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Rowland Willard and Elizabeth S. Willard papers

Call Number: WA MSS S-2512

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of diaries and other writings, correspondence, photographs, and other papers documenting the lives of Dr. Rowland Willard and his wife Elizabeth S. Willard. Dr. Willard's diaries and autobiography chronicle in particular his travels through New Mexico in 1825.

The 2004 acquisition consists of Dr. Rowland Willard's annotated manuscript autobiography in ink, in seven sections bound with string (372 p.), narrating in detail his life from early youth until settlement in Oswego, Indiana, including his encounter with Hugh Glass while travelling along the Santa Fe Trail in 1825 and his experiences in Mexico. The latter part of the memoir shares Willard's religious views, including his thoughts on slavery and the Civil War. The manuscript concludes with a passage dated 1880 July 26, Haddonfield, [N.J.]. Accompanying material includes a commonplace book of Willard's, titled "Cincinnati O--o" and dated 1829 Jun 28 (31 p.); and a manuscript draft of an incomplete translation of "Los Incas" with preface (95 p.). This acquisition also includes three bound diaries of Elizabeth Willard, kept irregularly from 1842 to 1886. One diary written in one of Dr. Willard's Cincinnati account books. Willard describes her religious convictions, the deaths of several children, and her family life, faith, church work, and travels. Also: 11 manuscript compositions by Elizabeth Willard, mostly religious quotations and some fiction, including what appears to be a draft of a short story (54 p.); 1 ALS from Lyman W. Willard to his mother, dated 1863 Sep 16; 7 ALS from Elizabeth Willard to family and friends, including a joint letter with a note from Dr. Willard; and 2 newspaper clippings of Elizabeth Willard's published writing (a poem and a letter).

Addition to the papers in 2005: manuscript journal (140 p.) kept by Dr. Rowland Willard during his travels along the Santa Fe Trail, 1825-1827. Daily entries record routes taken, scenery, plants, animals, fellow travelers on the Trail, and encounters with Indians. Includes descriptions of Taos, Santa Fe, and Chihuahua, where he settled and established his medical practice. Begins with Willard's departure from St. Charles, Missouri, on May 6, 1825, and traces his journey with a caravan of thirty-three men traveling by pack horse along the Arkansas River and into New Mexico. The journal describes local men of note in the various locales visited, including trader Augustus Storrs in Santa Fe, and the alcades of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. During his journey, Willard engaged in trading with those he encountered, and the prices of goods bought and sold are recorded in his journal. The journal also includes descriptions of the men Willard met in Chihuahua, including Comanche chiefs, Governor Arce, and several American traders. Addition also includes the March 15, 1884 issue of "The Directory", a newsletter for Haddonfield, New Jersey, with Willard's obituary; and a manuscript promissory note for $120.57, dated 1835 May 17, written to Willard from [Phanes Throop?] & Son.

The 2011 addition to the papers includes correspondence, including letters by Rowland Willard and Rowland Willard, Jr.; writings by Elizabeth Willard and Rowland Willard; portrait photographs of individuals and groups including members of the Willard family; printed materials including books and clippings; other papers, and a map by Elizabeth Willard.


  • 1822-1921


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 8 (Roll): Restricted Fragile Material. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Rowland Willard and Elizabeth S. Willard papers is 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

Purchased from Carmen D. Valentino on the Frederick W. and Carrie S. Beinecke Fund for Western Americana, 2004. Willard's journal and obituary purchased from William Reese Co. on the Frederick W. and Carrie S. Beinecke Fund for Western Americana, 2005. 2011 acquisition purchased from Carmen D. Valentino and gift of Carmen D. Valentino.


6.92 Linear Feet ((7 boxes) + 1 roll)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection consists of diaries and other writings, correspondence, photographs, and other papers documenting the lives of Dr. Rowland Willard and his wife Elizabeth S. Willard. Dr. Willard's diaries and autobiography chronicle in particular his travels through New Mexico in 1825.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Dr. Rowland Willard was born at Fort Ann, New York, in 1794, and died in Haddonfield, New Jersey, in 1884. He traveled the Ohio River system during his youth, and studied as a carpenter, musician, Freemason and eventually, as a medical student, in St. Charles, Missouri from 1817 to 1825. Leaving St. Charles in 1825, he traveled to Taos along the Arkansas River and the Santa Fe Trail to New Mexico. From Taos, he travelled south, administering medical advice in various Indian pueblos and establishing a successful medical practice in Chihuahua. Three years later, he returned to the United States via Matamoras and New Orleans. Willard attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia from 1828 until 1829 when he moved to Cincinnati to speculate on land and establish a medical practice which grew to include a wholesale drugstore. In 1829 Timothy Flint published a brief account of Willard's travels in The Western Monthly Review. The account was later reprinted as an appendix to James Ohio Pattie's Personal Narrative in 1831. Willard traveled down the Mississippi and through Alabama in 1830. In 1832, Willard married wife Elizabeth (b. 1814) in Cincinnati. After a conversion to the Baptist faith a year later, the couple moved to Covington, Kentucky, where Dr. Willard helped establish the Western Theological Institute, and then to Oswego, Indiana, where Willard again speculated on land. Three sons survived childhood: Lyman W., Nelson L., and Rowland. The Willards retired to Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Guide to the Rowland Willard and Elizabeth S. Willard Papers
by Beinecke staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.