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George Horton Papers

Identifier: GTM-130911

Scope and contents note

The George Horton Papers consist of 34 boxes. The collection is arranged into eight series: Correspondence; Diaries, Memoirs, and Lectures; Manuscripts and Drafts; Photographs; Newspaper Clippings; Horton Family Scrapbooks and Schoolbooks; Miscellaneous Documents; and Nancy Horton Materials. The contents of these series range from circa-1870 to 1964, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1923-1940.

The collection includes information on Horton's work for the U.S. Consular Service from 1893-1924, with a particular focus on Greece (Saloniki and Athens), Hungary (Budapest), and Turkey (Smyrna, pre-1923). The bulk of Horton’s correspondence—especially during the years from 1923-1924—relates to his role as U.S. Consul in Budapest, and references his time as U.S. Consul in Smyrna. Unfortunately, much of Horton’s pre-1923 correspondence was lost in the Great Fire of Smyrna in 1922. The collection also includes legal documents relating to a shipping dispute ca. 1910, that Horton had to help settle in his role as U.S. Consul, and the collection includes two of Horton’s poems about consular service: “Homesick” (published in the Saturday Evening Post) and “The Song of the Consular Service,” circulated among various consuls abroad as a sort of in-joke. Additionally, the collection includes a Papal Certificate given to Horton in 1917, recognizing Horton’s role in helping Christians at Smyrna ca. 1915-1917.

The collection also includes information on the early twentieth-century circle of writers known as the “Chicago Renaissance,” which included Theodore Dreiser and Eugene Field. Prior to ca. 1907, Horton was making a name for himself as a writer and journalist. He had several published works, including the best-selling “Like Another Helen” (1901), “In Argolis” (1902), “Songs of the Lowly and Other Poems” (1892), “Aphroessa, A Legend of Argolis, and Other Poems” (1897), and “The Tempting of Father Anthony” (1901)—among others. Georgetown's Rare Book collection includes first editions of a number of Horton's published works, given as a gift by Nancy Horton. The collection also includes a copy of “Leaves of Grass,” inscribed to Horton by Walt Whitman. Horton's description of his meeting with Whitman can be found in the box containing “Diaries, Memoirs, and Lectures.” The collection also includes a signed and inscribed leaf detatched from an addition of “Sister Carrie” from Theodore Dreiser to George Horton, which can be found in “Miscellaneous Documents.”

After Horton retired from the consular service in 1924, he again began to produce published works, including “Recollections Grave and Gay: The Story of a Mediterranean Consul” (1927) and “Home of Nymphs and Vampires” (1929). Horton’s most famous work of this period—and perhaps his most controversial— is his non-fiction account of the events at Smyrna, “The Blight of Asia” (1926). Many of the newspaper clippings in the collection are reviews of Horton’s literary work, or are articles written by Horton when he worked as a journalist in Chicago. Not all of Horton’s work was published, however. Our collection includes drafts and manuscripts of unpublished short stories and novels written while Horton was in the consular service and after his retirement. These include several novels, such as “Phryne,” “The Senator’s Wife” (also titled “Hungarian Rhapsody”), and “The Sultan’s Ruby” (also titled “The Fez of Jasmine Daddy” or “The Fez of Hammer Daddy,” with the subtitle “The Last Days of Abdul Hamid”). Much of Horton’s correspondence includes letters to his publishers and to editors, sending queries about publication for his novels and short stories. His correspondence also includes a series of letters to Ruth Kimball Gardiner, with whom he collaborated on a play (a draft of which is included in the collection) and a writer friend named Mary O’Connor Newell. Additionally, Horton was a friend to the Greek people, and then-Prime Minister of Greece, Eleftherios Venizuelos, wrote a forward for “The Sultan’s Ruby,” which Horton sent to his publishers. At the last minute, the publication of the book fell through, and the forward was returned to Horton. The forward is in the collection, in the box that contains “Drafts, P-O.” The collection also includes a signed and inscribed photograph of Venizuelos.

