Explore the Will H. Hays Collection online

The Indiana State Library is pleased to announce that the Will H. Hays Collection is now accessible for online research in the ISL Digital Collections. A native Hoosier from a small town, Will Hays became a mover and shaker in Republican party politics, business and the motion picture industry in the first half of the 20th century.

Will Hays at Directors Club banquet, 1925

For the past two years, the entire Rare Books and Manuscripts Division of the Indiana State Library has worked diligently to digitize the most significant part of the collection. The project was made possible by a generous digitization grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives in 2018. A labor of love for Manuscripts staff, the grant came to an end on Aug. 31.

Lucille Ball and Will Hays at Film Critics Circle reception, 1940

The grant allowed for the hiring of two digitization and metadata assistants who, alongside full-time staff, worked tirelessly to review, scan and edit over 100,000 pages of correspondence, papers and photographs, the bulk of which ranged from 1921 to 1945. They then researched and created metadata to describe the materials, uploading 927 folders to the digital collection. The primary assistants for the project shared their favorite items discovered in the collection, in short interviews about their experiences on Sept., 13 and Sept. 25, 2019.

Telegram to Clark Gable on tragic death of Carole Lombard, 1942

The papers in the digital collection comprise Hays’ time as campaign manager for then presidential candidate, Warren G. Harding, service as Postmaster General under Harding from 1921 to1922 and his long reign as “czar of the movies,” while he held the position of president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributers Association from 1922 to 1945. Learn more about Will Hays through this in-depth timeline chronicling his life and career in politics and the nascent film industry.

Snapshot from “Will H. Hays: A Chronology of His Life” timeline

For more information about the project, including the collection’s usage and scope, contact Brittany Kropf, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, at 317-234-9557 or via email.

This blog post was written by Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian Brittany Kropf. For more information, contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at (317) 232-3671 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

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