Contents and Arrangement

Journal, 1855 July 30-1859 November 10

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


This collection consists of four journals and one letter book documenting Thomas Adams's life from 1852 to 1859. In addition to detailed descriptions of Adams's experiences, the journals also contain expertly drawn sketches of Native Americans, landscapes and forts, and animals.

The first journal dates from June 30 to August 8, 1852, and describes Adams's voyage on the S.S. Gallatin, possibly off the coast of Nantucket. The remaining three journals document Adams's travels to the West Coast with Governor Isaac Stevens, and his travels around Washington Territory, including Fort Hall in Idaho, Minnesota, Montana (particularly Fort Benton and Fort Owen), Oregon, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Washington State. During his journeys, Adams describes and sketches his day-to-day life, as well as the challenges of travel (including the number of miles marched each day, the weather, the food, shortages of wood for fuel, problems with horses and mules, etc.), building camps, the Native Americans he meets (the Assiniboin, Gros Ventre, Nez Perce, Blackfeet, Flathead, and "Shoshonee" tribes), treaties, raising and trading horses, the Mormons, and panning for gold. At least two of these three journals appear to have been copied by Adams from earlier drafts, no longer extant, and illustrated in part with copies of published illustrations.

The letter book contains ten letters, all in Adams's hand: both copies of letters written to Adams and retained copies of Adams's outgoing letters. These letters concern the Council of Indian Tribes and the Blackfeet Treaty. The first letter, from Governor Stevens, appoints Adams as "Special Indian Agent" in preparation for these events. Correspondents include: Governor Isaac Stevens (seven letters); Rufus Ingals, Captain Army Quarter Master (one letter); and James Doty, Secretary to the Treaty Commission (two letters). The letters are particularly interesting for their expression of Governor Stevens' specific goals for white-Native American relations.

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

No items were removed during 2013 processing.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

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