In 1840, William Osman, moved to Ottawa, Ill., from Dauphin County, Pa. A fervent Jacksonian Democrat, Osman eventually became the publisher of The Free Trader, a Democratic newspaper.
This collection mainly contains Osman's correspondence from before and after his move to Illinois. Earlier letters describe student life at Gettysburg College and discuss such topics as politics, slavery, colonization, racial attitudes, temperance, and trade unionism. Later letters reveal the concerns and aspirations of a young man trying to establish himself in the newspaper business during the Jacksonian Era, and also contain references to religion, women and courtship, and emigration to the West.
Most of the collection (Folders 1-16) has been microfilmed (Microfilm Master 00-0093/1). The collection includes a genealogy compiled by Jay Osman, and partial transcripts of certain letters, made Bryon Andreasen. Osman's granddaughter, Elizabeth M. Osman, of Urbana, Ill., donated the collection to the Illinois Historical Survey in 1993.