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MS 30 


Size: 5.4 linear feet and 1 map drawer

Span Dates: 1889-1978, undated           

Accession Number(s): M1994-0209

Gilliam Family
Gilliam, Berte Chenault House, 1885-1982
Gilliam, John Hawk, 1861-1934
Gilliam, William D., Jr., 1905-1976
Gilliam, William D., Sr., 1881-1955

Summary: The Gilliam Family Collection contains day books documenting legal transactions and fees, correspondence, postcards, certificates, medals, printed materials, and baseball memorabilia from several generations of the Gilliam family, a politically active family from Scottsville, Kentucky. The collection also includes a few women’s club magazines, women’s hats and personal grooming items, and travel materials.



Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research access.

Use Restrictions: The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, US Code) governs the reproduction of copyrighted material. The User assumes full responsibility and any attendant liability for the fair use of materials requested in total compliance with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) that may arise through the use of any requested materials.

The digital post card collection has been created thanks in part to grant funding from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. The purpose of this digital collection is to make local history images freely available for use in educational, personal or scholarly research or instruction. Most of the images on the front of the postcards fall into Public Domain and may be used without restriction.

The Eva G. Farris Special Collections is interested in hearing from any copyright holders who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future. Please contact Lois Hamill, University Archivist, at or (859) 572-5863.

Preferred Citation: [Box #, Folder #], MS 30 Gilliam Family Collection, Eva G. Farris Special Collections, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University.

Location of Copies: Approximately 250 of the collection’s postcards (Series 1, Subseries 2) dating from the 1900s to the 1970s covering sights in nearly 35 different Kentucky towns and cities, and the 1915 tornado have been digitized. Digital reproductions are available in the NKU Digital Repository>Special Collections>Gilliam Family Collection.

Related Materials: Editorial work and scholarly articles written by William Gilliam, Jr. can be found using Steely Library’s electronic databases.

Processing Information: processed by Anne Ryckbost, Spring 2014

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Gilliam family--Correspondence
Kentucky--Politics and government--1865-1950.
Political parties--Kentucky.

Gilliam, Berte Chenault House, 1885-1982.
Gilliam, Elizabeth.
Gilliam, John Hawk, 1861-1934.
Gilliam, William, D. Jr., 1905-1976.
Gilliam, William, D., Sr., 1881-1995
Kurk, John Victor.
Morrow, Edwin P., 1877-1935.

Organizations/Corporate Body(ies):
Kentucky. General Assembly. House of Representatives.
University of Kentucky.

Geographic Location:
Scottsville (Allen County, Ky.)

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The Gilliam Family Collection contains personal and professional materials from several generations of Gilliam family members. It is divided into two series.

Series I, Personal and Professional Papers, is organized into subseries by individual and arranged according to the quantity of materials, starting with the largest amount (William D. Gilliam, Sr.).

Subseries I, William D. Gilliam, Sr. contains materials related to William D. Gilliam, Sr., a general practice lawyer, including annual day books documenting daily law transactions, fees received, and some personal and political commentary written by William D. Gilliam, Sr. from 1938-1954. It contains a photograph Officers and Members of the House of Representatives, Kentucky, 1896 Session. Gilliam, Sr. served as a page during this session while his father, John Hawk Gilliam, was a representative. The photograph is comprised of individual portraits of officers, members, and pages. There are also several certificates and a medal honoring Gilliam, Sr.’s service as a supervisor of the thirteenth census for the third district of Kentucky for the United States census (1910). There are certificates for his service as a Sunday school teacher for the L.N. Richards Bible School class at the Scottsville Methodist church and for his involvement with the Selective Service during World War II.

Subseries 2, Berte Chenault House Gilliam contains an extensive postcard collection (1900-1978) from two large scrapbooks organized by Berte Gilliam. The postcards depict images of sights from across the United States and a few international locations. Some postcards have correspondence on their backs and all postcard recipients are members of the Gilliam family. The postcards are generally organized alphabetically first by Kentucky locations and then alphabetically by state and then country.  Holiday and greeting postcards follow. Subseries 2 also has a few issues of The Club Woman published by the Kentucky Federation Women’s Clubs documenting Berte Gilliam’s interest in women’s organizations and clubs.

Subseries 3: William D. Gilliam, Jr. contains incoming correspondence to William D. Gilliam, Jr. chiefly commenting on concern for students in his history courses at the University of Kentucky. It also includes samples of his professional publications and service.

Subseries 4, John Hawk Gilliam has one letter from Kentucky Governor Edwin P. Morrow dated July 12, 1922 about the outcome of a legal case and a portrait of Morrow.

Subseries 5, Victor John Kurk, has one form letter and pamphlet on understanding the American government that United States Congressman, 3rd District Kentucky, John M. Robsion, Jr. sent to Kurk upon his 1957 college graduation.

