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Hiram Powers Dilworth Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Dilworth

Scope and Content of the Collection

Primarily poetry manuscripts and poetry composition journals.

Dilworth's composition journals were written earlier in his life and reveal all stages of the writing process, from notes to polished handwritten final drafts, such as in his long poem “Gethsemane.” Some of the journals also contain notes and fingers for his interpretation of piano pieces. The manuscripts are written on loose-leaf paper cut from Art Institute weekly bulletins and programs from musical events. Drafts of Dilworth's lengthy poems detail his many revisions, but usually are meticulously labeled and organized.

There is one folder of personal material, which includes copyright certificates, newspaper clippings, biographical information, some correspondence, and miscellaneous notes.


  • Creation: 1908-1974



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Hiram Powers Dilworth Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Hiram Powers Dilworth 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.

Biography of Hiram Powers Dilworth

Chicago-based pianist and poet.

Hiram Powers Dilworth was born in Hicksville, Ohio, in 1878 and graduated from Antioch College in 1900. He received a degree from the Cincinnati College of Music and became director of music at Nebraska State University. He eventually moved to Chicago, where he worked as a guard at the art Institute from 1904-1959. He continued to perform concert recitals and was active in the Chicago music scene. Dilworth died on December 4, 1975.

Dilworth acknowledged that he took the job as a guard at the Art Institute so he could devote himself to his poetry. Most of his poetry manuscripts consist of verses written on the back of weekly bulletins from the Art Institute. Usually composed in his own variation of the sonnet-form, Dilworth’s lengthy poems often exceed one hundred stanzas. While the majority of his work focuses on traditional themes like nature and patriotism, as well as poems in memoriam, there are occasional humorous pieces such as “Ode to Coffee.” Another major theme is music, as many of his poems indicate that he was inspired by a piece of classical music or specific musical performances and performers.

While he was published several times and received praise for his work, he disdained the idea of being a poet-for-profit. Some of his published work includes “The Cup of Joy,” “Les Sonnets Célestes,” and “Ode to Morning.” His most famous work was his epic poem “Harry Butters,” in honor of a young California man who joined the British Army and was killed in France early in World War I. Dilworth received praise for it from the likes of Jack London, Winston Churchill, and Lloyd George.


1.3 Linear Feet (3 boxes)


The personal documents, poetry manuscripts, and poetry composition journals of pianist and poet Hiram Powers Dilworth. Dilworth graduated from both Antioch College and the Cincinnati College of Music in Ohio. He moved to Chicago where he worked as a guard at the Art Institute and continued concert performances. Personal material includes newspaper clippings about Dilworth and copyright certificates for his published work. His manuscripts and composition journals contain handwritten drafts of his poems, which he often wrote in traditional forms like sonnets and odes.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Poems, approximately 1917-1961
Boxes 1-3
Series 2: Poetry Journals, 1908-1974
Box 3

Collection Stack Location

1 14 4


Gift, Dr. M. M. Petterson, 1980.

Processed by

Emma Reynolds, 2010.

Inventory of the Hiram Powers Dilworth Papers, 1908-1974
Emma Reynolds
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