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James M. Adams "Pioneering in Cuba" Papers

Identifier: MS Group 277

Scope and Content

This collection encompasses the notes and letters of James M. Adams during his time in the American colony of La Gloria, Cuba. Most of the letters are written to his wife Marie Adams, describing his sea voyage to Cuba, the town of Nuevitas, and his stay in the La Gloria settlement. Adams used these notes and letters to write his book, Pioneering in Cuba. But in contrast to his published work about La Gloria, his earliest letters give a stark description of life at the colony. When he arrived, La Gloria was a tent city in a muddy jungle and provisions for food were short (e.g., see letter dated January 9, 1900). Adams expressed shock at the difficulties facing the settlement and decided to limit his investments there. Despite these initial impressions, he later became an advocate of the colony's agricultural promise.

The letters span the months from December 29, 1899 to April 21, 1900 and are filed in chronological order. The collection also contains a memoranda book with the names of ship passengers and their stake in the colony, and a record book with extra notes describing La Gloria. Three undated fold-out maps and plans provide information on the settlement and its creators. One is a full plan of the town of La Gloria, a second is a map of Cuba, and the third has a map of Cuba on one side and a plan of the city of Columbia on the other.


  • Creation: 1882-1909
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1899-1901



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

James M. Adams was a major backer for La Gloria, Cuba, an American colony founded in 1900 that eventually developed into a town of 1,000 people. Born in Nashua, New Hampshire on June 26, 1862, Adams made his living as an author and a writer. By 1883 he was contributing verse and prose to many literary papers and magazines. Between 1887 and 1890 he served as Sergeant at Arms for the New Hampshire Senate.

La Gloria represented one of nearly three dozen American colonization attempts in Cuba established between the end of the Spanish American War and 1903. The original settlers, a party of 300 men, set off for Cuba on the steamship Yarmouth on December 31, 1899. The Cuban Land and Steamship Company out of New York was in charge of selling to settlers in 10 to 40 acre plots. Adams was one of the original travelers who bought a plot in La Gloria. His book Pioneering in Cuba (1901) describes his half year stay in the newly settled town. He gives details of everything involving the colony from descriptions on the layout to the daily life of the colonists during their first weeks in the colony. Although his papers only chronicle the beginnings of La Gloria, the settlement lasted until the 1950s.


0.60 Linear feet (2 boxes; 3 maps)

Language of Materials



Bulk of collection deals with the notes and letters of James M. Adams trip and stay in Cuba during the first American colonization attempt of La Gloria. These letters and notes of his experience would later be put into his book Pioneering in Cuba which also is included.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Finding Aid

This guide is available in Spanish at

Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased from Crown Collectibles, Chesterfield, Va., in 2010.

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of selected items in this collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Material

See The Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 78, No. 4 (Nov., 1998), pp. 729-765

A Guide to the James M. Adams "Pioneering in Cuba" Papers
Finding aid created by Andrew James Clyde Hart
November 2010
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America