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James Roberts Gilmore papers

Identifier: MS-0037

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Scope and Contents

This collection includes letters from literary, political, and popular individuals of the 19th century; the letters span the years 1773 to 1903. The collection originated when Gilmore was editing the Continental Monthly from 1862 to 1865 during which time he received letters from many American literary men of the period. Another large portion of the letters was amassed as a result of Gilmore's connection with a proposed Cyclopeadia of American Biography of which he was editor-in-chief.


  • Creation: 1898
  • Creation: 1773- approximately1903


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

James Roberts Gilmore was born in Boston in 1822. He often used the pseudonym "Edmund Kirke."

In July 1864 Gilmore was sent unofficially by President Abraham Lincoln to discuss with Jefferson Davis possible terms for ending the Civil War. Davis rejected Lincoln's proposals because of the latter's refusal to recognize the independence of the Confederacy. A account of this conference was later published in the Atlantic Monthly, doing much to undermine the peace treaty in the North and aided in Lincoln's re-election.

Gilmore edited the Continental Monthly from 1862 to 1865. He was editor-in-chief of a proposed Cyclopaedia of American Biography. He was the author of a number of works including "Among the Pines" (1862), "The Life of James A. Garfield" (1880), "Personal Recollections of Abraham and the Civil War" (1898), and "John Sevier as a Commonwealth Builder." He married Laura Edmonds, daughter of the New York Judge John W. Edmonds (1799- 1874). James Roberts Gilmore died in 1903.


3.63 Cubic Feet (5 legal size document boxes, 4 flat boxes (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches))

Language of Materials



James Roberts Gilmore (1822-1903) was an American author who often used the pseudonym "Edmund Kirke." This collection includes letters collected by Gilmore from literary, political, and popular individuals of the 19th century. The letters span the years 1820 to 1903.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was a gift to the University from James Roberts Gilmore in 1891. Gilmore lectured at the Peabody Institute during the winter of 1890 and was a visitor to the Historical Department of the University. He later wrote to Professor Herbert Baxter Adams offering his collection of autograph letters to the University.

The following is a quote from a descriptive text about the collection dating from 1894: "The nucleus of the gift was formed by Mr. Gilmore while he was editing the Continental Monthly from 1862 to 1865, during which time he received letters from many American literary men of that period. Another large collection of letters which is constantly being augmented has been gathered through Mr. Gilmore's connection as editor-in-chief of the new "Cyclopaedia of American Biography." The most important and interesting portion, however, comprises the letters of Mr. Gilmore's father-in-law, Judge John W. Edmonds, whose long connection with the bench and bar of New York gave him an intimate acquaintance with many of the leading statesmen and public men of the first half of the present century."

Processing Information

A number of letters were mounted into scrapbooks by librarians at Johns Hopkins in or around 1894.

This collection inventory was corrected and significantly improved in 2016 and 2019.

Liz Beckman revised the Abstract, Biographical Note, Scope and Content note, and inventory in this finding aid in August 2023 to bring them into compliance with Johns Hopkins guidelines for inclusive and conscientious description (2023). The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.


Guide to the James Roberts Gilmore papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA