Collection SC/060 - Kay McCarter Collection on Cissy Patterson

Identity elements

Reference code

US ILfC SC/060

Level of description



Kay McCarter Collection on Cissy Patterson


  • 1927-1949, undated (Creation)


Name of creator

Biographical history

Kay McCarter was Eleanor "Cissy" Patterson's personal secretary.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Elinor Josephine Medill Patterson was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1881 to Elinor (Nellie) and Robert Patterson. Later she changed the spelling of her first name to Eleanor. She was known most of her life by the name “Cissy,” a nickname her brother gave to her in childhood.

Coming from a wealthy family, Patterson was educated at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. She met her future husband, Count Josef Gizycki, while traveling in Vienna with her aunt and uncle in 1901. Despite the distance, with Patterson back in the United States in Washington DC, the two were married in 1904. Soon after she went to live with the Count in Russia.

Count Gizycki and Patterson had one daughter, Felicia, born in 1905. The couple’s married life was tumultuous resulting in Patterson leaving her husband several years into their marriage and fleeing to London. The Count followed her there and kidnapped their daughter. Nearly a year later, in 1908, Felicia was returned to her mother; however it took 13 years for Patterson to obtain a divorce from the Count. Reunited with her daughter, Patterson brought Felicia back with her to the United States. They moved to Lake Forest, Illinois, but by 1913 had moved to Washington DC.

With much of her family, including her grandfather and brother in the newspaper industry, by 1920 Patterson had begun writing for her brother’s paper, the New York Daily News. In 1925, Patterson married again, this time to a New York lawyer, Elmer Schlesinger. The marriage was short lived, as Schlesinger died four years later. During the time they were together, Patterson published two novels, "Glass Houses" (1926) and "Fall Flight" (1928).

In 1930, Patterson became editor of William Randolph Hearst’s Washington Herald. In 1939, as Hearst’s financial situation declined, Patterson decided to buy the Herald, as well as the Washington Times from him. She merged the two papers into one, The Times-Herald. She dedicated herself to the paper, as editor, publisher and owner. Patterson died in July of 1948.

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Scope and content

This collection contains photographs of Cissy Patterson, as well as her dog. Additionally the collection contains correspondence with Kay McCarter. This correspondence includes letters from both Cissy Patterson and her daughter, Felicia Gizycka, as well as from lawyer Harold A. Kertz. The letters from the latter two are regarding the settlement case of Cissy Patterson's will.

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Languages of the material

  • English

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Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Gift of Shirly Paddock in 2010

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