Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

Brantz Mayer papers

 Collection 0322-MDHC

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.


  • 1820-1853
  • Majority of material found within 1842-1853

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


2.00 Linear Feet

2 Items


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, W├Ârttemberg, 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 W├Ârttemberg 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 Athenaeum 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.


This collection is arranged as three series.

  1. Series 1: Diaries and Scrapbook
  2. Series 2: Writings and Speech
  3. Series 3: Correspondence

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.

Related Material

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.

Processing Information

Scrapbooks containing newsclippings were interleaved with acid-free paper.

Guide to the Brantz Mayer papers
Processed by Kira Dietz and Jennie A. Levine, April 2007. Guide revised by Elizabeth A. McAllister, May 2008.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742