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General William Harrison Kemper papers

Identifier: MSS-020

Scope and Contents

This collection includes scrapbooks, correspondence, diaries, publications, newspaper clippings and speeches by Dr. Kemper from 1859-1927. The scrapbooks include information on Dr. Kemper’s travels, including trips to Egypt and Europe, from 1905 to 1913. The correspondence series includes letters between Dr. Kemper and Hattie Kemper during and after the Civil War, from 1859 to 1875.


  • Creation: 1859-1927

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections.

Biographical Note

General William Harrison Kemper, M.D., was born in Rush County, Indiana, on December 16, 1839. He was raised on his family’s farm and educated at the local common school. In 1856, he attended a seminary in Greensburg, Indiana, but soon moved to Montezuma, Iowa, where he was employed as a clerk in a dry goods store. A year later he took a job in a printing office. In 1859, Kemper returned to Indiana to continue his education. He decided to pursue a career in medicine and studied in the office of Dr. John W. Moodey until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Kemper enlisted in Company B of the 7th Indiana Volunteers on April 24, 1861 and served for three months as a private. In September 1861, he reenlisted and was appointed hospital steward of the 17th Indiana Volunteers. He was later promoted to assistant surgeon of the same regiment, and served until his term of service expired in July 1864. During the war, Kemper’s regiment was involved in numerous battles, including Chattanooga, Chickamagua, Missionary Ridge, and Kenesaw Mountain.

During the winter of 1864-1865, Kemper attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan for additional medical training. In the spring of 1865, he attended Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from there that same year. In late 1865, Kemper settled in Muncie and established a medical practice. In 1872 he formed a partnership with Dr. Robert Winton, and later with Dr. Hugh A. Cowing. Along with his practice, Dr. Kemper served as Delaware County coroner (1870-1875), as examining surgeon for pensions (1872-1893), and in various other local and state medical positions. Dr. Kemper also published numerous papers and articles on a variety of medical subjects. In addition to his medical career, Dr. Kemper was also an avid local historian. In 1908, he published a comprehensive two-volume work on the history of Delaware County. Dr. Kemper was married August 15, 1865, to Harriet “Hattie” Kemper (1844-1914) of Oskaloosa, Iowa. They had three children, including two sons who went on to practice medicine in Delaware County. A distinguished and well-respected citizen of Muncie, Kemper was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and an earnest advocate of temperance reform. He died on September 26, 1927.


1.8 Cubic Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



The General William Harries Kemper papers is arranged in the following series and subseries:

Series 1: General William Harrison scrapbooks and diaries, 1905-1919

Series 2: General William Harrison Kemper manuscript, speech, and lease book, 1897-1928

Series 3: General William Harrison Kemper correspondence, 1859-1897

...Subseries 3.1: Kemper, G.W.H. to Kemper, Hattie correspondence, 1859-1875

...Subseries 3.2: Kemper, Hattie to Kemper, G.W.H. correspondence, 1859-1886

...Subseries 3.3: Miscellaneous correspondence, 1863-1897

Series 4: General William Harrison Kemper newspaper clippings and songs, 1877-1914

Custodial History

The G. W. H. Kemper papers were received by Teaching Materials Service of Ball State University Libraries as a donation from Effice Kemper on 1966/05/10. Additional materials were received from Collections Development, Ball State University Libraries, on 1979/4/09, and were later transferred to Archives and Special Collections. Additonal materials were also received as a donation from Mr. and Mrs. Rick Lepley on 2011/05/18.


No further additions are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Select materials from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the Ball State University Libraries Digital Media Repository:

Related Archival Materials

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie IN:

SC.201: Arthur and William Kemper professional journal and accounts, 1892-1906

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 1996/02/14 by M. Seeliger. Collection processing reviewed 2008/12/29 by Maren L. Read. Finding aid created 1996/02/14 by M. Seeliger. Finding aid revised 1997/01/31 by J. Whitworth. Finding aid revised 2005/07 by Jane Gastineau. EAD finding aid completed 2008/12/29 by Maren L. Read. EAD finding aid revised 2009 by Maren L. Read. EAD finding aid revised 2012/05/31 by Lisa Barney. EAD finding aid revised 2012/06/08 by Bethany Fiechter. EAD finding aid revised 2016/09/06 by Brandon Pieczko.

General William Harrison Kemper papers
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Stoeckel Archives of Local History Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA