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George W. Julian collection

Identifier: L081

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the correspondence is that of George W. Julian and his wife, Laura Giddings Julian, and with his children, Grace and Paul, while he was serving in Congress, working as an attorney in Washington, D.C., and on speaking tours. In his letters with Laura, he discusses questions before Congress. Additional correspondence includes letters to Laura from her father, Joshua R. Giddings, written while he was serving in Congress or as U.S. consul general to Canada in Montreal (1861-1864); correspondence between her and her sister in Washington, D.C., Montreal, and Ohio; Julian’s correspondence with his brothers in Centerville (1838-1839) and Iowa (1840s); correspondence regarding Indiana and national politics, women’s rights, his legal work, speeches and writings, including retained copies of his letters; copies of his correspondence with Edward L. Pierce regarding their biographies of Joshua R. Giddings and Charles Sumner (1885-1898); and letters written to Presidents Arthur and Cleveland recommending Julian for Commissioner of the General Land Office. There are also letters dealing with the difficulties between Andrew Johnson and Congress and the Hayes-Tilden election of 1876 and the actions of the Louisiana Returning Board in that election.

Correspondents include W. H. Barnum, Benjamin Butler, Salmon P. Chase, Charles F. Coffin, Schuyler Colfax, John D. Defrees, Francis J. Garrison, Joshua R. Giddings, Stephen S. Harding, Abram S. Hewitt, George Holman, Sarah Holman, Henry Hoover, Samuel K. Hoshour, Robert J. Ingersoll, Elizabeth Eleanor Julian, Isaac H. Julian, Jacob P. Julian, Oliver P. Morton, Samuel W. Parker, Andrew L. Robinson, Samuel J. Tilden, Mary Hoover Travis, William W. Wick, and William W. Woollen.

Also included in the collection are Julian’s manuscript for the second edition of "Political Recollections"; pamphlets and manuscripts of his speeches (1850-1892); an essay about Julian by Lydia Maria Child; memoranda books containing notes on expenses, notes for speeches and campaigns, and newspaper clippings; and his scrapbook of clippings on Zachary Taylor for the 1848 election.

The volumes include his school notes on law and history (1839); journals (1869-1879); scrapbooks (1876-1897); an account book from an Irvington grocery store and meat market (1877-1878); and an album belonging to his first wife, Anne E. Julian, which contains mostly autographs (1848-1851). The clippings within the scrapbooks are not entirely in chronological order.

The oversized items include certificates from the U.S. General Land Office granting land to soldiers (1859-1860). The certificates are signed by President James Buchanan. Also included are a Confederate States of America loan certificate and certificates naming Julian Surveyor General of New Mexico (OB207 and OBC064).


  • 1789-1940, bulk 1789-1902


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. A partial item-level inventory is available upon request.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

George Washington Julian was born on May 5, 1817, near Centerville, Indiana. In 1840, he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Greenfield, Indiana. He was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1845. That same year, he married Anne Elizabeth Finch with whom he had three children: Edward, Louis, and Fredrick. Anne died in 1860. Julian remarried in 1863 to Laura A. Giddings, daughter of fellow antislavery leader Joshua R. Giddings of Ohio. They had two children together, Grace and Paul.

Julian served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1849 to 1851 and again from 1861 to 1871. He was elected to his first term as a Free-Soil candidate, but later became a Republican. In 1852, he lost his bid for the vice-presidency as the Free-Soil candidate. In the 1860s, he joined with the Radical Republicans in Congress. While in the House of Representatives, he served as chair of the Committee on Public Lands (1863-1871) and as a member of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy (1865-1867). He joined the liberal Republican movement and supported Horace Greeley for President (1872). Julian later joined the Democratic Party.

In 1873, he moved to Irvington (now an Indianapolis neighborhood) and opened a law practice. He became the law partner of William A. Meloy in Washington, D.C. (1879-1884). From 1885-1889, he was U.S. Surveyor General of the New Mexico Territory. Throughout his life, Julian was an active advocate of social reform including the antislavery, temperance, labor, and women’s suffrage movements. He also wrote and published several books including his Political Recollections, Life of Joshua R. Giddings, and two collections of his speeches. He died on July 7, 1899 in Irvington, Indiana.


2.51 Cubic Feet (5 manuscript boxes, 2 oversize folders, 8 volumes)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence and papers, 1789-1902

Series 2: "Political Recollections" manuscript documents, circa 1884

Series 3: Speeches and volumes, 1850-1897

Series 4: Oversize documents, 1859-1887

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Grace Julian Clarke on 1932/07/05; 1937/04/11 and 1937/09/30.

Family correspondence given by Brewster Cockrell on 2017/11/14, in memory of his great grandmother, Adaline Holman Sherwood, niece of George W. Julian.


No further additions are expected.

Related Archival Material

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

V053: George W. Julian volumes

OB207: George W. Julian land grant certificates

OBC064: George W. Julian certificates

L033: Grace Julian Clarke papers

Processing Information

Collection processing completed in February 2006 by Christina Baich. Finding aid revised on 2015/11/06 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created by Bethany Fiechter on 2017/11/28. EAD finding aid revised 2021/10/20 by Lauren Patton.
George W. Julian collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

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