TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Administrative Information

Biographies of Oliver R. Barrett and Carl Sandburg

Scope and Content of the Collection

Organization

Selected Search Terms

Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1925-1966

Series 2: Works, undated - 1949

Series 3: Miscellaneous Material, ca. 1871-1953

Series 4: Photograph Collection, ca. 1860-1950

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Inventory of the Oliver Barrett-Carl Sandburg Papers, ca. 1860-1966


The Newberry Library
Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610-7324
USA
Phone: 312-255-3506
Fax: 312-255-3646
E-Mail: specialcolls@newberry.org
URL: http://www.newberry.org

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Lisa Janssen, 2003.

©2002


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Creator Barrett, Oliver R. (Oliver Roger), 1873-1950
Title Oliver Barrett-Carl Sandburg Papers
Dates ca. 1860-1966.
Extent 8 linear feet (9 boxes and 1 oversize box)
Abstract Correspondence between Oliver R. Barrett, lawyer and collector of Abraham Lincoln material and poet Carl Sandburg, primarily pertaining to the interest of both men in Lincoln, plus a few other letters of Oliver Barrett and his son Roger; numerous brief undated notes from Sandburg to Barrett and work notes on Lincoln's biography by both men; copies of several articles and numerous poems by Sandburg; miscellaneous printed items relating to Sandburg, his work and his public appearances; and photographs of Sandburg and Barrett. Also, a large collection of stereographs (scenes of the American Civil War, world views and many slides of Chicago before and after the fire of 1871) and cabinet and carte de visite portraits.
Language Materials are in English.
Repository Newberry Library, Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
Collection Call Number Midwest MS Barrett-Sandburg
Collection Stack Location 3a 37 12

Administrative Information

Cite As

Oliver Barrett-Carl Sandburg Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

Provenance

Gift of Roger Barrett, 1981.

Processed by

Virginia H. Smith, 2002.

Acknowledgements

This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Access

The Oliver Barrett-Carl Sandburg Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Oliver Barrett-Carl Sandburg Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

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Biographies of Oliver R. Barrett and Carl Sandburg

Born in 1873, Oliver R. Barrett began collecting autographs and historical documents in his boyhood in Pittsfield, Illinois, by simply writing to celebrities and politicians, asking for their signatures. He taught himself how to set type and then distributed circulars reading "Wanted, Letters of Famous Men." By age seventeen Barrett was advertising in weekly county newspapers for autographs and documents, particularly for items relating to Abraham Lincoln such as letters, tokens, handbills, newspapers and any other miscellany. Having grown up among people who talked about the Civil War and President Lincoln from firsthand experience, Barrett developed a passion for acquiring Lincolniana that eventually resulted in one of the largest and finest private Lincoln collections of the twentieth century.

Eschewing his family's hopes for becoming a farmer or a preacher, Barrett instead chose to go to the law school of the University of Michigan, from which he graduated in 1896. After at first practicing law in Peoria, he enlisted in the 5th Illinois Infantry for a short time during the Spanish-American War, and then settled down to live in Kenilworth, Illinois, to continue what would be his life-long legal career in Chicago.

Barrett's interest in Lincoln became an obsession and as he became widely known as a collector, his collection was used extensively by Lincoln scholars, including Carl Sandburg. He also was Sandburg's lawyer, and they became friends through their mutual enthusiasms. Barrett wrote one book: Lincoln's Last Speech in Springfield in the Campaign of 1858 (1924), and later his son Roger, also a lawyer, wrote a brochure entitled "A Strange Affair," which dealt with a mysterious crime Lincoln described in a letter to his friend Joshua Speed.

Oliver Barrett and Carl Sandburg met in 1924. The year before Barrett's death in 1950, Sandburg published the volume, Lincoln Collector: The Story of the Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln Collection, a lengthy project he claimed he wouldn't have undertaken were it not that Barrett has been his counsel and friend for so many years. Barrett's short obituary states: "Mr. Sandburg, a life-long friend of Mr. Barrett, had obtained documentation of many of his works from him."

Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1878. The son of poor parents, Sandburg left school at thirteen and until he managed to go to Lombard College, he worked as an unskilled laborer, rode the rails and even served for eight months with the 6th Illinois Infantry in Puerto Rico. He began writing poetry in college, but with his formal education over he began selling Underwood and Underwood stereoscopic pictures, then turned to newspaper work, first in Milwaukee and then in Chicago. He was hired as an editorial writer on the Chicago Daily News and became part of the "Chicago Group" which included Ben Hecht, Charles McArthur, Floyd Dell and others.

From his youth, Sandburg idolized Abraham Lincoln, and his six-volume definitive biography of Lincoln is still considered one of his greatest achievements. He continually published poetry, as well as stories for children. and was always in great demand as a performer, touring the country with a banjo or guitar, singing folk songs and reciting his poems. Sandburg's one novel, Remembrance Rock, written in 1948, was not particularly successful but when he died in 1967, his important place in American letters was nevertheless assured.

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Scope and Content of the Collection

The collection consists of correspondence, writings, photographs and miscellaneous material that Oliver Barrett kept which pertained to his relationship with Carl Sandburg, plus items added by his son Roger. The letters between Barrett and Sandburg deal mainly with their interest in Abraham Lincoln and the books and projects Sandburg was working on, but as they range from 1925 to 1949, there is other subject matter as well: personal, legal, literary and historical. There are a number of very short, often enigmatic, notes signed by Sandburg that apparently accompanied manuscripts he had sent to Barrett, such as several articles, a section of his one novel Remembrance Rock, drafts of parts of his Lincoln biography and many poems (almost all of the latter are typewritten copies). Printed material includes a few magazines containing Sandburg poems, newspaper clippings, publicity broadsheets and personal memorabilia. The photographic collection consists of over 600 stereograph cards - many of Civil War scenes and views of Chicago before and after the fire of 1871 - apparently collected by both Sandburg and Barrett; also, over a hundred cabinet photos, cartes de visite and miscellaneous images.

Narrative descriptions of the subject matter, types of material, and arrangement of each series are available through the organization section of the finding aid.

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Organization

Papers are organized in the following series:

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Selected Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Newberry Library's public catalog. Researchers desiring additional materials on a particular topic should search the catalog using these headings.

Names

  • Barrett, Oliver R. (Oliver Roger), 1873-1950
  • Barrett, Roger
  • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
  • Mitgang, Herbert
  • Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967
  • Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967 -- Portraits

Subjects

  • Actors and actresses -- Portraits
  • Authors, American -- 19th century -- Portraits
  • Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence
  • Authors, European -- 19th century -- Portraits
  • Cabinet photographs
  • Cartes de visite
  • Chicago (Ill.) -- Intellectual life -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
  • Chicago (Ill.) -- Photographs
  • Collectors and collecting -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Correspondence -- 1901-1950
  • Correspondence -- 1951-2000
  • Great Fire, Chicago, Ill., 1871 -- Photographs
  • Manuscripts, American
  • Photographs -- 1851-1900
  • Photographs -- 1901-1950
  • Poems -- 1901-1950
  • Poems -- 1951-2000
  • Poets, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence
  • Politicians -- Portraits
  • Soldiers -- Portraits
  • Stereographs
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Photographs

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Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1925-1966

The correspondence consists of notes and letters between Oliver Barrett and Carl Sandburg, 1925-1950, letters to Carl Sandburg from other people, 1925-1949 and letters to and from Oliver Barrett from other people, 1922-1934. Also, a small collection of letters to Roger Barrett, Oliver Barrett's son, 1933-1966, including correspondence with Herbart Mitgang, editor of The Letters of Carl Sandburg, published in 1968. Organized with Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett correspondence preceding Sandburg's, Barrett's and Roger Barrett's letters to and from others.
Arranged chronologically within each category.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Sandburg to Barrett, n.d.
1 2 Carl-Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Sandburg to Barrett, n.d.
1 3 Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Sandburg to Barrett, 1925-1930
1 4 Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Sandburg to Barrett, 1932-1934
1 5 Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Sandburg to Barrett, 1935-1950
1 6 Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Barrett to Sandburg, 1926-1934
1 7 Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Barrett to Sandburg, 1935-1948
1 8 Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Barrett to Sandburg, (mostly carbons) Jan.-June, 1949
1 9 Carl Sandburg-Oliver Barrett Notes and Letters - Barrett to Sandburg, (carbons) July, 1949-Jan. 1950
1 10-11 Carl Sandburg Outgoing, n.d.-1950
1 12-14 Carl Sandburg Incoming, 1925-1949
1 15 Oliver Barrett Outgoing, 1934, 1949
1 16 Oliver Barrett Incoming, 1922-1934
1 17 Roger Barrett Incoming, n.d., 1933-1950
1 18 Roger Barrett-Herbert Mitgang Correspondence, 1966

