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George Ticknor Papers, 1773 - 1870Manuscript MS-983

Full Finding Aid


George Ticknor Papers, 1773 - 1870

Call Number:

Manuscript MS-983

Collection Dates:

1773 - 1870

Size of Collection:

8 boxes (7.50 linear ft.)


George Ticknor (1791-1871), academic and author. Dartmouth College Class of 1807. Travel diaries, letters, memorial books, a ledger, and news clippings document Ticknor's travels in Europe and relationships with many notable individuals as well as his life at home in Boston.

Access to Collection:


Use & Access

The materials represented in this guide may be accessed through the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Rauner Library is located in Webster Hall. The materials must be used on-site and may not leave Rauner Library.

Rauner Special Collections Library is open to the public and in most cases no appointment is necessary. The exception is in the case of materials stored off site for which there may be a delay of up to 48 hours in retrieval. Please consult the Access to Collection statement below or contact Rauner Reference.

Access to Collection


Use Restrictions

These materials may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.).

Introduction to the Collection

The papers of George Ticknor contain a manuscript biography of King John of Saxony, personal correspondence, two memorial books, newspaper clippings, and a ledger documenting Ticknor's role at home in Boston and abroad, with a particular focus on a lifetime's worth of correspondences with King John of Saxony. They also include letters to him, as well as letters and notes collected by him of notable individuals in the arts and sciences, including Friedrich Schiller, Carl Witte, Julius Schnorr, Gottfried August Buerger, Niccolini Giovanni Battista, Lord Acton, Alexis de Tocqueville, Madam de Blaze de Bury, Leicester Stanhope, Count Thun and others. The letters are in English, German, Italian and Spanish. A lock of his hair, cut in 1860, is also included. The papers also contain eighteen journals, numbering 8,900 manuscript pages, chronicling Ticknor's travels from 1815-1819 and 1835-1838.

The first nine volumes document Ticknor's departure from Boston for Europe on April 16th, 1815, until his return home on June 6th, 1819. The journals discuss German universities, and include narrative criticism and observations of European culture. In 1835, Ticknor returned to Europe with his family after nearly two decades teaching at Harvard. The second set of diaries detail his encounters with Dresden society and broader travel within Europe.


George Ticknor was born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 1, 1791. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1807, but continued his study of Latin and Greek privately. He was admitted to the bar in 1813, but realized soon after that he was attracted more to classics than to the law. In 1815, he sailed for England and remained in Europe for the next four years where he moved among society, literary, and scientific circles and spent twenty months at the University of Göttingen in Germany. In 1816, he was offered a professorship in French and Spanish at Harvard College. After spending time in Spain he accepted the position in 1819, holding it until 1835, after which he returned to Europe. Upon Ticknors return to the US in 1838, he wrote "History of Spanish Literature" which was published in 1849. From 1823 to 1832, he was a trustee of the Boston Athenaeum and in 1852, helped to establish the Boston Public Library on which board he served from 1852-1866. George Ticknor died on January 26, 1871.

Series, Box & Folder List

Series 1, Letters, 1782-1870

Access Restrictions


Box: 1, Dates: 1782-1870

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Letters, circa 1811-1861

    A.D. Bache; George L. Andrews; Charles Beck; Dr. Romeyn Beck; A. Bello, N. Biddle; G. Jacob Bigelow; I.N. Bischoff; Bond; L. Bradish; Gottfried August Burger; George Burgess; C. Cervantes, F. Child; J. Davis; C. Dewey; B. Figueredo; Finleo; Dom Miguel de Forjas; G.N. Frankenstein; George Gibbs; W.E. Graham; Asa Gray; Rufus Wilmot Griswold; Ralph Randolph Gurley; Charles B. Hadduck; James Hall; Horace Holley; L.G. Howe

  • Folder: 2, Letters, circa 1818-1835

    Lord King; Le Vasseur;, G. Long; Magnabal; L. Mariotti; Jeremiah Mason; Leopold de Meyer; J.H. Morison; Ted Morse; Anton des Neves; Harrison Gray Otis; John G. Playfair; Francis Parkman; Theophilus Parsons; Andrew Preston Peabody; William C. Preston; Josiah Quincy; E.A. de Salazar Christian Gotthilf Salzmann; L. Shaw; Benjamin Silliman; W.Y. Smith; Prof. Spohn; W. Sullivan; G. Le. Thrasher, G. Tucker; I. C. Upham; H.A. Upton; J. Walker; Joseph C. Warren; Lady Wenys; E. Wormeley; E. Wright

