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Eleanor Medill Patterson Papers

 Collection
Identifier: VI-5

Scope and Contents

The Eleanor Medill (Cissy) Patterson Papers consist chiefly of Medill, McCormick and Patterson family correspondence, Joseph Medill business and political letters, Chicago Tribune historical material, and a collection of letters of Joseph Medill and others to and from important people. The papers cover the years 1846-1910, approximately, with most of the material falling in the 1850-1899 period. The name of the collection reflects its provenance, not its contents. There is much information about Mrs. Patterson in letters written by her parents, grandparents, and others, but only a few childhood letters written by her.

Dates

  • 1846 - 1910

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

None.

Extent

17 Boxes

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Eleanor Medill (Cissy) Patterson Papers consist chiefly of Medill, McCormick and Patterson family correspondence, Joseph Medill business and political letters, Chicago Tribune historical material, and a collection of letters of Joseph Medill and others to and from important people. The papers cover the years 1846-1910, approximately, with most of the material falling in the 1850-1899 period

Arrangement

Arrangement completed prior to receiving collection from the McCormick Foundation. The following notes describe processing performed prior to the receipt of the collection by Northwestern University Library on January 10, 2020.

The papers were originally organized by Mrs. Patterson's former private secretary, Miss Margaret Barney, during the years 1948-1950. This was before the ultimate disposition of the collection had been determined and was for the purpose of finding out what was there. The arrangement is a logical one, principally by addressee and family eras, and was maintained as found.

The material was removed from the original envelopes, unfolded, and placed into acid-free folders in new boxes; therefore, though the material is in exactly the same order in which it was received, the box numbering is different. Specifically, the contents of the 2 large envelopes are in Box 1, those of FAM-1 in boxes 2-7, FAM-2 in boxes 8-12, and FAM-5 in boxes 13-17. This information is merely for the record. The old numbering system had been dropped, and material is now retrieved by means of the inventory in this finding aid.

Two items have been removed from the collection and stored elsewhere because of their physical form. The newspapers and scrapbook originally with material now in box 12 (and formerly in FAM-2) are filed with the newspapers and the death mask of Joseph Medill has been placed in a wooden box and shelved with the collection.

Custodial History

When Mrs. Patterson died on July 24, 1948, she left more than a hundred packing cases of papers which fell into three categories: her personal correspondence and financial papers (most of which were subsequently burned by her daughter Felicia Pearson DeLavingne Magruder); her business papers relating to the Times-Herald (given to the Times-Herold); and the so-called "historical papers." Under terms of an agreement among all the interested parties, Col. Robert R. McMormick purchased these historical papers for $1,000 from Felicia on March 4, 1952, and they were shipped to Chicago in 2 large envelopes and 3 cardboard transfer cases (labeled FAM-1, FAM-2 and FAM-5) in late March of that year. The only portion of the papers not included in this purchase were those relating to Joseph M. Patterson and the N.Y. Daily News, which were sent to Alicia Patterson Guggenheim.(Note: For detailed information on the acquisition of these papers, and the character and disposition of other papers in Mrs. Patterson's estate, see file folder VI-4.2 in the restricted files of the Tribune Company Archives. For a concise summary, see the September 17, 1953 memorandum of Charles R. Cutler to Perry S. Patterson in the same file.)

In 1952, J. Loy Maloney went through the papers for Col. McCormick. File folder VI-5.1 contains his analysis of the papers from the 2 large envelopes, the transfer case labeled FAM-1, and the first three expandable file envelopes in the transfer case labeled FAM-2. It is not know at this time (November 1975) if Mr. Maloney finished an analysis of the collection. His work is an invaluable aid in studying the collection as it highlights in concise form many interesting and informative passages in the almost countless number of items making up the collection.

The transfer cases and envelopes were then nailed up in three large wooden boxes, and not opened again until August 1975 by Harold Hutchings, Tribune Company Archivist, and his assistant, Lee Major. An inventory was made at this time which indicated, when compared with the inventory which arrived with the papers in 1952, that all the material purchased by Col. McCormick was intact. A copy of both these inventories is in the file folder VI-5.

In addition to the material listed in the inventory, the transfer case FAM-5 also contained a wrapped package labeled "Photographs of all Medill letters to Lincoln. Letter from Cissy Patterson enclosed." The red leather box inside the wrapper was empty, however, and it was not originally known what happened to the copies. The letter can found in file folder VI-5. The copies of Medill letters to Lincoln were found on September 6, 1978, in a safe belonging to the Robert R. McCormick Charitable Trust; they now form collection III-23.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Chicago Tribune Company, and Nexstar Media Group on January 10, 2020, accession #SPEC-2020-1.

Related Materials

Evidently various members of the families saved these old papers as the Archives holds similar material in other collections, notably the Joseph Medill Papers (III-9), the Joseph Medill Archives as arranged and analyzed by James O'Donnell Bennett (III-10), and the Medill Family Correspondence (IV-4). These collections contain valuable source material for researchers interested in the genealogy of the three families and individuals in the families, Chicago Tribune history, Chicago history, the origins and early days of the Republican Party, 19th century political figures who corresponded with Joseph Medill (including Abraham Lincoln), and other related subjects.

A complete list of the contents of the collection can be found in the first folder of Box 1, and also in the vertical file (folder VI-5).

The 144 letters in this collection written to Joseph Medill by business and political friends and acquaintances have been included in the general index of letters to Medill in the Tribune Company Archives. This index, which does not include family letters, covers four groups of papers: The Eleanor Medill Patterson Papers (VI-5), the Joseph Medill Papers (III-9), the Joseph Medill archives as analyzed by James O'Donnell Bennett (III-10), and a group of letters in the Medill-Cowles portfolio (III-5). The 144 letters in this collection are in boxes 5 and 6, and are numbered from C1 to C144.
Title
Guide to the Eleanor Medill Patterson Papers, 1846-1910
Status
in_progress
Author
Lee Major
Date
November 1975, updated March 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US
847-491-3635