Series 2: Works, undated - 1949

One article on collecting plus notes and comments on Carl Sandburg's biography of Lincoln, written by Oliver Barrett. The rest of the material is by Sandburg: articles and miscellaneous notes and writings mostly pertaining to Lincoln, notes for and an excerpt from the novel Remembrance Rock, numerous copies of poems, an example of his shorthand method, two published speeches and a story.
Arranged alphabetically by author and then by type of material.

Box Folder Contents
2 19 Oliver Barrett, "A Brief for the Collector," n.d.
2 20 Oliver Barrett, Miscellaneous Notes and Comments on Sandburg's Lincoln Biography
2 21 Oliver Barrett, Carl Sandburg Contract Material, 1949
2 22 Carl Sandburg article "Abe Lincoln, His Hand and Pen," 1945
2 23 Carl Sandburg article "Art," n.d.
2 24 Carl Sandburg article "The Young American Literature," n.d.
2 25 Carl Sandburg Miscellaneous writings
2 26-27 Carl Sandburg Notes and Drafts on work on Abraham Lincoln
2 28-29 Carl Sandburg Novel Remembrance Rock
2 30-32 Carl Sandburg Poems
2 33 Carl Sandburg Research Notes and Miscellany
2 34 Carl Sandburg Shorthand Example
2 35 Carl Sandburg Speeches/Presentations (printed)
2 36 Carl Sandburg Story "The Two Blue and Gold Cockroaches," n.d.

Series 3: Miscellaneous Material, ca. 1871-1953

Clippings, diploma, memorabilia, magazines with Sandburg poems, a play about Lincoln (not by Sandburg), photographs of Sandburg and Barrett, portrait drawings of Sandburg including one by Otto J. Schneider, printed political items, proofs relating to Carl Sandburg and Sandburg publicity items.
Organized by size (regular, oversize) and arranged by type of material.

Box Folder Contents
3 37 Clippings: Roger Barrett pamphlet, "A Strange Affair," 1933
3 38 Magazines containing Sandburg Works: Poetry, Stanolind Record, Young Wings, 1914-1932
3 39 Carl Sandburg Memorabilia: army commission, driver's licenses, cancelled checks, press card, etc., 1898-1953
3 40 Photographs of Carl Sandburg and Oliver Barrett, 1915-1950
3 41 Play sent to Sandburg by C.B. Chorpenning, 1947
3 42 Portrait drawings of Sandburg, including one by Otto J. Schneider
3 43 Publicity items of Carl Sandburg
3 44 Radio Script, "Premiere," ca. 1940
4 45 Clippings: The Daily Worker, Nov. 19, 1926
4 46 Clippings 1930-1942
4 47 Clippings: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb. 7, 1943
4 48 Dummy of Knox College diploma, 1928
4 49 Photographs, Chicago, 1871
4 50 Poems, published
4 51 Political printed items
4 52 Proofs

Series 4: Photograph Collection, ca. 1860-1950

Stereographs, cabinet photos, cartes de visite and a few miscellaneous images. There are over 600 stereographs, one-third of which are views of Chicago before and after the fire of 1871, plus over a hundred Civil War scenes; the rest are mostly views of Europe, Asia and America. Two original storage boxes and a stereoscope are included. The bulk of the stereo collection appears to have been owned by Sandburg and given to Oliver Barrett's son Roger (see first card in Box 5), although some views may have been owned by Oliver Barrett, as both Sandburg and Barrett were stereograph salesmen in their youth. There are twenty-five cartes de visite, mostly portraits; ninety-one cabinet portraits, including many of American and European political and military figures, authors, clergymen, actors and other celebrities of the nineteenth century (a number of which are autographed) and a few unidentified; and eleven miscellaneous pre-1900 shots.
Organized by type of photograph -- stereographs, cabinet photographs, cartes de visite and miscellaneous. Stereographs are arranged geographically and by subject. Cabinets and cartes de visite arranged alphabetically by name, followed by miscellaneous. In each grouping, unidentified subjects are placed last. Two original photographic storage boxes and a stereoscope are at the end of the collection.

