Skip to main content

Populist/Progressive Era, 1890-1913: Primary Sources in Special Collections: Primary Sources in Special Collections (S - T)

This guide will help you find primary sources pertaining to the Populist/Progressive Era.

Primary Manuscript Sources With Online Finding Aids (S-T). Click On Links To Access Full Collection Descriptions.

Primary Manuscript Sources Without Online Finding Aids (S-T).

Wade Hall Collection of American Letters - Political Diary of Kentucky Congressman Swagar Sherley's Secretary, 1912. Swagar Sherley (1871-1941), was a native of Louisville, Kentucky and a Democrat elected to the U.S. House Representative from 1903-1919.  He was a member of the Appropriations Committee. This diary was kept by his observant, cynical but unidentified secretary and offers revealing insight into congressional issues and Progressive politics of the day. The prose is engaging and illustrative. Sherley's secretary offered criticism of the Catholic Church, agreeing with the anti-Catholicism and Catholic conspiracy theories that marked the era. The secretary wrote about popular political figures of the time including Victor Murdock, Joseph "Uncle Joe" Cannon, Victor Berger, Caleb Powers, Ollie James, John J. Fitzgerald, and William Jennings Bryan. The diary details, among other issues, what these figures thought about American troops in the Philippine Islands and the call to take on the "white man's burden." Commentary on the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 is also engaging. The secretary discussed the congressional committee that investigated the tragedy and mentioned the mood of the country at large upon hearing the news of the sinking. He also documents the attempts of suffragettes, namely Jane Addams and Edith Haughton Hooker, in petitioning for the vote. The secretary included them in a cohort of special interest groups, also mentioning the power of Samuel Gompers in fighting for the causes of labor. Included in the diary is commentary on the 1912 textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts and the Stanley Committee, which investigated the steel trust and was chaired by Augustus O. Stanley of Kentucky. The diary described the testimony of Andrew Carnegie in front of the committee. Many of A.O. Stanley's ideas were incorporated in the Clayton Anti-Trust Act. Sherley's secretary lamented on the state of politics and political corruption. He described the use of plant seeds, sent to constituents, in return for votes and loathed the ambition and self-interest of members of congress. The diary also details the unseating of Senator William Lorimer after a Senate resolution declared his election invalid because of corruption. There is commentary regarding Lorimer's reaction after the resolution passed. The secretary expressed concern about the downfall of the country because of turmoil created by the development of distinct economic and social classes, women's suffrage, the power of labor unions, and the Catholic "menace." There is also commentary related to the building of the Panama Canal and testimony in front of Congress by Col. George W. Goethals that the U.S. should not extend its reach to the area because the land is poor and the natives are "not worth helping." Sherley's secretary offered extensive insights on the 1912 presidential primary and the Democratic Convention held in Baltimore, Maryland. He often criticized Theodore Roosevelt (who lost the Republican primary for a chance at a third term, but decided to run as a Progressive Party candidate) as a self-promoting character. He had more respect for William Howard Taft, who was running for re-election. Ultimately, Sherley's secretary aligned with the Democratic Party and supported the nomination of Woodrow Wilson. He described the 1912 convention as a battle between ward bosses, Tammany Hall, and the Democratic Party. The diary gives detailed commentary on the convention and William Jennings Bryan's speech. Also included in the collection is a binder with a number of signatures from politically powerful men including Samuel Gompers, William Jennings Bryan, and Henry Watterson. (Accession #2009MS132)


 John Scott Papers, 1821-1915. Pastor of New Liberty Baptist Church (1803-1833) and Baptist Church at Ghent, Kentucky, Scott's (1767-1847) correspondence related to religious matters, land transactions, and the opening of the ferry at Ghent. Letters in the collection (Microfilm Accession #59M301) are addressed to Stephen Burbridge and deal with the recruitment of African American soldiers and political activities of the military in Kentucky during the Civil War.


Stubblefield Family Papers, 1797-1892. This collection consists of the personal and business papers of a Mason County, Kentucky family. This material (Microfilm Accession #63M275) includes slave bills of sale, correspondence, indentures, tax receipts, and an account book of a Maysville, Kentucky metalworker.


G.C. Swetnam Mercantile Papers, Wilbur, Kentucky, 1865-1912. 5 volumes. This Accession (no number) is part of the Thomas D. Clark Mercantile Records Collection.