Guide to the Eric Oldberg (1901-1986) Papers

Collection Title: Eric Oldberg (1901-1986) Papers
Dates: 1940-1986
Identification: 55/30
Creator: Oldberg, Eric, 1901-1986
Extent: 4 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Oldberg papers are arranged in four boxes and relate to his activities with and on behalf of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestral Association. The papers are organized into two major categories: general correspondence and subject files.
Acquisition Information: Mary Swissler Oldberg donated the papers to the University Archives on October 7, 1987 (Accession #87-236). Addition: The additions have been separated from papers from Arne Oldberg (Accession #: 06-69) donated to University Archives by Ellen Schantz on June 20, 2006. Addition: The additions have been separated from papers from Oscar and Arne Oldberg (Accession #: 10-20) donated to University Archives by Anita Kimmerle on February 11, 2010.
Processing Information: Margaret Faverty; June 10, 1991.Addition: Katherine Oldberg; November 11, 2011
Separated Materials: Addition: Certificates for Eric Oldberg from Society of American Surgeons, 1940, and Certificate of Appreciation to Eric Oldberg from the President of the United States of America on May 18th, 1962, have been added to Certificates and Diplomas Collection.
Conditions Governing Access: Until October 7, 2007, the papers may not be used without the written permission of Mary Swissler Oldberg. In the event of her death or incapacitation conditions on access to the papers will be determined by the University Archivist.
Related Materials: University Archives Series 19/3/3, Arne Oldberg papers.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Eric Oldberg, prominent neurosurgeon and Chicago civic leader, was born November 7, 1901, in Evanston, Illinois, the son of Arne and Mary Georgiana (Sloan) Oldberg. He earned a B.S. degree in 1923, an M.S. in 1926, an M.D. in 1927, and a Ph.D. in 1928 with all degrees from Northwestern University. During his career in medicine he wrote many significant, scholarly articles on various aspects of neurosurgery. He also served as the president of the Chicago Board of Health from 1960 – 1979. Oldberg died in 1986.

He served as an instructor in physiology at Northwestern in 1927-1928, was a surgery house officer (1928), assistant resident surgeon (1929), and resident neurological surgeon (1930) to Dr. Harvey Cushing at Boston's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. Oldberg was a Guggenheim traveling fellow in 1930 and a George Gorham Peters traveling fellow to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin and to Oxford University in 1930-1931. He accepted an appointment as assistant professor of surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1931, was named associate professor and acting department head in 1934, and from 1936 through 1971 served as professor and head of the department of neurology and neurological surgery. Oldberg also held appointments with the Neuropsychiatric Institute of the University of Illinois, with Presbyterian-St. Luke's, University of Illinois, Augustana, Mt. Sinai, Illinois Central, and Swedish Covenant hospitals, all of Chicago, and with several Chicago suburban hospitals.

From 1960 to 1979 Oldberg was president of the Chicago Board of Health. Between 1953 and 1963 he served as vice president of the Chicago Mayor's Commission to the Board of Education. He was an officer, trustee or director of several educational and cultural institutions, chief among these the Chicago Orchestral Association (president, 1952-1963) and the Ravinia Festival Association. Oldberg was also a member of numerous medical and professional societies.

Oldberg married Hilda Edwards on June 3, 1929 (dec.); the couple had one son, George Sloan (dec.). He married a second time, to Mary Swissler, on January 2. 1971.

Scope and Content

The Oldberg papers are arranged in four boxes and relate to his activities with and on behalf of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestral Association. The papers are organized into two major categories: general correspondence and subject files.

General correspondence is arranged chronologically. It dates from 1940 through 1972 with the bulk of the correspondence dating between 1947 and 1963. The correspondence includes both incoming and copies of outgoing items and largely reflects Oldberg's efforts to garner financial support for the orchestra from individuals and corporations.

Subject files, consisting mainly of correspondence, memoranda, reports, and similar materials, are arranged alphabetically by topical headings and reflect administrative and policy concerns and the orchestra's relations with conductors, musicians, and representatives of the Chicago Federation of Musicians. The orchestra's engagement of conductors is documented by files identified with the names of pertinent individuals. Within folders materials are arranged in chronological order.

Addition: The addition consists of commencement correspondence regarding an honorary degree Eric Oldberg received June 1961, letters from Eric’s late wife, Mary Swissler regarding the donation of her husband’s papers, as well as newspaper clippings and various awards including diploma of the Degree of Doctor of Laws. The commencement correspondence has been foldered by appropriate year into the General Correspondence folders. New folders have been made for the letters from Mary Swissler, for the newspaper clippings, and for the awards.

Addition: This addition consists of photographs of Eric Oldberg and correspondence regarding the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The photograph additions can be found in Eric Oldberg’s photo file. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra correspondence can be found in the addition Box 6 Folder 1.


Corporate Name

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Orchestral Association (Chicago, Ill.)

