The Richard Overton Papers fill 5 boxes and span the years 1940 to 1990, with the bulk of the papers dating between 1942 and 1955. Materials cover: biographical information; memberships; conferences; the Business History Department; teaching; research; speeches; photographs; professional invitations; publications; Mississippi Valley Historical Association.
Biographical materials (1944-1959) include C.V.s, personal data information, and a section of Overton's will. Correspondence (1940-1990) is arranged chronologically. Three folders of general correspondence primarily consist of personal letters as well as recommendation letters written on behalf of professional colleagues. There is also one subject-specific folder related to his membership in the Westerners, a historical association. Financial records (1946-1950) include correspondence and other records related to Overton's Northwestern-related expenses. Clippings (1943-1954) are arranged chronologically and include newspaper articles by or about Overton, as well as articles relating to railroad historians and railroad histories.
Overton's membership in the School of Commerce's Committee on Research (1950-1954) is documented by memos, reports, recommendations, and meeting minutes relating to the work of the Committee. This Committee was part of a University-wide effort to coordinate information, policy, and resources relating to faculty research. Of interest is the recommendation that the School establish a Business Clinic.
The conferences (1942-1968) file comprises programs from conferences attended by Overton as well as those he helped plan, including a number of Mississippi Valley Historical Association yearly conferences.
The Business History Department (1945-1961) category is arranged chronologically and consists of personal memos to faculty of the Business History Department and Northwestern University, operational matters, and matters relating to Department organization. Folders related to Department and individual teaching associates are also included. One of these folders contains correspondence with Herbert Brayer, who was hired for the Business History Writing Project in 1949; two additional folders related to Brayer consist of letters, memos, reports and other materials documenting Brayer's troubled career at Northwestern.
Records of the Business History Writing Project (1949-1959) include memos to and from members of the Business History Writing Committee, as well as correspondence with clients that had their business histories written.
Overton's lecture and book notes (1946-1954) consist of notes from lectures he attended as well as his outline of George Taylor's "Transportation Revolution". His teaching lecture notes (1939-1967) are arranged alphabetically by course and lecture title, if available with most of the material dating from the 1950s. The folders contain fully written lectures as well as outlines and exam question drafts. There is also one folder containing course material for non-Northwestern classes that he taught.
The research (1946-1981) files include four separate lists of names of texts and publications relating to railroad history that Overton and others compiled. It also contains a folder listing the contents of the Cunningham-Overton Collection at the Burlington Archives in the Newberry Library.
Papers and speeches (1947-1976) are arranged chronologically and include speeches given by Overton as well as a small number of papers he wrote for presentation at history conferences.
The photographs (1943) category comprises pictures of old locomotives sent to Overton by a professional colleague.
Overton's involvement in the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (1942-1954) is documented by memos to and from the members of the Association, as well as letters to the members of the editorial section of the Association.
The professional invitations (1945-1949) category is arranged chronologically. This category contains invitations from the American Historical Society, Harvard Fund Council and Railway and Locomotive Historical Society. Also included in this section are invitations to honor the University President, and Mississippi Valley Historical Association notices.
Publications (1947-1998) include articles and reprints, as well as a copy of "Richard C. Overton, Railroad Historian", H. Roger Grant's 1998 compilation of Overton's articles. One folder contains correspondence between Overton and Harold (Hal) Williamson about Overton's book, "Perkins/Budd". A typescript of the book is also included.