Robert Woodruff journal. December 17, 1785 - May 1, 1788


Date: 1785-1788 | Size: 1 volume(s), 1 volume, 136 p.


Robert Woodruff was secretary to John Anstey, Loyalists' Claims Commissioner. This journal relates his travels with John Anstey. He describes the towns he visited, and comments on episodes of the American Revolution and on the Federal Convention and state ratifying conventions. The journal covers a trip through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Georgia. He and Anstey spent a night at Mount Vernon in 1786. Mentions B. Franklin, G. Washington, APS Hall. Also refers to Five Nations country, Georgia's warfare with Creek Indians, and Chief McGillivray. For identification, see G. Washington's Diary, Dec.11, 1786.

Background note

Robert Woodruff was a British clerk of John Anstey, who was the commissioner for American Loyalists' claims.

Digital objects note

This collection contains digital materials that are available in the APS Digital Library. Links to these materials are provided with context in the inventory of this finding aid. A general listing of digital objects may also be found here.

Collection Information

Physical description

1 volume, 136 p.


Purchased from Sotheby's and accessioned, 1948 (1948 86659).

Alternate formats available

This item is also available on microfilm (Film 54, Reel 63, Frame 3).

Early American History Note

This travel journal offers fascinating insight on the early republic. Robert Woodruff accompanied John Anstey, the official British emissary representing Loyalist claims, on his travels throughout the United States from 1785-1788. Woodruff travels corresponded with the drafting of the Federal Constitution and its ratification, and his journal often records observations on the debates surrounding the document. Among the more notable stories is that of a public procession in Boston after the ratification of the Constitution. Aside from the political, Woodruff gives detailed accounts of towns and cities he visited throughout the east coast. He often relays stories of the revolutionary war he hears and learns about as he travels. He also recounts dinners with some of the most prominent figures in the early republic, including one with George Washington at Mount Vernon. The details of his afternoon at Mount Vernon accounts for one of the longest entries. Finally, Woodruff also reports briefly on Native American affairs in the South and North. He discusses the Creek Indians and ongoing strife and war in Georgia. He also visited the Five Nations in New York.

Indexing Terms


  • Diplomatic Material
  • Journals (notebooks).
  • Travel Narratives and Journals

Geographic Name(s)

  • Delaware -- Description and travel.
  • Georgia -- Description and travel.
  • Maryland -- Description and travel.
  • Massachusetts -- Description and travel.
  • Mount Vernon (Va. : Estate)
  • New Jersey -- Description and travel.
  • New York (State) -- Description and travel.
  • North Carolina -- Description and travel.
  • Pennsylvania -- Description and travel.
  • Rhode Island -- Description and travel.
  • South Carolina -- Description and travel.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Personal histories.
  • Virginia -- Description and travel.

Personal Name(s)

  • Anstey, John, d. 1819
  • Woodruff, Robert.


  • Constitutional conventions -- United States.
  • Diplomatic History
  • Early National Politics
  • Indians of North America
  • Native America
  • Travel

Detailed Inventory

 Robert Woodruff journal. December 17, 1785 - May 1, 1788