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Lawrence Yates Sherman Papers

Identifier: MS-BC574

Scope and Contents

The Lawrence Y. Sherman Papers, 1871-1939, consists of family and legislative correspondence, telegrams, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and leaflets, magazine articles, and speeches. Most of this material dates from 1912 to 1920. The collection primarily documents Sherman’s tenure in the U.S. Senate from 1913 to 1921, particularly with regard to United States entry into World War I and the debate concerning American participation in the League of Nations. Sherman’s early political career, including his two terms as Speaker of the Illinois House and his term as Lieutenant Governor, is also documented. Personal papers detail his courtship of Estelle Spitler and other family matters. There is little material from Sherman’s post-senatorial years.


  • Created: 1871-1939
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1912-1920
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1964


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.


75.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Republican U.S. Senator (1913-1921) and League of Nations opponent. Illinois State Representative from twenty-eighth (1897-1902) and thirty-second (1903-1904) districts; Speaker of the House (1899-1902). Lieutenant Governor of Illinois (1905-1908).

Arrangement Note

Materials are arranged in nine series; Correspondence, 1871-1933 and 1936-1938; Correspondence Filed by Person, 1885-1933; Family Correspondence, 1874-1926 and 1939; Foreign Affairs and League of Nations File, 1917-1920; Foreign Nations File, 1915-1920; Subject File, 1913-1924; Small Subject File, 1913-1920; Speech File, 1884-1932; and Clippings, Pamphlets and Ephemera, 1888-1938.The Correspondence, 1871-1933 and 1936-1938 (Boxes 1-55) is arranged chronologically and contains personal, political, general business and constituent letters; telegrams; and newspaper clippings. The bulk of the correspondence dates from 1912 to 1918. Major topics include Illinois state politics, legal matters, legislative committee appointments, Sherman’s election to the U.S. Senate, his campaign for the 1916 Republican Presidential nomination, Prohibition, and Woodrow Wilson’s administration. Correspondents include Illinois State Senator Orville F. Berry, Chicago; lawyer and Sherman advisor Edward Brundage; U. S. Senator from Illinois, Shelby M Cullom; lawyer Clarence Darrow; Charles Fairbanks (Vice-President under Theodore Roosevelt); Republican and Progressive party politician Harold L Ickes; John H. Kellogg (superintendent of Battle Creek Sanitarium and founder of the local health food industries); U.S. Congresswoman from Illinois Ruth Hanna McCormick; Thomas R. Marshall (Vice-President under Woodrow Wilson); Andrew Mellon (financier and secretary of the U.S. Treasury); Illinois Lieutenant Governor John G. Oglesby; Julius Rosenwald of Sears, Roebuck and Company; Chicago mayor William Hale Thompson; law partner George Tunnicliff; Chicago businessman William Wrigley, Jr.; and Illinois Governor Richard Yates II. The Correspondence Filed by Person, 1885-1933 (Boxes 56-62) contains letters, telegrams and newspaper clippings arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Most of the correspondence dates from 1913 to 1920. Family matters, politics, and campaign strategies are discussed. Major correspondents include Will Colvin (superintendent of Pardons and Parole for the Illinois Department of Public Welfare); Charles G. Dawes (president of Central Trust Company of Illinois and a Sherman advisor); George E. Keys (a Sherman political advisor); Michael Lux (who managed some of Sherman’s personal business affairs); and Francis Ralson Welsh (Philadelphia investment bonds). There is also correspondence with Charles S. Deneen, Warren G. Harding, Charles Evans Hughes, Samuel Insull, William Lorimer, Frank O. Lowden, William B. McKinley, John J. Pershing and Woodrow Wilson. The Family Correspondence, 1874-1926 and 1939 (Boxes 62-64 and oversize manuscripts 1-26), contains letters and a few telegrams, greeting cards and clippings. The courtship of Sherman and Estelle Spitler, the birth of their daughter Virginia, Estelle Sherman’s death, and Sherman’s funeral are documented. Major correspondents are Sherman’s sisters Jennie and Sylvia, and Cora Spitler, Estelle’s sister. The Foreign Affairs and League of Nations File, 1917-1920 (Boxes 65-85) is arranged chronologically within groupings by document type and contains constituent correspondence, telegrams, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and