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William Herschell collection

 Collection — Folder: OB051
Identifier: OB051

Scope and Contents

This collection includes 3 printed items with content created by William M. Herschell in the United States ranging from 1903 to 1940. The first item is a poem, "An Humble Grace" by Herschell, printed with a drawing of an African American man standing at a dinner table with a woman and 3 children, dated Thanksgiving 1903 by Franklin Booth. The second item is the cover page of sheet music (pasted to a board) for the song, "Long Boy" with words by Herschell, music by Barclay Walker, and illustration by Gaar Williams, dated 1917. The illustration shows a soldier marching away from weeping family on a farm, presumably off to war during World War I. The final item is a print of Herschell's poem, "Ain't God Good to Indiana?," with a copyright notice of 1940 by Josephine Herschell.


  • 1903-1940


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Literary rights, including copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their legal heirs and assigns. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts. The publisher must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

William Miller Herschell was born to Martha (Leithch) (1850–1882) and John Todd Herschell (1848–1914), both Scottish immigrants, on November 17, 1873 in Spencer, Indiana. Herschell worked as a railroad machinist, but after losing his job due to a failed strike, he transitioned to a career in journalism. Living in Indianapolis by 1900, Herschell worked for several small newspapers before obtained a position at the Indianapolis Journal where he worked for 37 years. He married Josephine Pugh (1875–1968) on June 3, 1908 in Indianapolis.

Herschell also published 7 books of poetry, the first of which, Songs of the Streets and Byways, was printed in 1915. During World War I, Barclay Walker set Herschell's popular poem, "Long Boy," to music, which proved to be incredibly well-received. One of his most famous works is the poem, " Ain't God Good to Indiana?" Herschell died on December 22, 1939 and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. After his death, Josephine Herschell compiled his last book of poetry, publishing Song of the Morning and Other Poems posthumously in 1940.

Sources: "William M. Herschell." 1900 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 9, 2022. "William M. Herschell." 1910 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 9, 2022. "William M. Herschell." 1920 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 9, 2022. "William M. Herschell." 1930 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 9, 2022. "William M. Herschell." Indiana, U.S., Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993. Accessed June 9, 2022. "William M. Herschell." U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Accessed June 9, 2022.

Boomhower, Ray. "William Miller Herschell." Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1994. Accessed June 9, 2022. "William Miller Herschell." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed June 9, 2022.


0.05 Cubic Feet (1 medium oversize folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by size.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Mrs. F. D. Staley.


No further additions are expected.

Related Materials

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

S0646: William Herschell history and sheet music

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2022/06/09 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2022/06/10 by Brittany Kropf.
William Herschell collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.