Contents and Arrangement

Journal, 1853 May 5-1854 May 19

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This journal, approximately 132 pages of text and drawings, dates from May 1853 to May 1854 and narrates Adams's journey as part of a group traveling West with Isaac Stevens, the newly-appointed governor of the newly-created Washington Territory. Stevens was also appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the territory. As Stevens traveled towards Washington Territory, he also arranged for the surveying of a railroad route across the northern part of the country, from St. Paul, Minnesota to the Puget Sound.

Adams left Washington, D.C. with the party on May 5, 1853 and traveled up the Mississippi River to St. Paul, where they stayed ten days before departing for the West. The journal describes the rivers they followed, where they camped, the Forts they visited on the way, the frequent divisions of the group under various leaders, and the subsequent re-unitings of the two or three groups. There are meticulous descriptions of the landscape through which they traveled, and there are continuous mentions of the number of miles marched each day; the weather; the food, including buffalo, fish, Rocky Mountain sheep, Big Horn does, roasted beaver and beaver tail, and baked beaver feet; and the shortages of wood for fuel. Adams also wrote about the horses and mules, several of whom he was very attached.

Also described in detail are the many meetings with Native Americans. In addition to the "half-breed" guides who traveled with them, Adams met members of the Assiniboin, Gros Ventre, Nez Perce, Blackfeet, Flathead and "Shoshonee" tribes. He, along with Governor Stevens, met with the Grand Council in July 1853 and he described the peace pipe and ceremonies relating to it and the gifts exchanged by chiefs at Native American meetings.

The party stayed at Camp Stevens (or "Cantonment Stevens") for the month of November building winter quarters, giving up their goal of reaching Fort Hall before the winter. Entries from January and February describe life at camp and various short forays.

At the end of the journal is a 19-page English to Flathead wordlist with phonetic spellings.


The journals are arranged chronologically, followed by the letter book.

Collection History


No items were removed during 2013 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Holly Mengel in 2013. Finding aid written by Holly Mengel in 2013.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Journal; Thomas Adams Papers, C1452, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (mss): Box 1