Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Willkie Clubs mss., 1940, consist of the presidential campaign records of the Associated Willkie Clubs of America, including correspondence, financial reports, conference proceedings, and post-election documents.

Utilities executive Wendell Lewis Willkie, 1892-1944, began achieving national recognition in 1939 through his vocal and written arguments opposing the Tenessee Valley Authority and governmental control of energy production. A speech given in late March 1940 so impressed a young Wall Street lawyer, Oren Root, Jr., that Root launched a trial petition drive in New York asking for support of Willkie for president. The initial success of that drive led Root to take a leave of absence from his law firm and set up a headquarters for The Associated Willkie Clubs of America at 63rd Street & Madison Avenue, with himself as national chair of the movement.

Designed from the beginning as a volunteer, grass roots movement local clubs were made up of individuals of all political affiliations. The movement was so successful in attracting membership and contributions that the Willkie Clubs are generally given credit for Willkie's nomination at the Philadelphia Republican convention in spite of the party regulars and Old Guard Republicans. Following the election the Associated Willkie Clubs of America was dissolved in December 1940, with Willkie's blessing, and re-organized as the Independent Clubs of America. In this guise however, the organization lasted just one year, closing almost immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Associated Clubs; II. Campaign correspondence; III. Club correspondence; IV. Contributors' letters; V. Independent Clubs; VI. Miscellaneous; VII. Post-election testimonials and suggestions; VIII. Regional set-up of clubs; IX. Financial; and, X. Card files. An inventory is available.

Gift. 1952

Also see the Willkie mss.

Collection size: 64,417 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.