Container List / Contents

  • General Correspondence
    • Biographical materials, 1941-1986Box 1, Folder 1
    • General Correspondence, 1940-1947Box 1, Folder 2
    • General Correspondence, 1948Box 1, Folder 3
    • General Correspondence, 1949Box 1, Folder 4
    • General Correspondence, 1950Box 1, Folder 5
    • General Correspondence, 1951Box 1, Folder 6
    • General Correspondence, 1952Box 1, Folder 7
    • General Correspondence, 1953Box 1, Folder 8
    • General Correspondence, 1954Box 1, Folder 9
    • General Correspondence, 1955Box 1, Folder 10
    • General Correspondence, 1956Box 1, Folder 11
    • General Correspondence, 1957Box 1, Folder 12
    • General Correspondence, 1958Box 1, Folder 13
    • General Correspondence, 1959Box 1, Folder 14
    • General Correspondence, 1960Box 2, Folder 1
    • General Correspondence, 1961Box 2, Folder 2
    • General Correspondence, 1962Box 2, Folder 3
    • General Correspondence, 1963Box 2, Folder 4
    • General Correspondence, 1965-1972Box 2, Folder 5
    • General Correspondence, n.d.Box 2, Folder 6
    • General Correspondence, Fragments, n.dBox 2, Folder 7
  • Subject Files
    • Amusement Tax, 1954-1955Box 2, Folder 8
    • Broadcasts: Radio Station WFMT, 1958Box 2, Folder 9
    • Children's Concerts, 1952, 1960Box 2, Folder 10
    • Cleveland Orchestra, 1961Box 2, Folder 11
    • Comparisons of Orchestras, 1950-53, n.d.Box 2, Folder 12
    • Concert Tours, 1953, 1957-58Box 2, Folder 13
    • Furtwangler, Wilhelm, 1948-49Box 2, Folder 14
    • Ganz, Rudolph: Midwest Award for Pianists, 1962Box 2, Folder 15
    • Kubelik, Rafael, 1949-1952Box 2, Folder 16
    • Kuyper, George, 1945-62, n.d.Box 2, Folder 17
    • Markevitch, Igor, 1960Box 2, Folder 18
    • Members' Committee, n.d.Box 2, Folder 19
    • Mercury Recordings, 1952-53Box 2, Folder 20
    • Northern Trust Company Investments, 1959-1960Box 2, Folder 21
    • Orchestra Hall Operations, 1952-1959Box 2, Folder 22
    • Orchestral Association: General, 1955-1957Box 2, Folder 23
    • Orchestral Association: Incorporation and Bylaws, 1947-1955Box 2, Folder 24
    • Orchestral Association: Members, 1946, 1952-53, 1956, 1962Box 2, Folder 25
    • Orchestral Association: Meeting Agendas and Minutes, 1947-1961Box 3, Folder 1
    • Orchestral Association: Sustaining Fund Campaign, 1941-1960Box 3, Folder 2
    • Orchestral Association: Treasurer's Reports, 1946, 1952-54, 1958-61Box 3, Folder 3
    • Orchestral Association: Trustees: Meeting Agendas and Minutes, 1949-1963Box 3, Folder 4
    • Pension Plans, 1951-1962Box 3, Folder 5
    • Press Releases and Publicity Materials, 1940-1958Box 3, Folder 6
    • Programs and Attendance, 1949-55, 1959-60Box 3, Folder 7
    • RCA Recordings, 1953-1957Box 3, Folder 8
    • Raven, Seymour, 1952-1962Box 3, Folder 9
    • Ravinia Festival, 1941, 1955, 1960Box 3, Folder 10
    • Reiner, Fritz, 1951-1964Box 3, Folder 11
    • Reiner. Fritz: Contracts, 1953-1960Box 3, Folder 12
    • Reiner, Fritz: European Tour, 1959-1960Box 3, Folder 13
    • Renovation Project: Architects Plans and Cost Analyses, 1958, n.d.Box 3, Folder 14
    • Renovation Project: Correspondence and Memoranda, 1957-1959Box 4, Folder 1
    • Renovation Project: Proposal for New Music Center, 1959Box 4, Folder 2
    • Rodzinski, Artur, 1947-48, 1957Box 4, Folder 3
    • Ryerson, Edward, 1948-1961Box 4, Folder 4
    • Soloists' Schedules, 1952-1959Box 4, Folder 5
    • Solti, Georg, 1961-1962Box 4, Folder 6
    • Szell, George, 1943-1962Box 4, Folder 7
    • Telecasts, 1959-1960Box 4, Folder 8
    • Unemployment Compensation: State of Illinois Department of Labor, 1962Box 4, Folder 9
    • Union Negotiations, 1953-1961Box 4, Folder 10
    • Union Negotiations, 1962Box 4, Folder 11
    • Union Negotiations, 1963Box 4, Folder 12
    • Union Negotiations, n.d.Box 4, Folder 13
    • Walter, Bruno, 1949-1958Box 4, Folder 14
  • Addition
      Scope and Contents: Letters and other messages of condolence written to Eric Oldberg on the death of his father, Arne, are included in this addition. Arne Oldberg died on February 113, 1962. The letters date largely from the weeks closely following Arne Oldberg s death. They are arranged alphabetically by surname of correspondent. They have been foldered together and placed at the end of the main body of this series as folder 15 in box 4.
    • Oldberg, Arne: Death, Letters and Messages of Condolence, 1962Box 4, Folder 15
    • Oldberg, Mary Swissler: Donation Correspondence, 1987-1995Box 4, Folder 16
    • Awards, 1961-63, n.d.Box 4, Folder 17
    • Newspaper Clippings, 1961-63, n.d.Box 4, Folder 18
    • Orchestra Hall Correspondence, 1955-1978Box 5, Folder 1
    • Miscellaneous documents and clippings, 1976-1982Box 5, Folder 2
    • Oversized: contains 1 photo album, one oversized portrait, 1976-77, n.d.Box 6, Folder 1