Illinois History Resources in the Vertical File Manuscripts of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

By Bixby, Randy | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Illinois History Resources in the Vertical File Manuscripts of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale


Bixby, Randy, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) of Morris Library, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, holds a treasure trove of primary sources and rare books of interest to researchers worldwide. The collections focus on American philosophy; American, British, and Irish theatre; the Irish Literary Renaissance; British and American expatriate authors, especially for the period between World War I and World War II; and Illinois history and culture.

SCRC consists of five curatorial sections: Manuscripts and Photographs, Political Papers, University Archives, Rare Books, and the Southern Illinois Regional Archive Depository. The collections in each of these sections are related to, support, and complement the others. Major Illinois history collections in Manuscripts, Photographs, University Archives, and Faculty Papers were described by Katherine A. Salzmann, then Manuscripts Curator/Archivist of SCRC in, "Documenting Southern Illinois: A Guide to Selected Resources at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale," which appeared in the Autumn 2002 issue of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.

This Guide describes another significant group of Illinois history resources, the Vertical File Manuscripts (VFMs). In many libraries, "Vertical Files" consist of ephemera or free government publications, but SCRC's VFMs include small collections of primary sources such as correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and original documents that range across all of SCRC's subject areas.

There are more than 2,000 VFMs in Special Collections. Two series, those related to Ulysses S. Grant and philosopher-educator John Dewey, each numbering more than one hundred VFMs, have been described in published documentary editions, The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant and The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882-1953, respectively. Those VFMs are not included in this guide. And in the interest of keeping the guide to a reasonable length, VFMs specific to Southern Illinois University, of which there are more than 270, have also been excluded.

The 250+VFMs described here range from a single letter or broadside to a hundred or more items. The larger VFMs-those consisting of more than ten or twelve items-have often been inventoried or calendared. The annotation, "see inventory for more complete description," has been added to the citations for these VFMs.

Each citation in the guide includes the VFM number, a description of the contents, the date or date range, names of significant individuals, the type of document, e.g., ALS (autograph letter signed) or TMs (typed manuscript), and the size of the collection. Most VFMs are original documents, but some are copies. For those, the type of copy is added at the end of the citation-photocopy, mimeograph, etc.

Readers wishing to see any of the materials described in the Guide can contact the author or the Special Collections Research Center at: Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University, 1835 University Press Drive, Mailcode 6632, Carbondale, IL 62901; (618) 453-2818;

VFM 1

Miscellaneous papers of George H. Harrison, Marion Illinois, including poll records of local and national elections held at Herring's Prairie Precinct in 1840,1841,1842,1844, and 1845; family letters from 1842,1847, and 1848; a letter, 24 June 1847, from Willis Alien concerning the state constitutional convention; and a petition, 11 March 1864, asking for the relocation of the Marion to Pinckneyville road. See inventory for more complete description. 14 AD, 20 pp; 3 ALS, 8 pp.

VFM 5

Three marriage licenses from 1833, issued by the county commissioners court at Equality, Illinois. The marriage returns are recorded on the verso of each license. The brides and grooms are: Phillip C. Buffington and Rodia Ann Stevens; Holmes Thompson and Adeline Bethurin; and Mathew Abney and Matilda Rumsey. 3 ADS, 6 pp. …

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