The Papers of John Bigelow (Union College Class of 1835) were donated to the College by his descendants in the mid-20th century. They include over 21,000 letters, portions of his own and his eldest sonâ€™s diary, 16 volumes of his wifeâ€™s diary, 18 scrapbooks, working papers for selected professional projects, and approximately 4000 books from his personal library. All of these materials, with the exception of the books, will be digitized and made available through surrogates and metadata hosted on a variety of freely-accessible platforms. Already-complete catalog data for Bigelowâ€™s library collection will also be made more widely accessible through this project. Collectively, these resources constitute the single largest record of Bigelowâ€™s exceptionally broad range of interests and accomplishments during his seven decades of service to the nation. Particularly significant letters pertain to his activities as a newspaper editor in antebellum New York, his work as U.S. consul to France during the Civil War, his recovery of the manuscript materials for Benjamin Franklinâ€™s autobiography and his subsequent publications on Franklin as well as on many other topics, and his involvement in the establishment of the Panama Canal and a variety of cultural world-class cultural institutions in New York City including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, and the New York Public Library. His correspondents include numerous U.S. presidents, governors, and foreign dignitaries; associates and friends such as William Cullen Bryant and Andrew Carnegie; individuals involved in common social concerns such as the anti-slavery movement, prison reform, and the womenâ€™s rights movement; literary figures and artists such as Charles Dickens and Herbert Adams. Family correspondence and his wifeâ€™s diary contribute perspective to this social era, and the diary of his eldest son John, who commanded a unit of Buffalo soldiers, documents camp life during the Apache Wars.
Trustees of Union College
Ms. India Spartz
Librarian / Director of Collection and Technical Services
1833 - 1911
Many areas of the United States and Central America are represented, as are materials from Bigelowâ€™s appointments and his familyâ€™s travels in France, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, and other parts of Europe. John Bigelowâ€™ Jr.â€™s diary covers his military service in Texas and the New Mexico territory.