Series II, Printed Materials and Ephemera, contains an October 1928 issue of Baseball Magazine and a 1928 St. Louis Cardinals versus New York Yankees World Series program. It also has a 1938 baseball facts and figures book. The series includes publications promoting Kentucky tourism, programs from two Kentucky history pageants, and one issue of the Kentucky Bar Journal (1972) that focuses on Kentucky history. There are several political items: a large 1894 print of Abraham Lincoln and a pin commemorating the 1919 inauguration of Republican Kentucky Governor Edwin P. Morrow. There are three published books on Kentucky and United States government that belonged to John H. Gilliam and William D. Gilliam, Sr. It also contains four women’s hats and a personal grooming with various toiletries such as a manicure set and brush. These items belonged to Berte Gilliam and her daughter Elizabeth.



The Gilliam family is from Scottsville, Allen County, Kentucky, which is in the southern region of the state near Bowling Green, Kentucky.

John Hawk (H.) Gilliam, 1861-1934, was born in Allen County, Kentucky. He worked as a schoolteacher and farm hand before his 1893 admittance to the Kentucky Bar as a general civil and criminal attorney. John Hawk Gilliam was an active Republican. He served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1896 through 1897 and was then appointed to a four-year term as Postmaster of Scottsville, Kentucky by President McKinley. From 1906-1909, he was the County Attorney and was elected Commonwealth Attorney, 8th District, Scottsville in 1909 and 1915.1 Gilliam also served on the Republican State Central Committee (Kentucky) and in 1924 acted as a Kentucky alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention. He was a long-time member of the Kentucky State Bar Association. John Hawk Gilliam married Ellen ? (also known as Lou Ella, 1862-1950) in 1879 and they had five children: Pearl (1880-?), William D. (1881-1955), Lisfie (1883-?), Florie (1885-?), and John M. (1899-1968).2

William D. Gilliam, Sr. (1881-1955) is the son of John Hawk and Ellen Gilliam. He was a page for the 1896 session of the Kentucky House of Representatives and later joined his father’s practice as an attorney in Scottsville, Kentucky. Gilliam, Sr. was a member of the Rotary Club in Scottsville, the Kentucky State Bar Association, and served on various civic organizations including the Allen County Fair Association. He married Berte Chenault House and they had two children: William D. Gilliam, Jr. and Elizabeth.

Berte Chenault House Gilliam married William D. Gilliam, Sr. and had two children: William D. Gilliam, Jr. and Elizabeth Gilliam.3 She was involved in women’s civic organizations and clubs in Scottsville and Allen County, Kentucky.

William D. Gilliam, Jr., (1905-1976) son of Berte and William D. Gilliam, Sr. received his A.B. from Centre College in 1928; A.M. in 1930 and Ph.D. in 1941 from Indiana University-Bloomington. He briefly taught at the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Extension Center, part of the IU system, before joining the University of Kentucky’s history department in 1948. He served as editorial associate for the Journal of Southern History from 1953 to 1958.

Elizabeth Gilliam, daughter of Berte Chenault House Gilliam and William D. Gilliam, Sr., married Millard Dean Guy.

1. Kentucky. Kentucky directory for the use of courts, state and county officials and General assembly of the state of Kentucky. 1920.

2. "United States Census, 1900." Index and images. FamilySearch. accessed 2014. Citing NARA microfilm publication T623. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

3. "United States Census, 1930." Index and images. FamilySearch. accessed 2014. Citing NARA microfilm publication T626. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002.

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Series I: Personal and Professional Papers




Subseries 1: William D. Gilliam, Sr.




Day books




Photograph of Officers and Members of the House of
  Representatives of Kentucky, Session 1896


O/S Box 6


Certificates and programs from civic organizations

1907?, 1910, between 1945-1953

2, see also O/S Box 7


Mammoth Cave souvenir with poem “In Old Kentucky”




Selective Service medal

circa 1945







Subseries 2: Berte Chenault House Gilliam








  Kentucky, Cincinnati, The Hermitage (Tennessee)
  Washington D.C., International  view Kentucky Postcards




  Various states in the United States




  Holidays, announcements, greetings, birthday




  Oversize Kentucky, Cincinnati, States, and Canada




The Club Woman, Kentucky Federation Women’s

1922, 1924, 1926







Subseries 3: William D. Gilliam, Jr.




Incoming correspondence




Professional publications and service




Kentucky School Journal, volume 11, number 8

April 1933







Subseries 4: John Hawk Gilliam




Letter from Edwin P. Morrow, Governor, to Judge John Hawk Gilliam

July 12, 1922



Portrait of Edwin P. Marrow








Subseries 5: Victor John Kurk




Letter from John M. Robsion, Jr., U.S.
  Congressman, 3rd district Kentucky, to Victor John
  Kurk and American government booklet

February 15, 1957







Series II: Printed Materials and Ephemera




Published books on Kentucky and United States 

1889, 1895, 1896



Baseball Magazine, world series program, facts,
 and figures book

1928, 1939

2; see also O/S Boxes 7, 8


Kentucky history pageant programs

May 1928, undated



Kentucky Progress Magazine

1930, 1933



In Kentucky magazine

1944, 1949, 1956



Special edition on Kentucky history, Kentucky Bar




Abraham Lincoln print


Map drawer 4


Inauguration pin for Governor Edwin P. Morrow

December 9, 1919



Personal grooming kit

circa early 20th century



Women’s hats

circa early 20th century



Golf tees in packet from the Cincinnati Post