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Joseph A. Wright collection

Identifier: L183

Scope and Contents

The collection includes letters to Joseph Albert Wright in Washington from his family in Rockville (1843-1844); letters from his district regarding local and national politics (1844); letters to Wright as Governor of Indiana regarding appointments, railroad development, the Indiana State Bank, criminal cases, agricultural societies, and politics (1849-1857); letters to him as U.S. minister to Prussia (1857-1861), including letters from Americans traveling in Europe and letters from American diplomats; letters to him as U.S. senator (1862-1863) regarding appointments and local politics; programs, invitations, and other social and diplomatic materials from his time in Prussia; and a partial biography of Joseph A. Wright.

The collection also includes correspondence received by the family upon Wright’s death as well as family correspondence in the years following his death (1867-1931).

There is also a German certificate, August 2, 1860 (OB002).


  • 1843-1931


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

Joseph Albert Wright was born on April 17, 1810, in Washington, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Bloomington, Indiana, when he was still a young boy. After his father’s death, Wright worked his way through Indiana University. He was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1829 and began practicing law in Rockville. Wright held a number of public offices including member of the Indiana House of Representatives (1833-1834, 1836-1837); prosecuting attorney of the 1st circuit (1838-1839); member of the Indiana Senate (1839-1840); and member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1843-1845). Wright was elected Governor of Indiana in 1848 and served from 1849 to 1857.

Accomplishments during his two terms as governor include the adoption of a new state constitution and the formation of State Boards of Education and Agriculture. Wright was then appointed the U.S. minister to Prussia (1857-61, 1865-67). During his break from the minister position, Wright served in the U.S. Senate. He died on May 11, 1867, in Berlin, Germany, while fulfilling his duties as U.S. Minister to Prussia.


United States Congress. "Wright, Joseph Albert." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed December 2005.

Indiana Historical Bureau. "Indiana Governor Joseph Albert Wright." Accessed December 2005.

Shepherd, Rebecca A., Charles W. Calhoun, Elizabeth Shanahan-Shoemaker, and Alan F. January, comp. A Biographical Directory of the Indiana General Assembly, vol. 1, 1816-1899. Indianapolis: The Select Committee on the Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly, 1980.


0.65 Cubic Feet (2 manuscript boxes, 1 medium oversize folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Mrs. Caril Patterson on 1942/08/11.


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:

OB002: Joseph A. Wright certificate

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2005 December by Christian Baich. EAD finding aid created 2005 December by Christian Baich. EAD finding aid revised 2015/11/24 by Lauren Patton. EAD finding aid updated on 2021/09/09 by Lauren Patton.
Joseph A. Wright 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.