Scope and arrangement
Five boxes contain general correspondence, 1849-1911, dating from early in Bigelow's career until his death. Correspondence is with colleagues, public figures, family members, and friends, and concerns professional and personal matters, and public affairs. The bulk of the letters were written by Bigelow. Major or prominent correspondents include: Charles Francis Adams; George Bancroft; William Cullen Bryant; Philippe Bunau-Varilla, a chief engineer of the Panama Canal, Panamanian representative to the United States during the Panama Revolution, and a friend (copies of Bunau-Varilla's letters to people other than Bigelow concerning the Canal are included); Samuel L. Clemens; J. Coppinger; Charles A. and Richard Henry Dana; John Dix; Anton Dohrn; Richard Watson Gilder; Parke Godwin; John Hay; J. Henderson; E.P. Hurlburt; Louis Kleke; Kohlisch, the gardener at "The Squirrels," reporting on house and garden matters and village news, M.D. Lasker; Henry Parry; Wilhelm Platenius; Isaac Seligman; William H. Seward; George T. Trimble; Martin Van Buren; John C. Fremont; Adele Granger; Herbert M. Hover. Recipients of Bigelow's letters include: Nelson M. Beckwith, an American living in Paris who advocated an improved railroad system in the United States; Anne and Vincenzo Botta; James Brooks; John Bright; William Cullen Bryant; Philippe Bunau-Varilla; Georg von Bunsen; Andrew Carnegie; Hamilton Fish, Parke Godwin; Lionel Guest, Bigelow's son-in-law; William Hargreaves; John Hay; George Hoadley; Herbert M. Hover; Kohlisch; J.P. Morgan; Frances Parker; L.V.F. Randolph; Whitelaw Reid; Theodore Roosevelt; William Russell; William H. Seward and others. A few letters are in French or German.
Also included are significant groups of correspondence with his friends Charles and Fanny Campbell Eames, 1844-1906, relating chiefly to personal matters; William Henry Huntington, 1864-1885, concerning Huntington's collection of Benjamin Franklin material, book collecting, and general matters; Samuel J. Tilden, 1860-1887, concerning the public affairs; William H. Seward, 1856-1868; publishers of his books, 1862-1912, and related contracts, agreements, and accounts; and his sons John, Jr. and Poultney, daughters-in-law Mary and Edith, and grandson Braxton.
Correspondence, reports, accounts, legal documents, notes, and memoranda dating from Bigelow's periods as consul and chargé d'affaires in Paris concern general consular matters. Some specific topics discussed include: European reactions to Lincoln's assassination; the death of James H. Dickson; the buring of the steamer William Nelson; Confederate activities in Europe; construction of ships in France for the Confederate navy. Also included are: correspondence, reports, and other documents, 1845-1855, concerning Sing Sing State Prison; correspondence with John C. Fremont and his wife, author Jessie B. Fremont, and others concerning Fremont's 1856 presidential campaign; correspondence with related accounts ad printed material, 1865-1894, concerning the United States Treasury Department's claim, made during the 1880s for funds owed Bigelow since his period as consul, Bigelow's vindication, and the claim against the government by the heirs of Joseph Binda (died 1864), who had been a United States Consul at Leghorn, for salary owed him; correspondence with Anne Botta, Vincenzo Botta, and others, 1871-1883, relating to the establishment of the Botta Prize, a prize awarded by the Académie Fran?aise to the author of the best work on the condition of women. Anne Botta provided the funds for the prize and Bigelow assisted them with the arrangements. Correspondence, accounts, and other documents, 1886-1889, relate to Bigelow's position as commissioner of the United States section of the Brussels International Exhibition in 1888. Bigelow's correspondence, printed and typescript addresses, speeches, articles, and other writings, 1886-1909, by Bigelow, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, Theodore Roosevelt, and others, concern the Panama Canal.
Miscellaneous pocket diaries, appointment, address, and memoranda books, 1858-1911; notes, memorabilia; and bound material are included.
John Bigelow's diaries form an important component of the collection. These 39 volumes cover the years 1843-1911, documenting his professional life, travels, personal and family matters, and public affairs. Separate travel journals describe Bigelow's trips to Jamaica (1850 January -March), and Haiti and St. Thomas (1853 November - 1954 February).
The John Bigelow papers are arranged in eight series: