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James Whitcomb Riley Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916.
Title: James Whitcomb Riley Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1883-1908
Quantity: 6 items (SC)
Abstract: Papers of the American poet. Outgoing correspondence of a personal nature; annotated list.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) was an American poet, known for "simple sentiments that come direct from the heart." He has also been called the Hoosier Poet and the children's poet. He published many collections of verse, among them Pipes o' Pan at Zekesbury (1888), Old-Fashioned Roses (1888), A Child-World (1896), and Home Folks (1900). His best-known poems include "Little Orphant Annie" and "The Raggedy Man." A complete collection of his poems was published in 1916.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The James Whitcomb Riley Collection comprises correspondence and miscellany. Correspondence consists of six outgoing letters. In one of the letters, to fellow poet James Newton Matthews, Riley praises African-American poet Paul Dunbar (1892 Nov. 28):

Yesterday picked up one of Paul Dunbar's poems way out here; and have just wrote him about it, and to lend a hand, if possible, toward the initial boost you gave him. Certainly he deserves applause, and if he can stand it, there's the making of a very novel type of poet in him -- a credit not only to his own race but Freedom's everywhere.

The single item of Miscellany is a list, in pencil, with annotations.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Letters are in chronological order, followed by the single item of miscellany.

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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.

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Subject Headings


Finley, John, 1797-1866.
Matthews, James Newton, 1852-1910.
Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916.


American poetry.
Poets, American.

Genres and Forms

Letters (correspondence)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

James Whitcomb Riley Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Piskor, and Sol Feinstone.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: KM
Date: July 1988
Revision history: Dec 1996 - revised (KM); 29 Sep 2008 - converted to EAD (MRC)

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SC 47 Finley, John Apr. 11, 1908
SC 47 Matthews, James Newton Feb. 8, 1883; Oct. 12, 1885; Nov. 28, 1892
SC 47 Morgan, John S. Oct. 17, 1891
SC 47 Scribner, Arthur H. Dec. 7, 1897
SC 47 List, annotated

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