This collection consists of approximately 175 manuscript items collected by John Chester, a member of the University of Illinois Class of 1891, who gave portions of his collection to the University Library over a twenty year period. The manuscripts comprise autographs, letters, news clippings, and portraits, including over 100 items concerning Napoleon Bonaparte and people associated with him, as well as similar memorabilia concerned with American history (especially the U.S. Civil War) and American writers, including Oliver Wendell Holmes and Joel Chandler Harris.
Besides this manuscript collection, Chester gave many books to the University of Illinois. Among Chester's early gifts to the university was a first edition of Sir Walter Raleigh's The History of the World (1614). This volume was the first gift made to the Library through the University of Illinois Foundation. His other gifts included a collection of material concerning the period of World War I, books on Napoleon Bonaparte, his family, and his era, fifteen volumes of literature, including a first edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, and two manuscript letters written by James Whitcomb Riley. (Note that this collection includes only the manuscript material that Chester donated; the other items were catalogued separately). The manuscript material was formerly catalogued with the call number MS944.05n16wche
Some items individually described in the Letters card catalog.
NOTE: Some information about individual items in this collection may have been cut off in a previous database transfer. This finding aid reflects the most up-to-date information in our records.
Series 1: Autographs, portraits, mansucripts, and other material pertaining to Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French
Series 2: Autographs, portraits, manuscripts, and other material pertaining to American history, chiefly concerning the Civil War
Series 3: Autographs, portraits, manuscripts, and other material pertaining to writers and literature, chiefly American
Series 4: Other autographs, portraits, and manuscripts