Name and location of repository
Level of description
- 1901 - 1950 (Creation)
Name of creator
Joseph Medill Patterson (1879-1946) was the grandson of both Chicago Tribune publisher Joseph Medill and the Rev. Robert W. Patterson, long-time pastor of Chicago's Second Presbyterian Church and a founder of Lake Forest, Illinois and of educational institutions now known as Lake Forest College and Lake Foreest Academy.
Patterson attended Groton with his cousin Berty McCormick and Yale, and then both returned to Chicago by ca. 1900 and engaged in civic affairs, Patterson adopting Socialism as a cause for equalizing economic distribution while Berty led the committee that built Chicago's Sanitary canal, reversing the flow of the Chicago River to the Mississippi River system. Patterson also wrote articles on his reformist views, attacking treatment of department store women workers (his father in law was affiliated with Marshall Field & Co.), and by 1906 pointing out the enormity of Marshall Field's will. By 1908 he was publishing a novel, Little Brother of the Rich, in the same vein, while living with his growing family on a farm west of Lake Forest (now Vernon Hills), with his spouse Alice Higinbotham Patterson. His writing on early film (Saturday Evening Post, 1907) is among the earliest critical efforts on the medium. He wrote one-act and full-length plays, the Fifth Estate being one of the latter. H.L. Menchen in 1917 listed him among the writers of Chicago Literary Renaissance.
Medill had two daughters, one of whom (Elinor) married Robert W. Patterson, Jr., who became after Medill's death publisher of the Chicago Tribune. When the younger Patterson died in 1910, J. M. Patterson and his cousin, Robert R.(Berty) McCormick (a son of the other Medill daughter), took over directing the Tribune Company. They split the duties (one on one month, and the other the next, etc.). Patterson also went off on reporting trips (Pancho Villa, 1915, war-town western Europe in 1915, etc.)., and then both served in the U.S. Army after this country entered the hostilities formally in April 1917.
Returning in 1919 J. M. Patterson had been taken with the idea of the tabloid paper in London, created by Lord Beaverbrook, and the two decided that Patterson should go to New York to launch the new venture.
By 1930 Patterson was living on a new estate in Ossining, NY, on the Hudson, having separated informally from his spouse. Until then he went back and forth from Chicago to New York.
Starting in the 1910s Patterson was a pioneer in the creation of newspaper comic strips. He nurtured the creators, critiqued their work, etc. His own earlier literary and dramatic work helped him understand communicating with an audience to convey a story or story line.
Patterson worked to distribute the strips by the Tribune Syndicate, and they became major forces for selling newspapers in a highly competitive, even cut-throat, field at that time. This sub-collection documents some of rich participation in a major American genre that was a precursor of later innovations.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
Joseph Medill Patterson's papers consist of correspondence, memoranda, a wide variety of personal and business financial records, cartoons, and other materials. They relate to Patterson's career as co-publisher and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and Liberty magazine, the papers; to Patterson's and his family's extensive financial interests; his military service, career as a playwright, and other aspects of his personal life. The collection also contains information about Patterson's relationships with his family, especially his cousin, Col. Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, his mother, his wife, his sister (the publisher Eleanor "Cissy" Patterson), and to his three daughters.
In documenting the daily operation of the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and Liberty magazine, the papers include Patterson's directives to managerial staff members Max Annenberg, Edward S. Beck, Harvey Deuell, William H. Field, Roy C. Holliss, and Philip A. Payne, among others; and Patterson's correspondence with leading American journalists and cartoonists as James O'Donnell Bennett, Arthur Brisbane, Floyd Gibbens, Arthur Sears Henning, Herb Martin, Carrey C. Orr, Col. Henry J. Reilly, George Seldes, and Sidney Sutherland. Correspondence of Lord Beaverbrook, Ben Hecht, General William E. "Billy" Mitchell, and other famous Americans is also present.
The collection has been basically organized and maintained by Joseph Medill Patterson and as received from his son, James J. Patterson. The papers are arranged in six series.
It is important to note the interrelated nature of the materials found in various series in the Patterson Papers, e.g family business papers are found in every series of the collection; papers of Col. Robert R. McCormick are found in Series 2 (his own papers, in Series 1, deals with Joseph Medill Patterson's publishing enterprises, and in small quantities in Series 5, which contains family papers).
In light of this, it is advisable to consult the container list for the collection when conducting research on a specific person or topic.
