting The Columbiad reviewed
- Gaines, Edmund Pendleton. To Clara Bomford. 1812, Jan. 20. Re: death of his wife,
- Lafayette, Marquis de. Dinner invitation to Joel Barlow. 1789, Feb. 9.
- Thornton, Anna Maria (Brodeau). To Clara Bomford. 1812, Mar. 15. Re: Count Crillon.
- Whitman, Elizabeth. To Joel Barlow, 14 letters, 1779-1780; and one letter to Ruth
Barlow, 1782. The tragic life of Elizabeth Whitman served as the basis for the popular
early American novel by Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette, or, the history of Eliza
Wharton, 1797. These letters were published (inaccurately) by Mrs. Caroline Dall in The
Romance of the Association..., Cambridge, 1875.
Barlow, Joel, 1754-1812 -- Correspondence.
Paine, Ruth Bomford -- Correspondence.
Erving, George William, 1769-1850 -- Correspondence.
Barlow, Ruth, 1755-1818 -- Correspondence.
Bomford, Clara Baldwin -- Correspondence.
Whitman, Elizabeth, 1752-1788 -- Correspondence.
Travelers' writings, American.
Switzerland -- Description and travel.
Italy -- Description and travel.
France -- Description and travel.
Washington (D.C.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century -- Sources.
New Haven (Conn.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century -- Sources.
Letters (correspondence) -- United States.
Poems -- United States.
Family papers -- United States.
Paine, Ruth Bomform, correspondent.
Barlow, Joel, 1754-1812.
Bomford, Clara Baldwin, correspondent.
Erving, George William, 1769-1850.
Barlow, Ruth, 1755-1818, correspondent.
Whitman, Elizabeth, 1752-1788.