On the Trail of Tourgee

The Albion Winegar Tourgee Papers have resided at the Chautauqua County Historical Society’s McClurg Museum since at least the early 1960s. Around 1963, Dean H. Keller, a former professor at Kent State University and Emeritus Professor of Libraries and Media Services, renewed his earlier personal interest in Tourgee and began looking for documentation of the man’s life. Keller, a Kingsville, Ohio native, he was very familiar with the Tourgee family history. Although Tourgee eventually left the area, his sister and other family members continued to reside in Kingsville. In fact, Keller vividly recalls the local librarian’s colorful stories of her ancestor who had served in the 105th Ohio Regiment with Tourgee during the Civil War.

Keller learned that a collection of Tourgee Papers were located at the McClurg Museum of the Chautauqua County Historical Society, so he made a trip to Westfield where he discovered the enormous manuscript collection of over 12,000 items stored in the attic in cardboard boxes with no apparent organization. Keller convinced the people working at the museum at the time to let him take the collection back to Kent State where he spent the next year physically organizing and numbering the vast collection. The collection was also microfilmed and indexed at Kent State University, using a numerical scheme devised by Keller.

Photograph, Albion Winegar Tourgée (ca. 1902-1905). Courtesy of Chautauqua County Historical Society.