Series 1. Publishing Enterprises, 1909-1946, (Boxes 1-50) This series is comprised of correspondence, memoranda, financial records, reports, etc. relative to the day-to-day operation of the Chicago Tribune from 1909-1946, the New York Daily News from 1919-1946, and Liberty magazine from 1925-1931. The papers are Joseph M. Patterson's personal files relative to his management of these publishing companies, and include records of the Chicago Tribune/New York News Syndicate, 1941-1946, and minutes of meetings of the Chicago Tribune Company and Subsidiaries, 1927-1946. This series is arranged in 9 subseries:
Subseries 1-6. Chicago Tribune, 1909-1925, and New York Daily News, 1919-1946. (Boxes 1-39). These materials include correspondence, memoranda, reports, and other items arranged first by time period, then alphabetically by correspondent (occasionally, by topic) thereafter. They include Patterson's directives to managerial employees relative to the style and content of the papers and to personnel matters; considerable correspondence with reporters and cartoonists relative to their work, national and international news stories covered, and their working arrangement with the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily news, and letters expressing the public's reaction (pro and con) to stories and features that appeared in the two papers. Random personal correspondence with friends and associates and appears in this subseries.
Subseries 1 and 2 (Boxes 1-14) concern the Chicago Tribune and include directives to managerial staff members Max Annenberg, Edward S. Beck, D.M. Deininger, and R.R. Jones, among others. Journalists and cartoonists represented include James O'Donnell Bennett, Arthur Brisbane; foreign correspondents Col. Henry J. Reilley, Henry Wales, and Floyd Gibbens from Paris, and George Seldes from Moscow; Arthur Sears Henning of the Tribune's Washington Bureau, and cartoonist Carey C. Orr. Correspondence of Medill, McCormick, and materials relative to Pacific and Atlantic photos also present.
Subseries 3 thru 6 (Boxes 15-39) involve the New York Daily News, its staff managerial members Max Annenberg, Business Manager J.W. Barnhart, Managing Editor Harvey Deuell, William H. Field of the Illustrated Daily News, general Manager Roy C. Holliss, Philip A. Payne, and Circulation manager James A. Sullivan. Correspondence of and about Lord Beaverbrook, Arthur Brisbane, cartoonist Herb Martin, and random letters from Paul Gallico Ben Hecht, and New York City Mayor Firoello H. LaGaurdia are also present. many letters from the reading public are found in Boxes 31-32 and 37-38, and there are also materials relative to newspaper ownership of radio stations and to the Tribune-News Employees' Trust.
Subseries 7. Liberty Magazine, 1925-1931. (Boxes 40-44). This subseries contains correspondence, financial reports, research data, and other materials relative to securing articles for the magazine (many of them aviation related pieces), the general operation of the magazine, and the sale of Liberty to Bernarr McFadden in 1931. The subseries includes correspondence with Achmed Abdulla, Max Annenberg, James O'Donnell Bennett, Robert N. Chambers, Arthur Brisbane, Floyd Gibbons, General William E. "Billy" Mitchell, Tom Mooney, Col. Henry J. Reilly, Carl Sandburg, Capt. Elliot White Springs, Sidney Sutherland, Henry Wales, and John N. Wheeler. A number of article manuscripts by Sutherland are also present. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by person or subject heading.
Subseries 8. Chicago Tribune/New York Syndicate, 1941-1946. (Boxes 45-47). These materials consist of correspondence relative to the syndication of articles, cartoons, and comic strips, along with detailed reports on overall and individual syndication sales and royalties. Includes correspondence and materials about cartoonists Chester Gould, Herb Martin, and Sidney Smith; plus a few letters relative to public reactions in favor of and in opposition to specific comic strips. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries 9. Chicago Tribune Company and Subsidiaries, 1927-1946. (Boxes 49-50). These files consist of recorded minutes of meetings (arranged chronologically) sent to Patterson, which furnish considerable information on the business affairs of the company, particularly relative to the Ontario Paper Company, Ltd.
Series 2. Colonel Robert R. McCormick Papers, 1903-1946. This chronologically arranged series is almost entirely devoted to Col. McCormick's correspondence with his cousin, Joseph Medill Patterson, on the publishing business, particularly on the availability and purchase of newsprint, and, to a lesser extent, on stories to be covered; and on personal and business affairs of the family, including matters relative to their publishing enterprises income. Some expressions of the Colonel's views on world affairs and local politics are present, along with commentary on Marshall Field's establishment of the Chicago Sun in 1941 and Field's relationship with the Associated Press.
