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Dan W. Bannister Papers

Identifier: MS-BC740


Dan W. Bannister (1921-2006) worked in insurance management for thirty-five years and by 1963 was Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Horace Mann Insurance Company of Springfield, Illinois. He studied law and accounting; served in World War II; and was involved in the restoration of the Old State Capitol, Illinois historic site. Bannister first came to Springfield in 1963, he spent the next forty years involved in civic projects, projects involving the digitalization of Abraham Lincoln’s court cases, and was an accomplished author.

The collection includes letters, deeds, legal documents, financial papers, notes, federal tax records, maps, newspaper clippings, book reviews, lists and reports. Included are letters to board and committee members of the Abraham Lincoln Association (ALA); correspondence concerning the development of the Lincoln Electronic Presidential Library; requests for donations to ALA special projects; press releases and correspondence regarding Bannister’s published works; and letters to the Springfield mayor.


  • Created: 1865-2002
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1966
  • Other: Date acquired: 10/20/2006

Biographical or Historical Information

Dan W. Bannister was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on May 13th, 1921, the son of Earl and Hortense Ashley Bannister. He married Audrey Shell in 1944, having three children Dan, James, and Shelly. Bannister remarried in 2003 to Cornelia Dennis. He served in the US Army during World War II as a cryptographer. Bannister graduated with a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Indiana University. Later, he attended Albany Law School where around 1950 he received his J. D. degree. Subsequently, Bannister received permission to practice law under the New York State Bar. After taking classes in accounting, Bannister took employment with All State Insurance Company where he relocated from New York to the Skokie, Illinois, Branch. Between 1963 and 1971, Bannister now a member of Horace Mann of Springfield, started out as comptroller, working his way to President by 1966. In 1971, Bannister received the Copley First Citizen of Springfield award. The committee issuing the award cited several justifications. First, he worked with the Capital City Railroad Relocation Commission in putting together a plan to relocate railroad tracks outside of Springfield. The second was his work with the United Fund Campaign between 1965 and 1970. Next, they cited Bannister for his role with the Springfield Central Area Development Association (SCADA) in facilitating the remodeling of the Old Capitol Square between 1966 and 1969. He became President for SCADA in 1967. There was also his leadership with local committees for referendums to improve community infrastructure. This included a mayoral task force he led which saw the passage of a $1.25 million bond for the improvements on street lighting in Springfield. They also recognized him for his time as vice chairman of the Illinois Citizens for Clean Water. They were instrumental in promoting a $750 million bond going towards anti-pollution. A new phase in his life, Bannister began a long and intense endeavor studying Abraham Lincoln’s experiences as a lawyer with the Lincoln Legal Papers Project in 1989 until his death in 2006. Locally, Bannister has served on the board of directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association (ALA). He was also President of that organization between 1995 and 1998. The ALA produced side projects with Bannister, including his being the committee chair for the Lincoln Electronic Presidential Library. The intent was to put various aspects of Lincoln's work, including his law practice, in electronic format. Bannister wrote a book in 1992 titled Lincoln and the Common Law. It discusses mostly the evolution of English common law in Illinois and the effects on the state legal system. In 1995, Bannister released his second book titled Lincoln and the Illinois Supreme Court. The book provides details about Lincoln’s some one hundred and forty-four Illinois cases and reasons why he performed well dealing with common law. Volunteering his time, Bannister over the years has devoted himself to the Salvation Army, Memorial Hospital, the Illinois Historical Society, Springfield Committee for Higher Education, the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, the Springfield Art Association, the Sangamon County Sesquicentennial Commission, Junior Achievement, the Springfield Caps baseball organization, Mayor'€™s State Fair Committee, and the Springfield Motor Vehicle Parking Commission.


1.00 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

Consists of 1.00 cu ft. of letters, deeds, receipts, legal documents, financial papers, notes, federal tax records, real estate records, maps, newspaper clippings, book reviews, lists, and reports documenting Dan W. Bannister's time as President of Abraham Lincoln Association (ALA) (1995-1998), member of the Board of Directors (1998 -€“ 2002) and general operations (1995-2002). The ALA side projects are also documented in files soliciting donations, promoting the ALA'€™s electronic library and the updating of the Collected Works database (1994-2003). The collection includes materials regarding the history of Illinois courts, and the Illinois Sesquicentennial (1968). Collection also includes materials related to the restoration of the Old Capitol Square, twentieth century history of Springfield, Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, Copley First Citizen, some of the legal cases Abraham Lincoln worked, Illinois Constitution, Mayor Howarth, digitalization, and John Wilkes Booth. Of particular interest, an April 1865 receipt from J.W. Roberts & Co. of Boston.

Arrangement Note

Files are arranged alphabetically and by subject.

Source of Acquisition

Previously Acquired

Separated Materials

The following were transferred to the Lincoln Department: Commemorative Bank Note; Lloyd Ostendorf Print “Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln Are Returning Home” 1988; Uncle Abe’s Republican Songster 1860; Andrew L. Reisman, “An Essay on the Dilemma of ‘Honest Abe’: The Modern Day Professional Responsibility Implications of Abraham Lincoln’s Representations of Clients He Believed to Be Culpable;” Eric T. Freyfogle, “The Common-Law Forms of Action and Rules of Pleading in Lincoln’s Illinois” 1991; James T. Hickey, “Abraham Lincoln Chronology” 1966; Dan Bannister, Lincoln and the Common Law, 1992; Roy P. Basler, President Lincoln helps His Old Friends, 1997; “The Abraham Lincoln Association Celebrates The One Hundred and Eighty -Sixth Anniversary of the Birth of Abraham Lincoln” 1995; Lloyd Ostendorf Print –“A. Lincoln/Bible Inscription” 1998; Lloyd Ostendorf Print-“Twas the Night Before Christmas” 1996.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Mark W. Master
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