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Edward Henderson, Jr., and Mabel Dewhirst Henderson Papers

Manuscript Collection no. 193



Edward Henderson was a highly successful salesman of educational materials for Hoover Brothers, Incorporated, from the late 1930s through 1956. While representing Hoover Brothers, he broke many sales records and was often commended by the company for his outstanding work in his assigned territory. After a brief career as a grade school teacher, Mabel Dewhirst Henderson spent most of her life as a housewife, raising their three daughters. This two box collection deals with several aspects of the personal and professional lives of the Hendersons and dates from 1904 through 1956. It was donated by Ann Harrison in June, 1986. No restrictions have been placed on this collection.


Edward Henderson, Jr., was born in Girard, Kansas, ca. 1894, and was educated in the Girard public schools. He graduated from Girard High School in 1912. “Ed” had one sister, Nelle, and an uncle named John Hagner. On January 26, 1924, Edward married Mabel N. Dewhirst. This was his second marriage. A previous marriage had resulted in the birth of a daughter, Laura Jean. Miss Dewhirst was born and raised in Midian, Kansas. She also had only one sibling, a brother named George. After graduating from Crawford County High School in Cherokee, Kansas, in 1916, Mabel attended Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg through 1921. She also studied for brief periods of time during the early 1920s at the University of Kansas, Fairmount College (now Wichita State University), Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia, and the University of Chicago.

Edward and Mabel were active in the field of education. For approximately three years preceding her marriage, Mabel taught in the public schools of Butler and Sedgwick counties. Although Edward taught school for a short time also, he worked as a salesman of educational materials for Hoover Brothers, Incorporated, during most of his adult life. The Hendersons made their home in Wichita until 1955 when they moved to Clermont, Florida, after Edward retired.

Edward and Mabel were the parents of three daughters, Mary Elizabeth (nicknamed “Betty”), Margaret Ann, and Virginia Louise.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of two boxes and includes correspondence, financial records, and educational credentials pertaining to Edward and Mabel Henderson and their daughter Margaret Ann. The collection dates from 1904 to 1956. The correspondence can be divided into two basic categories, personal letters between family members and notes passed between Edward and his employer that relate to Hoover Brothers’ business. Most of the personal letters were written by Margaret Ann during her childhood and sent to her father while he was away from home on sales trips. These date approximately from 1934 to 1944 and are filed in chronological order. Also present is a smaller group of letters that Mr. and Mrs. Henderson wrote to each other during the mid-1920s when they were living in different communities for a short period following their marriage. The business correspondence is concerned primarily with sales reports and congratulations to Edward for the success he constantly achieved in total sales. Many, however, reflect the personal aspect of the relationship that Edward maintained with his immediate superior at Hoover Brothers (Clarence “Mac” McGuire) for nearly two decades. This relationship was not always harmonious. Edward frequently complained of being treated unfairly by the company. For example, in a letter written on April 12, 1938, Edward complained bitterly to McGuire about the smaller and smaller amounts of money that Hoover salesmen were receiving as a commission on the sales they made. He threatened to resign if this situation was not changed. Letters of this sort illustrate the frustrations of salesmen who are constantly away from the home office. This group of letters spans the years 1938 to 1956.

The financial records consist of a wide variety of items that are difficult to classify in a general manner. They include cancelled checks, business receipts, mortgage related items, an insurance policy, a will, and a ledger book that contains a record of various financial transactions that the Hendersons undertook during various phases of their lives. All of the individual documents date from the late 1930s through the mid-1950s.

The set of school-related documents is also varied in content. It includes Mabel’s teaching contracts, her transcript from Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg, some of Edward’s early grade cards, letters of recommendation, and a commencement program. These items date from 1904 to 1950.

Included in the collection are parts of a 1943 war ration book and two account books in which Edward kept a record of his sales accounts.

Shane N. Galentine
Lela Barnes Intern
Summer, 1987