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Henry Horner Papers

Identifier: BC296

Scope and Contents

The Henry Horner Papers, 1899-1940 consists of 159.67 linear feet of correspondence, legal papers, financial records, campaign material, department files, subject files, published materials and clippings housed in 333 manuscript boxes and 1 archival box. Twelve linear feet of oversize bound volumes are also part of the collection. The Henry Horner Papers concern Horner’s eight years as Governor of the State of Illinois, 1932-1940; and his tenure as judge of the probate court of Cook County, 1914-1931. Material from his legal practice and some personal material in scrapbooks are also included.


  • Created: 1899-1940



159.67 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Illinois Governor (Democrat), 1932-1940; lawyer, and Cook County Probate Court Judge, 1914-1931, from Chicago. Horner, Illinois’ first Jewish Governor, governed the state during the depression of the 1930s, serving as President Roosevelt’s representative supporting the New Deal. A protégé of former Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, Horner was noted for fighting the Chicago machine politics of Edward J. Kelly and Patrick A. Nash. Horner spent his final year in office battling failing health and his Lieutenant Governor John Stelle in a struggle for control of the state and the Democratic Party. An Abraham Lincoln enthusiast, Horner amassed a large collection of Lincolniana which was given to the Illinois State Historical Library. A lifelong single man, he died in office on October 6, 1940. Correspondence, legal papers, financial records, campaign material, department files, subject files, published material, scrapbooks, clippings and memorabilia. The collection covers Horner’s gubernatorial years and his tenure in the Probate Court. Topics include campaigns, the Great Depression, corrections, social welfare and relief, aeronautics, agriculture, Abraham Lincoln, Jewish culture, Masons, floods, strikes, and probate. A few bound volumes concern Horner’s early legal career.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into six series: I: Gubernatorial Papers, ca. 1932-1940; II: Probate Court Papers, ca. 1914-1931; III: Vouchers, Canceled Checks and Miscellaneous, ca. 1924-1940; IV: Memorabilia; V: Oversize Bound Volumes, 1899-1932; and VI: Oversize Manuscripts.Series I: Gubernatorial Papers, ca. 1932-1940 (Boxes 1-306) is organized into four files: 1. Political Files; 2. Departmental Files; 3. Correspondence Files, and 4. Subject Files.The Political Files (Boxes1-31) consist of campaign material from the 1932, 1936, and 1938 elections. This file includes correspondence, speeches, reports, publications, news releases, memoranda, itineraries, appointment books, campaign literature and biographical information. There are several folders of correspondence, some of which are arranged by county. In addition, political letters are scattered throughout the files. Horner’s campaign speeches are included as well as typescripts of speeches by Edward J. Barrett, Herman N. Bundesen, Bruce Campbell, Thomas J. Courtney, Michael L. Igoe, Edward J. Kelly, Scott W. Lucas, Richards J. Lyons, John C. Martin., Adolph J. Sabath, Thomas F. Sinnett, James M. Slattery, Len Small, Alfred E. Smith and Thomas A. Snell. There are special reports on Republican Party activities, affiliation of Chicago ethnic groups and political coercion of WPA employees. The file closes with several boxes of biographical material and congratulatory messages.The Department Files (Boxes 32-81), consist of correspondence, reports, publications and other papers dealing with the operation of state departments, boards and commissions. The files are arranged alphabetically by department name (excepting the placement of the Illinois Department of Registration and Education, which ends the named department file) followed by a file of letters referred to other departments. Within each department file the correspondence with the director of the department is generally placed first followed by subject files. Included in this file are records for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Conservation, Finance, Health, Insurance, Labor, Mines and Minerals, Public Welfare, Public Works and Buildings, Relief and Unemployment, Waterways and Registration and Education. There are also records for numerous boards and commissions, Military Affairs and the University of Illinois.The Correspondence File (Boxes 82-231) comprises the largest portion of the Horner Papers. This file has been subdivided by the origin or the nature of the correspondence: 1. Correspondence-Downstate; 2. Correspondence-Cook County; 3. Correspondence-Out of State; 4. Correspondence-Personal; 5. Correspondence-Subjects; and 6. Invitations.Correspondence-Downstate (Boxes 81-135) includes letters from the general constituency from all Illinois counties except Cook County. The letters are sorted by county and alphabetically arranged by correspondent name. Separate folders are sometimes provided for prominent individuals or organizations, or for those from whom a large amount of correspondence has been received. There are separate folders for Roy H. Porter, Wilbur H. Hickman, Joe Page, Jacob K. Alschuler, Frank J. Burns, Ben W. Alpiner, Julius Harrison, Irene C. Thielen, S.P. Preston, Ray Defenbouch Co., Carl P. Slane, Peoria Water Works Company, W.H. Owen, Grover C. Borders, Bruce C. Campbell, Frederick E. Merrills, Charles E. Plummer, Duncan C. Smith, V. Y. Dallman, Rueben G. Soderstrom, Anna May Price, Arthur P. O’Brien, Thomas Rees, and Thomas F. Donovan. Correspondence-Cook County (Boxes 135-178) is arranged alphabetically by correspondent name. Separate folders are provided for W. Frank Dunn, Chester Davis, General Abel Davis, Carter Harrison, William J., Hennessy, Harry T. Hollingshead, Maurice L. Horner, Bill V. Hubbard, Mayor Edward J. Kelly, Ernest L. Klein, Julius Klein, Joseph Kohn, Edward Krier, William H. Kribley, James Levy, Horace G. Lindheimer, James Weber Linn, Richard F. Kinsella, Eugene F. McDonald, Major General Frank R. McCoy, Joseph D. Smedberg, Horace Smith, Col. Albert A. Sprague, James M. Whalen, Elmer J. Whitty, and Ednyfed H.Williams. Correspondence-Out of State (Boxes 179-201), is arranged alphabetically by states, Washington, D.C. and foreign countries. There are separate folders for Governors Paul McNutt of Indiana, Clyde L. Herring of Iowa, Herbert H. Lehman of New York, Mayor Bernard F. Dickman of St. Louis, Missouri; Emanuel Hertz of New York; and Irma N. Loeb of Pennsylvania. There are six manuscript boxes of correspondence from Washington, D.C., including separate folders for President Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Morgenthau, Harold I. Ickes, Francis Perkins, Henry Wallace, Harry H. Woodring, William H. Dieterich, James A. Farley, John N. Garner, Kent E. Keller, James Hamilton Lewis, Scott W. Lucas, Marvin H. McIntyre, Robert Fechner, J. Edgar Hoover, Adolph J. Sabath, Clyde L. Seavey, Nathan Straus and Joel Wolfsohn. Correspondence-Personal (Boxes 201-204), is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Individually named folders include Lucille and Dick Finnegan, James M. Farley, Harry M. Fisher, Stillman M. Frankland, Bishop James A. Griffin, Nathan Rosen, William Rosenwald, Maurice Rubel, Adolph J. Sabath, Mrs. Paul Steinbrecher, Carl Sandburg, Charles K. Schwartz, A. L. Sloan, Arthur S. Smith, Sister Stanisia, Benjamin F. Stein, Bishop John Chanler White and Lloyd Whitman. Correspondence-Subjects (Boxes 204-214), includes correspondence relating to a wide range of subjects and includes folders of birthday and Christmas greetings, as well as material referring to certain individuals. Subjects include highways, the budget, relief, strikes and commissions. Four boxes of unsorted cards and thank you letters complete this group. Invitations (Boxes 214-231), are filed chronologically from 1933 to 1940, with the Governor’s reply. The Subject Files (Boxes 231-306), consists of letters, copies of speeches, published material, clippings, memorabilia, pictures and miscellaneous papers. Some of the major topics include aeronautics, agriculture, American Legion, annual messages, Century of Progress, Anton J. Cermak, charity, Chicago, crime, dedications, Democratic Party, Jews, Abraham Lincoln, Masons, the Nationals Guard, politics, prohibition, radio, relief, Franklin Roosevelt and the Illinois State Fair. Special item is a copper letter written to Horner (Box 140)Series II: Probate Court Papers, ca. 1914-1931 (Boxes 307-313), includes legal papers, reports, opinions, notes on procedure and material relating to specific cases Horner dealt with while serving as probate court judge in Cook County for over fifteen years. Clippings and congratulatory messages from the 1914 election for the judgeship removed from scrapbooks are included. Other clippings, scrapbooks, volumes of probate court case notes and scrapbooks of correspondence and other material from this time period are included in the oversize bound volumes.Series III: Vouchers, Canceled Checks and Miscellaneous, ca. 1924-1940 (Boxes 314-333), consists of executive mansion vouchers, check book stubs and canceled checks, clippings and a box of miscellaneous items. The executive mansion vouchers are filed chronologically, and those of the 58th, 59th and 60th General Assemblies are also noted by voucher number in the container list. Several boxes of unsorted vouchers are also included. Two boxes of unarranged check book stubs are from Horner’s personal account. Five boxes of unarranged envelopes of canceled personal checks include some bank statements, some statements from the Department of Finance and material relating to Governor Horner’s special account. A box of miscellaneous material includes correspondence and an appraisal of the estate of Henry Horner. Two boxes of clippings complete this file. Series IV: Memorabilia (Box 334) consists of special items such as an invitation to a banquet for His Excellency, Guglielmo Marconi; a booklet of “The Old Kentucky Home” with a souvenir of flower/tree; invitation to the White House; ticket to the Golden Gate Bridge Opening Ceremonies; souvenir set of wooden nickels from the Festival of the States in St. Petersburg; dedication bridge ticket to Mark Twain Memorial Bridge, 1936; a penny squashed from the World’s Fair, 1936; a postcard signed by Jack Dempsey; and different types of ribbons and cards. Series V: Oversize Bound Volumes, 1899-1932 (Oversize Bound Volumes, 1-39) cover Horner’s political, professional and personal life prior to his tenure as governor. The volumes include a letter press book from the firm of Whitney and Horner, financial records and attorney’s dockets from Horner’s early legal career, an abstract book, case notes, scrapbooks, and two family Bibles. The scrapbooks include mounted clippings, letters, mementos, campaign literature, congratulatory messages and photographs. The period of his probate judgeship is most fully represented with scrapbooks of clippings and correspondence, and volumes of case notes. A scrapbook of campaign literature of Horner’s 1932 gubernatorial campaign is the only bound volume included that concerns his governorship. A scrapbook concerning the death of Horner’s mother, Dilah Horner is included.Series VI: Oversize Manuscripts, 1918-1940 (Oversize Drawer 49) consists of commissions as Cook County Probate Judge; resolutions, proclamations, invitations, calendars and newspapers (partial). The time period covers aspects of his being a probate judge and governor of Illinois.

Separated Materials

Photographs and published materials were removed from the collection.
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