  • Folder: 3, Letters received by George Ticknor in Europe and London , 1856-1857

    Alexis de Tocqueville; Lord Acton (John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton); G. Antonetti; Pasquier; D. Jardine; M. Lemmout; Stephen Austin; Giovanni Arrivabene; Evelyn Demion; William N. Harcourt; W. Hamph; F. G. Weliver; William Rathbone Greg; R.C. Treuch; M.L. Fletcher; Louisa Dorothea Stanley; Earl Stanhope; E.Q. Visconti; W. Taylor; Mme. de Blaze de Bury; W. Frederic; Aichford; R.I. Mackintosh; Edward (unidentified); Harry (unidentified); Count Franz von Thun; Ashburton and unidentified others

  • Folder: 4, John Adams letter (May 15, 1815) copied by S. Elliot , circa 1840
  • Folder: 5, Letter from J. Russell to Samuel Elliot, March 26, 1786
  • Folder: 6, Correspondence in German to, and collected by, George Ticknor , 1782-1860

    Friedrich Schiller (1782); Julius Schnorr; Baron E. von Buelow (1836); Johann Heinrich Voss (1797); Gustave Frederic Waagen (1855); Wolfgang Satorius von Waltershausen (1843-1851); Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker (1817-1851); Louis Adolphe Pierre Wittgenstein (1828); Carl Witte; Ferdinand Wolf (1829-1860); Friederich August Wolf

  • Folder: 7, Correspondence in Italian and Spanish to, and collected by George Ticknor, 1773-1838
  • Folder: 8, Ledger, which contains an inventory of letters, signatures, papers and envelopes collected by George Ticknor, undated

Series 2, Diaries - First European Journey, 1815-1819

Nine volumes documenting Ticknor's departure from Boston for Europe on April 16th, 1815, to his return home on June 6th, 1819.

Access Restrictions


Box: 2, Dates: 1815-1819

Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Volume I, May 1815 - September 1816

    Includes descriptions of Ticknor's meetings with Lord Byron and his circle. He compares English and American institutions, literary communities, shops and houses, food and manners. The Battle of Waterloo occurs at this time, and Ticknor's provides an account of London's response to the news. After two months in London, he crosses Holland and arrives in Göttingen.

  • Folder: 2, Volume II, September 1816 - October 1816

    The narrative portion of this volume is about Ticknor's visits to Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin. In all three cities he visits prominent German intellectuals and investigates painting and sculpture. He watches a hot-air balloon ascend, comments on German morality, and provides thinly veiled anti-Semitic commentary regarding the strong Jewish influence in Prussia. The first fifty-six pages, devoted to remarks on the German university system, are preceded by the note: "Before I leave Göttingen on a Journey, whose object is to enable me to see as much as possible of the German Universities and modes of education in them, it will be well to note by way of Preparation and Preface something in the form of general remarks on the subject of the German Universities generally—something on the History, constitution and present condition of Göttingen and finally something on the Life of a Student here." Ticknor's detailed remarks are organized according to the following subdivisions [the titles are Ticknor's]: I. On the German Universities generally II. Göttingen—its History, Constitution and present condition 1. Its history 2. The Constitution of Göttingen 3. Its present Condition A. Institutions 1. The Library 2. The Botanical Garden 3. Lying-in Hospital 4. The Observatory 5. The Academical Hospital 6. Surgical Hospital 7. Museum of Natural History 8. Collections of pictures, coins, and instruments 9. Riding School 10. The Widows Chest 11. Philological Seminary 12. Homiletical and Catechetical Seminary 13. Jurist organization 14. Anatomical Theatre and Collections 15. Royal Society 16. The Review 17. Free Tables 18. Stipendia B. The Professors C. The Students III. The Life of a Student

  • Folder: 3, Volume III, October 1816 - March 1817

    This volume is a continuing record of Ticknor's visits to various German cities and, like Volume II, is punctuated with detailed essays on German educational institutions, including the universities at Halle and Jena and the Schulpforta at Naumburg. Ticknor notes the lingering effects of the Napoleonic Wars, and continues to pay calls on prominent men of letters (including Goethe at Weimar)

  • Folder: 4, Volume IV, March 1817 - August 1817

    This volume opens with Ticknor leaving Göttingen and travelling by way of Frankfurt, Heidelberg, and Strasbourg to Paris. He has frequent conversations with Madame de Stael, Alexander von Humboldt, François-René de Chateaubriand, August von Schlegel, Benjamin Constant, and Robert Robert Southey, among others. At nights, he visits a Parisian salon. Ticknor remarks on the dying Madame de Stael, on Baron von Humboldt, and on the French theater. As in Volume III, this volume ends with a long essay on French life and institutions.

