TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Administrative Information

Biography of Sydney J. Harris

Scope and Content of the Collection

Organization

Selected Search Terms

Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1933-1986

Series 2: Correspondence from Readers, 1951-1986

Series 3: Works, 1939-1987

Series 4: Personal, 1944-1986

Series 5: Photographs and Audiovisual, ca. 1945-1981

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Inventory of the Sydney Justin Harris Papers, 1933-1987, bulk 1975-1985


The Newberry Library
Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610-7324
USA
Phone: 312-255-3506
Fax: 312-255-3646
E-Mail: specialcolls@newberry.org
URL: http://www.newberry.org

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Lisa Janssen, 2007.

©2007.


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Creator Harris, Sydney J.
Title Sydney Justin Harris Papers
Dates 1933-1987
Dates bulk 1975-1985
Extent 18.5 linear feet (43 boxes and 1 oversize rolled poster)
Abstract Correspondence, clippings, readers' letters, and personal materials of Chicago columnist Sydney Justin Harris.
Language Materials are in English.
Repository Newberry Library, Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
Collection Call Number Midwest MS Harris
Collection Stack Location 3a 57 2

Administrative Information

Cite As

Sydney Justin Harris Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

Provenance

Gift of Patricia Harris, 1987.

Processed by

Lisa Janssen & Shannon Yule, 2007.

Acknowledgements

This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Access

The Sydney Justin Harris Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Sydney Justin Harris Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

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Biography of Sydney J. Harris

Chicago newspaper columnist, educator, and author.

Sydney Justin Harris was born in London, England on September 14, 1917. At the age of five, the Harris family moved to the United States, eventually settling in Chicago around 1922. He began his newspaper career at the Chicago Herald-Examiner while still a philosophy student at the University of Chicago.

Harris spent two years as associate editor for an encyclopedia, edited his own magazine The Beacon, and worked as a researcher at the City of Chicago Law Department before joining the Chicago Daily News as a reporter and feature writer in 1941. In 1944, he began publishing his daily column, "Strictly Personal," which he continued to write for the next 40 years. He was also the drama critic for the News starting in 1946. In "Strictly Personal," Harris used his background in philosophy and research to write about the contemporary world, human behavior, religion, hypocrisy, and artistic endeavor in an intellectual, yet folksy manner. He generated a huge fan base which wrote him thousands of impassioned letters, agreeing or disagreeing with his opinions. He held several controversial views, including supporting abortion, prison reform, and a less literal interpretation of the bible.

Harris moved his "Strictly Personal" column to the Chicago Sun-Times following the demise of the Daily News in 1978. In addition to his newspaper work, he led Great Books courses at the University of Chicago, was on the faculty of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, and lectured at colleges, clubs, and universities. His columns were compiled in several books including Majority of One, Last Things First, and The Best of Sydney J. Harris.

Harris was married twice, first to Grace Miller, who he divorced in 1951, and then to Patricia Roche in 1953. Their meeting is described in her obituary: Roche was a stewardess and a model when she read a "Strictly Personal" column that infuriated her because she thought it was sexist. She went down to the Chicago Daily News office to confront Harris. Having had her say, "she spun on her heels and walked out of the office, leaving him to declare to colleagues, 'That's the woman I'm going to marry.'" They had five children, Carolyn (who unfortunately died at a young age), Michael, Barbara, David, and Lindsey. Sydney Justin Harris died on December 7, 1986 at the age of 69.

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Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection contains correspondence, works (including clippings of Harris' "Strictly Personal" columns), book and drama reviews, speeches, magazine articles, readers' letters, and some personal materials including publicity and photographs. Also includes cassette tapes and a film-strip set based on Harris' "Winners and Losers" column.

Narrative descriptions of the subject matter, types of material, and arrangement of each series are available through the Organization section of the finding aid.

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Organization

Papers are organized in the following series:

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Selected Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Newberry Library's public catalog. Researchers desiring additional materials on a particular topic should search the catalog using these headings.

Names

  • Chicago daily news
  • Chicago sun-times
  • Harris, Sydney J.

Subjects

  • Audiocassettes -- 1951-2000
  • Authors, American
  • Clippings -- 1901-1950
  • Clippings -- 1951-2000
  • Correspondence -- 1901-1950
  • Correspondence -- 1951-2000
  • Cultural critique
  • Editorials -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Fan mail
  • Journalists -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Manuscripts, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Speeches, addresses, etc.
  • Theater critics -- Illinois -- Chicago

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Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1933-1986

Correspondence is primarily incoming unless otherwise noted. Incoming letters are mostly from business associates, editors of papers in which "Strictly Personal" was syndicated, etc. There are a few letters from famous admirers such as Grouch Marx, Bobby Short, Studs Terkel, and Neil Armstrong.
Arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Armstrong, Neil A., Jan. 23, 1978
1 2 A, 1960-1985
1 3 Barzun, Jacques, 1966-1971
1 4 Bellow, Saul, 1961-1962
1 5 Bettelheim, Bruno, 1961-1962
1 6 Black, Creed C., 1968-1972
1 7 Black, