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SJSU Special Collections & Archives

Historical Research Topics and Collections

Legacy of Poetry at SJSU

Welcome to the Legacy of Poetry exhibit page for Special Collections. In 2017, we created a joint exhibit featuring the Legacy of Poetry authors Edwin Markham and Henry Mead Bland and the 150th anniversary of Reed Magazine. Please visit the 5th floor Special Collections Reading Room to view items about Markham and Meade Bland. 

For more information, please see SJSU Professor Annette Nellen's ​Historical Timeline on the Legacy of Poetry at SJSU.

Legacy of Poetry Exhibit and Libguide curators:  Rebecca Kohn and Anne Tignanelli.  

Reed Magazine Centennial exhibit curators:  Anne Tignanelli and Carmen Patino

Edwin Markham

Edwin Markham (1852-1940)



Throughout most of his life, Edwin Markham came to be known as the "Dean of American Poetry, the Laureate of Labor, and—in his own words—the Poet Highwayman." His work as a poet and social reformer brought him recognition throughout the West and across the United States. He founded the Poetry Society of America in 1910 and served as Oregon’s first poet laureate, from 1923 to 1931. Biographer and politician, Leonard D. Abbott (1878-1953) stated upon Markham's death, he should be remembered as the “first real poet of labor.” 

Edwin Markham graduated from the California State Normal School, San José, CA in 1872 [See above image]. "Markham was a teacher, school administrator, poet, lecturer, champion of social issues, and good friend of the Normal School and its successor San José State College," now San José State University. On the west side of Tower Hall at SJSU, is a plaque honoring Markham [See above image]. 

Please see SJSU Professor Nellen's excellent website for detailed information of Markham's memorable events and milestones at the Normal School, along with his continued involvement and contributions to students and faculty, especially Professor Henry Meade Bland (1863-1931), who taught at San José State Teachers College [See above image] from 1899-1931, and was the Poet Laureate of California from 1929-31.

Even though Markham later relocated to New York, here in San José one can step back in time at The Edwin Markham House, a San José historical landmark, located in History Park, San José [See image below]. The Victorian house was once located on Eighth Street, directly across San José State University. Collections in the Markham House Library contain poetry books, small press publications, along with many of Markham's personal artifacts [bookcase, walking cane, the writing pen Markham used to write The Man with a Hoe poem]. The Edwin Markham House is also the headquarters of Poetry Center San José.


In 1899 Markham gained world-wide fame with the publication in the San Francisco Examiner newspaper [See image below] of his poem, The Man with the Hoe [See Audio source] Markham describes the physical, intellectual and spiritual state of this French peasant forced into life-long hard labor as a symbol of the exploited classes worldwide. The poem was seen as a commentary on the plight of the working class and became an anthem for the American labor movement. Markham was inspired by artist Jean-François Millet's (1814-1875) painting, L 'homme á la houe (c. 1860-62), [See image below].



Among the sources:

Detailed information from SJSU Professor Nellen's website for Edwin Markham. Professor Nellen has also attached many of Markham's published poems.

Information for the Markham Family Papers in OAC collections contains a variety of documents & photographs:

The most comprehensive collection of Markham's papers is the Markham Archives of Horrman Library, at Wagner College, New York City, which includes all of Markham's library and correspondence as well as numerous unpublished manuscripts and other important resources:

Audio: Edwin Markham "The Man with a Hoe" Poem animation

Further Reading:

Duncan, Charles. "Edwin Markham." In Nineteenth-Century American Western Writers, edited by Robert L. Gale. Detroit: Gale Research, 1997.

Filler, Louis. The Unknown Edwin Markham.  Antioch Press: Yellow Springs, Ohio, 1966.

Stidger, William L.  Edwin Markham.  Abingdon Press: New York, 1933.


Jean-François Millet's (French,1814-1875). Painting, "L 'homme á la houe" (c. 1860-62)

Henry Meade Bland

Henry Meade Bland (1863-1931)



Professor Henry Meade Bland was a published poet, philosopher and esteemed teacher at San José State Teachers College, in the English Department from 1899-1931. Dr. Bland was also the California Poet Laureate from 1929 until his passing in 1931. No matter the referenced sources investigated about Dr. Bland, it is clear his influences upon students, faculty and his contemporaries was held in high esteem. [See images below].

Dr. Bland was a native Californian born in Fairfield in Solano County. Bland earned his undergraduate degree from the University of the Pacific and an M.A. degree and Ph.D. from Stanford. Before Dr. Bland taught English at San José State Teachers College,1899-1931, he worked as a teacher and principal for schools located in Los Gatos, Santa Clara, San José and Contra Costa. Dr. Bland established Los Gatos High School in 1908. For twelve years, Dr. Bland also actively served on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.

During Dr. Bland's time at San José State Teachers College, he was supportive and instrumental assisting students with student clubs and student literary publications. Please see SJSU Professor Nellen's excellent website for more detailed information of Dr. Bland's contributions to students and faculty.


During the early years of the 20th century, Bland penned reviews of the works of his friends Edwin Markham [See Poetry Legacy posting], Joaquin Miller [See image above], Jack London, and John Muir. Edwin Markham wrote of Bland's poetry that it contained "lines of true beauty and mystic music."

From a 1922 posting in the History of Santa Clara, one is shown a glimpse of Henry Meade Bland, "When you know this quiet savant, fond of reading and writing poetry, a nature-loving soul who never misses anything from a drop of dew gleaming on the grass-blade, to a star glowing in the heavenly blue, you learn something altogether delightful." As with Edwin Markham, on the west side of Tower Hall at SJSU, a commemorative plaque honoring Dr. Bland can be seen [See above images].


Among the sources:

This Henry Meade Bland collection from OAC contains copies of the poet's works with annotations in his own hand, Bland's obituaries and a study of the poet's work

Detailed information from SJSU Professor Nellen's website for Henry Meade Bland. Professor Nellen has also attached many of his published poems. 

Published information from the History of Santa Clara County, as told through the biographies of the early settlers; see Henry Meade Bland:

Stanford University Libraries Henry Meade Bland collection contains poems, sonnets and photographs. Contact Stanford to view collection materials not offered online: