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Markham (Edwin) Family Papers II
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  • Content Description
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Related Materials
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Edwin Markham Family Papers II
    creator: Markham, Edwin, 1852-1940
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS-2019-01-18
    Physical Description: 1 Box 0.417 Linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1925-1941
    Abstract: The Edwin Markham Family Papers II (1925-1941) includes handwritten correspondence, typed poems, a photograph, and a memorial service program for Markham dated April 20, 1941.

    Content Description

    The Edwin Markham Family Papers II (1925-1941) includes primarily correspondence and poems pertaining to the life of Edwin Markham (1852-1940), noted poet and California State Normal School, San Jose, graduate. Correspondence, typed poems, and a photograph autographed by Markham, as well as a Memorial Service program for Markham dated April 20, 1941, are included in this collection. The typed poems have copyright dates as early as 1899, but the earliest date Markham signed the documents is 1925.


    The collection is arranged by type of materials.

    Biographical / Historical

    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 California State Normal School, San Jose, 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 Harper's Century, 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 sensation. 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.

    Preferred Citation

    Edwin Markham Family Papers II, MSS-2019-01-18, San Jose State University Library, Special Collections & Archives.

    Processing Information

    Michael Lara 09-16-2019

    Related Materials

    Edwin Markham Family Papers, MSS-2005-10-01

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has been assigned to the San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of San Jose State University Special Collections and Archives. Permission for publication is granted on behalf of 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 researcher. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files from or derived from these collections is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Markham, Edwin, 1852-1940
    Poets, American -- 19th century
    San Jose State Normal School
    SJSU Special Collections & Archives