AHA President, 1932


University of California

From the American Historical Review 58:3 (April 1953)

Herbert Eugene Bolton (July 20, 1870–January 30, 1953), Sather professor of history emeritus in the University of California, died in Berkeley, January 30. Professor Bolton was in his eighty-third year and had been active up to his eighty-second birthday. In a long academic career as a professor of history in the University of Texas (1901–1909), Stanford University (1909–14), and the University of California (1914–40), he had made his name synonymous with teaching, research, and publication in the field of the Spanish period in the Southwest and on the Pacific Coast. His conception and interpretation of American history included the Western Hemisphere and was set forth in his address at Toronto as president of the American Historical Association. As a lecturer to introductory courses he attracted thousands of undergraduates and from his seminars sent forth more doctors of philosophy than any other American professor of history. He had served the department at Berkeley for many years as chairman and from 1916 to 1940 he was director of the Bancroft Library. In his own studies he supplemented its riches with an intimate knowledge of the Mexican archives and of the papers in the monastic establishments in California. He was indefatigable in his pursuit of every clue to the life and labors of those who founded a civilization in the Spanish west. As an explorer he took to the field and by the aid of their records he followed their trails. With increasing literary skill he brought forgotten names alive and peopled a new historical Valhalla with black-robed heroes whose sufferings and sacrifices and dauntless courage had created a civilization that had left its stamp on the West and Southwest of today. His single-mindedness and devotion to his life work were exemplary and disturbing. His many volumes, monographs, and papers began with a mission for the Carnegie Institution under Dr. Jameson, resulting in his Guide to Materials for United States History in the Archives of Mexico (1913) and reached perhaps their finest expression in the Rim of Christendom (1936). Many honors came to him in honorary degrees and in decorations by the governments of Spain and Italy. His first training in history was under Frederick Jackson Turner at the University of Wisconsin where he graduated in 1895. He may be best remembered as a pupil who sought to give national significance to a farther frontier.



Expedition to San Francisco bay in 1770, diary of Pedro Fages; ed. by Herbert Eugene Bolton. Berkeley, Cal., University of California, 1911.

Guide to materials for the history of the United States in the principal archives of Mexico, by Herbert E. Bolton. Washington, D.C., Carnegie institution of Washington, 1913.

Spanish exploration in the Southwest, 1542-1706, ed. by Herbert Eugene Bolton. New York, C. Scribner’s sons, 1916; Reprint, New York: Barnes & Noble, 1952.

The colonization of North America, 1492-1783, by Herbert Eugene Bolton and Thomas Maitland Marshall. New York: Macmillan Company, 1920.

The Spanish borderlands; a chronicle of old Florida and the Southwest. New Haven: Yale university press, 1921; Reprint, introduction by Albert L. Hurtado. 1st University of New Mexico Press paperback ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996.

California’s story, by Herbert E. Bolton and Ephraim D. Adams. Boston, New York: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.

Fray Juan Crespi, missionary explorer on the Pacific coast, 1769-1774, by Herbert Eugene Bolton. Berkeley: University of California press, 1927.

History of the Americas; a syllabus with maps, by Herbert Eugene Bolton. Boston: Ginn, c1928; Reprint, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979.

Rim of Christendom; a biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific coast pioneer, by Herbert Eugene Bolton. New York: Macmillan company, 1936; Reprint, foreword by John L. Kessell. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 1984.

Wider horizons of American history, by Herbert E. Bolton. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1939.

Coronado, knight of pueblos and plains. New York, Whittlesey House, 1949; Reprint, 4th pbk. ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990.

Pageant in the wilderness; the story of the Escalante Expedition to the Interior Basin, 1776, including the Diary and itinerary of Father Escalante, translated and annotated by Herbert E. Bolton. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1950.

Greater America; essays in honor of Herbert Eugene Bolton. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1968.

Herbert E. Bolton and the historiography of the Americas. Russell M. Magnaghi. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1998

Historical Memoirs of New California, (translated into English from the manuscripts of Fray Francisco Palou) Herbert E. Bolton (ed.), Berkeley: University of California Press, 1926.