Box Contents
5 Note from Carl Sandburg to Roger Barrett
5 Stereographs--Carl Sandburg, Oliver and Roger Barrett (4 cards)
5 Stereographs--United States Views, Cities: Chicago Buildings and Streets, 1870's (61), Chicago Parks, 1870's (18)
5 Stereographs--United States Views, States: Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida (11)
5 Stereographs--United States Views, States: Hawaii (21), Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana (11) New York (7), Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, So. Carolina, Utah, Virginia (10)
6 Stereographs--United States Views: Chicago Fire, 1871 (131)
6 Stereographs--World Views, Africa and the Middle East: Egypt, the Holy Land, Baalbak (13)
6 Stereographs--World Views, Asia: Ceylon, China, Japan, Korea, Manchuria (19)
7 Stereographs--World Views, Europe: Austria/Germany (22)
7 Stereographs--World Views, Europe: France, including Paris Exposition of 1867 (53)
7 Stereographs--World Views, Europe: Great Britain (51)
7 Stereographs--World Views, Europe: Italy (6), Scandinavia (12), Switzerland (22)
7 Stereographs--World Views, Miscellaneous: Canada, Cuba, Greenland, India, Martinique, Netherlands, Philippines, So. Africa (11)
8 Stereographs--United States History, Civil War, 1861-1865 (108)
8 Stereographs--Miscellaneous: United States Indians (6), The Moon (1), Philadelphia Exposition, 1876 (20), President Lincoln (1), President McKinley's Funeral (8), Unidentified (3)
9 Cabinet Photograph--Adams, Charles Francis
9 Cabinet Photograph--Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe
9 Cabinet Photograph--Aldrich, Thomas Bailey
9 Cabinet Photograph--Allison, William Boyd
9 Cabinet Photograph--Barrett, Lawrence
9 Cabinet Photograph--Beecher, Tilten
9 Cabinet Photograph--Beveridge, John Lourie
9 Cabinet Photograph--Bjornson, Bjornstjerne
9 Cabinet Photograph--Black, William
9 Cabinet Photograph--Brewster, Benjamin Harrison
9 Cabinet Photograph--Bryant, William Cullen
9 Cabinet Photograph--Cameron, "Don"
9 Cabinet Photograph--Carey, Alice
9 Cabinet Photograph--Carr, Joseph Bradford
9 Cabinet Photograph--Chandler, William Eaton
9 Cabinet Photograph--Clarke, James Freeman
9 Cabinet Photograph--Clemens, Samuel Langhorne (2)
9 Cabinet Photograph--Cody, William Frederick ("Wild Bill")
9 Cabinet Photograph--Collins, Wilkie
9 Cabinet Photograph--Conway, Hugh
9 Cabinet Photograph--Cushing, Caleb
9 Cabinet Photograph--Dutton, Everett F.
9 Cabinet Photograph--Early, Jubal Anderson
9 Cabinet Photograph--Endicott, William Crowninshield
9 Cabinet Photograph--Faithfull, Emily
9 Cabinet Photograph--Farwell, Charles Benjamin
9 Cabinet Photograph--Farwell, Simon (?)
9 Cabinet Photograph--Francoise, Princesse de Joinville
9 Cabinet Photograph--Froude, James Anthony
9 Cabinet Photograph--Grant, Ulysses Simpson (2)
9 Cabinet Photograph--Haggard, Henry Rider
9 Cabinet Photograph--Hall, Eugene J.
9 Cabinet Photograph--Hamlin, Hannibal
9 Cabinet Photograph--Harrison, Caroline Scott (Mrs. Benjamin)
9 Cabinet Photograph--Harte, Francis Brett
9 Cabinet Photograph-- Herford, Oliver Brooke
9 Cabinet Photograph--Hill, David Bennett
9 Cabinet Photograph--Holmes, Oliver Wendell
9 Cabinet Photograph--Howells, William Dean
9 Cabinet Photograph--Ingelow, Jean
9 Cabinet Photograph--Jackson, Thomas Jonathan ("Stonewall")
