The Ephraim George Squier papers encompass both family and business matters, the latter being mostly diplomatic in nature and covering the period of Squier's life when he was United States Commissioner to Peru (1863-1865) and Consul-General of Honduras (1868-1873).
Of the 43 documents in this collection, which date from February 23, 1818 to October 20, 1886, Squier is the author of eight. The remaining items consist of incoming correspondence (not always to Squier), which cover Squier's career as a writer, his involvement in politics, and his diplomatic appointments in Central and South America. Although he is best known for his contributions to the field of anthropology, the letters do not provide substantial information on this phase of his life.
Seven letters in the collection pertain exclusively to family correspondence. Of these, Squier's father, Joel Squier, wrote four, and his uncle, Ethan Squier, wrote two. These letters make reference to Squier's position as editor of the Scioto Gazette and his election as House Clerk by the Ohio House of Representatives.
Most diplomatic correspondence represented in the collection was written between 1851 and 1886, and are in English or Spanish. The letters primarily concern relations between the United States and the countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, and, to a lesser extent, Peru. Two letters are from members of the United States and Central American Exploring and Mining Company (September 11, 1851), and the American Geographical and Statistical Society of the State of New York (August 18, 1862) to the government of Honduras, asking for permission to live and work in the country. Also of note are six letters, exchanged between Secretary of State William H. Seward and Luis Molina, Honduran Minister to the United States, in which Seward informs Molina of a blockade of ports in many southern states (April 27, 1862) and Abraham Lincoln's proclamation of the draft (May 9, 1863), among other matters.
Letters written to Squier during this period consist of correspondence from Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, President of the Republic of Honduras Jose Maria Medina, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Honduras Ponciano Leira, and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Honduras Ignacio Gomez. They primarily discuss Squier's appointment as Consul-General of the Republic of Honduras, the Interoceanic Railway Project, etc. Squier wrote one letter to Senator Charles Sumner (February 7, 1869).
Squier's sole mention of anthropology is in a letter he wrote in 1874, in which he refers to the Anthropological Institute of New York. Formerly known as the American Ethnological Society, the Institute was founded by Squier and others who wanted to form an organization modeled after anthropological societies in Europe. Squier writes, "…Our Anthropological Inst. hangs fire. There are few here who can be enlisted in promoting it…I fear my days of hard work are pretty much over…" (April 26, 1874).
Also in the collection are 15 items, housed in the Graphics Division. These include a photograph of "Hacienda of 'Coltos'," and several watercolors and pencil sketches depicting villages and people in Central America, as well as some miscellaneous items. The sketches and watercolors bear Squier's name, so it is plausible that he is indeed the artist.
The Ephraim George Squier papers thus provide substantial information on diplomatic relations between the United States and Central America as well as on Squier's role in these relations. While not representative of his career as an anthropologist, the collection does hint at the final days of a man whose inquisitiveness is still evident.