Guide to the Lowell Blake Mason (1893–1983) Papers

Collection Title: Lowell Blake Mason (1893–1983) Papers
Dates: 1867-2006
Identification: 31/6/91
Creator: Mason, Lowell B. (Lowell Blake), 1893-1983
Extent: 10 Boxes
Abstract: Lowell Blake Mason (1893-1983), a lawyer and politician from Illinois, served in both state and federal legislatures and numerous other posts. He was appointed to the post of Federal Trade Commissioner by President Harry Truman in 1945 and held the post until 1956. Mason wrote several books and articles about the relationship between facets of society and government. Materials in this collection include handwritten notes, drafts of publications, correspondence, clippings, certificates, and legal documents.
Related Materials: See Also: Lowell B. Mason Papers 1944-1967 at The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Finding aid is available at:Information about related materials is available at
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Lowell Blake Mason was born July 25, 1893 in Chicago Illinois. Mason was the youngest of six children raised by William E. Mason and Edith J. Mason. William Mason was a lawyer and politician serving in both the Illinois General Assembly and the United States Congress in several posts. Mason went on to follow a similar career path. As a child Mason lived in both Chicago and Washington D.C. as a result of his father’s political career. While living in their Chicago home, the Masons attended the Third Unitarian Church in Oak Park Illinois. It was there that the Masons met the man who would be their son’s namesake, minister James Vila Blake. After his father earned extra money from winning an important legal case, Lowell Mason had the opportunity to go on a “circumnavigation” trip. On this trip he, his mother, his aunt, and two siblings traveled around the world. Photographs from this trip are included in the collection.

Mason received his Bachelor of Laws from the Northwestern University School of Law in 1916. He was accepted to the Illinois Bar Association in 1916 and the Bar Association of the District of Columbia in 1936. He practiced as a lawyer in Chicago and Washington D.C. Mason’s professional titles include: Assistant Corporation Council to the city of Chicago 1916, Illinois Senator 1922-1930, first Illinois State Aviation Commission 1927, general counsel National Industrial Review Board 1934, counsel U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee 1936, appointed member of the Federal Trade Commission 1945 and reappointed to a seven year term in 1949. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge for many years. Northwestern University honored Mason with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1954.

Mason published several articles and books throughout his career. Publications focused on his professional life ranged from sections of legal proceedings, to opinion pieces. One aspect of his professional writings that was a constant throughout his career was his interest in the intersection of society and law. The comparison between social aspects and law that he published about include crime, society’s involvement in democracy, “Art As Barometer” for society among others. To characterize this type of comparison Mason gave the Federal Trade Commission the pet name of the “Old Lady”.

Mason was married in 1916 to his first wife Grace Gilbert with whom he had four children, William E. Mason III, Barbara Grace Mason, Nancy Gilbert Mason, and Lowell B. Mason, Jr.. He married his second wife, Rose D’Amore in 1938 with whom he had one child, Bianca Mason. Rose D’Amore’s daughter Jimilu also took Mason’s name. Aside from his professional interests, Mason wrote several articles about travel and recreation for a variety of periodicals. The subjects of these articles range from biking in Rock Creek Park to boating. Mason also enjoyed mountain climbing and music on his free time. His “mountain climbing” scrapbook and the charitable event “Lowell Blake Mason Annual Music Festival” that benefited the Illinois Braille and Sight Saving School evidence these interests. Lowell Mason also started traditions of biking to Washington with fellow government employees for a monthly “inspirational breakfast”, and attendance of the opening day Washington Senators baseball game with other Washington VIPs. One such photograph shows him with his close friend Senator Harry Truman at an opening day baseball game. Lowell Mason died July 9, 1983.

Scope and Content

The Lowell Blake Mason papers comprise 10 boxes including 2 half size boxes and one oversize box, and span the years 1867-2006, with the bulk of the materials dating between1930 and 1970. The papers consist mainly of correspondence, photographs, clippings and publications, and provide a view of Lowell Mason's life from a personal point of view as opposed to one focused purely on his professional life. Photographs and correspondence relating to commissioner Mason's family and friends give the user insight into his views on American society, many of which were the subject of his publications. The arrangement of the papers reflects aspects of the arrangement in which they were received. This organization for this collection falls into the following subseries: biographical materials (relating specifically to Mason), family related materials, certificates, clippings, correspondence, research files, publications, oversized materials, and photographs. All materials are arranged chronologically within folders unless otherwise noted.

Biographical materials span the years 1906-2006 and consist mainly of handwritten notes, photographs, as well as a book entitled: "Lowell Blake Mason: A Portrait". These materials cover who Mason was as a person and who he became over the course of his life. Information about hobbies and trips that he took throughout his life can be found here. These trips include one that took Mason around the world in 1913 as well as a trip for a Northwestern Law School reunion in 1976. One file relates to James Vila Blake, the Unitarian pastor whose significance to the family was reflected in Lowell Blake Mason's middle name.

Materials about Mason's Family span the years 1867-2004. The bulk of the records are dated from 1867-1933 and consist of certificates, legal documents concerning Ethel Mason’s estate. These papers provide information about the Mason family home as well as Mason’s surroundings during the early part of his life. The materials on Mason's parents provide background information on his early influences.

Certificates honoring Lowell B. Mason span the years 1966-1979. The certificates included mark achievements and awards bestowed on Lowell Mason throughout his life. A certificate from the Northwestern Law Alumni Association from 1966 as well as one from the publication "Who's Who in the World" from 1978-1979 are included.

Newspaper Clippings span the years 1900-1984 and relate primarily to Mason’s campaigns for political office and appointments to the numerous positions that he held in state and federal government. Some describe political events involving Mason, many of these detail Mason's opinions concerning Federal Trade Commission actions.

Correspondence spans the years 1873-2004. In the original arrangement many of the letters were foldered individually, with extensive captions and other information on the folder. For that reason the original folders have been retained and numbered. The folders and documents are chronologically arranged. The correspondence includes incoming and outgoing letters between Mason and his colleagues, family, and acquaintances. These letters primarily concern professional duties and research, but also include some correspondence which is personal in nature. One notable group of correspondence is Lowell Mason’s dialogue with Hal Holbrook, the well known actor and Mark Twain impersonator (1959).

Mason's research files span the years 1965-1977 and consist of hand written notes, articles, and legal documents. The titles assigned to these files reflect Mason's original titles. Mason's research explored various aspects of society and how they related to government. The treatment that Mason gives these socio-political topics provides an interesting snapshot of American society at the time of his research. The research informed articles or books that were later published.

Mason's publications span the years 1942-1973. This series is divided into categories for professional publications, personal publications, and books in order to facilitate locating publications. As a result, articles Mason wrote about professional duties can be found in publications (professional), and those written about hobbies and recreation are located in publications (personal).

Publications (personal) include drafts, handwritten notes, and articles clipped or reprinted from various periodicals. These short stories, poems, and articles range in subject matter from sailing to poetry satirizing the clergy. Publications (professional) consist of drafts, handwritten notes, and publications from various periodicals. These materials are primarily political in nature, and are largely about the Federal Trade Commission and its activities. Some of the articles are on subjects that Mason covered in his books. One example is the article “Where Burglars Get A Better Break Than Businessmen” that may have been related to his final book project. The subseries publications (books) include drafts, handwritten notes, book covers, reviews, artwork, and legal documents. Working drafts, artwork, and book reviews make up the bulk of this subseries. One notable review is written by Ayn Rand on “The Language of Dissent” from The Objectivist Newsletter, August 1963.

Photographs from this collection fill more than two boxes, spanning the years 1850-1979. As a result of the previous arrangement for these photographs many of them are stored individually in folders that have been annotated with captions and other information that is of importance. For this reason the original folders have been retained. These folders have been assigned numbers on the container list. These photographs represent all aspects of Mason’s life including images that document trips he took, political events, and family members.

Oversized materials from this collection series are contained in one box. These records consist of two loose photographs, a scrap book, and two certificates. One oversized photograph is a portrait of Lowell Mason while the other is of Mason with Harry Truman at an opening day game for the Washington Senators in 1949. A “Globe Girdlers” certificate from the 1913 “circumnavigation” trip is also included. The scrap book, documenting a trip that Mason and several other Illinois politicians took to inspect the Lake Michigan shore around 1930, was produced (probably by the Chicago Tribune) as a gift to the participants, and includes clippings and photographs.


Personal Name

Mason, Lowell B. (Lowell Blake), 1893-1983


Lawyers--United States

Politicians--United States

Container List / Contents

  • Biographical Materials
    • Doctor’s Bill For Lowell’s Treatment, 1906Box 1, Folder 1
    • World Circumnavigation Trip, 1913Box 1, Folder 2
    • James Vila Blake (namesake), c. 1925Box 1, Folder 3
    • Flier For Senatorial Election, 1930Box 1, Folder 4
    • Isle of Shoals, 1935-1937Box 1, Folder 5
    • Lowell Blake Mason Typeset Image, 1945Box 1, Folder 6
    • Federal Trade Commission Biographies, 1955Box 1, Folder 7
    • Lowell Blake Mason Annual Music Festival, 1958-1974Box 1, Folder 8
    • Mountain Climbing Scrapbook, 1971Box 1, Folder 9
    • "Friends" File, c. 1964-1977Box 1, Folder 10
    • Northwestern Law School Reunion, 1976Box 1, Folder 11
    • Lowell Blake Mason A Portrait by Betsy Hoort, 2006Box 1, Folder 12
    • Prayer Cards, n.d.Box 1, Folder 13
  • Family
    • William Mason: Teachers Cert., 1867Box 2, Folder 1
    • William Mason: Teachers Cert., 1868Box 2, Folder 2
    • Ethel Mason: National-American Woman Suffrage Assoc. (NAWSA) Membership Card, 1891Box 2, Folder 3
    • Mason Family Home, Bentonsport IA, 1933-2004Box 2, Folder 4
    • Ethel Mason Estate, 1965-1967Box 2, Folder 5
    • Mason family's Calling Card (parents), n.d.Box 2, Folder 6
  • Certificates
    • Northwestern Law Alumni Association 50 Year Certificate, 1966Box 2, Folder 7
    • Chicago Bar Association 50 year Certificate, 1969Box 2, Folder 8
    • Certificate For 50 Years of Masonry, 1974Box 2, Folder 9
    • Certificate For Who's Who In America, 1978-1979Box 2, Folder 10
    • Certificate For Who's Who In The World, 1978-1979Box 2, Folder 11
  • Clippings
    • Clippings, 1900-1984Box 2, Folder 12
    • Ideal Scrapbook, 1921-1923Box 3, Folder 1
  • Correspondence
  • Research Files
    • Quality Bakers Association, 1965Box 5, Folder 1