Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Edwin Markham collection
Bulk Dates: 1910-1940
Collection number: MSS-2005-10-01
SJSU Library Special Collections and Archives
1 carton, 1 oversized box
4 linear feet
San Jose State University. Library.
San Jose, California 95192-0028
The Edwin Markham Collection (1898-1994) includes a variety of documents and photographs chronicling the life of Edwin Markham,
noted poet and San Jose Normal School graduate. This artificial collection includes newspaper clippings, printed poems and
pamphlets, photographs, and limited correspondence. The bulk of the material dates from 1910-1940.
Physical location: Vault 1, Range 20B
Languages represented in the collection:
The collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jose State University Library Special Collections and Archives. All requests for
permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission
for publication is given on behalf of the Special Collections & Archives 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 by the reader. Copyright restrictions
also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational
Edwin Markham collection, MSS-2005-10-01, San Jose State University Library Special Collections and Archives.
Processing completed by Anneliese Eisentraut, 2006. EAD encoding by Anneliese Eisentraut, 2006.
Charles Edward Anson Markham (1852-1940), later known as Edwin, was the youngest of nine children, born on April 23, 1852, in Oregon City, Oregon. His parents, Elizabeth Winchell and Samuel Markham, were married in Michigan and traveled by wagon train to settle in the Oregon Territory. His parents divorced shortly after
his birth and his mother and her younger children moved to Suisun Hills, northeast of San Francisco.
Markham received his teacher's certificate in 1870 from the California College in Vacaville, graduated from San Jose State Normal School in 1872, and then studied classics at Christian College in Santa Rosa. After graduation, Markham taught in many communities across Central and Northern California. His first teaching position
was in El Dorado County and in 1879 he was elected county superintendent of schools. In 1884, he was a school headmaster in
Hayward, and in 1890, he was hired as the principal of the Tompkins Observation School in Oakland.
After two brief failed marriages, Markham married Anna Catherine Murphy (1859-1938) in 1898 and in 1899 their son Virgil was born. The Markhams moved to New York and in 1901 settled on Staten Island where they would reside for the remainder of their lives.
Markham began writing poetry in the 1870s and first sold one of his poems in 1880. He later contributed to
Scribner's Magazine, and the
Overland Monthly. He also developed friendships with literary celebrities such as Joaquin Miller, Ina Donna Coolbrith, William Dean Howells, and Ambrose Bierce.
Markham rose to fame as a poet with the publication of "The Man with the Hoe," which was inspired by a Francois Millet woodcut of the same name. On New Year's Eve of 1898, Markham read the poem at a party, which led to its publication in the
San Francisco Examiner. Because Markham's populist views were in line with the social reform movements of the day, his poem became an overnight
His second-most famous poem, "Lincoln, the Man of the People" was commissioned for the centennial of Lincoln's birth and was
published in 1901 in
Lincoln and Other Poems. In 1922 Markham read the poem at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. Although Markham's later works failed to receive
the critical acclaim of "The Man with the Hoe" and "Lincoln, the Man of the People," he was a popular figure who lectured
and made public appearances at a range of events, including labor and radical gatherings as well as literary ones.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Edwin Markham Collection (1898-1994) includes a variety of documents and photographs chronicling the life of Edwin Markham, noted poet and San Jose Normal School graduate. The varied clippings in the collection indicate the depth of local and national interest in his career and the
esteem in which he was held at SJSU. Secondary subjects represented in the collection include Markham's wife and son, the
Markham Cottage on the SJSU campus, and the Poetry Society of America.
This artificial collection includes materials from multiple sources, many of which are unidentified. A portion of the collection
was given to the university as a bequest from the C.W. Thomas family, local residents and friends of the Markham family. The collection is organized in one series with a subject-based
hierarchical structure. Materials in the collection include newspaper clippings, printed poems and pamphlets, photographs,
and limited correspondence. The bulk of the material dates from 1910-1940.
The collection is organized in one series with a subject-based hierarchical structure.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Markham, Edwin 1852-1940
Poets, American--19th century
San Jose State University--History
San Jose State Teachers College