Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Riley mss. VI, 1876-1916, consist largely of transcripts of the letters of James Whitcomb Riley, 1849- 1916, poet, of Greenfield and Indianapolis, Indiana. The transcripts were assembled over a period of years beginning in 1902 by John Marcus Dickey, 1859-1950, author and Riley's secretary, and later aided by Edmund Henry Eitel, 1866-1950, author and Riley's nephew. The purpose was to produce a volume of correspondence approved by Riley during his lifetime. The progress of this effort may be observed in the Dickey mss. correspondence beginning in November 1902. Friends and publishers of Riley, approached for copies of letters which Riley had written to them, generally acceded to the request. Approximately three thousand letters were thus acquired, but the volume never came to print. The transcript material is arranged alphabetically by recipient. Occasionally the letters bear pencilled notes.

Those transcripts stamped or initialed JMD for John Marcus Dickey were acquired through an exchange with Robert Russo, dealer; those initialed EHE for Edmund Henry Eitel were received from the estate of Lesley Payne, Riley's niece. The copies, each a part of the same project, were interfiled for reasons of continuity.

Among the copies were several original, carbon, or photocopied letters. This material, 1879-1915, arranged chronologically, included the following correspondents: Albert Charlton Andrews, Edmund Henry Eitel, Examiner, Joe Heavenridge, Luella S. Kinnard, Berta (Jackson) Meyer, John R. Moore, Northwestern Christian Advocate, Elizabeth Page, Henry Means Pindell, Post Dispatch, James Whitcomb Riley, Scribner, firm, publishers, Stella (Weiler) Taylor, Edith Matilda Thomas, Mary E. Watson, May A. Whipple.

One undated typescript poem, filed with the chronological material, beginning "Just now comes a letter from Burdette...", bears a pencilled note asking "To Whom?" and the reply in Riley's hand after his stroke, "To Robert McIntyre."

Also see the Guide to the Collections: James Whitcomb Riley

Collection size: 3,016 items

Related manuscripts: Riley mss., Riley mss. II, Riley mss. III, Riley mss. IV, Riley mss. V

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.