Most of the material in the collection is concerned with university business, and consequently sheds little light on MacChesney's private life or his military and civic activities. The collection's value lies primarily in its reflection of many of the varied activities undertaken by Northwestern's central administration during the university's emergence as a major American educational institution.
The material in Box 1 is primarily related to the activities of Northwestern's Board of Trustees between 1920 and 1950. The correspondence, committee reports, and minutes included in the box includes exchanges between MacChesney and Presidents Walter Dill Scott and Franklyn Bliss Snyder, Business Managers William A. Dyche and Harry L. Wells, and President of the Board of Trustees Kenneth Burgess, which illuminate many activities that engaged the university's governing officials. Of particular interest are the materials relating to the establishment of the Department of Public Relations and the work of the Committee on Development, activities which reflect the administration's efforts to broaden the university's base of financial support.
Records generated by the Trustees' Committee on Educational Policy comprise two folders which include correspondence and reports concerned with the College of Engineering, the initial proposal to consolidate the Armour Institute of Technology with Northwestern in 1925, and faculty leave policies during World War II.
Four folders in Box 2 include materials pertaining to the origins, acquisition, and development of Northwestern's Chicago Campus which served to illuminate MacChesney's efforts to solidify and improve the university's stature in the Chicago area. In addition to materials produced during the effort to persuade the university to consolidate its professional schools in one location on Chicago's near north side, the collection contains correspondence documenting MacChesney's central role in the entire project.
The two folders pertaining to the Law School include relatively routine correspondence relating almost exclusively to personnel matters, including the search for a dean in 1947. There are also some materials pertaining to the Law Library.
MacChesney's files also contain official internal reports from various committees and consultants on the technical and legal aspects of the proposed Northwestern-University of Chicago merger. The files also include clippings reflecting student reaction to the proposed merger.
Two folders in the collection contain correspondence primarily related to the search for a replacement for University President Walter Dill Scott in 1939. This correspondence focuses on prospective candidates and interviewing schedules. Interfiled with the presidential search correspondence are materials generated in the institutional review process that accompanied the change in administrations.
The collection also contains two folders of administrative correspondence related to various legal issues, such as the purchase of property for faculty housing in Wilmette, and three folders of correspondence pertaining to the technical and editorial operations of three professional journals published by the university: the Illinois Law Review, the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, and the Journal of Air Law and Commerce.
The Wigmore Memorial file includes material which illuminates the career of John Wigmore, MacChesney's colleague and dean of the Law School. Several folders of material relating to the Northwestern Alumni Association reflect the scope of MacChesney's fund-raising activities in behalf of the university.
The last eight folders in the collection contain personal correspondence, arranged alphabetically. The most important correspondence is between MacChesney and University Presidents Walter Dill Scott and Franklyn Bliss Snyder.