Collection ID: LMC 2191
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Collection context


Willkie, Wendell L., 1892-1944
The Willkie mss., 1934-1945, consist of correspondence, diaries, political memorabilia of Wendell L. Willkie.
500000 Items
Materials are mostly in English .
Preferred citation:

[Item], Willkie mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


Biographical / Historical:

Willkie was born in Elwood, Indiana in 1892, where his parents, Herman and Henrietta, were both lawyers. Willkie graduated from Elwood High School and then matriculated to Indiana University, where he earned an A.B. degree in 1913 and a L.L.B. in 1916. (He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from IU in 1938.) He joined the family law practice, but in the spring of 1917 entered the First World War with the 325th Field Artillery, which was stationed in France but did not see combat. After his discharge Willkie moved to Akron, Ohio, first working in the legal department at Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and later joining a private practice. In 1918, he married Edith Wilk (1890-1978), a librarian in his hometown of Elwood. They had a son, Philip (1919-1974).

In Akron, Willkie's skill as a public speaker and his activities in the local Democratic Party brought him into the public eye. Meanwhile, his case load was largely on behalf of utility companies and in 1929 he found himself in New York City representing the Commonwealth & Southern Corporation. Newly formed, the timing was unfortunate as the stock market crashed several months after his move. Nevertheless, Willkie became president of the company in 1934 and, through his plans, revenues increased.

Willie was also the Republican nominee for president in 1940.

Scope and Content:

The Correspondence series includes numerous letters, cards, and telegrams of condolence following Wendell Willkie's unexpected death on October 8, 1944.

The Campaign 1940 series includes correspondence, pamphlets, train tour schedules, and ephemera pertaining to Wendell Willkie's campaign for the presidency in 1940. Photographs include images of Wendell Willkie, Edith Willkie, and other members of the Willkie family, as well as campaign and press photos. Speeches and Writings cover the years 1930-1944 and include Wendell Willkie's acceptance speech for the 1940 Republican Party nomination, as well as numerous campaign speeches and his seminal 1940 Fortune article, "We, the People," at the time the most comprehensive statement of Willkie's worldview. Trip Files include materials regarding Willkie's tours of England and China during World War II, expeditions that would later shape the political and social philosophy of Willkie's book One World.

The One World series includes drafts and related correspondence to Willkie's 1943 bestselling travelogue, along with Willkie's diplomatic passport. Scrapbooks include Souvenir of the 1940 Campaign, an album of correspondence, clippings, memorabilia, and signatures of supporters from Willkie's presidential run; as well as "The American Battle Monuments Commission," an album to Edith Willkie containing prints of monuments and cemeteries dedicated to World War II soldiers. Realia includes political buttons, awards and degrees, gavels and mallets, posters, yearbooks, busts of Willkie and Chiang Kai-shek, Willkie's hat and neckties, and a life-size cardboard cutout of Wendell Willkie. Artwork includes sketches, portraits, and political cartoons. The Miscellaneous series includes materials from Wendell L. Willkie's funeral service on October 17, 1944, and other items regarding Willkie's memorialization.

Note on Indexing Term - "International relations": In 1942 President Roosevelt sent Willkie on a mission around the world. In Willkie's papers there is material pertaining to the world trip. There is also material relating to Willkie's 1943 book, One World which espouses a unified world living in cooperation and coexistence.

Note on Indexing Term - "World War, 1939-1945": There is extensive correspondence with prominent political figures, speeches, and newspaper clippings from the war period. For digitized content, see Digital Collections.

Acquisition information:
Acquired: 1975, 1976
Processing information:

Processed by Colleen Martin and Craig Simpson.

Completed in 2013


The collection is Organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Campaign 1940; III. Diaries; IV. Calendars; V. Commonwealth & Southern Corporation; VI. Photographs; VII. Speeches and Writings; VIII. 1940 Republican National Committee and Convention; IX. Political Issues (1941-1944); X. Trip Files; XI. Subject Files; XII. One World; XIII. Clippings; XIV. Printed; XV. Scrapbooks; XVI. Realia; XVII. Miscellaneous; XVIII. Index Cards; XIX. Audio-Visual; XX. Artwork.

Physical location:
ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility); ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility) - OVFlat; Lilly - Folio; Lilly - Stacks

Online content



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[Item], Willkie mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana University Bloomington
1200 East Seventh Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405-5500, USA
Indiana University Bloomington
(812) 855-2452