Howard H. Russell Papers: 1840-1946
Summary Information
Title: Howard H. Russell Papers
Creator: Russell, Howard. H., 1855-1946
Dates: 1840-1946
Extent: 3 linear feet
A leading figure of the Anti-Saloon movement, founder of the Ohio Anti-Saloon League, first general superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of America and superintendent of the New York Anti-Saloon League. Papers include manuscript letters, speeches, diaries and miscellaneous material, and photographs. Letters include correspondence with many prominent prohibitionists and other social reformers.
Call number: 852272 Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid prepared by: Bentley Historical Library Staff.

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was donated in 1972 by Thomas H. Reed, Jr. (donor 5233), the grandson of Howard H. Russell.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see:


Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Howard H. Russell Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


The Howard R. Russell Papers held by the Bentley Historical Library are arranged in eight series:

  1. Collected Correspondence
  2. Correspondence
  3. Speeches
  4. Miscellaneous Correspondence
  5. Family Papers
  6. Diary Entries
  7. Miscellaneous
  8. Photographs


Howard Hyde Russell was the leading spirit in inaugurating the Anti-Saloon League movement. As a founder and the first superintendent of the Ohio Anti-Saloon League, Russell played an influential role in establishing the Anti-Saloon League of America and became the national League's first general superintendent. He later founded the Lincoln-Lee Legion and served as superintendent of the New York Anti-Saloon League.

Russell was born October 21, 1855, at Stillwater Minnesota, where his parents, Joseph and Sarah (Parker) Russell served as missionaries to the Indians. Following two years of study at Griswold College in Iowa (1870-1872) and brief jobs in school teaching and journalism, he decided on a career in law and moved to Corning, Iowa, where he studied with the law firm of Davis and Wells. In 1878 Russell was admitted to the Iowa bar. Two years later he married Lillian Davis, daughter of his law mentor. He practiced law until a revival conversion in 1883 led him to enroll at Oberlin Theological Seminary. During his theological studies at Oberlin, Russell served as pastor in North Amherst and Berea, Ohio. He graduated in 1888 as a Congregational minister and undertook ministerial duties in Kansas City (1888-1891) and at the Armour Mission in Chicago (1891-1893).

Though Russell had been a social drinker, at Oberlin he became interested in the prohibition movement and joined the Oberlin Temperance Alliance. He later explained that the memory of near and dear relatives brought to a premature death through strong drink had prompted his interest in the temperance cause. In 1888 the Oberlin Alliance hired Russell to lead a state-wide campaign for local option. The success of this temporary movement, which resulted in the Beatty local option law, indicated the need for a more permanent state organization. After moving to Kansas City, Russell led in forming the Missouri Anti-Saloon League in 1890. Elected president, he spent two months organizing local chapters throughout the state, but the movement gradually dissolved after he moved to Chicago the following year. Meanwhile Oberlin Alliance leaders were beginning to organize a state-wide non-partisan prohibition league, and in 1893 they invited Russell to direct the formation of the Ohio Anti-Saloon League. During the summer of 1893 Russell began his duties as the full-time salaried superintendent of the Ohio A.S.L., visiting several towns to form local organizations.

For the rest of his life, Howard Hyde Russell's work centered in the Anti-Saloon League. As the League's principal founder, he exerted great influence in the movement, and to a large degree the organization reflected his ideas. Russell believed that the political ineffectiveness of other temperance organizations resulted from their support of such minor parties as the Populist and Prohibition Parties. The A.S.L. therefore took a "nonpartisan" position, supporting whomever of the Republican and Democratic candidates for each office was more favorable toward prohibition. This policy attracted support from temperance advocates who remained dedicated Republicans' far more temperance men were Republicans than Democrats at this time - but it also created conflict with Prohibition Party supporters. The Anti-Saloon League's second major policy was local option, which was to be used as a stepping stone for state and eventually national prohibition legislation. This, too, conflicted with Prohibition Party demands for immediate national prohibition.

Two years after organizing the Ohio A.S.L., Russell joined leaders of the District of Columbia A.S.L. in founding the National Anti-Saloon League (later renamed Anti-Saloon League of America) in December 1895. Hiram Price of the District of Columbia was elected president, and Russell became the national organization's first general superintendent. He served in this position as chief executive officer of the League until 1903, when he resigned to devote more energy to the duties he had assumed in 1901 as superintendent of the New York A.S.L. In 1903 Russell also led in forming the Lincoln Legion, founded as a moral suasion arm of the League. Members signed a temperance pledge for which Abraham Lincoln had once secured signatures. The Lincoln Legion Patriots, composed of boys and girls under 21 years of age, was organized in 1912 as a part of the Lincoln Legion. In 1913, the name was changed to Lincoln-Lee Legion, to honor the two Northern and Southern heroes claimed as model abstainers by temperance leaders.