Other notable correspondents include Sir Harry H. Lamb, the British consul at Smyrna during the Great Fire; Stephen Bleeker Luce; Henry Cabot Lodge; J. Loder Park; Dr. Mitchell Carroll, President of the Art and Archaelogy League of Washington; Sir Arthur Crosfield, of Highgate; Amelie Louise Rives Troubetzkoy; H. Earle Russell; Brainerd P. Salmon; Ruth Kimball Gardiner; and Leland B. Morris.

Additionally, the memoirs and diary entries in Horton’s collection provide detailed first-hand accounts of life as a child in New York and Michigan during the 1860s and 1870s, and of life in San Francisco in the 1880s. His diary entries and lectures also provide a first-hand account of a westerner encountering Japan in 1901, and of a trip through Siberia, also in 1901. These travel journals and accounts provide information on customs and ways of life in Japan and Siberia, from a western point of view.

Finally, the collection includes many early twentieth-century photographs of Greece and other Mediterranean nations. Most of these are landscapes, or photographs of traditional ways of life. The collection also includes portraits of George Horton and other family members. Additionally, the collection includes four boxes of glass lantern slides, which appear to have been used by Horton when giving lectures on Greece.


  • 1884 - 1964
  • Majority of material found within 1923 - 1940


Language note

While most of the collection is in English, the collection includes documents in Greek, French, and Latin.

Conditions Governing Access note

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Library Booth Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is currently unprocessed and access to it may therefore be limited. Researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections for more information on access to this collection.

Biographical note

George Horton was born on October 11th, 1859, in Wayne County, New York. He was descended from the Hortons of Southold, NY, originating with Barnabus Horton (materials on Southold available in the Nancy Horton papers). According to Horton’s memoirs (available in the collection), he had a happy childhood growing up first in New York state, and then in Michigan. His parents were rather strict Protestants, but his mother loved to smile and even dance. His father wrote poetry. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1878, Horton went west to San Francisco. He describes this time in his life in an essay titled “The Mad Glad Days” (available in the collection). After several years in San Francisco, and working as a teacher in Grass Valley, California (materials on Grass Valley may be found in the Nancy Horton Papers), Horton moved to Chicago in the late 1880s, where he began working as a journalist. His days at the paper are chronicled in a memoir missing from the collection, but transcribed in a Masters thesis produced at Georgetown in 1967: “The Journals of George Horton, 1859-1942,” by Nancy Louise Briand.

In 1893, President Grover Cleveland rewarded Horton for the journalistic work Horton did to help Cleveland’s campaign. This reward came in the form of a consulate. Cleveland wanted to send Horton to a prestigious post in Berlin, but Horton held out for a post in Athens, Greece. A Philhellene, Horton had always longed to visit Greece. Just before heading to Greece, Horton married. He and his wife, Katherine (nee Bogart), had a daughter named Dorothy in 1897. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1899, Horton took a position with a Chicago newspaper and shortly thereafter published a best-selling novel, Like Another Helen.

During the 1880s and 1890s, Horton was one of the authors of the ‘Chicago Renaissance,’ along with Edgar Lee Masters, Eugene Field, Theodore Dreiser (an inscription from Dreiser to Horton is part of the collection), and more. Horton also met Walt Whitman, and his description of that meeting along with a signed book from Whitman are part of the collection. Throughout his life, Horton wished to be recognized and remembered as an author—he published at least seventeen books of prose fiction, non-fiction, and poetry during his lifetime, as well as articles and poetry in newspapers (including the Saturday Evening Post). The collection includes multiple drafts of several additional novels and short stories that remain unpublished. Several of Horton’s letters, especially after the Great Fire of Smyrna and leading up to his impending retirement in 1924, indicate that Horton felt that he had given up a promising and distinguished career as an author to serve as U.S. Consul.

In 1901, Horton participated in a Trip Around the World. He wrote about this trip extensively in his memoirs and lectures (in the collection). He accompanied a high school boy named Louis St. Clair Eunson, heading west through Seattle, to Japan, through Russia (Siberia), into Europe, and back to the United States. Horton kept a diary during this trip, of which the collection contains partial records.

