Robert M. La Follette Sr. papers, 1879-1910, 1922-1924.


La Follette, Robert M. (Robert Marion), 1855-1925. Robert M. La Follette Sr. papers, 1879-1910, 1922-1924.

Robert M. La Follette Sr. papers, 1879-1910, 1922-1924.

Papers of Wisconsin statesman and politician Robert M. La Follette, Sr., consisting of correspondence, governor's letterbooks, speeches and writings, records of the Wisconsin Republican Party, financial records, and miscellaneous records. La Follette served as a Wisconsin congressman, governor, and U.S. senator and was a crucial figure in the Progressive Movement of the early twentieth century. The collection documents his early career in the political reform movement in Wisconsin. In 1901 the reformers won control of the state Republican Party and La Follette began the first of his three terms as governor. Under his leadership, the state enacted the chief planks of his reform program--the primary election law and the railroad regulation act. These important pieces of legislation then served as the models for similar reforms by other states and by the federal government. The largest section of the La Follette Papers consists of personal, political, and legal correspondence. Included in addition to La Follette's own letters are letters to his law office, letters to his campaign offices, and mail between other members of the reform coalition. Little personal correspondence among members of the La Follette family is present. The letters prior to 1900 largely relate to La Follette's law practice; after that date constituent correspondence predominates including opinions and questions on pending legislation, speaking invitations, and job applications. Constituent correspondence after his election to the Senate in 1906 chiefly concerns those issues upon which La Follette had established a national reputation including interstate commerce, railroad reform, Indian affairs, and other topics. In addition routine correspondence from his 1908 Presidential campaign and his 1910 Senatorial campaign is included. Included is information on the founding of the Milwaukee Free Press as a statewide progressive newspaper and its financial difficulties. Numerous letters from both Wisconsin and national figures reflect La Follette's activities and growing influence in political affairs. The governor's letterbooks contain outgoing correspondence, 1901-1905. Many of the letters are routine although a few personal letters are included. The speeches and writings section contains speeches and drafts, messages to the legislature, statements and proclamations, remarks, books and articles, and some campaign documents. Also present is a large amount of research material on railroad rates used in speech preparation. The Wisconsin Republican Party records consist of correspondence, voter lists, registers of electors, legal material for the tumultuous 1904 convention from which the "stalwart" segments of the party withdrew to nominate their own candidate, and miscellaneous material. The voter lists were used for campaign mailings and to aid in organizing local Republican committees; these are among the few records of personal party affiliation during this significant period. The lists provide notes on occupation, national origin, and degree of party influence. The registers of electors concern a small number of Wisconsin cities. The 1904 convention material consists of research material, affidavits and exhibits, and drafts, all concerning the La Follette slate's brief for the Wisconsin Supreme Court deciding which was the legitimate ticket of the Republican Party. The collection's only materials dating after 1910 are the correspondence from 1922 and 1924 included in this section. This is generally routine material from La Follette's Senate campaign office in 1922 and from the Wisconsin organization of his 1924 Presidential campaign. Included in 1924 are forms listing names, occupations, and amounts of contributions. Financial records date primarily before 1900 and consist of checks, check stubs, deposit books, bills and receipts, the personal financial records of law partner Samuel A. Harper, and the records of the law firm La Follette, Harper, Roe, and Zimmerman. Miscellaneous records include shorthand notebooks, a register of letters of application and endorsement, and two volumes from La Follette's law practice. The processed portion of this collection is summarized above, dates 1879-1910, 1922-1924, and is described in the box list and published guide. An additional accession, 1896-1906, is described below.

57.6 c.f. (214 archives boxes, 18 black boxes, and 1 flat box) and163 reels of microfilm (35 mm); plusadditions of 0.1 c.f.

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