Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Holman, W.S. mss., 1836-1998, consist of correspondence and other papers of William Steele Holman. Born near Aurora, Indiana in 1822, Holman entered the Baptist Manual Labor Institute, now Franklin College, at the age of 16. After studying law, he was admitted to the Dearborn County bar in 1843 and elected probate judge, an office that he held until 1846. In 1847 Holman began a two-year term as prosecuting attorney, and served as Judge for the Court of Common Pleas from 1852 through 1856.

Holman had an active and long-lasting political career as well. Beginning with state politics, he was named a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1850, and was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1851 to 1852. Rising to national politics, he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1859. Over the following 38 years, Holman served in all but four Congresses. His last term began in the spring of 1897, just over a month before his death on April 22.

Much of the correspondence in the collection comes from Holman's constituents, though letters from fellow congressmen, government officials, and family are included as well. Among the correspondents are: Montgomery Blair, Israel George Blake, Ira J. Chase, Frederick Augustus Conkling, Samuel Sullivan Cox, Will Cumback, Jesse William Curtis, Henry Laurens Dawes, Ebenezer DuMont, William H. English, David Dudley Field, Calvin Ingram Fletcher, Thomas Gaff, Francis Marion Griffith, Allen H. Hamilton, Holman Hamilton, Joseph Henry, Joseph Addison Hill, Ferdinand C. Holliday, Abigail (Knapp) Holman, Jesse L. Holman Jr., William Steele Holman, William Steele Holman Jr., Samuel Milton Jones, James Edward Jouett, Jonathan C. Kirk, Sandford Kirkpatrick, Robert Todd Lincoln, Daniel Manning, William Wesley Masterson, Cornelius O'Brien (1818-1869), Cornelius O'Brien (1883-1953), Samuel Jackson Randall, Green Berry Raum, Alice Mary Robertson, Thomas Shaw, William McKendree Springer, David Mills Stewart, John Bernard Stoll, William Taylor Stott, Heman Lincoln Wayland, William Watson Wick, John A. Williams, Walter Williams, John Lockwood Wilson, and Levin James Woollen.

In addition to correspondence, the collection holds a folder of biographical materials and numerous legal and financial documents. Other materials include: two copies of Memorial Addresses on the Life and character of William S. Holman, published in 1898 by the Government Printing Office; a handwritten biography of his father, Jesse Lynch Holman; a cabinet card photograph of Holman's wife, Abigail; and a tape of Edwin C. Hill's Thanksgiving Day radio program.

An inventory, an index of correspondents, and a finding aid are available.

Gift. 1999

Collection size: 2,000 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.