Brantz Mayer papers
Brantz Mayer was a prominent nineteenth-century Baltimore citizen, historian, and writer. This collection provides supporting documentation for two of Mayer's works on the history of Mexico: Mexico as It Was and as It Is (1844) and Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and Republican (1851). The Brantz Mayer Papers include diaries and notes kept by Mayer during his travels.
Important Information for Users of the Collection
This collection is open for research.
Brantz Mayer papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
This collection is PROCESSED.
Brantz Mayer was a prominent nineteenth-century Baltimore citizen, historian, and writer. He was born to Christian Mayer (1763-1842) and Anna Kat(h)erina (Baum) Mayer (1767-1843) in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 27, 1809, the youngest of ten children. His father came to the United States from Ulm, Wörttemberg, Germany, and settled in Maryland in 1784. After emigrating to the United States, Christian Mayer established himself as a trader. Later he became the president of a Baltimore insurance company. Eventually, he served as the consul-general of Wörttemberg to the United States.
Brantz Mayer attended public school, as well as St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore but was primarily privately educated. He completed his study of law at the University of Maryland and was admitted to the bar in 1832. Throughout this period, he traveled extensively throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. On September 27, 1835, Mayer married Mary Griswold (1817-1845). Before her death in 1845, Mary bore five daughters: Katherine Mary (Kate) (b. 1836), Beata (b. 1838), Anna Maria (b. 1841), Dora (b. 1844-1878), and Mary (b. 1845). On November 15, 1848, the widower married Cornelia Poor (b. 1818), with whom he had three daughters: Cornelia (Nellie) (b. 1849), Jane (b. 1851), and Fanny (b. and d. 1854).
Mayer left the practice of law in 1841 to take a position as the secretary of the United States legation in Mexico. Following his return from Mexico in 1844, Mayer began his life-long study of, devotion to, and preservation of history, especially local history. He was involved in the establishment of the Maryland Historical Society in 1844 and served as its president from 1867 to 1871. Additionally, he served as president of the Library Company of Baltimore and proved vital in the construction of the Antheneum Building in the city. He later encouraged the state of Maryland to establish an archives commission and depository, which was ultimately housed at the Historical Society.
In 1844, Mayer published the first of many historical works, Mexico as It Was and as It Is. This first work was of particular importance, given the pending Mexican-American War. Other works by Mayer include Tah-Gah-Jute: or Logan and Captain Michael Cresap (1851), Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and Republican (1851), and Calvert and Penn (1852). He also edited several works, including the Journal of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, during His Visit to Canada in 1776 (1845), for the Maryland Historical Society, and Captain Canot; or Twenty Years of an African Slaver (1854). He continued to write and to publish until shortly before his death. In addition to books, Mayer regularly wrote editorials and columns for newspapers in the Baltimore area, especially the Baltimore News American.
During the Civil War, Mayer served as a brigadier-general with the Maryland volunteers and he assisted in recruiting for the state. In 1863, he received the post of additional paymaster. In January 1865, he was promoted to major and paymaster in the United States regular army. In 1866, he was promoted again, this time to lieutenant-colonel (retroactive to November 1865) for his service during the war. Mayer retired from the pay department in 1875 at the rank of colonel. He died on February 23, 1879 at the age of sixty-nine.
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Brantz Mayer Papers consist of scrapbooks, diaries, and notes and research materials dating from 1820 to 1853, with the bulk of the material dating from 1842 to 1843 and 1849 to 1853. The collection includes bound copies of Mayer's manuscripts for Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and Republican and Mexico as It Was and as It Is. Also included are records of Mayer's travels, including meteorological data from a sea voyage from Baltimore to New Orleans in 1820-1821 and documentation of a trip to Peru in 1825-1827. Other items of interest include a letter requesting permission to translate Mayer's work into German, a contract for the publication of Mexico as It Was and as It Is, and a scrapbook featuring newsclippings, editorials, and columns written by Mayer for various newspapers, including the Baltimore News American. .
Custodial History and Acquisition Information
The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the items in the Brantz Mayer Papers from the John Gach Bookshop in Baltimore, Maryland, from R & D Books, Washington, DC, and from Howard S. Mott, Inc., Sheffield Massaschusetts. The collection brings together items originally in the Maryland Manuscripts Collection: numbers 50, 355, 725-737, 1386, 1387, 2286, and 2302.
Processed by Kira Dietz and Jennie A. Levine, April 2007. Guide revised by Elizabeth A. McAllister, May 2008.
Scrapbooks containing newsclippings were interleaved with acid-free paper.
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie A. Levine.
Arrangement of Collection
This collection is arranged as three series.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: Diaries and Scrapbook, 1820-1853 (6 items)
This series contains diaries of Mayer's compositions, observations, and travel writings, including meteorological data from a sea voyage from Baltimore to New Orleans in 1820-1821 and documentation of a trip to Peru in 1825-1827. Also included is a scrapbook featuring newsclippings, editorials, and columns written by Mayer for various newspapers, including the Baltimore News American. The clippings are often interspersed with original work by Mayer, as well as lines copied from the work of other poets. Arrangement is chronological.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame||Item|
|Daybooks and Scrapbook, 1820-1853||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
|Daybook--Baltimore to Louisiana, 1820-1821||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 1|
|Daybook--Baltimore to Peru, 1825-1827||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 2|
|Daybook, 1834-1835||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 3|
|Daybook, 1840-1841||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 4|
|Scrapbook, 1844-1852||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 5|
|Scrapbook, 1852-1853||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 6|
Series 2: Writings and Speech, 1833-1853 ((1.50 linear feet))
Series II contains several annotated partial manuscript versions of Brantz Mayer's Mexico as It Was and as It Is. Also included is a manuscript dated 1877 entitled "The City of Mexico" and a manuscript of Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and Republican: a historical, geographical, political, statistical and social account of that country from the period of the invasion by the Spaniards to the present time : with a view of the ancient Aztec empire and civilization; a historical sketch of the late war; and notices of New Mexico and California. Two other manuscripts, "Doings in Diligence" and "Madame Catalani," describe Mayer's travels in France and Italy in 1833. A bound volume of handwritten copies of early Maryland poetry contains The Sot-Weed Factor (1708) by Ebenezer Cook, and A Journey from Patapsco in Maryland to Annapolis (1730) and A Description of Maryland (1732) by "Mr. Lewis," as well as additional poems not authored by Mayer. Finally, there is a copy of a speech Mayer gave at the 1853 commencement of Central High School of Baltimore. Arrangement is alphabetical.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Address Delivered at the Third Annual Commencement of the Central High School of Baltimore, 1853||series 2||box 1||folder 1|
|The City of Mexico, 1877||series 2||box 1||folder 2|
|Doings in Diligence, ||series 2||box 1||folder 3|
|Madame Catalini, ||series 2||box 1||folder 4|
|M. S. Poems on Maryland, including The Sot-Weed Factor (1708), A Journey from Patapsco in Maryland to Annapolis (1730), and A Description of Maryland (1732), ||series 2||box 1||folder 5|
|Mexico as It Was and as It Is -- Criticism (Oversize), 1845||series 2||box 1||folder 6|
|Mexico as It Was and as It Is -- Manuscript, 1847||series 2||box 1||folder 7|
|Mexico as It Was and as It Is -- Manuscript, 1847||series 2||box 2||folder 1|
|Mexico as It Was and as It Is -- Notes, [1840-1845]||series 2||box 2||folder 2|
|Mexico as It Was and as It Is -- Notes, [1840-1845]||series 2||box 2||folder 3|
|Mexico as It Was and as It Is -- Publication Contract, 1843||series 2||box 2||folder 4|
|Mexico: Aztec, Spanish, and Republican -- Manuscript, 1849-1853||series 2||box 3||folder 1|
|Poetry--Maryland, ||series 2||box 3||folder 2|
Series 3: Correspondence, 1843 and undated (2 items)
Series III consists of two letters, one written by Brantz Mayer to W. B. Ogden in Chicago, introducing a friend, Mr. W. E. Barber, and the second written from Dr. Sahele Dellere seeking to translate Mayer's work into German. Arrangement is chronological.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Correspondence, 1843 and undated||series 3||box 3||folder 3|
The University of Maryland Libraries contains numerous Brantz Mayer publications in its holdings, including published versions of Mexico as It Was and as It Is and Mexico: Aztec, Spanish, and Republican. The Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, Maryland, contains a large collection of Brantz Mayer publications and manuscripts. The Brantz Mayer Collection, Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, contains correspondence between Mayer and Nathaniel P. Willis, author and journalist.
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- Historians -- Maryland -- Archives
- Mayer, Brantz, 1809-1879 -- Archives
- Mexico -- Description and travel
- Mexico -- History
Names (Added Entries)
- Mayer, Brantz, 1809-1879. City of Mexico
- Mayer, Brantz, 1809-1879. Mexico, as it was and is
- Mayer, Brantz, 1809-1879. Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and republican