Phoebe Norcross Bentley Family and Personal Papers

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US ILfC SC/014

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Phoebe Norcross Bentley Family and Personal Papers


  • 1891 - 1975 (Creation)


1.75 linear feet

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Biographical history

Mrs. Bentley was the daughter of Frederic Norross and the granddaughter of John H. Wrenn, Chicago broker/banker and book collector. On December 9, 1922 she married Richard Bentley, 1894-1970, a 1917 Yale graduate and 1921 Northwestern Law graduate -- son of Cyrus Bentley Jr., Chicago attorney (clients included Anita McCormick Blaine). Her grandfather was the late John H. Wrenn, long prominent in Chicago brokerage circles and also a noted book and art collector, owning a valuable private library and collection of etchings. Mr. and Mrs. Bentley have three children, Cyrus III, Alice Wrenn and Barbara. ("ILLINOIS, The Heart of the Nation" by Hon. Edward F. Dunne, Volume IV, 1933, Transcribed by Kim Torp) . Wren is best known for his collection of T. J. Wise forgeries--discovered by Pollard and Redgrave ca. 1930. But in 1938 the Bentleys added a library to their 1928 David Adler home (addition by Ambrose Cramer) to house familiy books, etc.

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Scope and content

The collection consists of literary works and stage play scripts, many of which were written by Louis E. Laflin, Jr.; some of these were performed by members of Lake Forest College's acting clubs. The collection also includes Mrs. Bentley's papers and collected media and journal articles on ecological conservation and civic activity, including the city of Lake Forest, the Illinois and Indiana Dunes, and other areas of the United States. Of note are the 340 stereo travel photographs from Europe and the United States, and a photo-illustrated travel diary and scrapbook by Mrs. Cyrus Bentley, recounting a Yale reunion for the class of 1882 and her voyage across the Atlantic in 1891 (including stops in England, France, Spain, and Italy). The entire collection spans a range of dates from 1891-1975.

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      Managed by her daughters in trhe late 1970s as she moved into a retirement home away from Lake Forest, Mrs. Bentley donated material from her collection and that of her late spouse, Richard (d. 1970), also a third generation of Chicago leadership: son of Cyrus Bentley Jr., and grandson of Cyrus Bentley, noted Chicago attorney.  Mrs. Bentley's grandfather was John H. Wrenn, a prominent broker/banker and book collector.  When the Bentleys wed in December of 1922 their parents lived two blocks away on Astor Street, an elite enclave on the near north side of Chicago.  It was these collections that were combined in their notable David Adler house of 1928, with its library addition of a decade later.

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      Louis Ellsworth Laflin, Jr. and June Laflin Collections

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