a few circulars, federal documents, and magazine articles. Most material is dated 1919. Issues in American foreign affairs, especially concerning the League of Nations are documented. Major topics include U.S. relations with Mexico, American entry into World War I, food prices following the war, Woodrow Wilson’s trip to Versailles, the League of Nations (particularly reconstruction of Europe and reaction to Sherman’s June 20, 1919 speech on the potential influence of the Vatican in the proposed league of nations), and the Geneva Peace Conference. Significant correspondents include the League to Enforce the Peace, U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, George Harvey of Harvey’s Weekly, and inventor and League of Nations opponent Henry Wise Wood. The Foreign Nations File, 1915-1920 (Boxes 86-94) is arranged alphabetically by individual country name and contains correspondence, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and petitions relating to American foreign policy with respect to specific countries of groups of countries. Major topics include nationalistic homelands, boarder affairs with Mexico, Japanese expansionism, Irish Freedom, the Bolshevik revolution and recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States. American obligations to World War I allies, legislative efforts to revoke the charter of the National German-American Alliance and limit the distribution of German-language publications, and ratification of the Columbian Treaty (settlement of differences over the Panama Canal Zone) are documented in the foreign policy issues section at the end of this file. Significant correspondents include H.J. Hainsworth, who wrote detailed reports concerning border relations with Mexico. The Subject File, 1913-1924 (Boxes 95-136) is arranged alphabetically by topic and contains constituent correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, pamphlets, and reports documenting the views of Sherman and his constituents on legislative issues debated by Congress. Major topics include banking (Federal Reserve Act; coal (strike of 1919); daylight savings time; espionage; the Gore Resolution (limitation of American travel on vessels of belligerent nations); The Subject File, 1913-1924-cont. Federal Trade Commission, finance Henry Ford (war profits and bid for Senate seat), government ownership of telegraphs and telephones. Insurance, labor (particularly relating to the “Industrial Workers of the World” a 1920 anti-sedition bill, and 1916 “Gompers Law” – Sherman’s Opinion of Samuel Gompers and eight-hour-day legislation for railroad employees), oil, military and naval affairs, merchant shipping, meat packing, politics (women’s suffrage, direct election of the president, elections), postal matters, the President’s Peace League, prohibition, pure food, railroads, revenue, shipping, socialism, strikes, tariffs, waterways, and Woodrow Wilson. The Small Subject File, 1913-1920 (Boxes 137-149) is arranged alphabetically by topic and contains constituent correspondence, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings regarding Chaffee et al vs. Sherman (a suit filed against Sherman for payment of board and entertainment bills), the Illinois legislature, labor (Samuel Gompers), the League of Nations, legislation, postal (Madden Bill), and the influence of the Vatican. The Speech File, 1884-1932 (Boxes 150-161) is arranged chronologically and primarily contains speeches, speech fragments, and notes. A few statements, articles, editorials, resolutions, interviews, and press releases are also included. The bulk of the speeches are dated between 1914 and 1920. Most of them relate to national holidays, special occasions, legislation being debated in the Senate, and political campaigns. The Clippings, Pamphlets, and Ephemera, 1888-1938 (Boxes 162-180) are arranged chronologically within groups by document type and consist primarily of newspaper clippings, pamphlets, leaflets, personal and campaign financial statements, diaries, and appointment books. There are also a few cartoons, advertising circulars, programs, and ballots. An estimated four linear inches of pamphlets, broadsides, leaflets, programs, invitations, and other printed items from this file and from other sections of the collection were transferred to the Historical Library’s printed collection or cataloguing.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Paul Spence, Cheryl Schnirring, Merleen Dibert, and Hannah Jellen
Description rules
Other Unmapped
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collection Repository

112 North Sixth Street
Springfield IL 62701 US
(217) 558-8923