Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Burnham mss., 1848-1977, consist of the papers of Indiana University administrator, Walter Erastus Burnham, 1905-1980, and of his parents, grandparents and other family members. Born at Bellevue, Kentucky, on July 4, 1905, Walter E. Burnham graduated from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis in 1923, and received all three of his college degrees from Indiana University between 1927 and 1953. After working for a year at the National Cash Register Company, he taught at several boys schools in the East: Harvey, Morristown, Repton, St. Luke's, and Middlesex, and following his military service he taught at the Douglas School in California.

Between 1941-1946 he served in the U.S. Air Corps in Panama, in the Galapagos Islands, and stateside in Louisiana, Idaho, and Oregon. Following his dissertation and Ph.D. work he became a counselor and adviser to foreign students and later, associate director of international services at Indiana University. He died in Bloomington, Indiana, January 21, 1980.

The collection includes Burnham's correspondence, particularly letters received from his mother, Ida May (Corson) Burnham (1875-1962); Walter Burnham's diaries from 1936-1975; his military papers; writings by him; memorabilia of his grandmother, Carrie A. (Pease) Burnham (1837-1921), including a Composition Book with temperance songs, rhymes, list of books read, etc.; photographs of family and friends, the boys schools, etc.; and a group of fifty or more postcards, 1907-1919, addressed chiefly to Burnham's parents when they lived in Bellevue, Kentucky.

The collection is organized into the following series: 1) Biographical files; 2) correspondence, 1848-1964; 3) postcards, 1907-1919; 4) diaries, 1925-1977; 5)subject files arranged alphabetically by heading; and 6) photographs.

Source unknown, 1991; transfer from Indiana University Archives, Bloomington, IN 1995

Box Inventory

  • Box 1: Biographical files (13 folders)
    • Correspondence, 1848-1929
  • Box 2: Correspondence, 1929-1934
  • Box 3: Correspondence, 1935-1943
  • Box 4: Correspondence, 1944-1964
    • Postcards, 1907-1919
    • Diaries, 1925-1939
  • Box 5: Diaries, 1940-1970. Includes: S. Bryan guest book, 1964-1977
  • Box 6: Diaries, 1971-1975
    • Subject files (31 folders). Includes drawings, grade reports, financial, Masonic items, and memorabilia.
  • Box 7: Subject files, cont. (26 folders). Includes military papers, news clippings, recipes, school work, travel abroad, and writings
  • Box 8: Photographs, A-D
  • Box 9: Photographs, E-Z
  • Box 10: Photograph albums; slides; oversize photographs

Collection size: 9,000 items

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.