Series 3. Kirkland, Fleming, Green, Martin, and Ellis Papers, 1914-1946. (Box 55). This correspondence, which is chronologically arranged, is devoted primarily to the law firm's handling of Joseph Medill Patterson's personal taxes, family trusts, and other business concerns. Some of the earlier papers relate to publishing business affairs.
Series 4. Joseph Medill Patterson Personal Papers, 1901-1950. (Boxes 56-68). This series of correspondence and other sundry personal papers is arranged in two subseries:
Subseries 1. General Papers, 1901-1950. (Boxes 56-64). These files are arranged alphabetically according to topic or correspondent. They include significant business and personal correspondence in the "Interesting Letter" files in Box 58, along with materials on Patterson's interest in aviation and airships, his military service, the 149th Field Artillery , Patterson's Libertyville, Illinois farm and Ossining, New York estate, his last wills and testaments, 1906 Socialist Party membership card, and U.S. passports; along with correspondence with Katrina Barnes, James Keeley of the Chicago Record, and with theatrical friends Helen Hayes, Florenz Ziegfeld, and Ruth Gordon.
Subseries 2. Theatrical Plays, 1909-1939. (Boxes 65-68). This subseries consists of Patterson's correspondence with theatrical producer George C. Tyler and others relative to the production of plays he has written, along with royalty and other information concerning same. Some of these materials are filed chronologically; others are arranged by play title. Scripts of plays written by Patterson, along with a few scripts of plays by other authors, are also present. These materials are filed alphabetically by play title.
Series 5. Family Papers, 1910-1946. (Boxes 69-80). This series consists of correspondence (chiefly with Joseph Medill Patterson), financial records, newsclippings, etc. of and about various members of the Patterson family. The papers concern marriages, divorces, health matters, family relationships and activities, as well as trusts and other family investments and income.
The series is arranged in 7 subseries, nearly all of which are filed chronologically, with a few topical files present. The first subseries (Box 69) contains biographical data on Joseph Medill Patterson, genealogical data on the family, and sundry family letters, including correspondence with Ruth Hanna McCormick.
Subseries 2-7 (Boxes 70-80) contain papers of the following people in the immediate Patterson family: Elinor Medill Patterson--Joseph M. Patterson's mother (Boxes 70-72); Eleanor Medill "Cissy" Patterson--Patterson's sister (Boxes 73-74); Alice Higenbotham Patterson--Patterson's wife (Box 75); and Patterson's three daughters. Alicia (Boxes 76-77), Elinor (Boxes 78-79), and Josephine (Box 80). Eleanor "Cissy" Patterson's papers, to some extent, concern her career in publishing; materials on the acting career of Patterson's daughter, Elinor, are in her files.
Series 6. Personal Business Papers, 1913-1946. (Boxes 81-145). This series is composed of correspondence, legal papers, financial documents, blueprints, photographs, maps, check records, paid invoices, and other records. These materials relate to the personal financial affairs of Joseph Medill Patterson, including, to a lesser degree, those of other family members, particularly his mother, Elinor M. Patterson, and his daughters, Alicia, Elinor, and Josephine. This series has been divided into 6 subseries as follows:
Subseries 1. Real Estate, 1923-1946 (Boxes 81-88) These files consist of correspondence, real estate analyses, financial records, legal documents, blueprints, survey maps, photographs, and other papers relating to the purchase and sale, subdivision and development, construction, maintenance and furnishing, as well as personnel concerns pertaining to Joseph Medill Patterson's real estate investments in New York and Illinois.
Bentro Realty Corporation, a New York corporation, of which Joseph Medill Patterson was President and S.W. Stubbings, Secretary, was the main vehicle through which Patterson's New York real estate investments were managed. These included Villard Hall, which was subdivided and developed into "A Restrictive Residence Colony," at Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County, New York; a New York City apartment building erected at 3-5 East 84th Street; his estate in Ossining, New York; a Sands Point, Long Island home for his daughter Alicia; and property at Riverdale on the Hudson River. These properties were later handled by Brooks and Kupillas.
