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Joel Barlow Collection

Call Number: YCAL MSS 568

Scope and Contents

The collection provides evidence of the personal and professional life of Joel Barlow between 1780 and 1813. Most notably the collection contains Barlow’s continuing work on his epic poem The Vision of Columbus (1787), which he ultimately expanded and republished as The Columbiad (1807). The collection contains a printed version of The Vision of Columbus (Paris, 1793) with revisions and additional material, such as a list of subjects for illustration, estimates of printing costs, and preface. A letter to Barlow from Robert Fulton concerning copies The Columbiad found in a publisher's warehouse can be found in the correspondence series. The collection also includes autograph manuscript writings such as a chapter on “Means of Subsistence” from a larger work and a speech in response to the Republicans of Connecticut given at a political dinner.

In addition to documenting Barlow’s writing career the papers also reflect his diplomatic service and business ventures. For example, in a letter to his wife Ruth Baldwin Barlow, Barlow discusses his experience as minister to Algiers. Several documents reflect Barlow’s business interests, including a document composed while Barlow was serving as the European representative for the Scioto Associates. Barlow’s increasing wealth can be seen in an indenture detailing the contents of his Washington, D.C. estate, Kalorama, created when Barlow leased his home to M. Serrurier, French minister to the U.S.

The collection contains several autograph letters written by Joel Barlow to his wife Ruth Baldwin Barlow, friends, and colleagues. Barlow corresponded with a number of notable people, including Sylvanus Bourne, Robert Fulton, Benjamin Latrobe, Fulwar Skipwith, and Noah Webster, among others.


  • 1780 - 1813


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Joel Barlow Collection 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

Acquired from various sources. For more information see catalog cards filed in the collection.


Organized into three series: I. Correspondence, 1780-1813. II. Writings, 1793-1811. III. Business Papers, 1790-1811.


1.54 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

Biographical / Historical

Barlow, Joel (1754-1812), American businessman, diplomat, and poet.

Processing Information

This collection includes materials previously identified by the following call number: Za Barlow.

Guide to the Joel Barlow Collection
Under Revision
by Beinecke staff
September 2013
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

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

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.