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D. C. Stephenson

D.C. Stephenson
1925 – 1933, no date
3 ms boxes

Manuscript & Rare Books Division
Indiana State Library

                        Processed by: Brent Abercrombie, May 2010                       

Biographical Note:

David Curtis Stephenson was born August 21, 1891 in Houston, Texas. Stephenson was the leader of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan from 1922 to 1925, held the title King Kleagle for most of the Midwest and Grand Dragon (state leader) of the Realm of Indiana from 1923 to 1925. Stephenson broke away from the national Ku Klux Klan in 1924. Stephenson was involved in Indiana politics as well as a political ally of Indiana Republican Governor Edward L. Jackson during his 1924 election. Stephenson was found guilty of second-degree murder of Madge Oberholtzer in 1925. Because of his conviction and inability to receive a pardon or have his sentence commuted, Stephenson released a list of names that were on the payroll of the Klan. Among the names on the list were Gov. Jackson, Marion County Republican Chairman George V. Coffin, attorney Robert Marsh, and Indianapolis Mayor John Duvall. The aftermath of this exposure resulted in the rapid decline of the Klan by the end of the 1920s. Stephenson was paroled in 1950, after serving 15 years in prison. After his release, Stephenson continued to have brushes with the law throughout the rest of his life. Stephenson died June 28, 1966 in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

Scope and Content Note:

The collection consists principally of contemporary copies of Stephenson’s prison correspondence, made for Indiana State Prison Warden Walter Daly (1925-1933). Included is Stephenson’s correspondence with his attorneys, supporters, and family regarding his attempts to gain release, prison conditions, Ku Klux Klan, Indiana politics, and personal business. Also part of the collection are letters to Warden Daly regarding Stephenson, letters to and from Stephenson that were retained by prison officials, court documents, and news-clippings regarding Stephenson’s case and corruption in Indiana during the late 1920s.

Correspondents include Court Asher, Gutzom Borglum, Clarence Darrow, Edward A. Rumely, among others.

Photocopying Policy:

Manuscript materials CANNOT be photocopied or digitized in their entirety. Photocopies and/or digital images cannot exceed 25% of a collection or a folder within a collection. In some cases, photocopying may not be permitted due to the condition of the item. Check with a Manuscript Librarian for other options.

Box and Folder Listing:

Box 1.

1. Letters from D.C. Stephenson, 1927 – 1929
2. Letters from D.C. Stephenson, 1930 – 1933
3. Correspondence (Withheld Mail) Nov. – Dec. 1925
4. Correspondence (Withheld Mail) 1926
5. Correspondence (Withheld Mail) 1927 – 1930
6. Correspondence (Withheld Mail) 1932
7. Correspondence (Withheld Mail) no date; miscellaneous material
8. Correspondence 1926 – 1928
9. Correspondence 1929

Box 2.

1. Correspondence 1930
2. Correspondence 1931
3. Correspondence 1932 – 1933
4. Letters to D.C. Stephenson, no date
5. Telegrams 1925 – 1927
6. Telegrams 1928 – 1929
7. Telegrams 1930 – 1931
8. Telegrams 1932 – 1933
9. Telegrams, no date; miscellaneous material

Box 3.

1. Letters to and from Warden Daley 1925 – 1929
2. Letters to and from Warden Daley 1930 – 1933
3. Miscellaneous, BLKA, no date
4. Court Documents
5. Miscellaneous Materials
6. Press Restricted from Interviewing Stephenson Clippings 1926
7. Smuggled Stephenson Letters Clippings 1926 – 1927 
8. Senatorial Corruption Probe Clippings 1926 – 1927
9. Marion County Grand Jury Corruption Investigation Clippings 1926 – 1927
10. Refusal of Court Order and Stephenson’s Grand Jury Testimony Clippings 1926 – 1927
11. Stephenson Interviews Clippings 1926 – 1927
12. Miscellaneous Clippings 1926 – 1927

Collection Information

Size of Collection: 3 mss boxes, 30 folders
Collection Dates: 1925 - 1933
Provenance: Mrs. Nellie Daly, March 1975
Access : The collection is open for research use
Restrictions: None
Reproduction Rights: Permission to reproduce, exhibit, or publish material in this collection must be obtained from the Manuscript Section, Indiana State Library.
Language: Materials are entirely in English
Alternate Formats: None
Related Holdings: None
Notes: Full item inventory available upon request