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Isaac Joslin Cox (1873-1956) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/16/3

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Scope and Contents

The Isaac Joslin Cox Papers are arranged in seven main categories in sixteen boxes. These categories are: biographical and miscellaneous materials; Aaron Burr Material; James P. Wilkinson Material; Harry Innes Material; West Florida Material; William Shaler Material; John Breckenridge Material.

Biographical and Miscellaneous Materials, 1 folder, Box 1; 12 folders, Box 13; 11 folders, Box 14. The biographical folder contains news releases and newspaper clippings about Cox's views and activities, text of remarks at Cox's retirement dinner (April 23, 1941), and an obituary notice. Included are a photograph in a paper and a pencil sketch in a magazine. The materials in Boxes 13 and 14 contain background materials for some of Cox's research, drafts of less important writings, and many newspaper clippings (Chile, 1926).

Aaron Burr Material (1801-1831), 45 folders, Boxes 1-4. This consists of photocopies and typed copies of letters and documents related to Burr's political, military, and conspiratorial activities. Also here are several handwritten and typed versions of chapters for Cox's projected biography of Burr.

James P. Wilkinson Material (1782-1824), 37 folders, Boxes 5-9. copies of letters and documents provide information on General Wilkinson's political, commercial, and military activities and projects in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas. Drafts of several articles and chapters in a projected biography by Cox are included.

Harry Innes Material (1770-1813), 9 folders, Box 9. Innes, a lawyer, was deeply involved with Burr and also had dealings with Wilkinson. This material contains copies of letters, documents, and newspaper clip-pings related to various aspects of Burr's intrigues.

West Florida Material (1793-1815), 5 folders, Box 10. These folders contain copies of letters and documents pertinent to the governing of West Florida and both actual and potential relations with the United States, France, and Spain.

William Shaler Material (1810-1815), 8 folders, Boxes 11 and 12. Shaler, a U. S. diplomat in Havana and Mexico, was in the midst of the struggles between the various countries interested in acquiring parts of Central and North America.

John Breckenridge Material (1790-1799), 7 folders, Box 12. These contain copies of letters and documents involved with the Democratic Society of Kentucky and other groups and individuals active in the political ferments of the end of the eighteenth century.

Cox often used the backs of letters and other documents for drafts of his articles and books. Consulters of these papers should always look at both sides.

Practically all of this material, except for Cox's writings, is in copied form (photo processed, typed, or handwritten), but the items are from so many and such widely separated sources, and were gathered by a careful scholar over so many years, that the collection has substantial value.

Addition, Box 15-16

The additions to the Isaac Cox Papers are contained in one and one-half boxes. They span the years 1902-1956, with the bulk of the material dating from the period 1922-1941. The majority of the addition consists of materials relating to Cox's retirement from the Northwestern University faculty in 1941.

Included are letters of appreciation written by colleagues and former students, as well as a quantity of invitations and memorabilia from Cox's retirement dinner. The material has been fumigated and de-acidified in an attempt to alleviate the deterioration due to long storage in a damp basement. The letters of appreciation exist as both originals and photocopies.

The addition also includes one folder of miscellaneous correspondence; one folder of clippings; one folder of miscellaneous notes, including a manuscript of the song "Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Ever!" and one folder of reprints and programs.

Addition, Box 15-16

This addition consists of photocopies of Cox's correspondence with J. Franklin Jameson (originals in the Jameson Papers at the Library of Congress) during the period 1903-33; photocopies of Cox's correspondence with Frederick Jackson Turner (originals in the Huntington Library) from 1909-38; and photocopies of Cox's correspondence with Clarence Sibley Paine, Secretary-Treasurer of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association [later OAH] (originals in the Records of the MVHA at the Nebraska State Archives) from 1910-27. Photocopies of original materials in the Archives of the University Pennsylvania have been filed with other biographical material in Box 1, Folder 1 of the main series, as have copies of two letters concerning Cox's career exchanged between Professor Richard Leopold and Harris G. Warren in December, 1987.

Folders 8 and 9 contain photocopied letters of memoranda gathered by Professor Leopold concerning a festschrift planned, but not published, for Professor Cox.


  • 1902-1956


Language of Materials

Many of the documents are in Spanish and a few are in French. A small number of these have English translations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


16.00 Boxes


Isaac Joslin Cox taught History at Northwestern University from 1919 until his retirement in 1941. His papers are arranged into: biographical material; Aaron Burr Material; James P. Wilkinson Material; Harry Innes Material; West Florida Material; William Shaler Material; John Breckenridge Material; miscellaneous Isaac Joslin Cox material. Most of the materials are copies of documents from other repositories that Cox used in his research. Two additions to the collection chiefly contain material related to Cox's retirement from Northwestern University.


The Isaac Joslin Cox Papers are organized into: biographical material; Aaron Burr Material; James P. Wilkinson Material; Harry Innes Material; West Florida Material; William Shaler Material; John Breckenridge Material; miscellaneous Isaac Joslin Cox material. Categories other than the Cox material typically contain a group of chronologically-arranged folders, often followed by topically-arranged folders. The Cox papers will be of special interest to students of the history of Central and South America, especially Mexico and Chile. Those interested in the development of the boundaries along the south and southwest of the United States will also find helpful material here. The careers of Aaron Burr and James P. Wilkinson are well represented.

Method of Acquisition

The additions in Boxes 15-16 (1902-1956) were donated to the Northwestern University Archives on October 26, 1982 and October 18, 1983 by Mitzie Cox and were accessioned as #82-154 and #84-60. Additions in Box 16 (folders 5-9) were donated to the University Archives by Richard Leopold in six accessions (#84-139 (Aug 30, 1984; #86-43 (Mar 27, 1986); #86-171 (Aug 15, 1986); #86-179 (Aug 19, 1986); #87-255 (Nov 8, 1987), and #87-274 (Dec 15, 1987).

Separated Materials

One oversize folder of memorabilia from the addition was separated to the ephemera collection.

Processing Information

William K. Beatty, 1976. Addition processed by Thomas J. Dorst, May 1984.

Guide to the Isaac Joslin Cox (1873-1956) Papers
William K. Beatty, Thoams Dorst, Patricia Cloud
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US