Biographical and Administrative History
Title: F. Ray Risdon Collection of Lincolniana and American Political Life
Identifier/Call Number: COL-039
Occidental College Library
Language of Material:
85.0 Linear feet
175 document boxes
F. Ray Risdon collected Lincolniana for almost fifty years. His collection passed to Occidental College Library in 1957, by
which time he had amassed 3000 monographs, 1500 pamphlets, and 85 linear feet of non-book items. Of special interest to Mr.
Risdon were the myriad ways in which people choose to commemorate President Lincoln, and this collection includes not only
a wide variety of commemorative material, but also correspondence regarding the creation of a Lincolniana collection between
Mr. Risdon, the Lincoln Society of Los Angeles of which he was a member, and the booksellers who helped Mr. Risdon locate
Risdon, F. Ray, 21 Jan 1888-7 Oct 1958
William Jennings Bryan Collection, F.D.R. Collection, John Lloyd-Butler Railroadiana Collection, Elizabeth Chevalier Collection,
Collection of U.S. Army rolls
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from holdings must be submitted in writing to the Special Collections Department.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
Biographical and Administrative History
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the 16th president of the United States. Before his election to the presidency in 1860, he
had been a lawyer, a member of the Illinois state legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives, and had failed in two
attempts at gaining a seat in the U.S. Senate. His career tracked the major political movements of the mid-nineteenth century,
as his support of the Whigs shifted to the anti-slavery Republican Party after the former party split along sectional lines
in the wake of the compromises on slavery in legislation of the early 1850s. Shortly after his triumph in the 1860 election,
and even before his inauguration, the Southern states began the process of secession in reaction to the first election since
1848 (of Zachary Taylor) of a president who would not favor the pro-slavery faction in Congress. Lincoln’s conduct during
the Civil War has placed him among the most renowned of presidents. John Wilkes Booth assasinated him on the night of April
14, 1865, and he died the next day.
F. Ray Risdon (1888-1958) was a Los Angeles lawyer, Republican party booster, and member of the Lincoln Fellowship of Southern
California. Between 1910 and the mid-1950s he amassed what Lincoln bibliographer Jay Monaghan called, “the largest private
collection of Lincolniana on the Pacific Coast.” Occidental Library Special Collections purchased these materials in 1957.
Risdon’s primary source for Lincolniana and other rare books and manuscripts was Dawson’s Book Shop, which opened in 1905
and is the oldest continuously operating bookshop in Los Angeles. He collected broadly, buying, in addition to books and pamphlets,
art, letters, legal documents, and many items not directly relating to Lincoln, but which provide contextual information about
American politics of the nineteenth century. Risdon kept records of his purchases, and these receipts, along with his correspondence
with other Lincoln collectors, are also housed in the collection. After his death, the collection received funding of approximately
$500 per year until the late 1960s. This money was primarily directed to the purchase of new books, so that the date range
of items in this collection runs from the late-eighteenth century to Richard Nixon’s first administration.
Suggested citation of records contained in this collection is: [Identification of item], F. Ray Risdon Collection of Lincolniana
and American Political Life, Special Collection Department, Mary Norton Clapp Library, Occidental College.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Carman, Ezra Ayers, 1834-1909 -- Correspondence
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- History
Morse, Ephraim W., 1823-1906 -- Correspondence
Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878 -- Correspondence
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Correspondence
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Equipment & supplies
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Pictorial works
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry--34th
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music
United States--History--Civil War--1861-1865--Collectibles
United States--Politics and government