Collection ID: MS 281

Collection context


Hilles, Charles Dewey, 1867-1949
Correspondence, memoranda, speeches, press releases, clippings, printed matter, photographs, and memorabilia documenting Hilles' activities as secretary to President Taft (1911-1913), as chairman and committeeman to the Republican National Committee (1912-1937) and as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1909-1911). His correspondence as Taft's secretary is of special importance as being originally part of the President's office files. His work as administrator of the Ohio Industrial School (1892-1902) and the New York Juvenile Asylum (1902-1909) is also documented in the correspondence. Family correspondence is particularly rich for the fall of 1911 when Hilles was touring the country with President Taft, and for 1912 just before his appointment as chairman of the Republican National Committee. Correspondents of note include Charles Francis Adams, William Jennings Bryan, Nicholas Murray Butler, Andrew Carnegie, Josephus Daniels, Charles G. Dawes, Theodore Dreiser, Henry W. Farnam, Irving Fisher, Arthur T. Hadley, Warren G. Harding, Charles Evans Hughes, Frank B. Kellogg, Henry Cabot Lodge, Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, Henry L. Stimson, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Booker T. Washington and George Westinghouse.
63.5 Linear Feet


Acquisition information:
Gifts of Charles Dewey Hilles, Jr., Frederick Whiley Hilles, Elizabeth Lee Hilles Reynolds.
Rules or conventions:
translation missing: en.enumerations.resource_finding_aid_description_rules.Finding aid created in accordance with Manuscripts and Archives Processing Manual
Scope and Content:

The Charles Dewey Hilles Papers (1885-1955) consists of correspondence, letterbooks, memoranda, speeches, press releases, clippings, and printed matter arranged in two series. There is also a section of oversize material.

The papers were accessioned and processed in three parts, with subsequent revisions. What follow are modified versions of the three notes on the scope and content of the papers drafted by the original processors to describe the three accessions. The first note relates mainly to the Incoming and Outgoing Correspondence, 1907-1915, and Letterpress Copybooks, 1911-1913. The second relates mainly to Correspondence, 1916-1955. The third relates to General Correspondence, 1885-1906, Family Correspondence and Miscellany (i.e. Topical Files).

The first accession of the Charles D. Hilles Papers consists of correspondence, letterbooks, clippings, scrapbooks, and printed matter from the period 1907 to 1915. About three-quarters of the letters relate to Hilles's service as secretary to President Taft (1911-1913) and chairman of the Republican National Committee (1912-1916). Most of the others are concerned with his work as First Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1909-1911) and his continuing interest in the New York Juvenile Asylum, later the Children's Village, which he superintended between 1902 and 1909. His correspondence as Taft's secretary is especially important because it was originally part of the President's office files and therefore fills a gap in the Taft Papers in the Library of Congress. These letters were used extensively by Norman D. Wilensky in "The Republican Old Guard during Insurgency: 1908-1912" (Yale University, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, 1961), a revision of which was published asConservatives in the Progressive Era: The Taft Republicans of 1912, University of Florida Monographs, Social Sciences, no. 25 (Gainesville, Fla., 1965). See also his sketch of the Taft years inThe Yale University Library Gazette(July 1961).

The second accession of the Charles D. Hilles Papers consists of correspondence, memoranda, speeches, press releases, and printed matter for the period 1916-1955. The majority of the items are concerned with the activities of the Republican Party on state and national levels, especially during the period of Hilles's service as Republican national committeeman from New York (1920-1937). The letters from the 1920s are mainly, though not exclusively, concerned with patronage matters. Those from the 1930s deal more with broad questions of party policy and organization.

The third accession of the Charles D. Hilles Papers spans the 1880s to the 1950s. The bulk of the items are in General Correspondence, 1885-1906, and Family Correspondence. Besides the letters there are several boxes of memorabilia, photographs, and clippings covering Hilles's entire career, all of which have been placed in Miscellany. This now makes up Series II. Topical Files.

General Correspondence, 1885-1906, was arranged alphabetically, with letters of important correspondents placed in separate folders. This section deals mainly with Hilles's work in the administration of the Ohio Boys' Industrial School (1892-1902) and the New York Juvenile Asylum (1902-1909). He was known for developing a system of competitive bidding for supplies and for successfully managing the "village system" of organization. Because his position in Ohio was controlled by political patronage, the letters deal also with the state's Republican politics. There is a list of principal correspondents in the Appendix. All non-family correspondence in the new accession written after 1906 has been interfiled with previous accessions.

Family Correspondence combines items from the new accession with letters removed from the general correspondence in the two previous accessions. The majority of the letters are to or from Charles Dewey Hilles, and these are arranged alphabetically by the name of his correspondent. Letters neither written nor received by him are filed by recipient, if known; otherwise, by author. The correspondence is especially rich for the fall of 1911, when Hilles was touring the country with President Taft, and the summer of 1912, just preceding his appointment as chairman of the Republican Party. Mrs. Hilles's letter to Bess Whiley McCracken offers a detailed description of her 1912 trip to Panama with her husband and the President.

