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Manuscripts by Subject - Politics / Government - #10001

Title: Burleigh F. Spalding Papers

Dates: 1840-1931

Collection Number: 10001

Quantity: 1.5 feet
Abstract:  Autobiography, correspondence, account books, autograph book containing signatures of delegates to the North Dakota Constitutional Convention, letterpress copy books, legal documents, poetry, speeches, and attorney dockets relating to law practice. The Records primarily relate to Spaulding’s personal, business, and political activities. Includes records of the Capitol Commission (1883-1998), the “Admission-As-A-Whole Commission” (1887), and a roster of North Dakota county political committee members 1904.

Provenance: The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the Burleigh F. Spalding Papers as a gift from Carleton Spalding, 1936;Mary Nowatzki, 1974; Grand Lodge, A.F. and A.M., 1983; and Dorothy Kern, 1983; and Dorothy Kern, 1983.  Juliann Henriksen prepared the inventory to the Burleigh F. Spalding Papers in December 1983.

Property rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights of the Burleigh F. Spalding Papers have been dedicated to the public. Consideration of all other copyrights is the responsibility of the author and publisher.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references. 


Burleigh Folsom Spalding was born on December 3, 1853 in Craftsbury, Vermont. He attended the Norwich University at Northfield, Vermont with intentions of pursuing a military career. After graduation, he became interested in the legal profession and upon his admittance to the bar moved to Dakota Territory. He married Alida Baker on November 25, 1880. They had five children: Deane B., Frances F., Roscoe C., Burleigh M., and Carleton C.

Spalding was an active political figure in North Dakota. In 1883 he was appointed to the Capitol Commission which recommended removal of the Dakota Capitol from Yankton to Bismarck. He was a Cass County delegate to the December 15, 1887, "Admission-As-A-Whole" convention held in Aberdeen. He served as a delegate to the 1889 Constitutional Convention and was selected from the membership of the convention to serve on the Joint Commission for the Division of Property, Debts, and Archives of the two new states, North and South Dakota. Spalding was the chairman of the state Republican Central Committee of North Dakota in 1892, the chairman of the Republican Good Government League of North Dakota from 1905 to 1907, and a member of the 56th and 58th Congresses (1899-1901 and 1903-1905).  He was appointed by Governor Burke in 1907 to the State Supreme Court as an Associate Justice and was elected to the same office in 1908, for a term of six years. He was Chief Justice from October, 1911 to January, 1915.
Besides his political activities, Spalding organized the Merchants State Rank in Fargo and served as its first president.  He was a Knight Templar, a thirty-third degree Scottish Rite Mason, an Elk, a chapter member of the World's Inter-parliamentary Union, a member of the American Institute of Civics, the American Bar Association, the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, and various local clubs. Burleigh Spalding died from a heart attack in Fargo, North Dakota on March 17, 1934.

Grand Forks Herald, March 18, 1934
Bismarck Tribune, March 17, 1934
Fargo Forum, March 17, 1934


The Burleigh F. Spalding Papers date from 1840 to 1931, and occupy one and a half feet. The papers consist of three series: personal papers, political papers, and law practice records.

The personal papers date from 1840 to 1931 and consist of an auto-biography, letter press copy books, correspondence, account books, an autograph album, documents, ephemera, newspaper clippings, a scrapbook,  and miscellaneous items. The autobiography was dictated by Spalding to his daughter-in-law, Charlotte Spalding in 1924, and provides information on family genealogy and Spalding's personal accomplishments. The letter press copy books date from 1898 to 1899, and 1905 to 1907, and contain outgoing letters relating to Spalding's personal business and political activities. The correspondence, dating from 1919 to 1931, consists of incoming and outgoing letters to editors of various publications on religion. The account books date from 1872 to 1890, and contain Spalding's household and farm financial records. The autograph album contains signatures of many delegates to the 1889 State Constitutional Convention. The documents, dating from 1840, and 1895 to 1919, consist of a warranty deed, a promissory note, certificate of birth, an indenture, and military papers of Paul Thonn. The ephemera consists of a chorale program, campaign leaflets, bank annual reports, newspaper reprint, and a poem. Newspaper clippings consist of articles on political subjects, poetry, and Spalding's activities. The scrapbook contains newspaper clippings, ca. 1905, dealing with Spalding's activities. The miscellaneous items include poems, stationery, an inventory list, speeches, and short papers.

The political papers date from 1883 to 1904 and consist of three sub-series: records of the Capitol Commission; "Admission-As-A-Whole" Convention records; and miscellaneous records. The Capitol Commission records date from 1883 to 1886, and consist of minutes, resolutions, correspondence, and miscellaneous items. The "Admission-As-A-Whole" Convention records date from 1887, and consist of minutes, committee reports and resolutions, and delegate credentials. The miscellaneous items consist of proposed state constitutional amendments and rosters of North Dakota county political committee members, 1904.
The law practice records, dating from 1887 to 1893, consist of three attorney dockets providing information on Spalding's case load.


Series I.                Personal Papers, 1840 to 1931, Box 1-2.   Consists of an autobiography, letter press copy books, correspondence, account books, an autograph album, documents, ephemera, newspaper clippings, a scrapbook, and miscellaneous items.

Series II.               Political Papers, 1883-1904, Box 2-3.  Consists of minutes, correspondence, committee reports and resolutions, delegate credentials, state constitutional amendments, and rosters of county political committee members.

Series III.             Law Practice Records, 1887-1893, Box 3 consists of three attorney dockets.

Series I.  Personal Papers

Box 1:
1 Autobiography              1924      
2 Autobiography              1924      
3 Letter press copy book              December, 1898 -August, 1899
4 Letter press copy book              August, 1905 -February, 1907    
5 Correspondence           1919-1931           
6 Account book                 1872-1873           

Box 2:
1 Account book                 1879-1880           
2 Account book                 1884-1890           
3 Autograph album         1889      
4 State Constitutional Convention Documents    1840; 1895-1919               
5 Ephemera                                       
6 Newspaper clippings                                  
7 Scrapbook       1905      
8 Miscellaneous                                               

Series II.   Political Papers
      Sub-series 1. Capitol Commission Records

9 Minutes            1883-1886             
10 Resolutions   1883      

Box 3:
1 Correspondence           1883-1885             
2 Miscellaneous                1883-1885             

     Sub-series 2. “Admission-As-A-Whole” Convention Records

3 Minutes            December 15, 1887          
4 Committee Reports and Resolutions                                    
5 Delegate Credentials                                   
     Sub-series 3.  Miscellaneous Records

6 State Constitution Amendments                                            
7 County Political Committee Rosters     1904        

     Series III.  Law Practice Records

8 Attorney Docket           1887-1890             
9 Attorney Docket           1887-1893           
10 Attorney Docket         1890-1893           


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