James R. Getz Papers

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Reference code

US ILfC SC/008

Level of description



James R. Getz Papers


  • 1840 - 1980 (Creation)



Name of creator

Biographical history

James R. Getz was an ardent historian of all aspects of Lake County Illinois and founding mayor of the village of Mettawa. James, his spouse Betsy, and their family lived on sixty acres at Shagbark, the name of their estate on Riverwoods Road, beginning in 1939 until James's death in 1986. Betsy decided to move east to Conway Farms in 1998. Getz, an early lover of libraries and history, was both a long-time president of the Lake County Historical Society, a trustee of the Lake Forest Hospital, and also of valued member of Lake Forest College community.

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Scope and content

This collection contains the personal, but also official papers written by or connected with James R. Getz. It is a large collection that is split into three distinct series of 1) Personal and Early Life Writings of James R. Getz, 2) Documents involving the all Lake County Historical Society Work by Getz, and 3) Documents connected with the creation and Getz's role as founder of Mettawa, Illinois.

The papers consist of a variety of formats including correspondence, journals, interior design measurements and all kinds of handwritten notices, pamphlets, photographs, academic work, memorabilia, newspaper drafts, clippings, and published works, and a plethora of city planning documents showing the widespread process of establishing a town. Overall, the Getz collection equally shows the thoughts and ideas of a single family man and also a number of groups working to create a stronger community.

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged by the subjects matters within the listed series descriptions. These subjects are outlined in each of the corresponding folder descriptions listed on this page. However, many of the individual documents contained in the collection also have a chronological date available depending on different research needs.

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      James Getz's collections came to the College library mostly in 1986 and 1998 and ranged from local historical papers and images to the Mettawa official documents, 1965-1985.  His book collection also covers local historic atlases, some with his annotations, and then also general Americana.  Other personal and family papers are present as well. Betsy Getz began transferring collections to the College library after the death of her spouse, College trustee James R. Getz, in 1986. In 1998 she moved to a new smaller house in Conway Farms, just east of Mettawa, in Lake Forest, and at that time transferred much more of her spouse's and her collections of books and papers. Upon her death a final transfer from the family was made, in 2008, and including all the architectural and landscape plans for her Mettawa home, 1938-1998 and for a proposed house in Santa Fe (the last by Monty Orr, a former partner of Walter Frazier).  In addition, there were many small collections of ephemera, etc. relating to organizations, activities, and the like from the 1930s to the 2000s.

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