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Collection Summary
Administrative Information
Access:
Publication Rights:
Biography
Scope and Content
Acquisition Information
Container List
Correspondence
Diaries, 1864-1882
Notebooks, 1831-1886
Addresses, Published Works, Notes, and Miscellaneous Pieces, 1856-1899
Marsh Library Catalogue
Miscellaneous
Caroline Crane Marsh
Marsh Letters in Other Repositories

George Perkins Marsh Collection

Collection Summary

Repository
University of Vermont Libraries Special Collections Burlington, Vermont 05405-3596
Creator
Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882
Title
George Perkins Marsh Collection
Dates [inclusive]
1812-1929
Quantity
18 cartons
Shelf location
Special Collections, Bailey/Howe Library
Language
English
Abstract
Collection includes correspondence, diaries (1864-82), notebooks (1834-86), and published works, relating to protective tariff, founding of Smithsonian Institute, Mexican War, Civil War, and other political issues during Marsh’s congressional career; his impressions of Garabaldi and Italian unification while U.S. minister to Italy (1860-82); and comparative philosophy, Near Eastern Studies, Scandanavian Studies, conservation, book collecting, and other scholarly interests. Includes papers of his second wife, Caroline (Crane) Marsh (1816-1901), author and feminist.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item] George Perkins Marsh Collection, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Special Collections © 1998 

Access:

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights:

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Acquisition Information

Gift from Caroline Crane Marsh and other source

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Biography

George Perkins Marsh (March 15, 1801 - July 23, 1882) lawyer, diplomat and scholar was born in Woodstock, Vermont. In 1820 he graduated with highest honors from Dartmouth. He immediately tried teaching, but finding it distasteful, studied law with his father, Charles Marsh. Admitted to the bar in 1825, he practiced in Burlington, Vermont, where he became prominent in his profession. On April 10, 1828, he married Harriet Buell of Burlington. They had two sons; the eldest died a few days before his mother in 1833. Six years after his first wife's death, Marsh married Caroline Crane of Berkley, Massachusetts. Meanwhile his ability as a lawyer, business man and scholar had been recognized and in 1835 he was elected to the Governor's Council. In 1844 he was elected to Congress as a Whig and during two successive terms proved himself a cogent speaker in support of a high tariff and in opposition to slavery and the Mexican War.

In 1849 President Taylor appointed him minister to Turkey where his knowledge of language was invaluable. He aided refugees from central European revolutions of 1848, and in the summer of 1852 he was sent to Athens on a special mission.

Recalled by a new administration in 1854, Marsh labored to mend his bankrupt fortunes, acted as Vermont railroad commissioner and lectured on English philosophy and etymology at Columbia University and the Lowell Institute, which established his reputation as an authority in those fields. Having joined the Republican party in 1856, he was sent by President Lincoln as the first United States minister to the new kingdom of Italy in 1860. This post he held for the remaining twenty-one years of his life, gaining prestige with the Italian government, building up a greater reputation as a scholar by his numerous reviews and encyclopedia articles. He died at Vallombrosa, near Florence and was buried in the Protestant cemetery in Rome.

Marsh was a master of punning humor and his interests ranged from comparative grammar to physiography and gathering reptiles for the Smithsonian. His interests led him to research and publish in numerous fields including: Scandinavian languages, Far Eastern studies, the English language. One of his best known books, Man and Nature, has had significant influence in the conservation movement both in the U. S. and abroad.

Note

References

1. Lowenthal, David. George Perkins Marsh Versatile Vermonter, Columbia University Press: New York, 1958.

2. Marsh, Caroline Crane. Life and Letters of George Perkins Marsh vol. I., Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, 1988.

Also, brief biographical sketches can be found in the various state biographical dictionaries found in the Wilbur collection, and in the national biographical dictionaries found in the Reference Department.

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Scope and Content

The George Perkins Marsh Papers are a combination of various donations, beginning with one made by Caroline Crane Marsh in the late 1880's. The largest part of the collection, the papers of George P. Marsh himself, has been arranged in the following order: correspondence; diaries, notebooks; printed material; and notes, lists, and miscellaneous manuscripts and memorabilia. The correspondence consists mainly of incoming letters, with some copies of outgoing correspondence. Prominent persons represented in this section include: Spencer Baird; George Bancroft; Frederick Billings; Rufus Choate; Henry Clay; Guiseppe Garibaldi; Ulysses S. Grant; Joseph Henry; Andrew Johnson; Charles Coffin Jewett; Justin S. Morill; Carl Christian Rafn; and Frederick Wislizenus, among others. A card index has been prepared for the correspondence and has been placed at the end of the manuscript catalogue in the reading room. Letters to Marsh are indexed only by name of author, while outgoing correspondence (including many post-1882 letters by Caroline Crane Marsh and other family members) is indexed by name of both author and recipient (with recipient cards marked with an "R" in the upper right hand corner). The Marsh diaries date from the period 1864-82, while the notebooks range over such topics as English and foreign languages, scrapbooks, visiting lists and address books and natural history. The printed items are largely copies of Marsh's own writings, from The Camel to Man and Nature. The last section consists of loose notes taken by Marsh for his writings, note cards and bibliographical lists of books in the Marsh library (purchased for UVM by Frederick Billings after Marsh's death), miscellaneous manuscripts and various memorabilia such as medals, diplomatic pouches and certificates of award.

The Caroline Crane Marsh section of the collection, largely the gift of David Lowenthal in 1958-59, has been arranged separately at the end of the Papers, in the following order: correspondence; printed material; manuscripts of Mrs. Marsh's poetry; translations and other writings (including the unpublished Volume Two of her Life and Letters of George Perkins Marsh); and diaries from the years 1851 to 1880. Much of the correspondence in this second section duplicates letters in the latter portions of the correspondence in the George Perkins Marsh section, and consequently is not included in the card index.

With the exception of no-date papers, which have been arranged alphabetically by author or subject, the entire collection is in chronological order within each of the various sections.

Other, less substantial holdings of Marsh papers exist at Dartmouth College, the Vermont Historical Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Archives. See page 387-90 of David Lowenthal's George Perkins Marsh: Versatile Vermonter for a list of manuscript collections containing Marsh material.

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