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Elvira Sheridan Badger papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Badger

Scope and Content of the Collection

Six volumes of Elvira C. Sheridan Badger's diaries spanning the years of 1859-1903, and one diary fragment, 1877-1878, together with two volumes of antebellum parlor music bound for Elvira C. Sheridan prior to her marriage, later diary transcriptions and narratives, a 20th-century family photograph, and a facsimile of a notebook kept by Alpheus Shreve Badger pertaining to the freeing of his slaves from 1852.

The diaries provide daily accounts of weather conditions, family illnesses, visitors, and other activities. Entries also discuss the 1860 presidential election, Union sentiment in Louisville, the pro-Union sentiments of the diarist and her New Hampshire-born husband, the family's decision to free their slaves and their relations with them. Civil War battles are also noted, as are the family's reasons for moving to Chicago and Elvira's feelings on leaving family in Louisville and her impressions of her new home. Later Chicago diaries describe a prosperous life on Calumet Ave., where the family moved in 1870. The Chicago fire is mentioned, as are the neighbors (Leiter family of dry goods firm Field and Leiter).

Music volumes bound for Elvira C. Sheridan include piano sheet music of marches, polkas, ballads, waltzes, sonatas, etc., dating primarily from the 1840's. Among the selections are songs and pieces composed to commemorate battles, presidential candidates, and other events of the day. Many were published in Louisville by W.C. Peters. One 1841 march, "Citizens Guards' March," has a printed dedication to Maria Louisa Todd (later Mrs. Abraham Lincoln) on the cover.

There is also an unidentified photograph probably of family descendants, as well as a few later transcriptions of diary and a brief narrative regarding the family, slavery, and the Civil War.


  • Creation: 1859-approximately 1930
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1859-1878



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Elvira Sheridan Badger papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Elvira Sheridan Badger papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Elvira Cecelia Sheridan Badger

Louisville, Kentucky, and Chicago, Illinois, wife and mother.

Elvira Cecelia Sheridan Badger was born April 4, 1832, in Charleston, South Carolina to John J. and Martha Sheridan. Shortly after the birth of Elvira's brother, Joseph, in 1834, the Sheridan family moved from South Carolina to Louisville, Kentucky. Elvira married Alpheus C. Badger, a prominent banker, in the early 1850's. The couple had six children: Belle, Elvira, Ada, Sheridan, Alpheus, and Abraham.

Following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the Badgers moved to Chicago where Alpheus became a prominent financier. The family resided on Michigan Avenue and later on Calumet Avenue. Elvira Cecelia Sheridan Badger died November 22, 1911.


1.7 Linear Feet (2 oversize boxes)


Six personal diaries and one diary fragment kept by Elvira Cecelia Sheridan Badger of Kentucky and Illinois, spanning the years 1859 through 1903. Also popular antebellum piano music compiled and bound for Badger before her marriage. Facsimile of notebook kept by Alpheus Shreve Badger about his move to Chicago and the subsequent freedom of his slaves in 1852. Diary entries concern the daily lives of a well-to-do family, including their 1861 move to Chicago, Illinois. Sentiment in Kentucky regarding the approach of the Civil War, relations with and freeing of the family's slaves, and news of the war are also noted.


Materials arranged alphabetically by type of document.

Collection Stack Location

1 4 2


Gift, Frances Badger, 1991; Camille MacDonald Weiss, 2011.

Processed by

Leigh Ann Ripley, 2005.

Inventory of the Elvira Sheridan Badger papers, 1859-approximately 1930, bulk 1859-1878
Finding aid prepared by Leigh Ann Ripley
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States