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William Lindsay White collection

Call Number: RH MS 608


The William Lindsay White Collection contains career correspondence and manuscripts of author and journalist William Lindsay White and his father, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and author William Allen White. Included also are papers of William Lindsay White's mother Sallie Lindsay White and of his grandparents, Dr. Allen White and Mary Ann Hatten White.


  • Creation: 1815 - 1983


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

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

History of the White family

William Lindsay White (1900-1973)

William Lindsay White was born at Emporia, Kansas on June 17, 1900 to William Allen and Sallie (Lindsay) White. He attended the University of Kansas and Harvard University, graduating from Harvard in 1924. White then joined the newspaper staff of his father's Emporia Gazette, and was named its associate editor in December 1927. He was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1930, and on April 29, 1931 married Kathrine Klinkenberg. His first book, What People Said, was published in 1938.

In 1939, White became a war correspondent for Reader's Digest, writing a daily syndicated column and issuing weekly CBS radio broadcasts from the Finno-Russian front. He won 1939's National Headliners Club citation for best European broadcast. In 1941, the Whites adopted their daughter Barbara, a London war orphan who was the subject of White's popular book of that year titled Journey for Margaret.

With his father's death in January 1944, White became editor of the Emporia Gazette. The following summer, he toured Soviet Russia as a correspondent for the Reader's Digest and the North American Newspaper Alliance. His resulting 1945 book (Report on the Russians), ignited controversy for its criticisms of Soviet Russia in a period of emphasis on American-Soviet friendship.

In 1946, White brought to publication his late father's autobiography, which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1947. He remained a prolific author in his own right, producing a total of thirteen books, over ninety magazine pieces, and several thousand signed newspaper commentaries. Three of his books were adapted for the screen and released as motion pictures. White died at Emporia on July 26, 1973.

William Allen White (1868-1944)

William Allen White was born at Emporia, Kansas, on February 10, 1868, to Dr. Allen White and Mary Ann (Hatten) White. The family soon moved to El Dorado, Kansas. After graduating high school, White attended the College of Emporia, and then the University of Kansas. He left the University for newspaper work, first in El Dorado, and later with the Kansas City Journal and the Kansas City Star.

On April 27, 1893, White married Kansas City schoolteacher Sallie Moss Lindsay. In 1895, they moved from Kansas City to Emporia, where White purchased the Emporia Gazette. White became nationally known for his grass roots social and political editorials, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1923. He authored many articles and books, including a Woodrow Wilson biography and two Calvin Coolidge biographies, and was a regular contributor to journals such as the Saturday Evening Post. He was also a co-founder of the Reader's Digest Book of the Month Club and a lifetime member of its editorial board. White was active and influential in state and national politics of the Republican Party, and was National Committeeman of the Progressive Party under Theodore Roosevelt.

The Whites had two children--son William Lindsay and daughter Mary Katherine. Born in 1904, Mary White died in a horse-riding accident at age sixteen. White's moving editorial in her memory was carried nationally and became one of his best-known writings. William Allen White died on January 29, 1944 at Emporia.

Sallie Moss (Lindsay) White (1869-1950)

Sallie Moss (Lindsay) White was born on December 3, 1869 in Nicholasville, Kentucky to Joseph Moss Lindsay and Frances (Batcheldor) Lindsay. Her family moved to Kansas City, Kansas when she was eight. She became a schoolteacher at age sixteen and married William Allen at age twenty-three. In her marriage, she served as full partner and advisor in her husband's professional life. Sallie White died at Emporia on December 19, 1950, at the age of eighty-one.

Dr. Allen White (1819-1882) and Mary Ann (Hatten) White (1830-1924)

Allen White was born on April 20, 1819, near the community of Norwalk in Huron County, Ohio. He attended medical school at Ohio State Medical College, Columbus, took post-graduate study, and moved to Kansas in 1859, where he practiced medicine and eventually settled in the town of Emporia. On April 15, 1867, he married Mary Ann Hatten, a local schoolteacher. Born on January 3, 1830 at Oswego, New York to Thomas and Ann (Kelly) Hatten, Mary Ann Hatten had been orphaned in childhood, and had worked her way through Galesburg, Illinois' Knox College. In her first teaching appointment at Council Grove, Kansas, she earned notoriety for defying the law and opening her class to African American students.

