Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

Henry Harris Barroll Diary

An inventory of his item at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: CAD
Date: Nov 1987

Biographical History

Henry Harris Barroll was born in New Madrid, Missouri in 1850. He was educated both in New Madrid and in Jackson, Missouri, where his family resided in 1858. In 1867, he entered the United States Naval Academy. Barroll graduated from the Academy as part of the class of 1871 and began a successful military career, being promoted to commander in 1899. He voluntarily retired in this grade, from active service, under what is known as "the Act of March 3, 1899," but continued on shore-duty at the Hydrographic Office in Washington D.C.

During the Spanish American War, Barroll served on the blockades of Havana and Santiago and also in guarding the Yucatan Channel. He participated in the capture of Guantanamo and received, through Congress, two medals for conspicuous service during this war, one for services at Santiago, and one for service at Guantanamo.

On November 5, 1884, Barroll married Elizabeth Johnson Brady. Brady was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 6, 1860 as the second daughter of Matthew Brady and Mary Elizabeth (Johnson) Brady, of West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Together Barroll and his wife had one son, Henry Harris Barroll Jr. Elizabeth died in Palm Springs, Florida on February 6, 1886. Her son married Edwina Watson Knapp, daughter of Edwin Fitch Knapp and Helen (Cotter) Knapp of South Norwalk, Connecticut, on June 3, 1908.

On October 3, 1889, Barroll remarried to a woman named Marie Louise Hoyt. Hoyt was born in Danbury, Connecticut, as the second daughter of Thomas Granville Hoyt and Julia Elizabeth (Holt) Hoyt. Barroll and Hoyt had no children together.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

"A bright idea struck me today and as I am attacked that way very seldom I concluded to put it into practice. It is to make this a kind of autobiography as well as a journal for the future. I have had such a varied life that I think it might thus be made interesting to others and so far that is something which has never been accomplished in diaries."

Thus begins the journal kept by U.S. Naval officer Henry Harris Barroll during his early years at sea. These early voyages were often in the West Indies, French Polynesia, and the Virgin Islands. Barroll provides much detail concerning the social scene, natives and their practices, and geography, especially during the longer anchorages at Barbados, Antigua, Martinique, Samoa, and Tahiti. He also relates a return trip to New York City.

In keeping with the autobiographical journal approach, the captains and crew, sailing conditions and amusements are all mentioned. Barroll's comments on books he has read, some in French, are of particular interest as insight into the reading habits of the mid-1800s. At the end of the volume Barroll has recorded his completed reading for the year 1876. Sixty-six titles are listed with a one or two word comment. Titles of Dumas (Pere & fils) were found to be "good," Jules Verne "instructive," Christmas Stories (Dickens) "very good," and Henry James' Daisy Miller "poor."

A few photographs, largely of natives, have been affixed to the pages bearing relevant text. The following pages are blank: 186-188, 190, 192-195, 207-310.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Barroll, Henry Harris, 1850-

Corporate Bodies

United States. -- Navy -- History.
United States. -- Navy -- Officers -- Diaries.


Books and reading.
Travelers -- Polynesia -- Diaries.
Travelers -- West Indies -- Diaries.

Genres and Forms


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Henry Harris Barroll Diary
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1970.

Table of Contents