Clark and Trainer, a Chicago real estate firm, was the agent for Patterson in his real estate dealings in Chicago, and also managed his properties at 1356-1364 North LaSalle Street in Chicago and in Glenview at Lake Avenue and Waukegan Road near Winnetka Road during the 1920s. Clark and Trainer records also contain materials on New York real estate. The real estate investment at LaSalle and Wacker Drive also received the detailed attention of Clark and Trainer.
The subseries is arranged alphabetically by the name of the firm that managed Joseph Medill Patterson's real estate investments. Thereunder, materials are arranged chronologically with those pertinent to particular properties highlighted thereafter.
Subseries 2. Trusts, 1919-1946 (Boxes 89-94). This subseries contains correspondence, trust agreements, financial documents, and authorizations for purchases and sale of stocks and bonds relating to trusts established by Patterson and his mother, Elinor M. Patterson, for various family members, particularly Patterson's sister Eleanor "Cissy" Patterson, and his daughters Alicia, Elinor, and Josephine. These papers are arranged alphabetically by financial institution and thereafter chronologically.
Subseries 3. Banks, 1918-1945. (Boxes 95-96). These papers are composed of correspondence, statements, stock analyses, and various other records relative to the financial affairs of Patterson and his mother, Elinor Medill Patterson. Subjects covered include real estate, Liberty Loans, checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and trusts for Elinor M. Patterson's four granddaughters, Felicia Gizycka and Elinor, Alicia, and Josephine Patterson. This subseries is filed alphabetically according to the name of the bank.
Subseries 4. Sundry Financial Records, 1926-1948. (Boxes96-98). Correspondence, confirmations of sales of securities, financial statements, lists of stocks and their dividend dates, insurance premium receipts, monthly expense statements of Patterson and his secretary Katherine Higgens, and Joseph Medill Patterson's personal account books comprise the materials in this series.
Materials relating to the securities are the first items in this subseries. They are followed by records relating to insurance, expenses, expense books, and personal account books. The materials are arranged chronologically.
Subseries 5. Income Taxes, 1913-1945. (Boxes 99-107). This subseries provides income tax returns, supporting data, and related correspondence pertaining to the income taxes of Joseph Medill Patterson, his wife Alice H. Patterson, and his mother, Elinor M. Patterson. Supporting data includes considerable information relating to trusts, securities, and banking matters, and other personal financial concerns which overlap materials found in other subseries of this series. Subseries 5 is arranged chronologically with folders relating to particular financial institutions as well as contributions delineated.
Subseries 6. Check Books, 1920-1946. Boxes 108-113). These materials are composed of check registers for the personal checking accounts of Joseph Medill Patterson, and his mother Elinor Medill Patterson. National City Bank of New York check registers are arranged chronologically and are followed by other banks listed alphabetically and chronologically therein.
Subseries 7. Bank Statements and Cancelled Checks, 1922-1946. (Boxes 114-130.) Bank statements and cancelled checks of Joseph Medill Patterson comprise this subseries. They are arranged alphabetically by name of the financial institution and chronologically thereunder.
Subseries 8. Receipted Bills, 1937-1946. (Boxes 131-145.) This subseries is composed of paid invoices and other receipted bills pertaining to the personal financial affairs of Joseph Medill Patterson, his household, and the New York News, arranged chronologically with the location (Ossining, New York; New York City; Chicago) to which they pertained delineated thereunder.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Generated finding aid
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
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Rules or conventions
Subject access points
- Daily news (New York, N.Y. : 1920)
- Newspapers--United States.
- Publishers and publishing--United States.
- Journalists--United States--History--20th century.
- Drama--20th century.
- Family histories.
- World War, 1914-1918
- Military service, Voluntary--United States.
- Real property--New York (State)
- Real property--Illinois--Chicago.
- Trust companies.
- United States. Army. Field Artillery, 149th.
- Periodicals--United States.
Name access points
- Patterson, Joseph Medill, 1879-1946 (Creator)
- Patterson, Joseph Medill, 1879-1946 (Subject)
- McCormick, Robert R. (Robert Rutherford), 1880-1955 (Subject)
- Medill, Joseph, 1823-1899. (Subject)
- Patterson, Alicia, 1906-1963 (Subject)
- Tribune Company. (Subject)
- Chicago Tribune (Firm) (Subject)
- City Bank Farmers Trust Company (New York, N.Y.) (Subject)
- First National Bank of Chicago (Subject)