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Wendell Willkie photograph collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SP152

Scope and Contents

This collection includes black-and-white photographs of Wendell Willkie in Indiana and the United States, ranging from 1940 to 1950 and undated, relating to his 1940 presidential campaign, his accomplishments, and his life, as well as his birthplace, Elwood, Indiana, and after his death, his gravesite and the dedication of a bronze tablet in Willkie's honor in the Indiana Statehouse on February 18, 1950.


  • 1940-1950, undated

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

Wendell Lewis Willkie was a lawyer, public utility executive, and a Republican nominee for president of the United States. He was born to German immigrants Herman Francis (1857–1930) and Henrietta (Trisch) Willkie (1858–1940) on February 18, 1892 in Elwood, Indiana. He had five siblings, including Julia Etta (1886–1943), Robert Trisch (1887–1968), Herman Frederick (1890–1959), Edward Everett (1896–1956), and Charlotte Ester (1899–1979). Willkie attended Indiana University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1913. He moved to Kansas where he taught school before returning to Bloomington to attend Indiana University's law school, earning his J.D. in 1916. Willkie practiced law with his father until enlisting in the army during World War I. He married Edith Wilk (1890–1978) of Rushville, Indiana on January 14, 1918 and they had one son, Philip Herman (1919–1974). They moved to Akron, Ohio where Willkie was employed by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company's legal department. Soon after, he left Firestone to become a partner of Mather, Nesbitt, and Willkie law firm. In 1929, the Willkies moved to New York City where he worked for the Commonwealth and Southern Corporation, becoming the company's president in 1933.

Willkie was politically active within the Democratic Party but switched to the Republican Party in the 1930s due to his opposition of President Roosevelt's New Deal and the federal government's Tennessee Valley Authority. His fight for privately owned utility companies against the Tennesee Valley Authority gained him national attention and he won the Republican Party's nomination for president of the United States, running in 1940 against Roosevelt. Willkie lost the election, only receiving 82 electoral votes to Roosevelt's 449.

In 1942, he wrote the bestselling book, One World, a manifesto and travelogue published the following year, which defined a post-World War II world of international peace and freedom. The book advocated for an end to colonialism, World Federalism, and equality for people of color in the United States. The book was a recordbreaking non-fiction bestseller and inspired the One World movement and the World Federalist Movement, the latter of which included Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Kurt Vonnegut among its supporters. Despite his ill health, Willkie again sought presidential nomination in the 1944 race but withdrew after losing the Wisconsin Republican primary. Willkie died on October 8, 1944 in New York City and was buried in East Hill Cemetery in Rushville, Indiana.

Sources: "Louis W. Willkie." 1900 United States Federal Census. Accessed January 7, 2022. "Lewis W. Willkie." 1910 United States Federal Census. Accessed January 7, 2022. "Wendell Willkie." 1920 United States Federal Census. Accessed January 7, 2022. "Wendell L. Willkie." Indiana, U.S., Marriages, 1810-2001. Accessed January 7, 2022.

Encyclopædia Britannica. "Wendell Willkie." Encyclopædia Britannica. Last modified October 4, 2021. Accessed January 7, 2022. "Wendell Lewis Willkie." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed January 7, 2022.

“Life of Willkie, Home-Made Gentleman From Indiana, Ran Gamut, Rags to Riches.” Indianapolis Star (IN), October 9, 1944. Accessed January 7, 2022. ProQuest.

Wikipedia. "One World (book)." Accessed January 7, 2022.


0.15 Cubic Feet (5 folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject and chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


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:

S1411: Wendell Willkie collection

OBD061: Wendell L. Willkie portraits

OH193: Wendell Willkie speech

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2022/01/11 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2022/01/11 by Brittany Kropf.
Wendell Willkie photograph 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.