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Edwin C. Bolles Papers

Call Number: MS004

Scope and Contents

Edwin Bolles assembled a substantial focused collection of materials consisting of 35 "full-size" and 320 more specialized maps, 400 books (284 linear feet of shelf space), 1,000 pamphlets, and a print "hypertext" linking Walter Thornbury's 3,000 page Old and new London, a narrative of its history, its people, and its places (London, New York, Cassell, Peter #38; Galpin [1872]) to approximately 8,000 background images that illustrate the history and topography of Victorian London. These materials include not only conventional print sources but also many pieces that are unique or quite rare: folio descriptions of the city are from limited print runs while the contemporary 19th century maps not only come in various shapes and formats but capture a precious (and now largely forgotten) record of how the British represented this city. This collection also includes photographs of Tufts College.

Content Warning

This finding aid contains language that may be offensive or outdated. Because such language is in titles or direct transcription of published materials, it has not been changed. Keeping this language intact provides the most accurate depiction of the creators’ intent, and can potentially tell us important things about bigotry and bias on the part of the creators, or in a particular historical context. For more information on DCA's content warning policy please visit our website.


  • Majority of material found within 1780 -- 1890
  • 1000 -- 1962


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Edwin Courtlandt Bolles (1836-1920), Dickson Professor of English and American History, was born in Hartford, Connecticut on September 19, 1836. He attended Trinity College, graduating in 1855. As a result of his strong religious convictions, he aligned himself with the Universalist faith and was ordained as one of its ministers at the age of 19. He continued his studies, receiving his M.A. and LL.D., also from Trinity, in 1859 and 1905 respectively. He obtained a doctorate in 1860 from St. Lawrence University, and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Tufts in 1880. At that time, he began a nine-year term as a trustee of the college. He served as pastor of congregations in New England, New York, and Louisiana, leaving the South following the outbreak of the Civil War.

Bolles' involvement with Tufts increased in 1889, when he began lecturing in the Divinity School. An entertaining lecturer, he presented a series of talks on London when he first joined the faculty. He also lectured on microscopy at the Society for Natural History in Boston and associated with the Peabody Academy of Science in Salem. While preaching in Salem, Bolles befriended Walter Scott Dickson, who founded the Dickson Professorship in English and American History at Tufts for Bolles in 1900. Bolles was appointed the first chaplain of the university in 1905.

Bolles died at his home on College Avenue on January 11, 1920. He had twice married, and was survived by two daughters, Margaret Bolles and Eleanor K. Hoit. His son, Courtlandt Kimball Bolles, a Lieutenant in the US Navy, predeceased him in Germany in 1902.

Bolles established a private collection of materials, including rare books, pamphlets, and maps, pertaining to the history of London. He amassed much of his collection while living in London during the 1870s. His interest in London may have partially stemmed from his unbroken ancestral lineage to William the Conqueror. He took on the task of illustrating Walter Thornbury's Old and New London with more than 8,000 pictures he had collected.

Instead of cutting the six volumes to insert the additional illustrations, Bolles devised a plan for underlining the passages to be illustrated and making marginal notes that referred to numbered illustrations in the vast files he maintained, organized by volume, chapter and page. Most of this work, considered to be a precursor to modern hypertext, was carried out with help from,assistants after Bolles had lost his sight. He completed the work one year before he died. The collection was purchased by the trustees in 1921 for $1,400 and was given to the college's library as a memorial to the late professor.

Bolles' residence on College Avenue, now used by the university for administrative offices, is named in his honor.


110.8 Linear Feet (62 oversize boxes, 25 record cartons, 24 letter size document boxes, 1 half letter size document box, 1 half legal size document box, and 34 volumes)

54 Volumes

7150 Digital Object(s)


This collection is organized into sixteen series: Maps and guidebooks; Books about London and England; Extra-illustrations for Old and New London; London street views by John Tallis; Pamphlets on collecting; Pamphlets on London places; Pamphlets of various authors; Pamphlets of illustrated poems; Historical pamphlets; Pamphlets on England; Photos, prints and artifacts; Correspondence; Assorted clippings and pamphlets; Photographs of Tufts; Writings; and Unprocessed accessions.

Custodial History

The collection was purchased by the trustees in 1921 for $1,400 and was given to the college's library as a memorial to the late professor.

Processing status

This collection is partially processed.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States