  • Folder: 5, Volume V, August 1817 - November 1817

    Ticknor leaves Paris and for two months travels to Rome by way of Geneva, Milan, Verona, Venice, and Bologna. He calls on distinguished people, such as General Lafayette, whenever he can, and continues to attend social functions in practically every city. The bulk of this volume is devoted to adventures along the road, scene painting, and responses to works of art, monuments, and points of interest. Ticknor ascends the Swiss Alps, describes life at the remote St. Bernard, and moves across northern Italy. In Venice, he meets Lord Byron again. The volume ends with a description of the Campagna.

  • Folder: 6, Volume VI, November 1817 - March 1818

    This volume opens with Ticknor's words on what it feels like to lose himself in Rome. The next section is Ticknor's version of the history of the city. He spends most of February in Naples and takes several side trips to places like Pompeii and Paestrum. He gives an account of the people of Naples, including the Lazzarone. This is followed by an essay on Roman society full of sketches of various foreigners and revealing the extent of his relations with the Bonaparte family. Then he gives an American's-eye-view of Holy Week in Rome. Near the end of March he leaves for Florence.

  • Folder: 7, Volume VII, March 1818 - September 1818

    The first few pages of this volume are about Florence, after which Ticknor has a trip to Genoa, and from there he travels along the southern coast of France on his way to Spain. Ticknor arrives in Madrid near the end of May and lives there through the summer. The remainder of this volume is divided into three sections: (1) a long and highly critical discussion of Madrid and its people and institutions; (2) an examination of the bullfight; (3) a summary of Ticknor's social life in Madrid.

  • Folder: 8, Volume VIII, September 1818 - January 1819

    The first twenty-eight pages of this volume are an account of Ticknor's excursion from Madrid to the Escorial and San Ildefonso. In mid-September he leaves Madrid and travels southward through Cordova, Granada, and Malaga to Gibraltar. He reports along the way on the hermits of Cordova, the Alhambra, and the distinct changes in the people and the countryside. Ticknor then travels to Cadiz and Seville. From Seville he crosses the mountains into Portugal and journeys on to Lisbon where he stays one month. From Lisbon he voyages to England before crossing back to France. He lives in Paris for a month. The last section of this volume is another long discussion of French society and manners.

  • Folder: 9, Volume IX, January 1819 - June 1819

    The final volume of Ticknor's first European journal. From January to June he travels up and down England, renewing old acquaintanceships of the aristocracy, by writers and poets and politicians, and he moves easily from one circle to another, and from one country house to another. Sidney Smith, Sir Walter Scott (and his daughter), William Wordsworth, Hazlitt, Robert Southey, Sir James Mackintosh, and Wilberforce. He cavorts about London with Washington Irving. In the last few pages of this volume, as he heads for Boston, he paints a vivid picture of shipboard life and procedures.

Series 3, Diaries - Second European Journey, 1835-1837

After nearly two decades spent teaching at Harvard, Ticknor returns to Europe in 1835 with his family, and these nine diaries detail his encounters with various people, places, and events.

Access Restrictions


Box: 3, Dates: 1835-1837

Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Volume I, June 1835 - September 1835

    Ticknor returns to England. He reports on Oxford University, and discusses the Nineteenth-Century world with politicians, artists, writers, as well as men of medicine and commerce. Next, Ticknor travels to Wales, and then the countryside of Ireland. Among those he speaks with are William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, Maria Edgeworth, and Lady Byron.

  • Folder: 2, Volume II, September 7 - October 25, 1835

    Much of this journal is devoted to manor-house life of Nineteenth-Century England. The Ticknor family moves south toward London, visiting manufacturing establishments, viewing ancient ruins, and churches. This journal makes lengthy reference to English and Irish politics and society.

  • Folder: 3, Volume III, October 26, 1835 - May 4, 1836

    The Ticknors arrive in Brussels and press on toward Dresden, where Ticknor begins a daily round of visits to museums and libraries. In early February the firing of a cannon marks the breakup of ice in the Elbe, and by May 4, the Ticknors head southwards.

  • Folder: 4, Volume IV, May 7 - July 1, 1836

    With the coming of spring, the Ticknors take leave of Dresden. By late May they are in Berlin, but retrace their steps to Dresden before moving on to Prague and Venice. Ticknor arrives in Vienna by mid-June, and devotes a great portion of this journal to visits with Klemens von Metternich and lengthy analyses of the prince and his remarks.

  • Folder: 5, Volume V, July 2 - December 5, 1836

    By early December, the Ticknors arrive in Rome after a carriage trip from Vienna. At the Italian-Swiss border, Ticknor is quarantined for 12 days after a smallpox scare. He eventually rides through the Apennines for a stay in Florence, and then finally enters Rome.

  • Folder: 6, Volume VI, December 5 - April 28, 1837

    This volume contains commentary on the Ticknor's winter in Rome. It chronicles the Ticknor's social life, their attendance at lectures and artists' studios, and their visits to favorite points of interest around the city. Ticknor is skeptical of Catholic rituals, institutions, and church officials. He also comments on the problems of family life in high Roman society.

  • Folder: 7, Volume VII, April 28 - September 11, 1837

    The Ticknors leave Rome, spend three weeks in Florence, where Ticknor renews his friendship with the Bonaparte family and then takes a summer journey to Paris by way of Pisa, Milan, Venice, Munich, Heidelberg, and Bonn. He sees his friend William Wordsworth at Como and later at Venice. Ticknor then takes a trip through the Alps and visits various resorts and watering places, few of which he fully approves.

  • Folder: 8, Volume VIII, September 11, 1837 - March 19 1838

    This volume is devoted to the Ticknor's six-month stay in Paris. Ticknor talks with his old friends the Duke and Duchess de Broglie, as well as such people as François Guizot, Thierry, and Alphonse de Lamartine. He dines with Colonel Thorne and General Cass, and is welcomed at gatherings of political men of opposite sides. Ticknor provides a running commentary on the Bonaparte family, the volatile political situation, and French theater. The Ticknors leave Paris on March 15, 1838.

  • Folder: 9, Volume IX, March 19, 1838 - July 18, 1838

    After two and a half years on the continent, the Ticknors return to London, England for three weeks. Ticknor comments on British aristocrats, political figures, men-of-letters, and reports on British attitudes toward America. In this volume he criticizes British institutions and expresses caustic opinions frequently. In mid-April, the Ticknors go to Cambridge and from there they travel rapidly northward to Edinburgh and Glasgow. They return to England, stopping at Keswick to visit Robert Southey and William Wordsworth, spending a few days at Oxford and at Lord Spencer's seat at Althorp. Finally, they visit Stonehenge and Winchester before embarking for Boston at Portsmouth.

Series 4, Notes and translations, 1817-1839

34 volumes of George Ticknor's personal notes and translations. Includes notes from his time at the University of Göttingen, in Germany.

Access Restrictions


Box: 4, Dates: 1815-1819

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Winkelmann's Thoughts on the Imitation of the Greeks in Painting and Statuary, circa 1816
  • Folder: 2, Eight Chapters of Lessing's Laocoon, circa 1817
  • Folder: 3, Italy, circa 1817

    Notes on Ticknor's tour of Italy and Italian schools of artistry.

  • Folder: 4, Weckler Roma Antigua et Mora, 1816

    Notes from 1816 at Göttingen.

  • Folder: 5, Italian Exercises: April 21 - May 24, circa 1817

    Book of Italian exercises

  • Folder: 6, L'Homme de Sensibilite - Mackensie, circa 1816
  • Folder: 7, The Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles, translated into English. Vol. I, circa 1816
  • Folder: 8, The Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles, translated into English. Vol. II, circa 1816
  • Folder: 9, Poets and their Poems, circa 1817

    Notebook containing information about well-known poets and their poems and persons of historical significance, including Euripides, Voltaire, Shakespeare. Written while Ticknor was attended Göttingen.

  • Folder: 10, Miscellaneous translations from English into German, circa 1816
  • Folder: 11, Metrik, circa 1816

    Notes in German.

  • Folder: 12, Deities and Art, 1817

    Notes on deities and art in a book labeled "Archaeology." The notes on the right hand pages are from a series of lectures delivered to Ticknor while he was in Göttingen during the spring and summer of 1816. In this book, George Ticknor provides notes and detailed descriptions of deities such as Apollo, Bacchus, Zeus, Hercules, and Flora. A section of the book is devoted to Roman iconography.

  • Folder: 13, Florence and Naples, 1815-1816

    Notes made briefly in Germany in 1815 and 1816 to prepare him for traveling.

  • Folder: 14, Statisticks, circa 1816

    Ticknor's notes on a general statistics course. The notes are broken up into "general statistics" and "special statistics."

Box: 5, Dates: 1815-1819

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, History of Belles Lettres, circa 1816

    Notes on lectures at Göttingen in 1817. This volume contains notes on the history of poetry.

  • Folder: 2, Madrid, May 30, 1818
  • Folder: 3, Greek Diction, circa 1816

    A list of Greek words and their definitions.

  • Folder: 4, Spirit of the Times, circa 1816

    Defined as "a general contempt for all that is old and memorable and sacred." Ticknor writes about the spirit of the times in which we live and its characterizations.

  • Folder: 5, Homer, 1815-1816

    "De Hymno Homerico…" works of ancient art historically arranged.

  • Folder: 6, Progress of Politicks or History of the Theory of Constitutions, circa 1816
  • Folder: 7, Storia Romana Goldsmith, circa 1817
  • Folder: 8, Iliad, circa 1817

    Notes on the Iliad.

  • Folder: 9, Spanish Epoch II - 1 Division, circa 1816

    Notes in Spanish. Mentions of Juan de la Cueva, a poet.

  • Folder: 10, Rome - Nibby, 1817-1818

    Notes Ticknor took of the conversations and explanations of "Nibby," the archaeologist who traveled around Rome with him from 1817-1818. The notes contain corrections in Nibby's handwriting.

  • Folder: 11, Scotch, circa 1816

    Various notes on poetry and historical figures.

  • Folder: 12, Portuguese Books Relating to the Language, circa 1816

    List of Portuguese books with notes by Ticknor.

  • Folder: 13, Excerpta Graeca et Latina, 1810
  • Folder: 14, Buttman's Greek Language, February 1, 1816

    Ticknor documents the Greek letters and alphabet interspersed with personal remarks on Greek grammatical structure, dialect, and format. The book covers Greek adjectives, conjugation, and pronunciation.

  • Folder: 15, Extract Book, 1844-1849

    Contains poetry and prose by various authors. The final pages of the book features a table of contents with the name of each poem, its author, and page number. Two sketches of a conductor are inserted in the book.

  • Folder: 16, Milton's Paradise Lost Memoranda, 1839

    Ticknor's outline of and notes on Paradise Lost.

Box: 6, Dates: circa 1815

Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Shakespeare, circa 1815

    Contains notes on early English dramas and poetry.

  • Folder: 2, Blackstone Law, circa 1815

    Commentary on the study of the law, parliament, the King's title, King's council, natives vs. citizens, magistrates, marriage law, as well as its faults.

  • Folder: 3, Shakespeare - Jonson Chapman, Heywood Beaum and Fletcher, circa 1815

    Scenes from Shakespeare. Extensive quotations and extracts.

  • Folder: 4, Ancestral Tablets, undated

    "Ancestral Tablets – A Collection of Diagrams for Pedigrees" –a book for recording family genealogy filled in by George Ticknor. Ticknor family genealogy.

Series 5, Journals - Transcriptions,

Transcriptions of George Ticknor's travel diaries from 1815-1819 and 1836-1837. Some corrections made by both George and Anna in their later years. Transcriptions are incomplete.

Box: 7, Dates: 1815-1837

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Volume I, 1815-1819

    Transcriptions by Ticknor of the first volume of his 1815-1819 travel journals.

  • Folder: 2, Volume II, 1815-1819

    Transcriptions by Ticknor of the second volume of his 1815-1819 travel journals.

  • Folder: 3, Volume III, 1815-1819

    Transcriptions by Ticknor of the third volume of his 1815-1819 travel journals.

  • Folder: 4, Volume IV, 1815-1819

    Transcriptions by Ticknor of the fourth volume of his 1815-1819 travel journals.

  • Folder: 5, Volume V, 1815-1819

    Transcriptions by Ticknor of the fifth volume of his 1815-1819 travel journals.

  • Folder: 6, Volume VI, 1815-1819

    Transcriptions by Ticknor of the sixth volume of his 1815-1819 travel journals.

  • Folder: 7, Volume VII, 1836-1837

    Transcriptions by Ticknor of the first volume of his 1836-1837 travel journals.

  • Folder: 8, Volume VIII, 1836-1837

    Transcriptions by Ticknor of the second volume of his 1836-1837 travel journals.

Series 6, Papers, 1773-1860

Access Restrictions


Box: 8, Dates: 1173-1860

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Manuscript of "Life of King John of Saxony," written by Professor Falkenstein, with some unpublished passages from Mr. Ticknor's journal, undated
  • Folder: 2, Manuscript copies of letters sent to King John of Saxony between 1837-1870, undated
  • Folder: 3, "In Memoriam-George M. Dexter," bound memorial books, circa 1872
  • Folder: 4, Newspaper clippings, circa 1929
  • Folder: 5, Lock of George Ticknor's hair, cut May 21, 1860., 1860

Finding Aids