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Samuel Ryan Curtis Papers

Call Number: WA MSS 122-125
Scope and Contents

The collection consists of General Curtis' intimate letters to his wife and children written at frequent intervals when he was away from them, as well as letters written to Curtis by his wife and sons. The collection also contains Curtis' official correspondence, with copies of orders, telegrams, etc., dating from his service in the Mexican and Civil Wars and on the Indian Commission which made treaties with the Sioux.

The papers consist of 416 items and are arranged in four sections. The first section (WA MSS 122) consists of autobiographical material from the years 1846-60 and includes such items as family letters and papers covering Curtis' service in the Mexican War, Curtis' work on engineering projects in Iowa and Missouri, and his term in Congress as representative from Iowa. Some of the material deals with Curtis' efforts on behalf of the Pacific Railroad. A letter to Secretary of War John Buchanan Floyd is located in this first section.

The second section (WA MSS 123) consists of letters written during the years 1858-60. This correspondence concerns the discovery of gold in Colorado, specifically Samuel Stephen Curtis' experiences going to Colorado by ox team, his experiences prospecting and trading at Cherry Creek, the early settlement of Auraria and Denver, and the attempt to establish Jefferson Territory.

The third section (WA MSS 124) consists of material from the Civil War period, 1861-65, and includes official correspondence of Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis, of the Departments of Missouri, Kansas, and the Northwest, as well as field orders, telegrams, reports, and other military papers of Major Samuel Stephen Curtis while serving with the Colorado Volunteers, and the military papers of Henry Zarah Curtis. Family letters from the period 1861-65 are included in this section. (A letter, dated April 29, 1908, and addressed to J. L. Davenport, acting commissioner of pensions, is included as well). Printed forms found in this section are of interest as examples of early printing in the West.

The fourth and final section (WA MSS 125) includes papers from the years 1865-66 which concern Montana and the Dakota Territory, the Indian Commission, and the survey of the Union Pacific Railroad.

A series of letters of General Curtis, including official correspondence and letters to his wife, has been edited and published in Annals of Iowa, 1942, 3d Ser. XXIV. The originals of those letters are not in the Coe Collection but supplement those for the years 1861-62. The official reports of the Indian Commission are printed in the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1865, pp. 537-42, and 1866, pp. 168-76.

The following detailed list of papers in the collection can also be found on pp. 50-55 of A Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Collection of Western Americana in the Yale University Library, Mary C. Withington, ed.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Samuel Ryan Curtis Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Please consult the appropriate curator.

1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
Related Names
Curtis, Samuel Ryan, 1805-1866
Language of Materials