Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Woodburn mss., 1795-1942, consist of letters and papers of four generations of the Woodburn family, James Woodburn, 1748-1812, farmer; Dorrance Beatty Woodburn, 1786- 1856, farmer and teacher; James Woodburn, 1817-1865, teacher; and James Albert Woodburn, 1856-1943, historian.

James Woodburn, 1748-1812, was born in County Derry, Ireland. He came to America in 1767, and after wandering about for a time, settled in Chester County, South Carolina, where he lived until his death. His papers in this collection include autobiographical notes, August 13, 1795, in his hand with later genealogical notes added in another hand, and a list of his books, November 24, 1799.

His son, Dorrance Beatty Woodburn, 1786-1856, was born near Louisville, Georgia. He was a farmer and teacher in Chester County, South Carolina, before moving with his family to Monroe County, Indiana, in the fall of 1830. In Indiana he was a colporteur, farmer and teacher. Originally a member of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, he left that church about 1823 on account of his opposition to slavery and joined the Reformed Presbyterian Church, which was one of the earliest sects to openly condemn slavery. His manuscripts, 1822-1851, in the collection consist of his diary, December 2-31, 1822; letters and papers relating to slavery, 1826- 1828; and correspondence with friends and relatives in South Carolina and elsewhere, 1831-1851. In addition to slavery these letters deal with nullification, 1833-1834; the Reformed Presbyterian Church; the Southampton Insurrection, 1831; emigration from South Carolina, 1831; and Tennessee politics, 1840.

James Woodburn, 1817-1865, son of Dorrance Beatty Woodburn, 1786-1856, was born in Chester County, South Carolina, and moved with his family to Monroe County, Indiana, in 1830. He received his A.B. degree from Indiana University in 1842 and his A.M. degree in 1845. From 1839 to 1844 he taught in rural schools of Monroe County when not attending college, except for a period in 1843 when he taught in Greene County, Ohio. From 1844-1853 he was a teacher in the Bloomington, Indiana, schools and from 1853 to his death in 1865 was principal of the Preparatory Department of Indiana University. Among the material belonging to him in the collection are letters, 1837-1865, from educators, friends, relatives and students; speeches delivered before Indiana University student groups and teachers associations in Indiana, 1839-1864; a constitution of the Athenian Society at Indiana University, December 19, 1842; poems, 1842-1859; a diary for 1847; a journal of a trip to New York and Phiadelphia in 1852; and a "Carrier's address for the Bloomington Republican, January 1, 1860."

The bulk of the material in the collection belongs to James Albert Woodburn, 1856-1943, son of James Woodburn, 1817-1865. He was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and received his A.B. from Indiana University in 1876, his A.M. in 1885, and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1890. He taught in the public schools of Grayville, Illinois, and in the Preparatory Department of Indiana University before becoming Professor of American History at Indiana University in 1890, a position which he held until his retirement in 1924. The James Albert Woodburn papers, 1871-1942, include letters from outstanding historians, scholars in other fields of knowledge, political leaders, and relatives; speeches, 1873-1876, as an undergraduate at Indiana University; materials relating to Monroe County, Indiana, in the European war, 1914-1918; a financial report of the Indiana Magazine of History, 1921; and a copy of the minutes of a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Indiana Historical Society, January 4, 1924. Subjects dealt with in the letters include corrupt election practices, 1888; Chautauquas, 1888-1892; political parties, 1896-1916; national and local politics and elections, 1904-1924; the opening of motion picture theaters in Bloomington, Indiana, on Sundays, February 5, 1919; the Treaty of Versailles, 1919; the Ku Klux Klan, November 17, 1922; the Cosmopolitan Club at Indiana University, January 15, 1923; the history of Indiana University; and Women's suffrage.

Biographical and genealogical information on members of the Woodburn family may be found in James Albert Woodburn's "Woodburn History: Some Generations of a Family." 1936. (Mimeographed)

The first folder of the collection contains genealogical material on the Woodburn family. In the last folder there is a small amount of printed matter.

Writers of letters represented in the collection include: Charles Kendall Adams, Herbert Baxter Adams, John David Alexander, Charles McLean Andrews, James Burrill Angell, Frederic Bancroft, John Spencer Bassett, Albert Jeremiah Beveridge, Mrs. Jane (Johnston) Bigham, Charles Albert Blanchard, William Edgar Borah, Claude Gernade Bowers, Elmer Burritt Bryan, Enoch Albert Bryan, William Jennings Bryan, William Lowe Bryan, George Lincoln Burr, Amos William Butler, Nathaniel Butler, Jr., John Crawford Chaney, Mrs. Grace Giddings (Julian) Clarke, George William Cooper, John Merle Coulter, Frank Linden Crone, George William Curtis, Richard Heath Dabney, Eugene Victor Debs, Alfred Lewis Pinneo Dennis, William Edward Dodd, Charles Fletcher Dole, Matthew Elder, Richard Theodore Ely, William Everett, John Huston Finley, Worthington Chauncey Ford, William Fortune, John Watson Foster, Harry Augustus Garfield, Edwin Augustus Grosvenor, Samuel Bannister Harding, William Rainey Harper, Albert Bushnell Hart, Charles Homer Haskins, Paul Leland Haworth, Joseph Edgar Henley, Linneaus Neal Hines, John Appleton Haven Hopkins, Daniel Wait Howe, Hewitt Hanson Howland, John Franklin Jameson, Margaret Johnston, David Starr Jordan, R. Brent Keyser, David Kinley, Burton Alva Konkle, John Porter Lambertson, John Holladay Latane, Samuel Walker McCall, Samuel McCalla, Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin, John Bach McMaster, Hugh McMillan, Jesse Macy, Sherman Minton, Thomas Francis Moran, Lemuel Moss, Harry Stewart New, Meredith Nicholson, Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer, John McAuley Palmer, Sir Gilbert Parker, Charles Chilton Pearson, William Frederick Poole, Charles Lane Poor, William Plumer Potter, George Haven Putnam, Samuel Moffett Ralston, James S. Rankin, John Clark Ridpath, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, Edward Alsworth Ross, James Schouler, Doremus Scudder, Albert Shaw, Benjamin Franklin Shaively, James Thomson Shotwell, Albion Woodbury Small, Edwin Erle Sparks, Bernard Christian Steiner, Henry Morse Stephens, John Austin Stevens, Winthrop Ellsworth Stone, Joseph Swain, Lucius Burrie Swift, William Howard Taft, Reuben Gold Thwaites, Edward Bradford Titchener, Frederick Jackson Turner, Moses Coit Tyler, Claude Halstead Van Tyne, George Edgar Vincent, William Hayes Ward, Booker Taliaferro Washington, James Eli Watson, James Riley Weaver, Westel Woodbury Willoughby, Lindsley Gill Wilson, Woodrow Wilson, Clinton Rogers Woodruff, William Watson Woollen.

Collection size: 752 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.