30 original manuscript letters of John Muir, 1861-1914

Manuscript letters, 1861-1914

These 30 letters, totaling more than 100 pages, were written by Muir to five correspondents. Twenty are to his old friend Emily Pelton, with whose family he boarded in Prairie du Chien in 1860-61, or to her aunt Frances. Throughout all his travels and wilderness ramblings over the next 50 years he kept in touch with Emily, in later years writing an annual New Year's summary of his activities and circumstances. She moved to California in 1871, visited him in Yosemite in 1873, and from her home in December 1874 he went out to ride through a hurricane in the top of a Douglas spruce, an event memorialized in one of his most famous essays. Note that three letters to Emily Pelton dated in July of 1863 were actually written in February 1864 but intentionally pre-dated.

Four other letters are to childhood friends from Wisconsin, James Whitehead and Milton Griswold. Whitehead wrote to protest the portrait of his family given in The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, which prompted Muir to tone down the passage in later printings. The letters to Griswold recall their Madison days together, when Griswold introduced Muir to the study of botany. A few other letters of a routine business nature are also included, as are, at the end, several undated fragments of letters to the Pelton family probably written in 1860 or 1861. All but six of the letters given here have never been previously published in their entirety (though typed copies of most were included in Muir's manuscripts at the University of the Pacific).

Click "View the Document" below to open the letters. To see a typed version of any letter side-by-side with the handwritten original, open the drop-down box at the upper left (reading "Document Descrption"), select "Page & Text" and click "Go".

Related Topics: Immigration and Settlement
The Progressive Era
19th-Century Immigration
The Conservation Movement
Creator: Muir, John, 1838-1914.
Pub Data: Manuscript letters in the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives: SC185 (to Pelton, Osborn and Brown), SC1676 (to Griswold), (and Neb Mss A, box 1, folder 1 (to Whitehead).
Citation: Muir, John. Manuscript letters, 1861-1914. In Wisconsin Historical Society Archives collections SC185, SC1676, and Neb Mss A. Online facsimile at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1224 Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1224; Visited on: 2/2/2023