9 Cabinet Photograph--James, Thomas Lemuel
9 Cabinet Photograph--Kittredge, Abbott Eliot
9 Cabinet Photograph--Langtry, Lillie
9 Cabinet Photograph--Lee, Alfred Amory (?)
9 Cabinet Photograph--Lockwood, Belva Ann Bennett
9 Cabinet Photograph--Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
9 Cabinet Photograph--Lorimer, George Claude
9 Cabinet Photograph--McDonald, George
9 Cabinet Photograph--McLane, Robert Milligan
9 Cabinet Photograph--MacVeagh, Isaac Wayne
9 Cabinet Photograph--Marquess of Salisbury: Gascoyne-Cecil, Robert Arthur Talbot
9 Cabinet Photograph--Matthews, Stanley
9 Cabinet Photograph--Mills, Darius Ogden
9 Cabinet Photograph--Modjeska, Helena
9 Cabinet Photograph--Morrill, Justin Smith
9 Cabinet Photograph--Morrison, William Ralls
9 Cabinet Photograph--Morse, Samuel Finley Breese
9 Cabinet Photograph--O'Dell, Max (?)
9 Cabinet Photograph--Patti, Adelina
9 Cabinet Photograph--Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart
9 Cabinet Photograph--Pollock, William J.
9 Cabinet Photograph--Presidents of a Century
9 Cabinet Photograph--Pulitzer, Joseph
9 Cabinet Photograph--Randall, James Ryder
9 Cabinet Photograph--Randall, Samuel Jackson
9 Cabinet Photograph--Sherman, William Tecumseh
9 Cabinet Photograph--Sothern, Edward Hugh
9 Cabinet Photograph--Stevenson, Robert Louis
9 Cabinet Photograph--Stone, Lucy
9 Cabinet Photograph--Stowe, Harriet Beecher
9 Cabinet Photograph--Swing, David
9 Cabinet Photograph--Sullivan, Sir Arthur Seymour
9 Cabinet Photograph--Swinburne, Algernon Charles
9 Cabinet Photograph--Taft, Alphonso
9 Cabinet Photograph--Trollope, Anthony
9 Cabinet Photograph--Truth, Sojourner
9 Cabinet Photograph--Vanderbilt, Cornelius
9 Cabinet Photograph--Ward, "Capt."
9 Cabinet Photograph--Winner, Septimus
9 Cabinet Photograph--Unidentified (9)
9 Cartes de Visite--Byron, John
9 Cartes de Visite--"Federal Soldiers as They Fell, at Battle of Gettysburg"
9 Cartes de Visite--Frederick William, Crown Prince of Russia
9 Cartes de Visite--Garnett, Robert Selden
9 Cartes de Visite--Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
9 Cartes de Visite--Greeley, Horace
9 Cartes de Visite--Haydn, Franz Josef
9 Cartes de Visite--Jackson, Thomas Jonathan ("Stonewall")
9 Cartes de Visite--Johnson, Bradley Tyler
9 Cartes de Visite--LaSalle, Ill.: "LaSalle in the Distance"
9 Cartes de Visite--Lessing, Gotthold E.
9 Cartes de Visite--Logan, John Alexander
9 Cartes de Visite--"A Lone Grave on the Battlefield of Antietam"
9 Cartes de Visite--Maximiilian, Emperor of Mexico
9 Cartes de Visite--Nightingale, Florence
9 Cartes de Visite--Nutt, George Washington M. & Warren, Minnie
9 Cartes de Visite--Orleans, Louis Philippe Albert d'
9 Cartes de Visite--Prentice, George D.
9 Cartes de Visite--Princess of Frederick Carl of Gy.
9 Cartes de Visite--Todd, Charles Stewart
9 Cartes de Visite--Toldy, Ferencz
9 Cartes de Visite--Unidentified Portraits (2)
9 Miscellaneous--Chicago Storefronts, ca. 1875 (2)
9 Miscellaneous--Civil War Soldiers in Camp
9 Miscellaneous--Household Staff on Urban Doorstep, ca. 1890
9 Miscellaneous--Navy Department Building, Washington, D.C., ca. 1890
9 Miscellaneous--Petersburg R.R. Bridge, over James River
9 Miscellaneous--"Gen. Porter's Staff" ca. 1862
9 Miscellaneous--Unidentified Portraits (4)
10 Two stereograph storage boxes and a stereograph