Patterson Family Collection

Joseph Medill Patterson (1879-1946) library, collections and family material. 

J. M. Patterson Papers, from NY Daily News office and son James Patterson

In 1983 James Patterson, only son of newspaper innovator and mogul Joseph Medill Patterson (1879-1946), JMP, donated papers relating to his father’s years with the Chicago Tribune company and its New York Daily News (1919-1946), along with other personal and family papers kept in his New York office/museum until the death of his second spouse, Mary King Patterson in 1975.  At that time these materials were released to James Patterson as the paper sought to adpatively-reuse Patterson’s former office for other operations (apparently without consulting with Chicago headquarters). After storing the material in McLean, VA for several years, at the urging of Lake Forest alumnus J. Howard Wood ’22, James Patterson agreed to donate the papers, books, photos, etc. here, along with funds to acquire a microfilm copy of the Daily News from 1919 to 1946.  By 1985 the papers were organized, in a project led by then Chicago Historical Society manuscripts curator the late Archie Motley (d. 2002), then the dean of Chicago-area manuscript curators.  Motley’s typed finding aid to these materials, the main body of the J. M. Patterson papers (ca. 170,000 leaves of MSS), is available as a pdf document; it is accessed both from the Archives and Special Collections homepage and from the “Special Collections by Name” page under Patterson.  The materials were arranged in Hollinger boxes numbered consecutively and shelved in department’s stacks. 

A small group of correspondence, reports, etc. relating to Patterson’s role in the comics for the Chicago Tribune/New York Daily News syndicate, 1910s to 1940s, was segregated in the 1980s for an exhibition and then work began on organizing this for an index.  This work resumed in the fall of 2010, the materials just coming to light once more. The items have been scanned and are available on request in CD form. Photographs in the later 1980s also were pulled from their locations in the files and segregated.  They now are to be found in a separate box with the Papers, at 003 13.2.1.   

Joseph Medill Patterson’s thousand-volume Library, from his New York office as he left it when he died in 1946, also came to the College library at that time, and was cataloged into the Special Collections stacks. Mostly 20th C. books by correspondents, cousin Robert McCormick, regimental histories, etc. there are a few high spots—including Martial Achievements of Great Britain and Her Allies, From 1799 to 1815.  London: J.S. Jenkins, [1815], Folio, with 53 hand-colored aquatints; bound in full, gilt-tooled red leather, with marbled endpapers, by Baynton (Riviere, Bath, England), with a modern red buckram slipcase. Tooley 281—one of one hundred representative titles profiled in 2004 pamphlet when the new space was dedicated for the Special Collections. A bookplate for the J. M. Patterson Library was designed by Bruce Beck, Evanston.  There is a card file of the contents that came with the library. 

Realia received as well included his office furniture from the Daily News Building (desk, chairs, filing cabinets, portraits, art deco wall clock, etc.) and this was housed in a separate “Patterson Room” in the Donnelley Library, 1983-2003.  When the library was renovated the desk became the supervisor’s desk in the new departmental reading room, Donnelley and Lee Library.  Patterson’s coat rack is that now used by the visitors to the reading room.  From 2000 on the distinctive wood-grain-painted filing cabinets have held most of the newly-constituted-then Archives Photograph Collection, now all dedicated to subject files and housed in the department’s work room.  The portraits, etc. which did hang in the Patterson Room are stored in the Vault, including an oil painting of JMP and one of a Medill great uncle killed in the Civil War.  Patterson’s 1946 post WWII globe is located in the second floor lobby area of the Donnelley and Lee Library. Miscellaneous larger format realia and printed , etc. Daily News material is in the stacks (row 24, Section 6).

Two boxes of Joseph M. Patterson’s papers relate to his sister, Cissy (Eleanor Medill) Patterson: Boxes 73 and 74.  

Patterson family collections, from daughter Josephine (Mrs. Ivan) Albright and granddaughter Alice (Mrs. Michael) Arlen  

Ca. 1988 Joseph Medill Patterson’s daughter by his first marriage to Alice Higinbotham Patterson, Josephine Patterson Albright, donated further material which had been in the hands of her mother, including earlier correspondence and also some scrapbooks of clippings from press services covering JMP’s political and literary activities from ca. 1900 into the 1910s.  A significant scrapbook of family historical material is available, including drawings by Cissy, referred to as Nellie Patterson’s scrapbook by Amanda Smith in her 2011-published biography of Cissy Patterson, Newspaper Titan… (Knopf), pp. 94-97 and passim.        

These Patterson collections, that from James Patterson and that from Josephine Albright, include family related material: correspondence, genealogy, business records, material on homes, photos, etc. 

In 2009 Mrs. Michael (Alice) Arlen, Josephine Albright’s daughter, also donated photographs of the Patterson residence and the estate and experimental farm west of Lake Forest (now in Vernon Hills), Westwood, and also of the Massachusetts summer place of her grandmother Alice H. Patterson’s sister, Mrs. Richard (Forence Higinbotham) Crane, Castle Hill.  The J.M. Pattersons’ Lake Forest countryside house was by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw; its landscape by Ralph Rodney Root. the 1920s replacment house at Castle Hill was designed by David Adler; the photos are by Mattie E. Hewitt and are cataloged in the library’s catalog and OCLC.  The Patterson estate is discussed in Classic Country Estates of Lake Forest… by Kim Coventry, Daniel Meyer, and Arthur H. Miller (W.W. Norton, 2003).  Castle Hill is discussed and shown also in Classic Country Estates… and in more depth in S. M. Salny’s 2001 Norton book, The Country Houses of David Adler…. and in David Adler, Architect: The Elements of Style, ed. Martha Thorne (Yale U. Press and the Art Institute of Chicago, 2002). 

See also Collections at the McCormick Archives, Cantigny, Wheaton, IL

A related, even sibling, archival collection is the Col. Robert R. McCormick collections at Cantigny, Wheaton, IL.  There is also on that website a downloadable pdf finding aid, listing major collections or record groups in the McCormick archive of personal, business, and specifically Chicago Tribune related materials. 

Revised October 2011