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Davenport Family papers

Identifier: Ax 242

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the personal papers of T.W. Davenport and Homer Calvin Davenport, both influential in late nineteenth century Oregon state and federal politics. Additional Davenport family members, including Adelaid Davenport, Lizzie Davenport, Timothy Clyde Davenport, and others are also represented in this collection.

The material has been arranged to most prominently feature the papers of T.W. and Homer Davenport, and contains family reminiscences, correspondence, photogrpahs, newspaper articles, and original cartoons.

Series I, Timothy Woodbridge Davenport Papers contain the personal papers of the prominent politician and are divided into several subseries. Subseries A contains a wide correspondence from the 1860s till his death in 1911 with family members and political acquaintances, which reflects T.W. Davenport’s dedication to his family and his Republican sentiment. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient and/or by writer, and then chronologically. Subseries B contains legal documents; including land deeds and a Umatilla Agency receipt roll for the Walla Walla tribe from 1862. Subseries C, Personal Writings and Essays, contains poetry, political essays, and letters to the editor. Subseries D, Memoirs, includes handwritten and typewritten memoirs by Timothy Woodbridge Davenport.

Series II, Homer Calvin Davenport Papers, contain documents that reflect his career as a political cartoonist and his love for Arabian horses and exotic birds. Subseries A, Correspondence, contains several letters to his sister, Adelaide, and his father, T.W. There are also several telegrams regarding the death of T.W., including one from former President Theodore Roosevelt. Subseries B, Newspaper Clippings, contains newspaper articles and published cartoons both by Homer Davenport and about him. Many of the newspaper clippings are glued on both sides of a page. Subseries D, Memoirs and Character Sketches, includes writings about Homer Davenport by authors Timothy Woodbridge Davenport and Jean Morris Ellis.

Series III, Miscellaneous Davenport Family Papers, is broken down into three subseries by other individual family members, for whom a substantial amount of papers are included in this collection. Subseries A, Adelaide Davenport Correspondence, includes several letters to the Davenport family biographer, Robert Down, among others. Subseries B, Lizzie (Nancy Elizabeth) Davenport Correspondence, includes several letters from her daughters and telegrams regarding the death of Homer Davenport, because Lizzie was his stepmother. Subseries C, Timothy Clyde Davenport Correspondence, is largely outgoing letters to his parents, T.W. and Lizzie, and reflects his years at a sanatorium . The final Subseries D, Miscellaneous Davenport, largely includes correspondence to and from family members and memorabilia such as the Frederic Remington monument brochure, poems from “Captain Jack” John W. Crawford, and a lock of hair from a funeral director in Los Angeles.

Series IV, Photographs, is broken into two subseries by size. Both include images of the Davenport family members, various acquaintances, and Arabian stallions and pheasants. These are arranged alphabetically by name, first by family members, and then other individuals.

Series V, Oversize, contains additional photographs, legal documents, awards, and newspaper clippings. Also included is a scrapbook, published material, and advertisements. Approximately 100 drawings of Homer Davenport's original cartoons, arranged by title, are represented in this series.

Davenport, one of the most well-known editorial cartoonists of his era, critiqued topics in American society ranging from the Spanish-American War, the digging of the Panama Canal, the rise of trusts and big banking, and poverty to the meat industry, women's suffrage, American imperialism, corruption, railroad tycooons, and American political campaigns.


  • 1848-1966

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Timothy Woodbridge (T.W.) Davenport was born to Dr. Benjamin Davenport and Sarah Gott in 1826. He spent his childhood in ohio, where his father practiced medicine and was an active abolitionist, serving as a resource on the Underground Railroad. He worked for a time as a school teacher in Illinois and Ohio before, together with his parents, emigrating to Oregon territory in 1851. The family settled in the Waldo Hills of the upper Willamette Valley. While in Oregon, T.W. worked as a surveyor and farmer, marrying Flora Geer, an artist and daughter of a prominent local family, in 1854.

