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Roman I. Jarvis Collection

Identifier: RH-A-3542

Scope and Contents

The scrapbook contains a large number of newspaper clippings relating to social welfare, local, regional, and national political events, myriad open letters printed in the News-Palladium (today the Herald-Palladium), and personal letters relating to his political career and service as postmaster in Benton Harbor. The letters and pamphlets relate to speeches given or attended by Roman Jarvis.


  • Creation: 1851-1940


Biographical / Historical

Roman I. Jarvis, born on August 3, 1851, in Lockport, New York, was the son of Roman Jarvis, a French-Canadian immigrant, who upon arrival in New York, acquired training as a cobbler, which later became a family profession. Settling in Benton Harbor ca. 1884, Jarvis worked as a salesman for a shoe company, and later became the proprietor of a custom shoe/shoe repair store. Roman was a prominent member of the Benton Harbor community, frequently running for public office and serving as an outspoken advocate for laborers, farmers, and financial reform. In 1883, Roman was nominated by the local Democratic Party for the state legislature, losing by only 81 votes (Detroit Evening News, 1896). However, his spirited campaign (and popular appeal) made him a significant local and regional political figure. Roman was also a strong advocate of Free Silver, and worked to rally public support for fiat money, as well as promote welfare policies that protected both the working poor and elderly (in particular, the Townsend Plan). In 1896 Roman unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Michigan’s Fourth District, which covered a substantial portion of western Michigan (including Benton Harbor), until redistricting in 1964. Serving as postmaster in Benton Harbor under President Grover Cleveland in the 1890s, Roman developed a strong network of political relationships within the Democratic Party. In 1934, Jarvis was given the position of Director of New Federal Enumeration by George E. Foulkes, his first official acknowledgement of his steadfast support for Democratic policies throughout his lengthy career in public service. By 1900, Roman had a total of eight children: Nellie M. (born October, 1878), Rosa B. (born May, 1880), Frederick (born October, 1882), Roman I Jarvis Jr. (born August, 1885), Ina (born August, 1887), Wilbur (born November, 1889), Florence (born April, 1892), and Robert (born April 1894). Roman I. Jarvis Sr. died on December 19, 1940, in Benton Harbor, Berrien County, MI, at the age of 89.


.10 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Physical Description

The collection is approximately .10 cubic feet and is made up of one folder. The scrapbook appears to be in generally good condition. However, many of the pages and newspaper clippings have become frail, due to the glue used to affix the clippings to the scrapbook pages. Some of the newspaper clippings have also been folded together, and require careful handling. With proper care and handling the item should remain in fairly good condition.

Roman I. Jarvis Collection Finding Aid
Andrew Archey
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490