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Eldon Bowman collection of Bowman family papers

Identifier: SC 0328

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The Eldon Bowman Collection of Bowman Family Papers, 1797-2019, comprises genealogical materials (photocopied and original), correspondence, family papers, and financial and legal documents related to the Bowman family of Rockingham County, Virginia specifically the Eli Martin Bowman (1861-1950) and Amanda Hollar Bowman (1865-1936) line.

Since the collection contains original and photocopied documents, dates were applied to documents according to the date the original document was created and not when it was reproduced. Researchers should note that while genealogical materials are primarily arranged in Series 2: Genealogical Files, materials found within Series 1: Family Papers and Correspondence may also relate to Bowman and related family genealogies.


  • 1797 - 2019


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research with the exception of Bowman correspondence from 1997-2019, which is restricted until July 15, 2045 per the donor agreement.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact research services staff at before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Original audiocassettes contained in this collection are restricted from access. Reformatted access copies may be available, or media reformatting may be available upon request.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Biographical/Historical Note

Given the genealogical focus of this collection, this biographical note is not intended to serve as an exhaustive description of the Bowman family tree, which would largely duplicate the information found within the collection materials. Researchers are encouraged to review Series 2: Genealogy Files for more detailed genealogical information on the Bowman, Hollar, Lahman, and Wenger families. Published genealogies on these families are also available for additional context.

The Eldon Bowman Collection of Bowman Family Papers primarily documents the Eli Martin Bowman (1861-1950) and Amanda Hollar Bowman (1865-1936) line of the Bowmans of Rockingham County, Virginia. Eli Bowman was the great-great-grandson of George and Barbara Bowman who immigrated to Pennsylvania from Germany in the late 1740s. The Bowmans moved to Rockingham County in the early 1770s and erected the "Bowman House" which is now part of the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. The descendants of Eli and Amanda Bowman documented in this collection include their son Luther Alexander Bowman (1884-1952) and his wife Otilla May Lahman (1891-1966), Luther and Otilla's son Millard Lahman Bowman (1914-1997) and his wife Oma Frances Wenger (1913-2002), and their nine children including Eldon Bowman (b. 1942) and Bernie Bowman (b. 1947). Many of the Bowmans were members of the Mennonite Church and were farmers by trade. Millard Bowman owned and operated a dairy and turkey farm with his family just outside of Harrisonburg. Eldon and Bernie Bowman as well as their siblings Jim, Daniel, and Miriam Haarer are all published authors. Their books include memoirs, genealogies, and family histories.


1.6 cubic feet (4 boxes, 2 audiocassettes)

118 Megabytes (46 digital files)

Language of Materials



The Eldon Bowman Collection of Bowman Family Papers, 1797-2019, comprises genealogical materials (photocopied and original), correspondence, and family papers related to the Bowman family of Rockingham County, Virginia specifically the Eli Martin Bowman (1861-1950) and Amanda Hollar Bowman (1865-1936) line.


The collection is arranged into two series and further arranged chronologically. Exceptions to this arrangement were made in order to group like materials together specifically Hollar family genealogy research files.

  1. Family Papers and Correspondence, 1849-2019
  2. Genealogy Files, 1797-2018


Much of the family papers and genealogical research that form this collection were compiled and stewarded by Eldon Bowman's father Millard, and then by Eldon after Millard's death in 1997. Bernie Bowman, Eldon's brother, is also a contributor to the collection. A selection of his writings - published and unpublished - are included.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Eldon Bowman in three separate accruals between 2019 and 2020.


Printed materials and monographs already held by Special Collections or deemed out of the collecting scope of Special Collections, yearbooks, and genealogy website printouts were not retained and were returned to the donor.

Separated Materials

Published monographs related to the Bowman family and/or local history were removed from the collection and cataloged individually as part of Special Collections rare book holdings.

Processing Information

The bulk of the materials were provided by the donor in labeled envelopes and binders. The donor's descriptions and folder titles were largely retained, and in cases where descriptions were substantive, a scope and content note is included at the folder level. The binders and envelopes were discarded.

Audiocassettes listed in the container list have not been reformatted but can be made available upon request.



A Guide to the Eldon Bowman Collection of Bowman Family Papers, 1797-2019
Tiffany Cole
June 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

880 Madison Drive
MSC 1704
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612