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Elliott family papers

Call Number: RH MS 338


The Elliott family papers consist of correspondence, printed materials, photographs, and memorabilia from a family that settled in Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas soon after it opened for Euro-American settlement in 1854.


  • Creation: 1838 - 1976


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Robert Gaston Elliott

Robert Gaston Elliott came to Lawrence, Kansas from Indiana in 1854. From 1855 sporadically until 1857, Robert Elliott and Josiah Miller operated the Kansas Free State, a newspaper devoted to maintaining Kansas as an area opposed to the introduction of slavery. After 1856, Elliott served in numerous city, county, and state offices. He introduced the bill into the state legislature that placed the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

Robert Elliott married Hattie Anderson on November 13, 1867 in Lawrence. Their union produced four children, one of whose family (Samuel Steele Elliott) is the focus of this collection.

Biography of Samuel Elliott

Samuel Elliott was born on June 18, 1870, and lived in the Lawrence, KS area until his death on November 17, 1957. Samuel Elliott was a postman in Lawrence for 46 years (1889-1935), the last five years of which he serviced the University of Kansas campus.

During the war, Samuel Elliott responded to a plea for help from KU officials and came out of retirement to serve in several volunteer capacities: as a custodian at Fraser Hall; as a "houseparent" for wartime employees of Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant quartered at KU; and later for student veterans housed in Spooner-Thayer Museum at KU. Finally, when he tried to retire again in 1948, KU officials asked him to become the warden of Danforth Chapel.

Samuel Elliott married Jeannette Herriott in 1894, and they had six children. Five of their six children graduated from the University of Kansas and their daughter, Maude Herriott Elliott, was an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University until her retirement in 1968.

Biography of Maude Elliott

Maude Elliott's education and career spanned over 50 years. As a young woman, she taught under frontier conditions in the Sandhills of Finney County, KS; worked in Washington, D.C. during World War I; and taught at schools in Ohio and Oklahoma. In 1929 she was asked to join the faculty of the Spanish Department at KU where she had earned A.B. and M.A. degrees in 1921 and 1924. Between 1943 and 1963 she served as an Assistant to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for Counseling.


1.25 Linear Feet (3 document cases)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence of Samuel Steele Elliott, most of which is between Sam Elliott and his oldest daughter, Jeannette Herriott Elliott Aldrich of Portland, Oregon, between 1936 and 1954. Much of the correspondence outlines the day-to-day activities of Sam Elliott during the 1940s as he did volunteer work for KU and the Plymouth Congregational Church. There are also letters from his son, Samuel Herriott Elliott, from Fort Riley, Kansas, during World War I (summer 1917).

Also of interest in the collection is a series of letters between Sam Elliott's parents before their marriage, Robert Gaston Elliott and Hattie Anderson Elliott, between 1849 and 1866. This correspondence provides excellent insight into the activities of territorial Kansas and early Lawrence.

There is a variety of printed materials and ephemera pertaining to Sam Elliott's life, the University of Kansas, Plymouth Congregational Church, and early Lawrence and its prominent citizens. Also of interest is a paper written by Maude Elliott in 1976 which discusses her experiences as a pioneer school teacher in Finney County, Kansas, 1917-1918; a memory book belonging to Maude Elliott during her student days at Lawrence High School and Kansas University (1916-1918); and an autograph album given to Samuel Steele Elliott in 1882.

Physical Location

RH MS 338

Physical Location

RH MS-P 338

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Maude Elliott, September 1981; Jeanne Aldrich, 1982.

Related Materials

Kansas Territory Treasurer's Office Collection, Kansas Collection, RH Vlt MS P6, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Josiah Miller Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS E56, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Josiah Miller Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS E57, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Guide to the Elliot Family Collection
Elliot family papers
Finding aid compiled by dg 12/82; nh 12/86. Finding aid encoded by mg, 2004. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2017; dsw, 2020; mwh, 2022.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Elliot family papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 338, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States