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Yates Family Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BC716

Scope and Contents

The Yates Family Papers, 1789-1936, consists of 14.9 linear feet and 26 bound volumes of correspondence, legal documents, speeches, genealogy notes, manuscripts, news clippings, scrapbooks, notebooks and letterpress books. The collection documents the law and political careers of Richard Yates and his son Richard, Jr.


  • Created: 1789-1936
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1936


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research


14.90 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence, scrapbooks, notebooks, letterpress books, genealogy notes, manuscripts, speeches, news clippings, legal documents, and pamphlets document the careers and lives of Richard Yates, Sr. and his son, Richard Yates, Jr.  Richard Yates, Sr. (1815-1873) was an anti-slavery Republican who served as Governor of Illinois (1861-1865) during the Civil War.  Following his term as governor, the senior Yates served in the United States Senate from 1865-1871.  Richard Yates, Jr.  (1860-1936) also served as Governor of Illinois from 1901-1905. After his term ended, the junior Yates lectured, worked briefly as an assistant attorney general and, in 1919, he became a Republican Congressman.  He served in that office until 1933.

Arrangement Note

The collection is divided into three series: Series 1: Richard Yates, Sr., 1789-1873; Series 2: Richard Yates, Jr. 1874-1936; Series 3: Bound Volumes: 1827-1927. Series 1 (Richard Yates, Sr., 1789-1873) is arranged chronologically and contains personal and professional correspondence in addition to deeds, legal briefs and documents from his law and political career. There are letters from prominent Illinois politicians of that time including Lyman Trumbull, David Davis, Robert Ingersoll, Jesse Fell, Jessie K. Dubois, Augustus French, O.H. Browning, and Gustave Koerner. The correspondence in the collection addresses such topics as life at Illinois College, slavery, the 1860 state and national political campaigns and the war. There are also reports from troops and letters from Hilly Springs, Chattanooga, New Orleans, Vicksburg, and Corinth. Boxes 22-31 include letters from the senior Yates’ tenure in the United States Senate until his death and discuss problems of Reconstruction, problems within the Republican party, nationally and in Illinois, his February 1866 speech in favor of equal rights and “universal suffrage”, and his February 1867 speech before the Congressional Temperance Society renouncing alcohol. Series 1 also contains copies of speeches, newspapers, and an unpublished manuscript of a biography of Yates’ life by L.U. Reavis. Series 2 (Richard Yates, Jr. 1874-1936) consists of letters, speeches, news clippings, genealogy material, legal papers, scrapbooks, and family correspondence. The series is divided into four files: a Correspondence File (1874-1936), a Genealogical Material File (1900-1909), a Manuscript File (1911), and a Miscellaneous File (1829-1928) The Correspondence File is arranged chronologically and contains 47 letters from Yates, Jr. to his friend, Chicago lawyer James E. Babb, who moved to Idaho in 1906. The letters address such topics as the junior Yates’ senatorial campaign and the deadlocked 1904 Republican convention where Yates gave his votes to Governor Deneen. There are also letters from Deneen, John Palmer, William H. Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and letters from his sister, Katy, to their mother. The Genealogical Material File is arranged chronologically and consists mostly of correspondence with other Yates family members, some legal documents, and news clippings. The Manuscript file is arranged by form of material and includes copies of speeches given by Richard Yates, Jr. on the Chautauqua circuit, copies of chapters for an unpublished manuscript, part of his “autobiography” and a manuscript of Serving the Republic, a biography of his father. The Miscellaneous File, 1829-1928, is arranged by form of material and includes family correspondence, scrapbooks of news clippings, school notebooks, and legal papers. Family correspondence includes letters of Richard Jr. to several uncles and a brother-in-law discussing family and one discussing his chances for governor. There is also an 1853 invitation to the White House for dinner from the Fillmores to Mr. & Mrs. Yates, Catherine Geers Yates’ scrapbook of articles pertaining to her son and husband’s political careers, and several documents from Richard Yates, Sr.’s legal practice. Series 3 (Bound Volumes: 1827-1927) consists of three files: I) Richard Yates, Sr., 1837-1873; II) Richard Yates, Jr., 1886-1927; III) Catherine Yates, 1909. The Richard Yates, Sr. Bound Volume File, 1837-1873 is arranged chronologically and consists of law school notebooks, law practice accounts, executive orders, and letterpress books. The Richard Yates, Jr. Bound Volume File is arranged alphabetically and consists of form letters, a campaign address book, records of the 70thCongress, and scrapbooks of clippings. The Catherine Yates Bound Volume File, 1909, consists of Catherine Yates’ Scrapbook.

Accruals and Additions

1937, 1938, 1941, 1946, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1976, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1991, 2001.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Other Unmapped
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collection Repository

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