Series II. Topical Files was created from this and previous accessions, and is arranged alphabetically by topic and/or record type. Position statements (perhaps meant as the basis for speeches) and notes on meetings, appointments, and phone calls are grouped together as Memoranda. Speeches and Writings form a separate category. Notes and printed matter related to various phases of his career are brought together in Reform School Work, Treasury Department, Taft's Secretary, and Republican Party Materials. Also included are business papers, photographs, memorabilia, clippings, and photocopies of Taft-Roosevelt correspondence (1908 Nov-1909 Mar). Refer to Appendix for a list of correspondents by subject. Note: In 1902 Hilles surveyed conditions in girls' industrial schools. Responses to his questions were received from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine and Massachusetts. These replies are filed under the name of the state.

The first two major accessions of the Charles D. Hilles Papers were the gift of Charles Dewey Hilles, Jr., Frederick Whiley Hilles, and Elisabeth Lee (Hilles) Reynolds. The third was donated by Frederick W. Hilles in July 1972.

Biographical / Historical:

Charles D. Hilles: insurance executive and politician; Chairman of the Republican National Committee, 1912-1937; Secretary to President Taft, 1911-1913; Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, 1909-1911; administrator of the Ohio Industrial School, 1892-1902, and of the New York Juvenile Asylum, 1902-1909.

Hilles was an influential spokesman for the conservative wing of his party, and during the first two Roosevelt administrations he attained the stature of an elder statesman. In 1920 he supported Nicholas Murray Butler for the Presidency, but the Harding administration nevertheless acknowledged his prominent position in New York. A firm supporter of Coolidge, he headed the Eastern Headquarters in 1924. After the election he became the chief dispenser of federal patronage in New York and was prominent among advocates of a second candidacy in 1928. He joined with other conservative leaders in never fully accepting Hoover and his supporters; throughout his term they felt they had been pushed aside by young upstarts who knew little about running a political organization. Giving Hoover weak support in 1932, they anticipated the debacle, and after Roosevelt's victory the breach widened. Hilles came increasingly under attack for refusing to agree that the party needed thorough overhauling, and he retired from the National committee in 1937 with the admission that his post would be given to a younger man. From his retirement until his death in 1949, conservative leaders continued to seek his counsel.


Arranged in two series: I. Correspondence. II. Topical Files.


A select list of correspondence by subject, 1885-1906

  • Members of the Board of Trustees of the Ohio Boys' Industrial School
  • Beatty, William
  • Cromley, T. E.
  • Jennings, Malcom
  • Jones, Richard
  • Poe, E. W.
  • Pugsley, J. J.
  • Vance, John L.
  • White, John
  • Wydman, Byron
  • Other Members of the Staff of the Boys' Industrial Scool
  • Adams, C. B.
  • Barrett, D. M.
  • Hilles, William N.
  • Mann, George
  • Stirling, G. A.
  • Members of the Ohio State Board of Charities
  • Brinkerhoff, Rocliff
  • Byers, Joseph P.
  • Follett, M. D.
  • Platt, Rutherford
  • Members of the Ohio Legislature
  • Archer, F. B.
  • Barrett, D. M.
  • Bright, S. H.
  • Crafts, William H.
  • Cromley, T. E.
  • Doty, E. W.
  • Duff, John
  • Dunham, George
  • Duval, M. N.
  • McKinnon, A. S.
  • Marchant, Thomas
  • Maynard, John P.
  • Middleswart, S. C.
  • Moore, David H.
  • Myers, J. C.
  • Nippert, Carl L.
  • Scott, H. E.
  • Seese, C. F.
  • Sharp, R. H.
  • Shyrock, Charles
  • Swain, C. L.
  • Wydman, Byron S.
  • Other Members of Ohio State Government
  • Archer, E. H.
  • Blackburn, Joseph E.
  • Bushnell, Asa (Governor)
  • Caldwell, John A. (Lt. Governor)
  • Doty, E. W.
  • Emerson, Lauson E.
  • Ewing, George
  • Gilkey, E. Howard
  • Jones, John P.
  • Jones, John W.
  • McKinley, William (Governor)
  • Malloy, J. W.
  • Moore, Opha
  • Nash, George (Governor to whom CDH tenders resignation as superintendent of BIS)
  • Sheets, J. M.
  • Taylor, Allen
  • Thurber, Charles
  • Reynolds, Calvin
  • On Ohio Politics
  • Dick, Charles
  • Dover, Elmer
  • Hanna, Mark
  • Ohio Republican State Central and Executive Committees
  • Vance, John L.
  • Vorys, A. I.
  • White, John
  • New York Juvenile Asylum
  • Carnegie, Andrew
  • Garrabrandt, M.
  • Higley, Warren
  • Williams, Mornay
  • Other State Reform Schools
  • Fletcher, Bradley
  • Mann, George
  • Ohio Society of New York
  • Mosier, E. O.
  • Parker, Orrel A.
  • Ruch, L. C.
  • Ells, Warren
  • On Hilles Personal Business and Finance
  • Lummins and Parsons
  • Smith W. F.
  • Columbia Building, Loan and Finance Company

