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J. M. Boutwell papers

Identifier: MSS 1647

Scope and Contents

Consists largely of personal and business correspondence and material dealing with Boutwell's career as a geologist (maps, notebooks, manuscripts and illustrations, education, mineral samples, etc.). It also includes familial details (legal and other documentation of his divorce from Esther; family history, including documentation of his claim as a direct descendant of Francis Cooke, a passenger on the Mayflower, possessions of ancestors such as the medical notebooks of H.T. Boutwell, professional certifications of Clark C. Boutwell, assorted antiquated family documents, etc.; as well as family correspondence), and documents his professional and religious affiliations and community contributions (numerous geological societies including the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as the Masonic order and the Unitarian Church, Boy Scouts of America, Harvard clubs, etc.), as well as his hobbies and personal memories (journals, scrapbooks, mementoes, etc.).


  • 1772-1979


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from J. M. Boutwell papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

J. M. Boutwell (1874-1968) was a geologist mainly in Utah, Arizona, Mexico, and Peru. He worked for the USGS for some time and consulted with many mining companies. He was also involved in community organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Mayflower Society of Descendants.

John Mason Boutwell was born in St. Louis, Missouri, May 1, 1874, to Henry Thatcher, physician, and Helen Grace Willis Boutwell. Boutwell completed his preliminary education at Phillips Academy, attended Amherst College 1893-1894, and graduated with his A.B. in 1987, S.B. in 1898, and S.M. in 1899 from Harvard University. Meanwhile, from 1896 to 1900 he served as an assistant in physiography in the geology department at Harvard.

Boutwell joined the U.S. Geological Survey in 1900, and served as assistant geologist until 1904 and geologist until 1908. From then until his retirement in 1945, he practiced privately as a consulting mining geologist. He was also active in the field of financial investments, particularly in mining properties. He invested his own funds and advised others as well. Among the companies with whom he worked between 1908 and 1945, he was most actively involved with (served as geologist in charge for) Phelps, Dodge, and Company in Arizona and Mexico, 1908-1915, Green Cananea Copper Company in Mexico, 1908-1910, Cerro de Pasco Corporation in Peru, 1916-1919, and Silver King Coalition Mines Corporation in Utah, 1930-42. During the next two years (World War II), he was a consultant to the Metals Reserve Company of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Additionally, in 1933, he was in charge of the International Geological Congress visit to Utah, compiling and editing the guidebook for the state, arranging and conduction the field trips, and conducting evening discussion meetings.

Boutwell’s field covered geologic occurrences and origin of ore deposits and the influence of geologic structure and igneous masses on ore deposition. He was author of articles for technical journals and bulletins and of unpublished private reports for mine owners. Two of his outstanding publications were the U.S. Geological survey professional papers entitled “Economic Geology of the Bingham District,” 1905, and Geology and Ore Deposits of the Park City District,” 1912.

In civic affairs, Boutwell was active in the work of the Boy Scouts of America, serving at different times as a member of the National Council and of the executive committee of the Salt Lake Council. He was a fellow of the Geological Society of Americas the Washington (D.C.) Academy of Sciences, a charter member of the Society of Economic Geologists (president 1944-45) and the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America, and a member of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, Seismological Society of America, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington Geological Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and Masonic order, Delta Upsilon, the Harvard clubs of Boston and New York City, and the Alta Club of Salt Lake City. He was a founder of the Utah chapter of the Society of Mayflower Descendants.

His religious affiliation was with the Unitarian church. In politics he was a Republican. Motoring, mountain climbing, and playing golf were his chief recreations, and in connection with the last-named he was one of the original members of the Fort Douglas Club of Salt Lake City. He was married twice; (1) in Lawrenceville, N.J., January 22, 1910, to Esther Miner, terminated by divorce in 1916; (2) in Pleasanton, California, September 28, 1922, to Ruth, daughter of local vineyardist Charles Louis Crellin. By his first wife he had one daughter, Jean Miner Boutwell, who married Joseph Barnett Paul. John M. Boutwell died in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 2, 1968.


14 oversize boxes (10 linear ft.)

4 boxes (2 linear ft.)

4 oversize folders (4 linear ft.)

54 cartons (54 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into six series: 1. J. M. Boutwell mining and geological maps and papers, circa 1880-1969. 2. J. M. Boutwell financial papers, circa 1885-1969. 3. J. M. Boutwell family papers, circa 1845-1971. 4. J. M. Boutwell genealogical papers, circa 1772-1966. 5. J. M. Boutwell personal and academic papers, circa 1827-1972. 6. J. M. Boutwell papers on the Boy Scouts of America, circa 1902-1953.

Other Finding Aids

Box-level inventory available in repository.

Custodial History

Aquired in various installments from 1978 to 1983.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased; 1978.

Aquired; 1982, 1983.


19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts.

Processing Information

Processed; Amanda C. Clark, student processor and John Murphy, curator; January 2007.

Arranged into series; Jeffrey Blodgett, student processor; September 2011.

Register of J. M. Boutwell papers
Amanda C. Clark
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States