Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Handwritten page from spiral notebook. Click to enlarge.

Bob Woodward's first page of notes from the arraignment of the five men arrested at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex, 17 June 1972. From the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate Papers.


British and Colonial

A selection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century manuscripts of British historical interest includes The Reading of Carta Forestae by Mr. Treheme of Graies Inne, a 1523 exposition of forest law; a tenth-century treatise on the Exchequer by Richard FitzNeal, Bishop of London (1130–1198), copied over in various hands (ca. 1597); Sir Edward Dering's (1598–1644) notes, comments, and drawings on English heraldry and family history (ca. 1625); The First Booke of Modus Tenendi Parliame: Tum Apud Anglos (1626) by Henry Elsynge the elder (1598–1654); and the speeches of King Charles I (1600–1648) to the Third Parliament, 1628–1629, many of which are unpublished. A "King's Collection" of prose pamphlets by John Milton (1608–1674) and others defending the execution of Charles can be found in the Wrenn library.

The Queen Anne collection of eighteenth-century English printed books comprises 2,000 volumes and 2,000 pamphlets published during the reign of Queen Anne (1702–1714), representing the political, religious, and literary events of the period. The Ralph T. Howey collection, consisting of the entire stock of this Philadelphia dealer of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century books, contains 11,000 volumes concerning history, religion, government, law, economics, education, literature, the arts, and travel. Additional printed works recording and interpreting seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British history can be found in the libraries of George Atherton Aitken (1860–1917), John Henry Wrenn (1841–1911), Sir Compton Mackenzie (1883–1972), in the Pforzheimer library (covering 1475–1700), and in the recusant collection.

Among manuscript histories of England, two notebooks containing the History of England During the Reign of George III by Henry Grattan (1746-1820), Irish orator and statesman remain of uncertain attribution because Grattan's son, the biographer of the elder Grattan and himself a noted author, bore the same name. Robert Forby's (1759-1825) original unpublished manuscript, History of England, is of considerable literary as well as historical interest.

The correspondence of Arthur Wellsley, the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), with a young religious zealot portrays the aging general's generosity and patience. Other items related to British statesmen include: Goldwin Smith's (1823-1910) manuscript biography (ca. 1880) of Edmund Burke (1729-1797) and a collection of several hundred books by and about Burke; over one hundred books and pamphlets by and about Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881); a collection of letters concerning the accusation of adultery which brought the downfall of the politician Sir Charles W. Dilke (1843-1911); a collection of five hundred books by and about Winston Churchill (1874-1965), in addition to one hundred letters written by the prime minister; and diaries and letters of Sir Edward Marsh (1872-1953), English poet, writer, wit, and private secretary to Churchill.

Manuscripts from the colonial period include "Journal of My Life in India, 1825–1857," by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Cumming Dewar (1803–1880); the diaries and notes of Francis Yeats-Brown (1886–1944), a British army officer and journalist who wrote enthusiastically of India and of the practice of yoga; and the holograph diaries of Alexander Porter, a physician and surgeon, covering his years of service with the Indian army at Madras (1861–1911).

Offering an account of the Arab Revolt is T.E. Lawrence's (1888-1935) earliest surviving draft of Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The collection of Basil Liddell Hart (1895-1970) contains hundreds of photographs taken by Lawrence in Arabia, Syria, and France, as well as the manuscript of Hart's biography of Lawrence with the latter's annotations. Books from the library of Lawrence of Arabia are preserved together with his letters and sketchbooks.

Perhaps the most significant holding related to British history is an archive of Observer editor James Louis Garvin (1868–1947), which includes almost 160 of his manuscript notebooks as well as extensive correspondence with prominent British politicians of the 1920s and 1930s. The Garvin collection is one of the principal archives of British historical papers from the first half of the twentieth century available in this country. Garvin was the editor of the Observer for 34 years (1908–1942), and his range of correspondents included Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, and virtually all other leading political figures of the era.

See also Photography.

Central & South American

The Ransom Center holds a number of materials important to the study of Latin American history, most of which are contained in the collection of Edward Larocque Tinker (1881–1968). An author and philanthropist, Tinker gathered books, art, artifacts, documentary films, and murals depicting all facets of life in South America. Forming part of the collection are 66 volumes of documents, letters, and broadsides, largely unpublished, that were acquired by Bolivian scholar and politician Nicolas Acosta (1844–1893). State, ecclesiastical, personal, and literary documents dating from the late sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century provide first-person accounts of Bolivian history as well as histories of Peru and Ecuador. Paintings, drawings, and prints by Florencio Molina Campos (1891–1959), reflecting the life of gauchoson the Argentine pampas, are also present in the Tinker collection. The Ransom Center's holdings in this field supplement the vast materials housed in the University's Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection which focuses on materials from and about Latin America, including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean island nations, South America, and areas of the United States during periods of rule by Spain or Mexico.


In the area of French history, the Center holds several valuable collections, including the Voltaire Collection of Desmond Flower, comprising fourteen hundred mainly eighteenth-century volumes of works by and about Voltaire (1694-1778)In the area of French history, the Center holds several valuable collections, including the Desmond Flower collection of Voltaire, which comprises 1,400 mainly eighteenth-century volumes of works by and about Voltaire (1694–1778).

Materials related to the "Affair of the Diamond Necklace" document the 1785 scandal that plagued the court of Louis XVI and contributed to pre-Revolution unrest. They include letters and documents by those involved or implicated in the scandal, including the Comte de La Motte (1755–1831) and Count Alexander Cagliostro (1743–1795). There are also copies of letters and documents sent by the firm Boehmer and Bassenge to Queen Marie Antoinette (1755–1793), first requesting payment for the necklace and later, when the intrigue came to light, setting out the details of their contract. Nearly 65 volumes relating to the affair, many of them published contemporaneously with the event, complement this collection.

A collection of nearly 300 items relating to Napoléon I (1769–1821) includes not only manuscript letters but also cartoons, prints, engravings, and other ephemera. Printed materials in the collection include the original edition of the Civil Code of Napoléon (1804), the original edition of Code Napoléon (1807), and the original edition of the French Civil Code in English. There are biographies of Napoléon and other figures of the era as well as published extracts, documents, letters, and other writings by Bonaparte himself. Some of the more unusual pieces associated with the collection are snuffboxes, NapolÉon's death mask, and a lock of his hair. Among the Napoléon manuscripts is a collection of about 100 letters, ranging in date from 1786 to 1822 and mostly unpublished, from Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (the Second Marquess of Londonderry) (1769–1822) principally to his brother, Charles Stewart (1778–1854), who later became the Third Marquess of Londonderry. The Napoléon I collection is supplemented by other Napoleonic materials in the Parsons library and the papers of Princess Bibesco (1886–1973).

Items pertaining to the Dreyfus Affair, including 165 books, 15 bound volumes of newspapers or magazines, a number of letters, and two original drawings of courtroom events, relate to the trial of a French soldier, Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859–1935), who was wrongly accused and found guilty of treason. The Dreyfus manuscripts (some from the Carlton Lake collection and others from the archive assembled by Ferdinand Forzinetti (1839–1909), commandant of Cherche-Midi military prison where Dreyfus was first held) provide important details and accounts of the history of this event and range in date from about the time of the first trial in 1894 to July 8, 1906, four days before the Court of Appeal's momentous decision to annul Dreyfus's original sentence. Among the papers are an important letter from Dreyfus to Paul Appell, one of the experts appointed by the court, concerning the bordereau; a letter of major significance for the history of the Dreyfus Affair from Major Esterhazy, written on the eve of the opening of the appeal; and a letter from Gabriel Monod to Dreyfus's lawyer giving important details concerning the revelation that the government's key document was a forgery. The collection contains an original, eyewitness color drawing by Paul Renouard (1845–1924) of the trial, 69 postcards, and ten issues of the newspaper L'Aurore carrying Émile Zola's original articles about the affair, including his famous "J'accuse," in large, broadside format.

A collection of original drawings made by cartoonists and artists during the Paris Commune (1871) shows one aspect of the aftermath of France's defeat in the Franco-German War and the fall of Napoléon III's Second Empire (1852–1870). The Helmut and Alison Gernsheim collection contains a highly important group of 55 albumen photographs from April and May of 1871 that document the Paris Commune history. Three other albums in the photography collection contain albumen prints depicting the Franco-German War and the collapse of the Commune. In the art collection, a portion of the large Alvin and Ethel Romansky collection is devoted to the political aspects of the Paris Commune and contains original drawings and prints, many of them caricatures and satirical cartoons, relating to the 1871 Siege of Paris.

See also Photography.


