Creator: Barry, J. Neilson (John Neilson), 1870-1961

Provenance Note: Letters and maps created and collected by J. Neilson Barry were donated to the Montana State University Library in several different accessions between 1955 and 1978. Most of the materials were given by Barry Library in 1955 and were originally designated as accession 434. Merrill G. Burlingame deposited other documents in 1978 and the Montana State University History Department donated two maps that Barry had collected in 1971, which were designated as accessions 955 and 957.

Historical Note: J. Neilson (John Neilson) Barry was a researcher and prolific writer of Pacific Northwest history. Barry was born in 1870 and received his education at various private institutions in Virginia. He was a trained Episcopal priest, but he retired in 1922 and dedicated himself to historical research. In the mid-1930s, Barry became fascinated with John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In addition to the varied topics in northwest history Barry pursued, John Colter's route on the 1814 Lewis and Clark map became a particular interest. Until his death in 1961, Barry studied early maps of Western states, annotated photocopies of early maps and engaged in voluminous correspondence with numerous researchers, sometimes including copies of these maps to bolster his theories.

Content Description Note: Papers include: photostatic copies of early maps including those originally drawn by members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806) and by John Colter with copious annotations by J. Neilson Barry, together with maps he sketched himself relating to his studies concerning the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition, John Colter's explorations and other aspects of early western maps; correspondence from 1944 to 1957 between Barry and Merrill G. Burlingame, Doris Wilson and Leslie Heathcote about the accuracy of early maps and the routes they portrayed; hand-drawn or photocopied editions of early Indian maps, maps by other early cartographers and modern map comparisons. Locations of other maps, the earliest mention of the Rocky Mountains, and costs of reproductions are also discussed in the correspondence. Much of the Barry correspondence has colored sketched maps in the margins.


Box 1
1. General correspondence, 1944-1957
2. Sets of Colter Maps with explanatory letters and a written synopsis of Colter's 1807 route
3. Maps including Clark, Indians, other earlier map makers and modern equivalents with some explanatory correspondence in the range of 1800 to 1950's. (Dates of some are unknown)
4. Oversized maps *** (Stored in separate location)

Contents | Special Collections

Updated: 3/6/09