© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Buckingham Smith papers and collected materials, 1529-1941, n.d. MS 2413

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Julia Lipkins

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on June 16, 2016 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Smith, Buckingham, 1810-1871
Title: Buckingham Smith papers and collected materials
Dates: 1529-1941, n.d.
Abstract: The collection documents Smith's extensive research on the Spanish colonization of North America. The bulk of the collection consists of Smith's own notes and correspondence, in addition to his collection of manuscripts and maps, mostly related to the history of Florida. Topics discussed in the correspondence include Smith's acquisition of manuscripts and rare books; his service as a diplomat in Mexico and Spain; and the history of St. Augustine, Florida. The collection includes original documents and transcriptions of the Timucuan language; dictionaries of Native American languages; and correspondence from Spanish Catholic missionaries about Native Americans.
Quantity: 6.0 Linear feet
Language of Materials Note: The collection contains materials in English, Spanish, and Native American languages. Original titles in Spanish were maintained with translations provided in the scope and contents notes.
Call Phrase: MS 2413

Return to Top »


Biographical Note

Thomas Buckingham Smith was a lawyer, diplomat, antiquarian, and author. Smith was born on October 21, 1810 on Cumberland Island, Georgia. The family moved to St. Augustine, Florida in 1820, when Smith’s father was appointed U.S. Consul to Mexico. Smith attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and earned a degree from Harvard Law School in 1836. Following graduation, Smith worked in the Maine office of Samuel Fessenden, a politician and abolitionist. He returned to St. Augustine in 1839 and served as a secretary to Robert R. Reid, governor of the Territory of Florida from 1839-1841. Smith served as a member of the Florida Territorial Legislative Council in 1841. He married Julia Gardner of Concord, New Hampshire in 1843.

Throughout his life, Smith was a devoted student of North American history, specifically Spanish colonialism and Native American cultures and languages. In order to further his studies, Smith lobbied U.S. government officials for diplomatic appointments abroad. He was successful in obtaining positions in the U.S. embassies of Mexico (1850-1852) and Spain (1855-1858). While abroad, Smith actively purchased, transcribed and translated manuscripts related to the Spanish colonization of North America. Smith also supplemented his income by selling rare books and manuscripts to collectors in the U.S., including Peter Force, an editor and politician, whose collection was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1867. During the 1850-1860s, Smith translated and edited several publications, including Colección de varios documentos para la historia de la Florida y tierras adyacentes (1857),  A grammatical sketch of the Heve language (1861),  Narratives of the career of Hernando de Soto in the conquest of Florida (1866), and  Relation of Alvar Nunez Cabeca de Vaca (1871).

Smith died in New York City in 1871 and was buried in St. Augustine.

Return to Top »


Scope and Contents Note

The bulk of the collection consists of Smith's own notes and correspondence, in addition to his collection of manuscripts and maps, mostly related to the history of Florida.

Topics discussed in Smith's correspondence include the acquisition of manuscripts and rare books; his service as a diplomat in Mexico and Spain; and the history of St. Augustine, Florida. Correspondents include Joseph Henry, scientist and secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; George Henry Moore, historian and librarian at N-YHS; and Francis Parkman, Jr., historian and trustee of the Boston Athenæum.

Smith's interest in Spanish colonization and Native American history is found throughout the collection. The collection includes original documents and transcriptions of the Timucuan language; dictionaries of Native American languages; and correspondence from Spanish Catholic missionaries about Native Americans. In addition, the collection includes hand-drawn replications of 17th-18th century maps of Florida and Mexico. Evidence of slavery and the slave trade can be found in correspondence from the mercantile firm Panton, Leslie & Company, and the "The Story of Uncle Jack," which is an account of one of Smith's slaves.

Return to Top »


Access Points

Subject Names

  • Fillmore, Millard, 1800-1874
  • Force, Peter, 1790-1868
  • Henry, Joseph, 1791-1878
  • Joseph M. (Joseph Marion), Hernandez , 1788-1857
  • Moore, George Henry, 1823-1892
  • Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar, active 16th century
  • Parkman Jr., Francis, 1823-1893
  • Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864
  • Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852

Subject Topics

  • Indians of North America
  • Indians of North America--Languages--Texts
  • Slave traders--United States
  • Slavery -- United States
  • Timucua Indians

Subject Places

  • Florida -- History
  • Mexico -- History
  • North America --Discovery and exploration
  • North America--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775

Return to Top »


Administrative Information

Related Materials Note

Information concerning the the acquisition of Smith's books, archival collections and art objects by N-YHS can be found in: New-York Historical Society Institutional Archive management committee records (NYHS-RG 1), Series IV. Official Papers, Folder: Official Papers. 1872 (6 of 6). Buckingham Smith Acquisition.

