Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / Manuscript Collections / Oliver Otis Howard Papers

Oliver Otis Howard Papers, 1833-1912, n.d. (bulk 1846-1908)

60.0 linear feet.

Catalog Number:M91

Series List:


Agency History / Biographical Note:
Oliver Otis Howard (1830-1909, Bowdoin 1850), a career officer in the United States Army, rose to the rank of bvt. maj. general in the volunteers and, later, in the regular army.  During the Civil War, he fought at Bull Run, Fair Oaks, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, and in Sherman's march through Georgia. After the Civil War, Howard was appointed commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (1865-1873). Subsequent appointments included: commander of the Department of the Columbia (1874-1880) during the Nez Perce War; superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point (1880-1882); commander of the Department of the Platte (1882-1886) and the Divisions of the Pacific (1886-1888) and the East (1888-1894).

Howard was instrumental in founding Howard University and Lincoln Memorial University. Howard was graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850 and from West Point in 1854. He served at Watervliet Arsenal in West Troy, N.y. (1854-1855); Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta, Me. (1855-1856); and in the Seminole Wars in Florida (1856-1857).

In 1872, he led a peace mission to Cochise. Howard was also involved in Republican Party politics, the Congregational Home Missionary Society, the Young Men's Christian Association, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, and the Congregational Church.

Howard was the author of several works, including The Autobiography of Oliver Otis Howard (1907), My Life and Experiences Among our Hostile Indians (1907) and Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known (1908). In 1855, Howard married Elizabeth A. Waite of Portland, Me. The couple had five sons and two daughters.

Scope and Content:
Correspondence, articles, addresses, lectures, publications, diaries, clippings, indexes and other material from the personal and unofficial professional records of Oliver Otis Howard. Also includes images from a variety of sources. Howard corresponded with more than 14,000 people, including notables in the military, social reformation, politics and law, religion, education, literature and journalism, and the arts.

Correspondents include: Henry Ward Beecher, Blanche K. Bruce, Andrew Carnegie, Salmon P. Chase, George Crook, Dorothea Dix, Frederick Douglass, James A. Garfield, William Lloyd Garrison, Ulysses S. Grant, Edward Everett Hale, Winfield S. Hancock, Rutherford B. Hayes, William Randolph Hearst, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, William McKinley, Montgomery C. Meigs, Nelson A. Miles, Dwight L. Moody, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, Carl Schurz, Philip H. Sheridan, John Sherman, William T. Sherman, Daniel E. Sickles, Edwin M. Stanton, Charles Sumner, William H. Taft, Soujourner Truth and Booker T. Washington.

His most voluminous correspondence (minimum of 110 letters received each) was with: Charles F. Eager of Lincoln Memorial University; Cyrus Kehr, speaking agent; John Hale Larry of Lincoln Memorial University; Henry F. McCoy of the San Francisco Y.M.C.A.; J. E. Rankin of Howard University; Wager Swayne of the Freedmen's Bureau in Alabama; and Eliphalet Whittlesey of the Board of Indian Commissioners. The collections of Howard's brothers, Charles Henry Howard and Rowland Bailey Howard, supplement this material.

Cite as: Oliver Otis Howard Papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

Access Restrictions: None.

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