Shortly after his return to the States, Horton discovered that his wife, Katherine, had been having an affair with Mr. Edward Bacon, a mutual friend. More on the divorce can be found in the Chicago Tribune of November 12th, 1901, and in a modern piece written for Nancy Horton (found in the Nancy Horton papers; this piece includes references to letters no longer in the collection—the only letter included regarding the divorce dates from 1903). Initially, Horton kept custody of Dorothy, but soon (perhaps 1904) Dorothy lived with the Bacons in Chicago. Horton, meanwhile, served as U.S. Consul to Athens again in 1905-1906, then in 1907 undertook a lecture tour of the United States (for which we have his typed notes from his diary). He visited Dorothy on this tour, in addition to many cities and many friends across the United States—from Seattle and San Francisco, to Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. He served again as U.S. Consul—this time to Saloniki, Greece—from 1910-1911.

During these years—according to his diary, in 1907—Horton met Catherine Sacapoulo. In 1909, Horton and Catherine married. Catherine had two sisters, Olga (who married Dr. Otto Walter) and Nica (who remained unmarried). George and Nancy’s collections contain many letters from Olga, Otto, and Nica. Olga and Otto’s notes are often written in German. The collection also contains Olga Sacapoulo’s schoolbooks, written in French. For at least part of their marriage, Nica lived with George and Catherine. In early August, 1912, Catherine and George welcomed a daughter, Nancy Phyllis Horton. In addition to George’s papers, Georgetown also holds the Nancy Horton Papers, which include information pertaining to George Horton.

In 1911, Horton became U.S. Consul in Smyrna—then part of the Ottoman Empire, now Izmir, Turkey. He served in Smyrna until 1917, when the embassy pulled out of the country during World War I, and he returned to Smyrna in 1919. He left for good after the Great Fire of 1922. The Great Fire affected Horton profoundly. He wrote a non-fiction piece on the subject called The Blight of Asia. In this book, he criticized both the Turks and the Allied forces for allowing the fire to happen—and predicted that without its Greek and Armenian citizens, Turkey would not be able to rebuild Smyrna to its former glory.

After 1922, Horton was given a place as U.S. Consul in Budapest, Hungary. He remained there as consul until his retirement in October, 1924. During these two years, Horton sought reimbursement from the U.S. government for property lost in Smyrna, with little success. The bulk of correspondence in the collection dates from 1922-1924, though not all of it is business-like in its nature. A great deal of the correspondence gives insight into Horton’s friendships and interests, and reveals him to have a sly wit. After 1924, Horton returned to the U.S. for several years and published several more books (including The Blight of Asia, Recollections Grave and Gay, and The Home of Nymphs and Vampires). The Nancy Horton Papers include correspondence from George to Nancy from these years, especially during the 1930s (during which time Nancy attended Sweet Briar College). Horton seems to have divided his time between Florida and Washington D.C. Of familial interest, Horton had a brief correspondence with his daughter, Dorothy, in 1928.

Horton also received a letter from another daughter, Georgia Horton Cuddeback. According to census records, Georgia was born in 1884, in California. According to a publication from the Hellenic Electronic Center, at age 19, Horton had married a young woman named Carrie Nickols against his parents' wishes. They had a daughter, Georgia, and Carrie died young. Horton did receive a letter from Georgia in 1941, asking him to help her with securing a birth certificate for a pension. Georgia seems to have kept in touch with Nica and Nancy through the 1940s (those letters are included in the Nancy Horton Papers). A photo of Georgia is also included in the collection.

Near the end of his life, Horton returned to Europe. He died in 1942, and is buried in Georgetown, Washington D.C.


13.16 Cubic Feet (34 boxes)

Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Nancy Horton, 2013.

Related archival materials note

The Nancy Horton Papers are also held at Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Nancy was the daughter of George Horton.

The Leland B. Morris Papers include further information about Leland B. Morris, one of George Horton's friends and correspondents. The Leland B. Morris Papers were also a gift of Nancy Horton.

George Horton Papers
Abigail Fine
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023-10: Edited for DACS compliance by John Zarrillo

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057