Russell served as New York A.S.L. superintendent from 1901 to 1909 and as chairman of the national executive committee from 1903 to 1909. In 1909 he became chairman of the financial management committee and general secretary of the Anti-Saloon League of America. To dramatize the need for prohibition, he led the 1915 "water wagon tour" along with the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco. With the "Rail-Splitter Quartet" to provide music, Russell delivered rousing prohibition speeches at numerous stops along the route. In 1919 he helped to organize the World League Against Alcoholism and served as one of its first four joint presidents. One year later, he served as a delegate to this organization's World Congress Against Alcoholism.

Howard Hyde Russell continued to work actively in the fight for prohibition until his death in 1946. From the beginning he had sacrificed personal comfort and financial security in taking low-paying positions in order to advance the temperance cause. Discouraged by the slow progress of reform, despite an outward show of optimism, he revealed in letters to his wife alternating moods of hope and despair, with depression often dominant. Russell frequently longed for the quiet and comfort of the regular ministry. Yet he never wavered from the cause. His long personal friendship with John D. Rockefeller resulted in generous contributions for the League, and after the first discouraging years Russell enjoyed acclaim and recognition as the founder of a powerful organization. He saw the Anti-Saloon League lead the victorious campaign for national prohibition, and even after repeal, he continued to work for the cause to which he had devoted his life.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Howard Hyde Russell papers held by the Bentley Historical Library consist of three linear feet of manuscript letters, speeches, diaries and miscellaneous material, and photographs, 1849-1946. The Russell papers include professional correspondence and speeches relating to his work with the Anti-Saloon League, biographical and autobiographical writings, diary entries, notebooks and newspaper clippings and other miscellanea; family correspondence, including papers of his father, Joseph A. Russell, and his wife, and collected historical letters.

In 1977, the bulk of the Russell papers were microfilmed along with one linear foot of correspondence, financial records, and other documents held by the Ohio Historical Society on loan from the Westerville Public Library of Westerville, Ohio. This material when filmed was interfiled with the Bentley Historical Library folders, and includes correspondence dealing with personal, business and temperance matters, 1877-1911; notes for speeches and sermons, undated; congratulatory correspondence on the occasion of Russell's 65th birthday and 40th wedding anniversary, 1920; correspondence and other papers of James B. Merwin concerning Merwin's association with Abraham Lincoln and both Merwin's and Lincoln's connections with the temperance cause; a diary, 1891, of records, 1891-1896, including an account book, notes payable, and cancelled checks; an undated typescript Russell biography and an incomplete typescript autobiography of Russell's father, Joseph A. Russell, 1899. All Ohio Historical Society material are designated "OHS"; Michigan Historical Collections materials are designated "MHC."

