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Horace White Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: 1975?

Biographical History

Horace White (1865-1943) was an American lawyer, state legislator, and Republican governor of New York. He lived and practiced law in the city of Syracuse for more than thirty years.

Horacw White was born at Buffalo on 7 October 1865, first son of Horace Keep and Marion (Strong) White. The White family was prominent in the affairs of upstate New York, and Horace's uncle, Andrew Dickson White, was the first president of Cornell University. A family tree is available here (if online), or at the end of this finding aid (if in hard copy).

Graduated from Cornell in 1887 and the Columbia University Law School in 1889, White studied law in the Syracuse office of Frank Hiscock before entering practice in Syracuse, where his firm of White, Cheney, Shinaman, and O'Neill was long located in the White Memorial Building. In 1896 he began the first of six consecutive terms as a Republican state senator, representing Onondaga County. As chairman of the Committee on Cities he played an influential role in the development of chartering provisions for second-class cities in the state and in the drawing of the first charter for the City of New York at the time of the consolidation of 1898. Other of his legislative work concerned the civil service law and additional reforms.

In 1908 Horace White was elected lieutenant-governor on the Republican ticket headed by Charles Evans Hughes, then running for his second term. White became governor on 6 October 1910, when Governor Hughes resigned after being named an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, and served as governor until 1 January 1911. He did not seek his party's nomination to succeed himself.

Remaining a prominent figure in the political, business, and social life of Syracuse for more than thirty years after he left the governor's chair, he served as president of the Post-Standard Company in Syracuse and was long a trustee of Cornell University. He married in 1903 Mrs. Jane (Lines) Denison, who died in 1937. They had no children. He died in New York on 27 November 1943, survived by his brothers Andrew S. and Ernest I. White.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Horace White Papers at the George Arents Research Library at Syracuse University are the incomplete correspondence files of Horace White for the six years preceding his governorship, along with personal financial files from a wider period and some miscellaneous items. With the exception of fewer than a half dozen items, all the papers date from 1903 to 1914.

Correspondence (1905-1912, with a few letters from 1900) includes letters from Horace White's personal, office, and State Fair files, dating chiefly from the years when he was a state senator and the New York lieutenant- governor. Besides portions of his legislative and routine political correspondence, there is family correspondence with Andrew Dickson White, former president of Cornell University, Andrew S. and Ernest I. White, lawyers in Syracuse, and Horace K. White, the father, also a Syracuse lawyer. Arrangement of the correspondence is under the headings of incoming, outgoing, and other letters.

Approximately 4400 incoming letters date from January 1905 to May 1910, with some additional letters from 1911 and 1912. Gaps in the letters are numerous; in particular, note the following gaps:

1905 Apr 19 - 1906 Jan 10
1906 May 2 - 1907 Jan 5
1907 Apr 29 - 1907 May 5 1907
Jun 6 - 1907 Dec 14
1908 Apr 23 - 1908 May 13
1908 Jun 27 - 1908 Sep 25
1909 May 29 - 1909 Dec 3
1910 May 28 - 1911 Jul 12
1911 Jul 14 - 1912 May 28

Approximately 4000 outgoing letters, represented by carbon copies and, in rare instances, by returned originals, date from January 1905 to May 1910. In box 15 is a section of other letters that includes correspondence of Timothy L. Woodruff, a former New York lieutenant-governor who was then chairman of the New York State Republican executive committee, and letters of other New York State political figures.

Some notable correspondents, with counts on their incoming letters and the copies of Horace White's letters to them, follow.

These letters to White are often from Syracuse firms and individuals, indicating their stands on the gas and insurance scandals and subsequent reforms, the eight-hour workday, home rule for the state's cities, police reform of New York City, the nation's first workmen's compensation law, many other reforms, Onondaga County politics, and the New York State Fair Commission. There are letters from office seekers, requests for appointments and other favors, and copies of letters to the editors of the Syracuse Herald and Post. Approximately half of the letters are addressed to him as chairman of state Senate committees.

Financial files contain receipted bills describing household expenses, medical charges, and expenditures for clothing, club and organization memberships, hotels, restaurants, and the like, with some occasional accompanying correspondence. Also there are itemized bills for telegrams sent. The bills are partly missing for 1913 and are fragmentary for the years 1909, 1910, and 1914. All other years between 1903 and 1912 are thoroughly represented.

Miscellaneous material dates primarily from 1909 and 1910. There are speeches of Horace White, documents relating to the New York State Fair, items of memorabilia, including a few photographs, and documents that relate to matters of public policy and others that relate to legal cases preseumably argued by the White law firm.

Arrangement of the Collection

Incoming correspondence is chronologically arranged; letters dated only to the year are filed at the end of the letters for that year. Outgoing correspondence is alphabetically arranged by name of correspondent. Nineteen letters damaged by oil are separately wrapped and placed in box 15 at the end of the correspondence section; typed copies of those letters have been prepared and placed in the appropriate folders in the sequence of letters. Financial files are grouped by year and within each year are arranged alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Additional Horace White correspondence is located in various other collections; please search the finding aids for "White, Horace" for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947.
Comfort, George Fisk, 1833-1910.
Depew, Chauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell), 1834-1928.
Fobes, Alan C.
Higgins, Frank Wayland, 1856-1907.
Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948.
Low, Seth, 1850-1916.
Munsey, Frank Andrew, 1854-1925.
Odell, Benjamin B. (Benjamin Barker), 1854-1926.
Platt, Thomas Collier, 1833-1910.
Root, Elihu, 1845-1937.
Schurman, Jacob Gould, 1854-1942.
Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930.
Wadsworth, James Wolcott, 1846-1926.
White family.
White, Andrew Dickson, 1832-1918.
White, Horace, 1865-1914 Archives.


Governors -- New York (State)
Legislators -- New York (State)
New York (State) -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.
Onondaga County (N.Y.) -- History.
Politicians -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Financial records.
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Horace White Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Bersani Construction Co., 1962.

The Horace White Papers at Syracuse University are only a part of the correspondence and other files that were stored at the White home at 742 James Street in Syracuse, where Horace White lived for nearly forty years before his death in 1943. Overlooked by family members who cleared the house, the papers were uncovered in the property's carriage house in 1962 shortly before the house's demolition. By that time the papers had been rifled by vandals, with individual letters and whole packets removed, accounting for the many gaps in the correspondence. The missing files have not yet been recovered. The surviving papers were given to Syracuse University by the Bersani Construction Company in 1962.

Table of Contents


Financial files (receipted bills)