Additional items related to Smith within the New-York Historical Society Institutional Archive can be found in: General Correspondence (NYHS-RG 2), folder label: Correspondence. 1858 January-April and General Correspondence (NYHS-RG 2), folder label: 1927-29 Correspondence. R (3 of 3).

Published books, either owned or authored by Smith, can be located in the online catalog by searching the term "Buckingham Smith."

Processing Information Note

The Smith papers were arranged and catalogued on multiple occasions throughout the 20th century. Some materials, including manuscripts, transcriptions and maps, were bound and microfilmed in 1948, others in the 1970s; these items are clearly marked in the finding aid.

Return to Top »


Container List

I. Personal papers, 1840-1941, n.d.

Scope and Contents Note

This series includes Smith's personal and professional correspondence; passports from Smith's travels in Europe; and a brief biography of Smith.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Correspondence

Related Archival Materials Note

Additional correspondence can be found in bound volumes within Series II: Transcriptions and edited works.

Scope and Contents Note

Includes personal and professional correspondence to and from Smith.

1840-1870, n.d.
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Legal and financial documents

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a summons from the Court of the Confederate States in 1862 and a tax bill from St. John's County, Florida in 1870.

1850 November 26, circa 1861-1870
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Letter book

Scope and Contents Note

Includes copies of Smith's correspondence written while employed at the U.S. embassy of Mexico. Smith discusses of the affairs of the delegation; impressions of Mexican political officials; the sale of books and manuscripts; and personal expenses. Includes correspondence to Millard Fillmore, Daniel Webster, Henry R. Schoolcraft. Also contains Spanish language transcriptions of manuscripts related to the colonization of Mexico.

1851-1852
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Passports

Scope and Contents Note

Includes two passports with stamps from Spain and Portugal.

1858, 1868
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Clippings and ephemera

Scope and Contents Note

Includes clippings in Spanish and English, in addition to calling cards from Ms. Buckingham Smith.

circa 1860s
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Notebook and scrapbook

Scope and Contents Note

Notebook includes names and addresses of New York residents. Scrapbook contains printed clippings of poems.

circa 1840s-1860s
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Memorials and archive survey

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photocopies of an N-YHS Quarterly Bulletin and text of a speech related to a tablet unveiling for Smith in St. Augustine. Also includes a photocopied survey of the Smith papers and collected materials created by the Alabama Historical Society.

1901, 1941, n.d.

Return to Top »


II. Transcriptions and edited works, 1835-1871, n.d.

Scope and Contents Note

This series includes transcriptions, mostly created by Smith and made from documents held in archives in Spain and England. The documents are primarily related to the history of North American colonization and Native American languages. Also included are drafts of The Story of Uncle Jack, a first-person narrative about Sitiki, or "Uncle Jack," an African-American slave, who was owned by Smith's family.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 8 "Don Manuel de Montiano"

Scope and Contents Note

Includes transcriptions of correspondence and documents from Don Manuel de Montiano, governor of East Florida from 1737-1741.

1835
Box: 1 Folder : 9 "For a History of the Discover, Invasions and Settlement of Florida"

Scope and Contents Note

Includes an index of manuscripts, published works, and maps from the 16th-19th centuries related to the history of Florida.

circa 1840s-1860s
Box: 1 Folder : 10 "The Recapture of Florida by Captain Gourges"

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions about Dominique de Gourgue, 1530–1593, a French soldier, who attacked the Spanish in Florida. Transcription possibly made at the National Library of Spain in Madrid.

circa 1850s
Volume: BV 1 "Letters to the Captain General of Cuba"

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume and folder of transcriptions, primarily correspondence, from the governors of Cuba and Florida, circa 1737-1741.

circa 1850-1856
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Transcriptions and correspondence

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions of 16th century documents related to the Spanish colonization of Florida and the Americas. Also contains correspondence to Smith.

circa 1853
Volume: BV 2 Transcriptions, correspondence and maps

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions of 17th-18th century documents. Originals likely reside at the Royal Academy of History in Madrid, Spain. Also includes hand-drawn maps and correspondence to Smith.

1854-1858
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Transcriptions

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions of 16th-18th century documents related to the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Originals likely reside at the British Museum and the General Archive of Simancas in Spain.

Access Restrictions

Available on Buckingham Smith Mircrofilm.

circa 1855-1858
Volume: BV 8 "North American Transcripts 1500-60"

Access Restrictions

Available on Buckingham Smith Microfilm.