Indexed Terms

Children -- Institutional care
Juvenile delinquency
Patronage, Political
Public welfare
Boys' Industrial School (Lancaster, Ohio)
New York Juvenile Asylum (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.)
Ohio Society of New York
Republican Party (N.Y.)
Republican Party (Ohio)
Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915
Aiken, Alfred Lawrence, 1870-1946
Ballinger, Richard Achilles, 1858-1922
Beveridge, Albert J. (Albert Jeremiah), 1862-1927
Bolton, Chester Castle, 1882-1939
Bricker, John W. (John William), 1893-1986
Broodbank, Joseph Guinness, Sir, 1857-1944
Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925
Buckner, Thomas Aylette, 1865-1942
Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947
Cannon, Joseph Gurney, 1836-1926
Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919
Carnegie, Louise Whitfield
Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933
Cortelyou, George B. (George Bruce), 1862-1940
Curtis, Charles, 1860-1936
Daniels, Josephus, 1862-1948
Daugherty, H. M. (Harry Micajah), 1860-1941
Dawes, Charles Gates, 1865-1951
Dewey, Charles, 1837-1917
Dickinson, J. M. (Jacob McGavock), 1851-1928
Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945
Du Pont, T. Coleman (Thomas Coleman), 1863-1930
Fairbanks, Charles W. (Charles Warren), 1852-1918
Farnam, Henry W. (Henry Walcott), 1853-1933
Fisher, Irving, 1867-1947
Fisher, Walter L. (Walter Lowrie), 1862-1935
Frick, Henry Clay, 1849-1919
Garfield, James Rudolph, 1865-1950
Guggenheim, Solomon R. (Solomon Robert), 1861-1949
Hadley, Arthur Twining, 1856-1930
Harding, Warren G. (Warren Gamaliel), 1865-1923
Hatfield, Henry Drury, 1875-1962
Hays, Will H. (Will Harrison), 1879-1954
Hill, James J. (James Jerome), 1838-1916
Hilles, Charles Dewey, 1867-1949
Hitchcock, Frank H. (Frank Harris), 1867-1935
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964
Houghton, Alan B.
Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948
Jameson, J. Franklin (John Franklin), 1859-1937
Kellogg, Frank B. (Frank Billings), 1856-1937
Knollys, Edward George William Tyrwhitt, Viscount, 1895-
Knox, Frank, 1874-1944
Knox, Philander C. (Philander Chase), 1853-1921
Lamont, Thomas W. (Thomas William), 1870-1948
Lodge, Henry Cabot, 1850-1924
MacVeagh, Franklin, 1837-1934
Marshall, John, 1881-
Martin, Joseph W. (Joseph William), 1884-1968
McAdoo, W. G. (William Gibbs), 1863-1941
McGinnies, Joseph A., 1861-1945
Meekins, Isaac Nelson, 1875-1946
Metcalf, Victor Howard, 1853-1936
Meyer, George von Lengerke, 1858-1918
Mills, Ogden Livingston, 1884-1937
Morrow, Dwight W. (Dwight Whitney), 1873-1931
Moses, George H. (George Higgins), 1869-1944
Nagel, Charles, 1849-1940
O'Laughlin, John Callan, 1873-1949
Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1887-1944
Root, Elihu, 1845-1937
Scandrett, Richard Brown, 1891-
Sheffield, James R. (James Rockwell), 1864-1938
Sherman, J. S. (James Schoolcraft), 1855-1912
Snell, Bertrand Hollis, 1870-1958
Stimson, Henry L. (Henry Lewis), 1867-1950
Stuart, Campbell, 1885-
Sullivan, Mark, 1874-1952
Taft, Charles Phelps, 1843-1929
Taft, Helen Herron, 1861-1943
Taft, Henry W. (Henry Waters), 1859-1945
Taft, Horace Dutton, 1861-1943
Taft, Hulbert, 1877-1959
Taft, Robert A. (Robert Alphonso), 1889-1953
Taft, Wallbridge Smith, 1884-1951
Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930
Taylor, Myron Charles, 1874-1959
Tumulty, Joseph P. (Joseph Patrick), 1879-1954
Vandenberg, Arthur H. (Arthur Hendrick), 1884-1951
Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 1873-1942
Wadsworth, James Wolcott, 1846-1926
Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915
Weeks, John W. (John Wingate), 1860-1926
Westinghouse, George, 1846-1914
Wickersham, George W. (George Woodward), 1858-1936
Wilson, James, 1835-1920
Wood, Leonard, 1860-1927
Latin America
Middle West
New York (State)
Ohio -- Politics and government
United States -- Politics and government -- 20th Century


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