This collection consists of the personal and research papers William E. Barton, as well as the research papers of his son, Robert S. Barton. Both Bartons were Lincoln scholars who wrote extensively on Abraham Lincoln.
William E. Barton (1861-1930) was a minister and Lincoln biographer. Born in Sublette (Lee County), Illinois, he graduated from Berea College in 1885 before preaching for the American Missionary Association in Robbins, Tennessee. Soon after, he studied divinity at Oberlin Theological Seminary, and was a pastor in Litchfield and Wellington, Ohio. He received his Bachelors of Divinity degree in 1890. His first major pulpit was at the Shawmut Congregational Church in Boston from 1893-1899. He spent the remainder of his career preaching in Oak Park, Illinois, until his retirement in 1924. Throughout the 1920s, William Barton was a commanding figure in Lincoln scholarship. His research notes emphasize, among other topics, Lincoln in Kentucky; Mark W. Delahay, a cousin of Lincoln's; and Lincoln and the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. Robert S. Barton (1894-1954), son of William E. Barton, had a career in advertising. Once retired, he turned to Lincoln scholarship to fulfill his lifelong interest in Abraham Lincoln.
This collection consists of the research papers of both William E. Barton and Robert S. Barton, and the personal papers of William E. Barton. Series 1 includes book-length manuscripts (one unpublished), articles, speeches, reviews, and sermons written by William E. Barton. Series 2 includes sermons, articles, lectures, editorials, and parables written and delivered by William E. Barton during his career as a church pastor. Series 2 also includes personal correspondence of the Barton family. Series 3 includes the personal and research papers of Robert S. Barton, and contains notes, correspondences, drafts, published articles, and a published copy of the book he co-authored with Zarel C. Spears, Berry and Lincoln, Frontier Merchants: The Store that "Winked Out" (1947). Other materials in Series 3 relate to the activities of the Lincoln Group of Boston and to the opening of the Robert Todd Lincoln papers in 1947. The Robert S. Barton correspondence includes other Lincoln scholars, such as Paul M. Angle, Roy P. Basler, R. Gerald McMurtry, J. Monaghan, William H. Townsend, and Louis A. Warren.
The Library purchased this collection in 1969.