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions and hand-drawn maps related to Spanish colonization of North America. Originals likely reside at various archives in Madrid.

circa 1855-1856
Volume: BV 9 "North American Transcripts 1561-93"

Access Restrictions

Available on Buckingham Smith Microfilm.

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions related to Spanish colonization of North America. Includes tracing of Ponce de Leon's crest. Originals likely reside at various archives in Madrid.

circa 1856-1857
Box: 1 Folder : 13 "Algunos reparos sobre la Historia, o' Noticia de la California"

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions related to the history of California made "from the original papers in the Royal Library [Academy?] of History" in Madrid, Spain.

1857
Box: 2 Folder : 1 "Coleccion de varios documentos para la historia de la Florida y tierras adyacentes..."

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a hand-written "prospectus" and excerpted copy of Smith's publication about the history of Florida.

1857
Box: 2 Folder : 2 "Condition of the Indians at Cape Florida in the year 1743 described by two Catholic missionaries at the Order of Jesus."

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a translation of an 1743 document from the Royal Academy of History in Madrid, Spain.

1858
Volume: BV 7 "Florida Transcripts 1526-1743"

Access Restrictions

Available on Buckingham Smith Microfilm.

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions related to Spanish colonization of Florida.

circa 1860s
Volume: BV 3 Transcriptions, correspondence and maps

Access Restrictions

Available on Buckingham Smith Mircrofilm Reel 3.

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions of 16th century documents. Originals likely reside at the General Archive of Simancas. Also contains correspondence to Smith and hand-drawn maps.

circa 1868
Box: 2 Folder : 3 "Relation of Alvar Nunez Cabeca de Vaca"

Scope and Contents Note

Includes proof copies of Relation with Smith's hand-written notes.

circa 1871
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Eudeva transcriptions and translations

Scope and Contents Note

Includes transcriptions of "Cartilla Eudeva" and "Arte y Vocabulario de La Lengua Dohema, Heve o Eudeva."

n.d.
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Narrative of Alvar Nunez Cabeca de Vaca

Scope and Contents Note

Includes chapters of Narrative and Smith's notes.

n.d.
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Notes and translations

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Smith's notes on the Timucuan language, his edition of "Relation of Alvar Nunez Cabeca de Vaca," and other research projects.

n.d.
Box: 2 Folder : 7 "The Story of Uncle Jack"

Related Materials Note

Smith's drafts were published in The Odyssey of an African Slave by Sitiki and edited by Patricia C. Griffin, published by the University Press of Florida in 2009.

Scope and Contents Note

Includes drafts of The Story of Uncle Jack, a first-person narrative about Sitiki, or "Uncle Jack," an African-American slave, who was owned by Smith's family. Smith allegedly wrote the narrative in collaboration with Sitiki.

n.d.
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Unidentified transcriptions

Scope and Contents Note

Includes two documents; one sent to a "Monsieur Pierre Paradis."

n.d.
Box: 3 Folder : 2 "Letter of Guzman"

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Smith's notes and translation of "Letter of Guzman."

n.d.
Volume: BV 4 "Vida y hechos de Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, caballero de la Orden de Santiago, Adelantado de La Florida..."

Access Restrictions

Available on Buckingham Smith Mircrofilm Reel 1.

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of transcriptions.

n.d.

Return to Top »


III. Manuscripts, 1529[?]-1861, n.d.

Scope and Contents Note

This series includes manuscripts collected by Smith. The manuscripts include documents and correspondence related to Catholic missionary work in Florida; documents and translations of Native American languages; and correspondence sent to John Leslie, co-founder of Panton, Leslie & Company, a mercantile firm involved in the slave trade.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Correspondence and reports

Scope and Contents Note

Includes manuscripts related to the Spanish colonization and Catholic missionary work in the Americas. Includes a 1676 list of convents in Florida and a 1726-1727[?] report from Joseph Escudero, a Franciscan friar.

1529[?]-1852, n.d.
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Testimony of Luis de Huerta

Scope and Contents Note

Includes the testimony of Luis de Huerta, a notary public, in a petition by Alvar Nunez Cabeca de Vaca. Obtained by Smith in Seville on 1859 June 26. Possibly from the collection of Friar Juan Fogueras, a Spanish missionary.

1578 June 7
Box: 3 Folder : 5 "La prodigiosa navegacion de la Nave Santa Elena, que venia de la India de Portugal..."

Physical Characteristics Note

Bound in a folder stamped, "Spain Legation of the United States of America." Found in a parchment portfolio dated 1735.

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a report about a ship, the Santa Elena, and a parchment folder.

1613, 1735
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Timucua and Apalache documents

Access Restrictions

Available on Buckingham Smith Microfilm Reel 3.