Benjamin and T.W. organized the fledgling Republican Party in Oregon, setting T.W. on a political path. Benjamin Davenport died in 1857. But throughout the late 1850s and 1860s, T.W. served at the state's Republican state nominating conventions, as Indian Agent of the Umatilla Agency, as Marion County surveyor, and as a state legislator.

In 1870, T.W.'s wife, Flora, died of smallpox. T.W. remarried Nancy Elizabeth Gilmour (Lizzie) in 1872 and raised Orla and Homer, his children with Flora, together with Clyde, Adelaide (Adda), Alice, Georgia, and May Delle, his children with Nancy.

Despite several an unsuccessful political bid for Congress in 1874, T.W. served in the state senate in the 1880s and as state land commissioner from 1895-1899. He continued to writ epolitical and historical essays on subjects ranging from abolitionism to populism.

Homer Davenport, born to T.W. and Flora in 1867, blended his father's political interest and his mother's artistic talent into work as a political cartoonist. In adulthood, Homer worked at the family store, as a railroad fireman, a jockey, and a circuis clown. Eventually, he joined the Portland Mercury as an artist, before leveraging this work to join the San Francisco Examiner as head of the art department in 1892.

The large circulation of the Examiner brought Homer's cartoons to a larger audience, and he eventually gained a reputation for boldness. William Randolph Hearst, owner of the New York Journal hired Homer in 1895. At the Journal, Homer attacked political corruption in the McKinley campaign with such vigor that his critics attempted to push an anti-cartoon bill through the New York state legislature.

One of the most well-known cartoonists of his era, Homer traveled extensively. He was one of the first American cartoonists to watch the assembly at the British Parliament, was friend to Theodore Roosevelt, and toured the Ottoman Empire. Following his trip to the Ottoman Empire, Homer imported the first purebred Arabian horses to America. Though he continued to work as a cartoonist for the rest of his life, he preferred living on his New Jersey farm with his family and horses. He died of pneumonia in 1912.


39 linear feet (19 containers, 3 map case drawers) : 6 manuscript boxes, 2 photo boxes, 10 oversize boxes, and 6 oversize folders in 3 map case drawers

Language of Materials



Timothy Woodbridge (T.W.) Davenport (1826-1911) and his family settled in the upper Willamette Valley in the 1850s. T.W. Davenport was a farmer, surveyor, state representative, state senator, and special Indian agent at the Umatilla Agency in the 1860s. T.W. Davenport’s son, Homer Davenport (1867-1912) became the most highly paid political cartoonist of his time and importer of the first purebred Arabian horse in America. This collection contains the personal papers of T.W. Davenport, Homer Davenport, and the Davenport family and includes correspondence, writings, drawings, photographs, and newspaper clippings. Of note are handwritten memoirs by T.W. Davenport and original political cartoons by Homer Davenport.


Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I: Timothy Woodbridge Davenport Papers Series II: Homer Calvin Davenport Papers Series III: Miscellaneous Davenport Family Papers Series IV: Photographs Series V: Oversize (includes Homer Davenport cartoon drawings)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was a gift of Alice Davenport Bernard in 1965.

Related Materials

Other resources in Special Collections and University Archives about the Davenports include the following material from the Rare Books Collection and Oregon Collection:

Recollections of an Indian Agent, by T.W. Davenport The Annotated Quest: Homer Davenport and His Wonderful Arabian Horses, by Homer Davenport, with annotations by Charles and Jeanne Craver Cartoons, by Homer C. Davenport, with an introduction by Hon. John J. Ingalls Annual Homer Davenport Memorial Arabian Horse Show Souvenir Catalog Homer, the Country Boy, by Mickey Hickman

Associated collections include: Caroline and Erwin Swann collection of caricature and cartoon, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Mss Collection BV Davenport, Homer, New York Historical Society, New York, New York Art Wood Collection of Caricature and Cartoo, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Cartoon Drawings (Library of Congress) (DLC) 95861312, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Processing Information

Additional processing occurred in March 2023, including reboxing some material, relabeling some boxes, and expanding descriptions of oversize material.

Guide to the Davenport Family papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Scott Britt and Christa Orth
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA