October 29, 2022

William Jennings Bryan, 1860-1925 [RG3198.AM]


RG3198.AM:  William Jennings Bryan, 1860-1925

Papers:  1883-1980s, n.d.
Lincoln, Lancaster County, Neb.:  Statesman, orator
Size:  2.0 cu. ft., and 5 reels of microfilm


William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois on March 19, 1860. He attended public school in Salem until the age of 15 when he entered Whipple Academy at Jacksonville, Illinois. Bryan was active in debate and declamatory oration and the valedictory address. He had become interested in politics in his later years at college, and remained active after entering law practices with a Jacksonville firm in 1883. In 1887 he was persuaded to move to Lincoln, Nebraska and enter practice with A.R. Talbot. In Nebraska he immediately became active with the activities of the Democratic Party, and was a delegate to the state Democratic convention in 1888. He was elected to Congress, serving from 1891-1895, having failed in his bid for a Senate seat in 1894.

During this period, Bryan was a leader of the silver coinage forces, and it was at the Democratic National Convention in 1896 when he made his famous “Cross of Gold” speech. Supported by the rising Populist Party, the “Boy Orator of the Platte” began his campaign for the presidency in which he was three times a candidate and three times defeated (1896, 1900, 1908). He remained a leader of the Democratic party and in 1912 led the movement that named Woodrow Wilson to be the Democratic candidate. Upon his election, Wilson made Bryan his Secretary of State. In this capacity Bryan campaigned for peace, negotiating treaties with thirty other nations. When he saw that the United States was about to enter the war, he resigned his post.

Bryan was a great showman and had a command of oratory which enabled him to hold his mid-western audiences spellbound. A true humanitarian with deep religious convictions and a dedicated advocate of temperance, he was always a champion of the common people. He was an editor, establishing the newspaper The Commoner at Lincoln; and an author. Bryan lived his last years in Miami, Florida, and died while attending court at Dayton, Tennessee in July 1925.


This collection consists of manuscript materials, five rolls of microfilm, and sixteen items of oversize material arranged in nine series: 1) Correspondence, 1883-1930, n.d.; 2) Bibliography; 3) Microfilm correspondence, speeches and articles, 1900-1920; 4) Biographical material; 5) Clippings, 1891-1980s, n.d.; 6) Speeches and manuscripts by Bryan, 1892-1924, n.d.; 7) Speeches and manuscripts about Bryan, 1893-1966, n.d.; 8) Scrapbooks (on microfilm), 1886-1925; and 9) Miscellany.

The bulk of this material consists of clippings and scrapbooks containing addresses of and notes on William Jennings Bryan. The most valuable part of this collection consists of a microfilm record of the Bryan material at Occidental College. Note: Permission to publish or make other substantial use of items in Series 3 must be obtained from the Special Collections Librarian, Mary Norton Clapp Library, Occidental College.

The scrapbook microfilm came as a gift from William Jennings Bryan, Jr. in 1960, who retains all literary rights during his lifetime.

Additional unsorted clippings about William Jennings Bryan were added to the collection (see box 4).

For information about additional William Jennings Bryan materials, including photographs and audio recordings, please contact our Library Staff.  See also the Nebraska History index and the History Nebraska Library Catalog for published materials by and about William Jennings Bryan.

Note:  This collection has been digitized and is available online through our Digital Collections portal.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1883-1930, n.d.

Box 1

  1. 1883-1892
  2. 1895-1900
  3. 1901-1905
  4. 1906-1908
  5. 1909; 1912-1915; ca. 1920; 1925
  6. 1926
  7. 1929-1930, n.d.

Series 2 – Bibliography

Box 1

  1. Bibliography of books, photos, and clippings on Bryan

Series 3 – Microfilm correspondence, speeches and articles, 1900-1920

Reel 1A (From Occidental College)

  1. Speeches and articles not in publications
  2. Speeches and articles not in publications
  3. Speeches and articles not in publications
  4. Speeches and articles not in publications
  5. Correspondence showing political principles, personal ideals and beliefs
  6. Correspondence showing political principles, personal ideals and beliefs
  7. Roosevelt letters, etc.
  8. Roosevelt letters, etc.
  9. Champ Clark correspondence
  10. Champ Clark correspondence
  11. Letters written on world tour
  12. Letters written on world tour
  13. Personal incidents, family matters
  14. Personal incidents, family matters
  15. Gifts and benefactions
  16. Gifts and benefactions
  17. Cabinet days, Wilson etc.
  18. Cabinet days, Wilson etc.
  19. Personal political organization
  20. Personal political organization
  21. Personal family letters
  22. Personal family letters
  23. Personal family letters
  24. Personal family letters
  25. Personal family letters
  26. Personal family letters
  27. Personal family letters
  28. Personal family letters
  29. Personal family letters
  30. Personal family letters
  31. Personal family letters
  32. Not classified
  33. Not classified
  34. Not classified

