Skip to main content

Olin D. Wheeler papers

Identifier: VAULT-Ayer-MS-3220

Scope and Content of the Collection

Mainly material relating to Wheeler's investigations of Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn, but also a few items regarding the Pacific railway route, newspaper articles about Wheeler, and reviews of his The Trail of Lewis and Clark.

Battle of Little Big Horn material includes correspondence with individuals interested in or involved in the affair (Custer's wife, the photographer D.F. Barry, F.F. Girard, Capt. E.S. Godfrey, Theodore W. Goldin, Capt. Charles King, C.A. Lounsberry, Valentine McGillycuddy, Richard A. Roberts, and T.A. Warburton). There are also battlefield maps drawn by Indian guides in 1892, a questionnaire completed by Bob Failed Horse, Medicine Bear, and Spotted Blackbird in 1902, and Wheeler's manuscript and proof copy for the 1893 issue of Wonderland.

Pacific railway route material includes typed transcripts of Senate and House proceedings regarding the issue, 1853-1859, and an undated typescript of an article by Wheeler, "Pacific Railway Congressional Debates of Antediluvian Days."

Photographs collected by Wheeler and of him comprise the Olin D. Wheeler Collection of Photographs of Yosemite Valley and the Route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which is part of the Edward E. Ayer Photograph Collection.


  • Creation: 1892-1924



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Olin D. Wheeler papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum, and items in each folder will be counted before and after delivery to the patron (Priority I).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Olin D. Wheeler 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 at

Biography of Olin D. Wheeler

Topographer, author, and railroad executive.

Born in Mansfield, Ohio, in 1852, Olin D. Wheeler was a topographer with John Wesley Powell's survey of the Colorado River, 1874-1879. From 1892 to 1909 Wheeler was in charge of advertising for the Northern Pacific Railway, and was the author of its annual publication, Wonderland, which highlighted the history and scenic beauty of the northwestern United States. For the 1893 issue, Wheeler wrote about Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn; he continued to investigate the subject until his retirement in 1909. Among other topics, Wheeler also became interested in the history of the selection of a Pacific railway route and in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. After exploring the trail of the latter extensively, he published his two-volume The Trail of Lewis and Clark in 1904. Active in his retirement, Wheeler in 1924 was appointed historian of the Veterans' Association of the Northern Pacific Railway; he died a year later.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Mainly correspondence, notes, and writings of author, topographer, and Northern Pacific Railway executive Olin Dunbar Wheeler regarding Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn; also articles about Wheeler and reviews of his work.


Papers are organized alphabetically by type of material.

Collection Stack Location

Vault 26 1


Gift of the Chicago Tribune, 1972.

Processed by

Martha Briggs, May, 2000.

Inventory of the Olin D. Wheeler papers, 1892-1924
Martha Briggs
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States