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John Rison Fordyce Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms047

The John Rison Fordyce Papers consists primarily of material towards a history of the DeSoto expedition, entitled "Trailing DeSoto." In addition to chapter drafts, the collection contains typed and autograph notecards, various maps, and a scrapbook.


  • Creation: 1856-1939


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


3.00 boxes

Biographical Information

John Rison Fordyce (November 7, 1869 - June 9, 1939) was an engineer, inventor, amateur historian and archaeologist, and candidate for U.S. Congress. Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Fordyce received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at Washington University in St. Louis in 1892, later also studying at Harvard University. In 1894, he was a member of Dr. Frederick Cook’s expedition to the Arctic. In 1896, he moved to Little Rock, joining Thomas Manufacturing. In 1902, he became president of Thomas-Fordyce Manufacturing, which engaged in cotton-gin machinery manufacturing.

Fordyce was commissioned a major in the Engineers’ Reserve Corps of the U.S. Army on April 18, 1917 and was designated constructing engineer for camp. At the end of World War I, Fordyce was promoted to colonel, U.S. Army Reserve. Fordyce also served on U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover’s Commission on Flood Control in 1939 and on the Arkansas Highway Commission.

Fordyce, whose Hot Springs property included Indian Mountain and a portion of Gulpha Gorge, was also an amateur archaeologist. He was assigned to the Smithsonian expedition led by John R. Swanton in search of Hernando de Soto’s route through the southeastern United States.

Method of Acquisition

Accession number 21659. Unknown, October 17, 2003.

Accession number 22936. Gift of Edward Fordyce, February 28, 2000.

John Rison Fordyce Papers
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Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 April 15: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495