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Lowell Blake Mason (1893–1983) Papers

Identifier: 31/6/91

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Scope and Contents

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 between 1930 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, photographs, and oversized materials. 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, two certificates, and a scrapbook. 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 scrapbook documents a summer 1930 excursion of Illinois state senators, state office holders, and prominent Illinois businessmen to Lakewood Farm, the Macatawa, Michigan, estate and private zoo of industrialist George Fulmer Getz.

The excursion began at Chicago’s west side Graemere Hotel and featured stops for the dignitaries and their wives at the Apollo Theatre (to view the play, “Sisters of the Chorus”), The Chicago Tribune’s headquarters and printing plant, and the Edgewater Beach Hotel. Next, a visit to the USS Wilmette (formerly the SS Eastland) under the command of Captain Edward A. Evers of the Illinois Naval Militia, after which the husbands and wives separated. The USS Wilmette and its passengers then steamed to Macatawa, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The party’s return to Chicago came via the yacht Mizpah, temporarily under the command of Harry Hollingshead but owned by Eugene F. McDonald, the founder of Chicago’s Zenith Radio Corporation.

Produced as a gift to the participants, the scrapbook affords good visual evidence of this social-political junket, but also of Chicago landmarks, of Getz’s Michigan estate, and of two widely-known ships associated with Chicago and Lake Michigan: Mizpah and the USS Wilmette / SS Eastland.

Letters, clippings and other mementos have been inserted between the pages. The original donation of materials included a second scrapbook which had been taken apart and was missing some pages. One page has been retained from that second scrapbook that differed from the first.


  • 1867-2006


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


10.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Lowell B. Mason Papers were donated to the Northwestern University Archives by Lowell Mason Jr. on April 18, 2008 as accession number 08-54.

Related Materials

See Also: Lowell B. Mason Papers 1944-1967 at The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Finding aid is available at:

Separated Materials

Approximately 2.5 cubic feet of duplicate and extraneous materials were removed. Three reel to reel audio recordings were separated.

Processing Information

Adam Girard, October/November 2008; August 2010. Scrapbook description by Kevin B. Leonard, January 20, 2020.

Guide to the Lowell Blake Mason (1893–1983) Papers
Adam Girard
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US