The Medici collection of 300 books and 100 law edicts was compiled by the Medici family between 1500 and 1800. The edicts, enacted by Medici dukes and grand dukes, trace the activities of the government of Tuscany from its beginnings in 1535 to its demise in 1745. The books range in date from 1501 to the middle of the eighteenth century and illustrate literary, artistic, historic, and scientific developments in Italy, with particular emphasis on Renaissance works in first and later editions.

The Ranuzzi manuscript collection was amassed by a noble family prominent in the academic and political life of Bologna from the beginning of the fifteenth century. The collection consists of over 5,300 manuscripts, broadsides, maps, engravings, and watercolor and ink illustrations, covering three centuries (1400–1700) and encompassing such subjects as literature, history, science, law, geography, and numismatics. Included in the collection are documents chronicling relations of the Italian states with neighboring European sovereignties, as well as between the Papal states and the Dukes of Tuscany. Unpublished manuscripts in the Ranuzzi collection are various and fascinating, ranging from the "Cronaca Universale di Fra Calisto Farnesio Piacentino," a history of the world up to 1493 written in Latin, to "De Electricitate" (1755), a scientific paper by an unidentified author.

Gino Speranza's (1872-1922) collection of Italo-American books covers topics such as Italian exploration in the New World, Italian histories of the English colonies in North America, America's War of Independence, and American influences in the Risorgimento. The archive of Arthur Livingston (1885-1944) facilitates an understanding of the development of the Fascist movement in Italy, and in particular the American attitude towards Fascism.


At The University of Texas at Austin, most materials pertaining to Mexican history are located in the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. The Ransom Center, however, has 400 autograph letters written by Ferdinand Maximilian (1832–1867), Emperor of Mexico, and his wife, the Empress Carlota (1840–1927). Most of the letters are written in German and many remain unpublished and reveal the devotion of this couple to one another. The correspondence spans the years 1856 to 1867, providing a personal and historical documentation of the era. Early letters are written during the couple's engagement; the last few are written shortly before Maximilian's execution in Querétaro in 1867. The letters provide insight into the political situation in Mexico, the precariousness of the Empire, and the controversy with the church, the Mexican landowners, and the Juárez revolution.

Present in the Center's photography collection are 200 dramatic images from the Mexican Revolution, as well as the photographs and writings of W.  D. Smithers (1895–1981), depicting daily life in the trans-Pecos area and Mexico in the early twentieth century.

Russian and Soviet

The archive of Alexander Kerensky (1881–1970) includes documents pertaining to the Socialist Revolutionary Party of 1917, as well as Kerensky's correspondence, manuscripts, diaries, files, clippings, posters, family correspondence, and original photographs. Among the most notable photos are a number made at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century in pre-Revolutionary Tashkent, where Kerensky's father collected them during his years as a school administrator for the Tsar. With these items are letters concerning émigré political organizations and publications.

Chronicling life during the Russian Revolution, the unpublished diary of British army officer George Nathaniel Nash (1888–?), "From Palace to Prison" (1917–1919), details Nash's military involvement, which culminated in his imprisonment. A collection of letters written home to New York (1917–1920) by Walter S. Crosley (1871–1939), a naval attaché at Petrograd during the Revolution, and his wife, Pauline, provide details about daily life during this period.

The papers of journalist Elias Tobenkin (1882–1963) relate to the Soviet Union's foreign policy between the wars and comprise 2,500 pamphlets, books, periodicals, newspapers, and photographs depicting the government's aims and policies between 1916 and 1945. (Tobenkin's books are held at the Perry-Castañeda Library).

The Philip J. Jaffe collection of radical literature contains 15,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals, most of which concern the rise of communism and socialism in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. Other Russian-Slavic documents include the correspondence of the Poutiatine family (1890s–1910s), nearly all in English and apparently written after a move from Russia to Great Britain; photographs and stereographs of the Russo-Japanese War; Roger Fenton's (1819–1869) complete portfolio of photographs of the Crimean War; and a collection of 1,500 books, pamphlets, and newspapers on Czechoslovakian and Balkan topics.

Southwest Pacific and Australian

The C. Hartley Grattan collection of Southwest Pacificana is the foremost collection on Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands in the United States. It contains more than 20,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals, as well as photographs. The collection, along with Grattan's manuscripts, letters, and personal papers, reflects the career of this economist, literary critic, historian, sociologist, and political scientist who sought to understand all facets of Australian culture from the late 1920s through the 1960s.

