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John Nixon Collection

Identifier: FMS-121

Scope and Contents

John Nixon (1883-1983) was one of Indiana's best-known collectors of art, documents, and rare books and pamphlets. He was the owner of a number of the manuscripts, books, and pamphlets in Earlham's Friends Collection. The John Nixon Collection includes mainly manuscripts, ephemera, and research material that relate to Nixon himself and his collecting or which did not have integrity as separate collections.


  • 1803-1983

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be protected by copyright. Permission to reproduce and to publish for commercial purposes must be requested from the Archivist.

Biographical or Historical Information

John Nixon was born in Carthage, Indiana, in 1883, the son of Lucius and Mary Etta (Willcuts) Nixon. He moved to Wayne County as a teenager and lived here for the rest of his life. John Nixon was a succesful businessman in Centerville, where he also developed one of the county's first airports. He died in Richmond in 1983, just short of his one-hundredth birthday. In the 1910s, Nixon began collecting paintings by Indiana artists, especially those of the "Richmond School", such as John Elwood Bundy and George H. Baker. He also began systematically acquiring documents, books, and antiques, specializing in items with Wayne County, Indiana, associations. At county auctions he purchased boxes  of old letters for a few cents, and he haunted local junk shops for old books that were being sold as scrap paper. By the 1940s, Nixon's collections were well known in art and historical circles. One of the events that marked Earlham's centennial celebration in 1947 was an exhibition of his paintings in Carpenter Hall.

Note written by


2.00 Boxes

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Although a number of librarians and curators courted Nixon, hoping for a gift or bequest, he held onto his collections until his death and bequeathed them to his daugter, a Richmond resident. She sold some of the art, and donated some documents to the Indiana Historical Society, but retained most of the books and manuscripts. These came on the market after her death. In 2002 and 2003, at auction and through private purchase, Earlham was able to secure many of Nixon's items.

Method of Acquisition

Purchase, at auctions and private purchase, 2002 and 2003.

Related Materials

See separated materials.

Separated Materials

Nixon appears to have maintained a number of his manuscripts and ephemera as distinct collections. The following separate collections are known to have been owned by Nixon: FMS 109 Luke Woodward Collection FMS 111 Ratliff Scrapbook Collection FMS 115 Lewis D. Stubbs Collection SC 220 William Macy Autobiography SC 221 Naomi B. Clawson Letters SC 222 Osborn Family Collection SC 223 Joseph C. Ratliff Diaries SC 224 Daniel Worth Collection SC 229 1827 Pioneer Association Collection SC 230 Wayne County Turnpike Company Account Books SC 231 Barton T. Reynolds Account Book SC 233 Wayne County Indiana Seminary Fine Account Book Three Quaker marriage certificates were placed in SC 154, the Marriage Certificate Collection. Items relating to Joseph Moore, Earlham's president from 1868-1883, were placed with the Joseph Moore Papers.
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Repository Details

Part of the Friends Collection and Earlham College Archives Repository