Scope and Contents Note

Includes manuscripts written in Timucua, Apalache, and Spanish, in addition to a disbound volume with printed Spanish translations. Inscription on volume reads, "The New-York Historical Society, these copies in seven sheets of original Spanish documents in the Timuguana and Apalache languages of Florida, from Buckingham Smith. October 2, 1866."

1688, 1866, n.d.
Volume: BV 5 "Compendio histórico de los descubrimientos conquistas y establecimientos del Nuevo-Mundo"

Scope and Contents Note

A bound manuscript regarding the "conquest and establishment of the New World" written by Bernardo de Estrada.

1781
Box: 3 Folder : 7 John Leslie correspondence

Scope and Contents Note

Includes correspondence sent to John Leslie, co-founder of Panton, Leslie & Company, a mercantile firm in St. Augustine. Topics discussed include the sale of cattle and deerskins, conflicts with Native Americans, and the slave trade.

1781-1811
Box: 3 Folder : 8 John Hambley diaries

Scope and Contents Note

Includes the daily diaries of John Hambly, a shopkeeper for Panton, Leslie and Company, and an interpreter of Native Americans languages.

1794
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Joseph Marion Hernández correspondence

Scope and Contents Note

Includes correspondence to Joseph Marion Hernández, a plantation owner in Florida and brigadier general in the U.S. Army.

1815-1838, n.d.
Box: 3 Folder : 10 "Return of killed and wounded in the Battle of Withlacoochie"

Scope and Contents Note

Includes list of troops and militia wounded or killed in the Battle of Withlacoochee [Ouithlacoochie] during the Second Seminole War.

1835
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Fairmont Bank dollar bills

Scope and Contents Note

Includes unsigned dollar bills. Inscription on verso: "One of many unsigned dollar bills taken from the military chest of General Garnett's army at the battle of Corrick's Ford, Cheat River, July 13, 1861, Bunham[?] Corps of Engineers Commanding."

1861 July 13
Box: 4 Folder : 2 "Arte de la Lengua Pima"

Scope and Contents Note

A bound manuscript about the Pimo Bajo language.

n.d.
Box: 4 Folder : 3 "Arte y Vocabulario de La Lengua Dohema, Heve o Eudeva"

Scope and Contents Note

A bound dictionary of the Eudeve language.

n.d.
Box: 4 Folder : 4 "Compendio del Idioma Mexicano Segun el metodo, y ensenanza del Son. D. Rafael de Sandoval..."

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a dictionary of the "Mexican language according to the method and teachings of the Son. D. Rafael De Sanadoval..."

n.d.
Volume: BV 6 "Vocabulario en Lengua Nevome"

Access Restrictions

Available on Misc. Mss. Microfilm Reel 4

Scope and Contents Note

A bound dictionary of the Nevome language.

n.d.

Return to Top »


IV. Maps and visual materials, 1858, circa 1860s, n.d.

Scope and Contents Note

This series primarily includes hand-drawn replications of maps of Florida, Mexico and California.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Map of Anastasia Island

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of hand-drawn replications of maps. Inscription on verso: “Half size of the original map in the Royal Deposit Hydrography at Madrid signed by Juan Elixio de la Puente 'Hav[?]a 16 de Febrero 1769'... Madrid: 12 August 1858 Buckingham Smith.”

1858
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Maps of Florida

Access Restrictions

Available on Buckingham Smith Mircrofilm Reel 3

Scope and Contents Note

A bound volume of hand-drawn replications of maps from the Hydrographic Deposit in Madrid, Spain.

1858
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Maps

Scope and Contents Note

Includes printed and hand-drawn maps of Mexico, California and other areas of Spanish colonization.

circa 1860s, n.d.
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Visual materials

Scope and Contents Note

Includes prints of Pedro Menendez de Aviles and an ink drawing of a Native American glyph.

n.d.

Return to Top »


V. Published works, 1739-1864

Scope and Contents Note

This series includes published works and chapbooks collected by Smith.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 9 "Fray Juan de la Rosa, Procurador General de la Provincia de la Florida, en vuestros Reynos de las Indias."

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a publication from the office of Juan de la Rosa, Attorney General of the Province of Florida, concerning missionary work.

1739
Box: 4 Folder : 10 "Satisfacion que se da por el M.R.P. Fr. Juan Fogueras..."

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a publication "about the established right to return declared in the election...held in the province of Santa Elena in Florida, the day 23 of January in the year 1745..."

1747
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Chapbooks

Scope and Contents Note

Includes two chapbooks, Historia de Orlando Furioso and  Historia verdadera del valiente Bernardo del Carpio.

1863-1864

Return to Top »


Return to Top »