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James Whitcomb Riley collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: L135

Scope and Contents

The collection contains James Whitcomb Riley’s letters to Kentucky author Madison Cawein, general correspondence, and manuscript poems written by Riley, as well as other materials, ranging from 1876 to 1940. Also included are printed copies of Riley’s poems, essays, and newspaper stories about Riley.

There are also broadsides and printed portraits of Riley, ranging from 1900 to 1947 and undated (OBD038).


  • 1876-1947


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

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

Born in Greenfield, Indiana on October 7, 1849, James Whitcomb Riley was a famed American poet and writer, best known for his Hoosier dialect verse in noted works, "Raggedy Man" (1907), "The Little Orphan Annie" (1908), and The Old Swimmin’ Hole and Other Poems (1912). Riley was also a prominent Indianapolis resident, whose house at 528 Lockerbie St. later became a historic building and museum of his work that was named a National Historic Landmark in 1962. James Whitcomb Riley died July 22, 1916 from complications resulting from a stroke. Riley is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery and his tomb sits on one of the highest points in Marion County.


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box, 1 small oversided box, 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as donations from H. J. Mahan in 1929; G. Michelmore & Co. in 1931; and Mrs. A. W. A. Lybrad in 1965.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2011 July by Brent Abercrombie. EAD finding aid created 2011 July by Brent Abercrombie. EAD finding aid revised 2018/04/12.
James Whitcomb Riley 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.