Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Overstreet mss., 1894-1985, consist of the correspondence, writings, lecture material and memorabilia of Harry Allen Overstreet, 1875-1970, philosopher, and his wife Bonaro (Wilkinson) Overstreet, 1902-1985, poet and psychologist.

Harry Overstreet was born in San Francisco, California and attended the University of California, Berkeley, receiving his B.A. degree in 1899 and B.S. degree in 1901. He began his career as an educator and instructor in philosophy at Berkeley in 1901. He left Berkeley in 1911 to become chair of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology at the City College of New York, a position he held until his retirement in 1939. He also taught in the continuing education program of the New School for Social Research as well as adult education courses for the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union from 1924 through 1936. In 1938 Overstreet lectured at Town Hall and was instrumental in the development of its educational program "America's Town Meeting of the Air."

Bonaro Wilkerson was born in Geyserville, California. She received a B.A. from University of California, Berkeley in 1925 and an M.A. from Columbia University. She and Harry were married in 1932, shortly after his divorce from his first wife.

Both separately and together, the Overstreets wrote books covering such topics as psychology, philosophy, sociological studies, political science, adult education and poetry. Their co-authored work What We Must Know About Communism became a national best-seller in 1958, but it was their study of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1969, The FBI in Our Open Society , which received the most publicity. They also traveled and lectured extensively across the country and Bonaro continued to do this for fifteen years after Harry's death until she died at age 82.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Miscellaneous. An inventory is available. A finding aid is also available.

Gift. 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1978, 1980

Bequest. 1986

Collection size: 18,304 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.