John Russell Bartlett
|John Russell Bartlett|
October 23, 1805|
Providence, Rhode Island, US
|Died||28 May 1886
Providence, Rhode Island, US
Bartlett was born in Providence, Rhode Island. From his first to his eighteenth year he lived in Kingston, Canada; he was then in turn, from 1824 to 1836, a clerk in a dry goods store, a book-keeper and a bank cashier at Providence, and for more than ten years after 1836 he was a bookseller in New York City, returning to Providence in 1850.
In 1850–1853 he was the commissioner on the part of the United States for the survey of the boundary between the United States and Mexico, but owing to the lack of funds did not finish the work. During this time he traveled with Henry Cheever Pratt throughout the Southwest. The autoethnonym of the Seri people of northwestern Mexico, Comcaac (which he wrote as "komkak"), was first recorded by Bartlett during a short visit to the area in early 1852. The word was included in the list of approximately 180 words that Bartlett archived in the Bureau of American Ethnology (now part of the National Anthropological Archives, housed at the Smithsonian).
After being superseded by another commissioner upon the accession of President Franklin Pierce, he published A Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora and Chihuahua (2 vols., 1854), which, contains much valuable scientific and historical material concerning the south-west. In 1842, he joined ethnologist and public servant Albert Gallatin in founding the American Ethnological Society. He is chiefly remembered however, for his Dictionary of Americanisms (1848), a pioneering work which, although supplanted by later dialect studies, is still of value to students of language and remains a valuable contribution to the subject. The work is referenced frequently by the Oxford English Dictionary in which it is given the abbreviation "BARTLETT Dict. Amer."
From 1855 to 1872 he was Secretary of State of Rhode Island, and while serving in this capacity thoroughly re-arranged and classified the state records and prepared various bibliographies and compilations, relating chiefly to the history of the state. He was for several years librarian of the John Carter Brown library and collated an exhaustive catalogue which was published in four volumes. He died in Providence on May 28, 1886.
Selected works 
- Bartlett, John Russell (1847). The progress of ethnology: an account of recent archæological, philological and geographical researches in various parts of the globe, tending to elucidate the physical history of man (2nd Edition). New York: William Van Norden. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
- Bartlett, John Russell (1854). Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua: Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission, During the Years 1850, '51, '52, and '53 (Vol. I) and [http://books.google.com/books?id=mmsFAAAAQAAJ (Vol. II)]. New York: D. Appleton & Company. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
- Bartlett, John Russell (1858). Census of the inhabitants of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Providence: Anthony Knowles & Company. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
- Bartlett, John Russell (1865). Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England: 1784–1792. Providence: Providence Press Co. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
- Bartlett, John Russell (1874). The Soldiers' national cemetery at Gettysburg: with the proceedings at its consecration, at the laying of the corner-stone of the monument, and at its dedication. Providence: Providence Press Co. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
- Bartlett, John Russell (1877). Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States (4th Edition). Boston: Little, Brown, and Company. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
- "John Russell Bartlett papers, 1850–1853". Research collections. Archives of American Art. 2011. Retrieved 29 Jun 2011.
- Chisholm 1911.
- Brown, John Howard (1900). Lamb's biographical dictionary of the United States (Vol. 1). Boston: James H. Lamb Co. p. 211. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
- John Russell Bartlett Papers at the Rhode Island Historical Society
- Works by John Russell Bartlett at Project Gutenberg