Series 4 – Biographical material

Box 1

  1. Genealogical material, research notes, biographical sketches and manuscript entitled “Personal Recollections of William Jennings Bryan” by Seymour L. Smith

Series 5 – Clippings, 1891-1980s, n.d. (see also box 4)

Box 1

  1. 1891
  2. 1892
  3. 1893
  4. 1894
  5. 1895
  6. 1896
  7. 1896
  8. 1896
  9. 1896
  10. 1896
  11. 1896
  12. 1897
  13. 1898
  14. 1899
  15. 1900-1903 (See also OB006)
  16. 1904

Box 2

  1. 1906
  2. 1907
  3. 1908
  4. 1912
  5. 1913
  6. 1914-1919
  7. 1920s
  8. 1930s-1940s
  9. 1950s-1980s
  10. Undated
  11. Undated

Series 6 – Speeches and manuscripts by William Jennings Bryan, 1892-1924, n.d.

Box 2

  1. Rules, etc., 1892
    Election of U.S. Senators by the People, 1892
  2. Tariff issue speeches, 1892 and 1896
  3. Speeches while in the House of Representatives, 1893-1894 (extracts from the Congressional Record):
    Duties on Wool and Woolen Goods, March 16, 1892
    The Tariff, January 13, 1894
    Income Tax, January 30, 1894
    “The Omniverous West,” April 10, 1894
    The Gold and Silver Coinage of the Constitution, August 16, 1893
    Silver-Unconditional Repeal, November 1, 1894
    Coining Seigniorage, February 27, 1894
    Money, June 5, 1894
    Anti-Option Bill, June 18, 1894
    Election of U.S. Senators by the People, July 20, 1894
    Sale of Property under Decrees of U.S. Courts, March 9, 1892
    Free Binding-Twine, May 9, 1892
    Pinkerton Detectives, May 12, 1892
    Naval Appropriation Bill, July 9, 1892
    Silver-Unconditional Repeal, February 9, 1893
    Bonds, February 27, 1893
    Counting a Quorum, April 17, 1894
    Eulogy, July 14, 1894
  4. Purchase of Silver and Issue of Bonds, February 9 and 27, 1893
    Bryan’s Currency Creed (“Accompanied by Appropriate Comments” by opponents), 1893-1894
    Pacific Railroad Funding Bill, February 1, 1895
  5. Speech Before Democratic National Convention (“Cross of Gold” speech), July 9, 1896
    Speech of Acceptance to Populists, 1896
    Speech Delivered at Notification Meeting, New York, August 12, 1896
    The Currency Question: A Prophetic Utterance-published in The Arena, September 1897
  6. Money, February 26. 1897
    Address at Chicago Anti-Trust Conference, September 16, 1899
    Imperialism, August 8, 1900
    Anti-Trust Speech, September 16, 1900
    The Trust Question, undated
  7. Eulogy of Oliver N. Humphrey, April 30, 1901
    Asiatic Immigration, undated
    Imperialism, ca. 1908
  8. Republican Extravagance-delivered at Minnesota State Fair, August 31, no year
    Speech to Central Labor Union, July 17, 1908
    Speech to students of Fremont Normal School, July 18, 1908
  9. Thank-you speech, July 10, 1908
    Notification speech, August 12, 1908
  10. Labor
  11. The Trust Question

Box 3

  1. The Prince of Peace
  2. Notice to American Citizens Who Contemplate Visiting Belligerent Countries, 1914
    The Resignation of William Jennings Bryan as Secretary of State and the Documents that Present the Issue, 1915
    Food Conservation, 1917
    All, 1922
    Interview in Pierre, South Dakota, 1922
    Is the Bible True? 1924
    The Menace of Darwinism
    Denominational Culture
  3. Letters to a Chinese Official-Being A Western View of Eastern Civilization, 1906
  4. Guaranteed Banks
    Foreign Influence in American Politics
    Peace Plan
    Catholic Missionaries

Series 7 – Speeches and manuscripts about William Jennings Bryan, 1892-1966, n.d.

Box 3

  1. Bryan’s Currency Creed (“Accompanied by Appropriate Comments” by opponents), 1893-1894
    Proposed Purchase of the Presidency for William J. Bryan by the Silver Trust, 1896
    The Workingman’s Friends, 1896
    What Bryan Could Do
    Silver and Wheat: Bryan Argument in the Light of Experience, 1898
    Colonel Bryan’s Bug-Bear
    Bryan’s Power for Doing Mischief
    The False Prophecies of W.J. Bryan, 1900
    Bryan’s Predictions False, 1900
    Free Silver and Some Other Things, 1896 and 1900
    Mr. Bryan and His Platform, 1900
  2. Anti-Imperialism is Old Copperheadism, 1900
    The Filipinos, 1900
    Bryan’s Attitude Towards the Philippines, 1900
    Bryan’s “Militarism” Cry. Sulu Slavery Question. Labor and Our Colonies
    James H. Eckels Tells Why He Did Not and Will Not Support Bryan, 1900
    With Bryan’s Consent
    Hughes’ Reply to Bryan, 1908
    William Jennings Bryan and the Little Plot of 1894 [1908]
    Mr. Bryan Rides Behind, 1914
    Attack on and Defense of Bryan, 1917
  3. Bryan on Religion
    Bryan-The Modern Elijah
    Bryan as a Soldier, 1926
    Address by Ambassador Josephus Daniels at W.J. Bryan Breakfast, 1937
    Bryan-World Citizen, 1938
    Bryan-Friend and Partner, 1939
    Bryan, The Champion of the Oppressed, 1940
  4. Address by William Ritchie at Memorial Breakfast, 1940
    Speech by A.R. Talbot to the Nebraska State Historical Society, 1940
    Address by William Ritchie at Bryan’s Birthday Banquet, 1941
    Bryan-The Missionary, 1942
  5. Birthday Oration, 1942
    The Crown Prince of Peace, 1943
    Address by Charles H. Sloan at Memorial Banquet, 1943
    Statement of I.J. Dunn Regarding 1912 Democratic National Convention, 1945
    William Jennings Bryan and the Social Gospel, 1966

Series 8 – Scrapbooks (on microfilm), 1886-1925

Reel 1

  1. 1891-1892
  2. 1890-1896
  3. 1886-1888
  4. Democratic Convention at St. Louis, 1904
  5. Prohibition Campaign, 1915
  6. Philippines, 1905-1906
  7. Canadian Prohibition Campaign, 1918
  8. Christian Science Monitor, 1915
  9. Campaign, 1893-entitled “Bryanism in Oklahoma”
  10. Photos of Bryan’s notification in 1908 (original transferred to Photo Room)

Reel 2

  1. 1896
  2. 1895-1925

Reels 2-4

  1. Bound volumes of Newspapers, November 1-8, 1896, including: [Note: filmed in the order the issues were bound, not in alphabetical order by title or city]:Atlanta Constitution
    Chicago Record
    Chicago Times-Herald
    Chicago Tribune
    Denver Rocky Mountain News
    New Orleans Daily Picayune
    New York Journal
    New York Sun
    New York Tribune
    New York World
    St. Louis Globe Democrat
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    St. Louis Republican
    San Francisco Chronicle

Reel 4

  1. Newspapers, 1925
  2. Misc. newspapers and clippings
  3. Clippings on Bryan’s reception in New York, 1906
  4. Bryan Family in other states; W.J. Bryan and C.W. Bryan deaths and funerals
  5. Scopes trial; Bryan’s death

Series 9 – Miscellany

Box 3

  1. Will of Silas L. Bryan; Last Will and Testament of William Jennings Bryan (typescript)
  2. Tributes
  3. Bryan Statue and Memorial
  4. Bryan Centennial, 1960
  5. Bryan Memorial University Association
  6. Programs
  7. Membership cards, notes, certificate, poster, dedications
  8. Bryan College material relating to the college, Bryan, & the Scopes Trial [1992, 448M]
  9. Broadside for Bryan speech in Orange County, CA, Apr. 9, 1900 (See OD060)
  10. Fairview guest book, c. 1906-1955. Includes handwritten blessing by Abdul Bahai Abbas (Sept. 23, 1912), son of founder of Bahai Faith. (See oversize volume)
  11. Otoe County Democratic, or Bryan Volunteer, Club, Constitution and minutes, 1908-1910


2 Anti-Bryan broadsides, 1908 Presidential Campaign

Box 4

Misc. unprocessed newspaper clippings (2007.0067)


Subject headings:

Bryan, Mary (Baird), 1861-1930
Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925
Political oratory — United States
Presidential candidates — United States
Silver question
Statesmen — United States
United States — Politics and government

11-30-2006 Revised TMM

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