Skip to main content

William Henry Bishop papers

Call Number: MS 83

Scope and Contents

The papers of William Henry Bishop have been sorted by type and subject, but are otherwise unprocessed. They have been divided into three series: Consular Papers, Personal Papers, and Diaries.

Series I contains correspondence and other documents pertaining primarily to Bishop's consulates at Genoa and Palermo, Italy, between 1903 and 1910. Aside from regular consulate business, topics discussed include the self-styled Duca di Santa Elisabetta, the Petrosino murder case, public security in Sicily, the Messina earthquake, consular relations between Palermo and Panama, immigration from Sicily, and the Taraca Expedition in the Philippines. There is also a small amount of historical material from the consulates pre-dating Bishop's appointment.

Series II contains personal correspondence with William Dean Howells, Armando Palacio Valdés, and others. Subject files, which are made up of correspondence, writings, notes, and printed matter, cover such topics as Marie Bashkirtseff, sundials, and Bishop family genealogy. There is also a small amount of printed matter pertaining to the Yale College class of 1867, and some papers relating to Julian B. Bishop, son of William Henry Bishop. An assortment of memorabilia includes passports, diplomas, and certificates bearing the signatures of Vittorio Emanuele III, Hamilton Fish, Theodore Roosevelt, and William H. Seward, among others.

Series III contains Bishop's diaries for the years 1874 through 1927, kept in 127 small volumes and notebooks. There are also a few notes written by Bishop about the diaries.

The 2012-M-035 addition to the William Henry Bishop papers include consular material, correspondence, draft manuscripts and notes from 1841 to 1930.


  • 1800-1930


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of William H. Bishop, 1929; transfer from Beinecke Rare Book Library, 2011.


Arranged in three series and one addition: I. Consular Papers. II. Personal Papers. III. Diaries.


13.75 Linear Feet (29 boxes, 1 folio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Author, diplomat. Diaries, consular papers documenting his service in Italy and miscellaneous personal papers including correspondence with William Dean Howells and Armando Palacio Valdés, notebooks, genealogical materials, subjects files on Maria Bashkirtseff and a few papers of his son, Julian B. Bishop, who died in 1912. William Henry Bishop's diaries, which make up half the collection, are in 127 volumes spanning the years of 1874-1928 and reflect his extensive travels in the United States and Italy. His consular papers contain correspondence, notes, clippings and photographs on political and social conditions in Italy (1903-1910) with material relating to the self-styled Duca di Santa Elisabetta, 1904-1910; the Petrosino murder case, 1904-1912; public security in Sicily, 1907; the Messina earthquakes, 1906-1908; consular relations between Panama and Palermo, 1905; material on immigration from Sicily; and material on the Taraca Expedition in the Philippines. The 2012-M-035 addition to the William Henry Bishop papers include consular material, correspondence, draft manuscripts and notes from 1841 to 1930.

Biographical / Historical

William Henry Bishop, B.A. 1867.

Born January 7, 1847, in Hartford, Conn.

Died September 26, 1928, in Brooklyn, Conn.

Father, Elias Bishop; son of John and Harriet (Heminway) Bishop; descendant of Governor James Bishop of the New Haven Colony, and of John Bishop, a founder of Guilford, Conn., in 1639; descendant also of Major Moses Mansfield, who married Abigail, sister of Elihu Yale. Mother, Catherine (Kelley) Bishop. Yale relatives include the Rev. Jacob Heminway (B.A. 1704) (great-great-great-uncle), the first and for some months the only student of Yale College.

Hartford Public High School and preparatory department of St. John's College, Fordham, N. Y. Entered Yale as a Sophomore in 1864; prize for English poem in Sophomore year; Class poet; an editor of Yale Courant; member of Yale Crew, Linonia (president), Kappa Sigma Epsilon, Delta Beta Xi, and Delta Kappa Epsilon; graduate member of Wolf's Head.

Studied architecture in office of Peter B. Wight, in New York City; art critic on New York Evening Post; draftsman in office of Government architect in Washington; editor and proprietor of Milwaukee Journal of Commerce (with his classmate, Henry A. Chittenden) 1873-1875, and of Milwaukee Daily Commercial Times 1875-1877; subsequently traveled in Mexico and abroad; lived in France 1888-1893; instructor in French and Spanish at Yale 1893-1903; American consul at Genoa, Italy, 1903-1904, and at Palermo, Italy, 1905-1910, when he resigned; awarded medal of honor by King of Italy, for services in aiding sufferers during the Messina earthquake in 1908; since 1910 had lived in the United States, and of late years in Brooklyn, Conn., and devoted his time largely to painting; exhibited at the New Haven Paint and Clay Club in 1924; had also exhibited sketches at the Academy of Design in New York City in 1872, and in 1874 sketched Milwaukee for Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper; author: Detmold (1879), The House of a Merchant Prince (1882), Choy Susan and Other Stories (1884), Old Mexico and Her Lost Provinces (1884), Fish and Men in the Maine Islands (1885), The Golden Justice (1887), A House Hunter in Europe (1893), Sergeant Von (anonymously) (1889), The Faience Violin (translated from the French of Champfleury) (1893), A Pound of Cure (1894), Writing to Rosina (1894), The Brown Stone Boy and Other Queer People (reissued as Queer People) (1902), The Yellow Snake (reissued as Tons of Treasure) (1902) and Anti-Babel (1919); author also of a war song, "The Khaki and the Blue"; contributed short stories and articles to the Century, Harper's Magazine, Scribner's, Atlantic Monthly, and Nation; translated selections from Spanish authors for the Library of the World's Best Literature; commemorated the sixtieth reunion of his class in a poem; had been president of the Brooklyn Library Association, vice-president of the Connecticut Library Association, first vice-president of the Graduates Club, New Haven, and vice-president of Brooklyn Golf Club; honorary member of Connecticut chapter of American Institute of Architects; member of National Institute of Arts and Letters; Society of Letters, Science, and Arts, of Nice, France; Authors' Club, and Society of Colonial Wars.

Married July 28, 1886, in New York City, Mary Dearborn; daughter of George Follansbee Jackson (B.A. Bowdoin 1850, M.D. Jefferson Medical College 1853), and Rachel (Dearborn) Jackson. Children: Duquesnes (died in childhood), and Julian Brocklehurst (died in 1912 when a midshipman at United States Naval Academy). Mr. and Mrs. Bishop separated in 1917.

Death due to arteriosclerosis. Buried in the Old Cemetery at East Haven, Conn. By the terms of his will the residue of his estate was bequeathed to Yale, to establish the William Henry Bishop Fund for promoting the study of architecture in the University. He had also established in 1912 the Midshipman Julian B. Bishop Memorial, a fund of $1,000 to be used for the purchase and care of books on marine lore in the University Library.

From the Yale College Obituary Record, 1928.

Preliminary Guide to the William Henry Bishop Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz and staff of Manuscripts and Archives
February 1983
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours