Scope and arrangement
The papers consist of general correspondence for the period 1823-1890; correspondence, 1847- 1849, of Bancroft as U. S. Minister to Great Britain with Cave Johnson, the Postmaster General of the U. S., concerning postal communications and postal treaties with Great Britain; correspondence, 1863-1889, of Bancroft and J. Dickinson Logan, with the librarian and historian, George Moore, on historiographical matters; and correspondence, 1887, with J. G. Harris relating to the presidency of James K. Polk. Included in the general correspondence are letters by John Meredith Read, Austin Allibone, Winfield Scott, Silas Wright, Charles Henry Hart, and Samuel Tilden. There are also dispatches of the U. S. Legation at London, 1847-1849, and at Berlin, 1867-1870, during Bancroft's tenure as U. S. Minister.
The bulk of the rest of the papers concerns Bancroft's writings and includes some poetry; articles, addresses, and notes, drafts, proofs, and various printed editions of the History of the United States; drafts of The People Demand Independence; and rough drafts and emended typescripts of The Life of Martin Van Buren. There are also a few photographs, clippings, book catalogues, lists of books, lists of primary source material in European archives, some legal papers and accounts, notes taken at Göttingen, transcriptions of rare books, some papers relating to diplomatic duties, and material relating to the decision in favor of the U. S. made by Wilhelm I of Germany in the dispute between the U. S. and Great Britain over the water boundary between the State of Washington and British Columbia.