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Clergy -- United States.
  • Congregational churches.
  • Prohibition -- United States.
  • Social reformers -- United States.
  • Temperance -- United States.
  • Automobiles -- 1911-1920.
  • Iowa.
  • Lincoln Highway.
  • Monuments and memorials.
  • Music ensembles.
  • Nebraska.
  • Nevada.
  • Political parades and rallies.
  • Prohibition -- United States.
  • Diaries.
  • Photographs.
  • Anti-Saloon League of America.
  • Russell, Howard H. (Howard Hyde), 1855-1946.
  • Angell, James Burrill, 1829-1916.
  • Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906.
  • Babson, Roger Ward, 1875-1967.
  • Baker, Purley Albert, 1858-1924.
  • Barrows, John Henry, 1847-1902.
  • Bashford, James Whitford, 1849-1919.
  • Booth, Evangeline, 1865-1950.
  • Brooks, Phillips, 1835-1893.
  • Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925.
  • Cadman, S. Parkes (Samuel Parkes), 1864-1936.
  • Capper, Arthur, 1865-1951.
  • Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933.
  • Cullom, Shelby Moore, 1829-1914.
  • Daniels, Josephus, 1862-1948.
  • Daugherty, H. M. (Harry Micajah), 1860-1941.
  • Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870.
  • Dow, Neal, 1804-1897.
  • Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931.
  • Fess, Simeon D. (Simeon Davidson), 1861-1936.
  • Fosdick, Harry Emerson, 1878-1969.
  • Foster, J. Ellen (Judith Ellen), 1840-
  • Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879.
  • Hill, Lister, 1894-1984.
  • Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
  • Ireland, John, 1838-1918.
  • Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845.
  • Johnson, William Eugene, 1862-1945.
  • Kellogg, John Harvey, 1852-1943.
  • King, Henry Churchill, 1858-1934.
  • Lawrence, David, 1888-
  • McAdoo, William Gibbs, 1863-1941.
  • Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884.
  • Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946.
  • Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1839-1937.
  • Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1874-1960.
  • Russell, Charles Edward, 1860-1941.
  • Russell, Joseph A.
  • Sheldon, Charles Monroe, 1857-1946.
  • Sheppard, Morris, 1875-1941.
  • Strong, Josiah, 1847-1916.
  • Tope, Homer W., 1859-1936.
  • Wheeler, Wayne Bidwell, 1869-1927.
  • White, William Allen, 1868-1944.
  • Woolley, John G. (John Granville), 1850-1922.
  • American Council on Alcohol Problems.
  • Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884.
  • Russell, Howard H. (Howard Hyde), 1855-1946.
  • Woman's Christian Temperance Union -- Washington (D.C.)
  • Sarony, Napoleon, 1821-1896.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Collected Correspondence [series] (11 items)

The collection begins with an accumulation of letters from distinguished individuals, including Andrew Jackson, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Charles Dickens. The provenance of these letters is unclear.

Box   1  

(File includes letters from Andrew Jackson, 1813; William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, 1845; Charles Dickens, 1846)

Correspondence 1871-1915 [series]

The Russell Correspondence series dates from 1871 to 1915 and deals primarily with family matters, especially letters from Russell to his wife. Correspondence from 1916 to 1946 is generally more concerned with his interest in prohibition and contains some correspondence with a number of notable people such as John D. Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., William Jennings Bryan, and many government officials.

Box   1  
Undated (3 folders)
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
January-June 1941
Box   1  
July-December 1941
Box   1  
Speeches 1878-1914 [series]

Russell's Speeches, 1878-1941, provide an insight into the focus of the Ant-Saloon League and Russell's stamp upon it.

Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
1897, 1899
Box   1  
1904, 1908
Box   1  
1910, 1913
Box   1  
1915, 1918-1919
Box   1  
1920-1921, 1926-1928
Box   1  
1932-1934, 1936, 1940-1941
Miscellaneous Correspondence 1930-1937 [series]

The Miscellaneous Correspondence includes four folders of congratulatory notes on the Russells' fiftieth wedding anniversary and his eighty-second birthday and correspondence with W. E. "Pussyfoot" Johnson providing some interesting reminiscences about the Anti-Saloon League.

Box   2  
Received on occasion of 50th wedding anniversary 1930 (2 folders)
Box   2  
Received on occasion of birthday 1937 (2 folders)
Box   2  
Concerning W.E. "Pussyfoot" Johnson 1932

(includes other papers)

Family Papers [series]

Russell and Parker family papers consist of a variety of genealogical material.

Box   2  
Russell family
Box   2  
Parker family
Diary entries 1852-1856, 1894-1932 [series]

The Diary entries includes diaries of both Sarah and Howard Hyde Russell. Sarah Russell's diary consists of some sketchy and inconsistent entries from 1852 to 1856. Howard Hyde Russell's diary entries cover the years from 1894 to 1932, and while they are only matter-of-fact statements of appointments, they do give some idea of the active life which Russell led.

Box   2  
Box   2  
Box   2  
Box   2  
Box   2  

(also typed excerpts from diary for 1916)

Miscellaneous Files [series]

The Miscellaneous series brings together a variety of biographical information and some of Russell's writings related to the Anti-Saloon League and other topics. The autobiographical material in typed manuscript form gives a good idea of the type of man Russell was, and the issues which he considered most important. The miscellaneous writings primarily contain more autobiographical and biographical material. Miscellaneous manuscript material contains a wide variety of information ranging from penciled speech drafts to family deeds. The collection concludes with two folders of miscellanea concerning Anti-Saloon League financial matters, the annual report of the League for 1902, and a scrapbook of the "water wagon tour" that provides interesting photographs and an account of the tour.

Box   2  
Autobiographical writings (4 folders)
Box   2  
Biographical and Autobiographical material
Box   2  
Miscellaneous writings (2 folders)
Box   2  
Miscellanea: Manuscript material (4 folders)
Box   2  
Miscellanea: The Anti-Saloon League (2 folders)
Box   2  
Annual Report of the American Anti-Saloon League 1902
Box   2  
Newspaper clippings (2 folders)
Box   3  
Printed material (2 folders)
Box   3  
Scrapbook concerning water wagon tour over the Lincoln Highway 1915
Box   3  
Miscellaneous diaries, autograph book, notebooks, and books.
Photographs [series]

The Photographs series includes portraits of Howard Hyde Russell, a portrait of Wendell Phillips made by Napoleon Sarony; photographs of Anti-Saloon League conferences, groups, and gatherings; and photographs of Russell and his companions on their "water wagon" tour along the Lincoln Highway.

Box   3  
Photographs (3 folders)
Additional Descriptive Data
Selective Index to Correspondents
Angell, James Burrill, 1829-1916.
  • June 4, 1886
Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906.
  • Jan. 24, 1884, Dec. 27, 1899
Babson, Roger Ward, 1875-1967.
  • July 19, 1923
Baker, Purley Albert, 1858-1924.
  • Undated, May 16, 1900, May 22, 1907, Apr. 25, 1922
Barrows, John Henry, 1847-1902.
  • Oct. 2, 1900
Bashford, James Whitford, 1849-1919.
  • May 27, 1996
Booth, Evangeline, 1865-1950.
  • Apr. 19, 1922
Brooks, Phillips, 1835-1893.
  • Jan. 29, 1884
Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925.
  • Undated, Sept. 29, 1922
Cadman, S. Parkes (Samuel Parkes), 1864-1936.
  • 1902, Jan. 16, 1935
Capper, Arthur, 1865-1951.
  • Oct. 12, Nov. 4, Nov. 9, 1931, Feb. 21, 1936
Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933.
  • Nov. 3, 1923
Cullom, Shelby Moore, 1829-1914.
  • July 8, 1903
Daniels, Josephus, 1862-1948.
  • Oct. 5, 20, 1925, Mar. 31, 1933, May 19, 1934.
Daugherty, H. M. (Harry Micajah), 1860-1941.
  • Nov. 14, 1923.
Dow, Neal, 1804-1897.
  • May 15, 1882
Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931.
  • Dec. 16, 1929
Fess, Simeon D. (Simeon Davidson), 1861-1936
  • May 21, 1930
Fosdick, Harry Emerson, 1878-1969.
  • Nov. 24, 1922
Foster, J. Ellen (Judith Ellen), 1840-
  • Undated
Hill, Lister, 1894-1984.
  • Aug. 16, 1924
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
  • Feb. 27, 1933
Ireland, John, 1838-1918.
  • Undated
Johnson, William E. (William Eugene), 1862-1945
  • June 19, 1905
Kellogg, John Harvey, 1852-1943.
  • Sept. 6, 1927, Aug. 4, Sept. 25, 1940, Apr. 10, 1941
King, Henry Churchill, 1858-1934.
  • June 22, 1905, May 25, 1922
Lawrence, David, 1888-
  • Nov. 4, 1941
McAdoo, William Gibbs, 1863-1941.
  • Apr. 5, 1924, Oct. 1, 1925
Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946.
  • May 22, 1922
Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1839-1937.
  • Undated, Oct. 14, 1901, Oct. 14, 1903, July 10, 1905, July 11, 1908, July 8, 1910, July 10, 1916, Jan. 2, Sept. 4, 9, 1920, Mar. 3, 1922, Dec. 5, 1931, Apr. 11, 1934
Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1874-1960.
  • May 20, 1925, Jan. 26, 1933, Mar. 16, 1933, Sept. 7, 24, 1937, Jan. 28, 1938.
Russell, Charles Edward, 1860-1941.
  • Dec. 26, 1917
Sheldon, Charles Monroe, 1857-1946.
  • June 19, 1905
Sheppard, Morris, 1875-1941.
  • Jan. 21, 1935
Strong, Josiah, 1847-1916.
  • June 21, 1905
Tope, Homer W., 1859-1936.
  • Undated
Wheeler, Wayne Bidwell, 1869-1927.
  • May 31, 1927, May 9, 1900
White, William Allen, 1868-1944.
  • Oct. 13, 1931
Woolley, John G. (John Granville), 1850-1922.
  • May 19, 1903