Soon after their son William Allen was born in 1868, the Whites moved to El Dorado, Kansas, where Allen White operated a drug store, engaged in farming for a time, and from 1879 to 1881 operated their home as a hotel, called "The White House." Allen White died at El Dorado on October 4, 1882. Mary Ann (Hatten) White died at Emporia in 1924.


23.75 Linear Feet (46 boxes + 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The William Lindsay White collection consists chiefly of the career correspondence and manuscripts of author and journalist William Lindsay White and his father, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and author William Allen White. Included to a lesser extent are correspondence and memorabilia of William Allen White's wife Sallie and of his parents, Allen and Mary Ann (Hatten) White. The collection is arranged in four series: Papers of William Lindsay White, Papers of William Allen White, Papers of Sallie (Lindsay) White, and Papers of Allen White and Mary Ann (Hatten) White. Photographs are listed separately in the collection description, and are located at RH MS-P 608.

Correspondence in the papers of William Lindsay White and William Allen White consists primarily of career correspondence related to their writings, with only scant correspondence regarding operations of the Emporia Gazette during their respective terms as managing editor of the newspaper. Correspondents include notable authors, journalists, and politicians of the 1920s to the 1970s. Among these are Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Alfred M. Landon, Wendell Willkie, Richard Nixon, and writers John Dos Passos and Edna Ferber. In the papers of William Allen White are many letters concerning Woodrow Wilson and his relationship with socialite Mary Allen Hulbert, whose several letters to White are included.

Each series contains family correspondence, which predominates in papers of Sallie Lindsay White and papers of Allen and Mary Ann (Hatten) White. Of note in the family correspondence of William Allen White are condolences received on the death of his daughter Mary, and White's many letters to his mother, which date from 1891 to 1920.

Included with drafts and galley proofs of the various writings of William Lindsay White and William Allen White are their associated background materials and notes, correspondence files related to their writings (with subjects of the works, publishers, and readers), and critical reviews of published works.


The William Lindsay White Collection is arranged in five series: Papers of William Lindsay White, Papers of William Allen White, Papers of Sallie (Lindsay) White, and the combined Papers of Allen White and Mary Ann (Hatten) White. Within each series are correspondence files and memorabilia. The papers of William Lindsay White and of William Allen White, which comprise most of the collection, also include manuscripts of their writings. There is a separate series of Photographs.

Physical Location

RH MS 608

Physical Location

RH MS-P 608

Physical Location

RH MS R118

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Kathrine (Mrs. William Lindsay) White, 1975, 1977-1981, 1986-1987.

Related Materials

Johnson, Walter , Key to microfilm letters to or from William Allen White in the possession of Walter Johnson, 1899 through July 1939, at RH MS D217, Kansas Collection, Spencer Library.

White, William Allen, 1868-1944 , Letters to Mrs. H. P. Rosenburg, Emporia, Kansas, 22 August, 1927, at RH MS P272, Kansas Collection, Spencer Library.

White, William Allen, 1868-1944 , Collected poems of William Allen White, compiled by Donald S. Pady, 1962, at RH MS Dk9, Kansas Collection, Spencer Library.

White, William Lindsay , Scrapbook of mounted newspaper clippings, 1947, at RH MS E146, Kansas Collection, Spencer Library.

Emporia Gazette, May 5, 1893-Dec. 31, 1946, [microfilm] at RH MF 30, Kansas Collection, Spencer Library.

Guide to the William Lindsay White Collection
William Lindsay White collection
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2005. Finding aid encoded by mh, 2005. Finding aid revised by cl, 2010; skt, 2010; mm, 2020, 2021; mwh, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
William Lindsay White collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 608, 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