The R. Guy Howarth (1906–1974) papers reflect Howarth's interests in Elizabethan and twentieth-century English, American, Australian, and South African literature. Howarth was a founding editor of Southerly.


Among Spanish items at the Ransom Center are over 200 mammoth photographs taken by the official court photographer Charles Clifford (ca. 1800–1863) in the course of amassing his photographic record of the nation and its people. The Spanish Civil War collection (1936–1939) was assembled by Paul Patrick Rogers (1900- ), an anti-Falangist American who toured Republican-controlled portions of Spain in 1937. During his travels, Rogers collected items relating to the war, including books, journals, newspapers, photographs, and posters. The books include literature produced by both the Republicans and the Falangists during and after the war. Of special interest are works by leading Spanish intellectuals, such as Salvador de Madariaga y Rojo (1886–1978), who were supporters of the Loyalist cause. The Falangists are well represented in the collection, with works by José Antonio Primo de Rivera (1903–1936), the movement's founder, and speeches of Franciso Franco (1892–1975). Additional items relating to the Spanish Civil War can be found in the Nancy Cunard, Ernest Hemingway, and Christopher Caudwell papers. On a related note, the Rex Smith collection contains a large number of books relating to Spanish bullfighting.

United States

Among early accounts of travel to the Americas housed at the Ransom Center is a sixteenth-century Italian manuscript assembled by "Giovan Batista Sassetti and friends." More recent manuscript accounts include those of A. Felix Giraud, Chancellor of the French Consulate in Boston (1807–1808), and the unpublished diary of John I. Stickney, an 1849–1850 passenger on the Brig Annah, who made his passage from Massachusetts to San Francisco via Cape Horn in 134 days. The expedition of E.  H. Harriman (1848–1909) into the then largely unexplored Alaskan Territory is recorded in a rare two-volume set, A Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition, May–August 1899, featuring mounted original photographs by Edward S. Curtis and others. Approximately 3,000 books, rare pamphlets, and early original maps chronicle early exploration of the far north. Additionally, the Center has 62 photographs by the Australian photographer Frank Hurley (1885–1962) of Sir Ernest Shackleton's (1874–1922) 1914 voyage to the Antarctic on the "Endurance," which are complemented by the typescript narrative of the photographer.

Documenting the lives of Native Americans are George Catlin's (1796–1872) Illustrations of the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians (1845), complete with 360 engravings. Even more compendious is The North American Indian (1907–1930), the twenty-volume and twenty-portfolio magnum opus by Edward S. Curtis (1868–1952), copiously illustrated with mammoth sheet-fed photogravures produced from Curtis's original photographs. The manuscripts, correspondence, journals, and library of novelist Oliver La Farge (1901–1963) include drafts of his novels on Native Americans, anthropological works, his study of Mayan linguistics, drawings of the costumes and peoples of Central America and the Southwest, and his unpublished articles on "The Indian's White Man Problem," as well as his draft of a constitution for the Hopi tribe.

The Center also holds extensive materials pertaining to war in the United States. A rare, complete set of Alexander Gardner's (1821–1882) Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War (1866) contains 100 original, mounted photographs. Approximately 2,000 American and multi-national posters from World Wars I and II offer a visual history of the sentiments that shaped the country's attitude toward international conflict. Among the related items are James H. "Jimmy" Hare's (1856–1946) photographic documentation of the Spanish-American War, the Russo-Japanese War, and World War I. The archive of David Douglas Duncan (1916– ) spans 60 years of photojournalism, including coverage of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as well as World War II.

Documentation of America's legal and political history can be found in the Morris L. Ernst (1888–1976) archive, which includes transcripts, briefs, correspondence, and legal papers dealing with the various public movements with which this distinguished lawyer was involved, such as abortion rights, birth control, censorship, and the right to privacy.

The Watergate Papers of Bob Woodward (1943– ) and Carl Bernstein (1944– ) document a critical era in twentieth-century American political life. The collection gathers together the papers that the two young reporters for The Washington Post generated or collected during their investigation of the Watergate break-in and also includes the materials used in their two jointly written books, All the President's Men and The Final Days, as well as in the motion picture version of All the President's Men, and Woodward's book Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate. The collection includes notes from source interviews, drafts of newspaper stories and books, memos, letters, tape recordings, research materials, and other Watergate papers.

See also Travel.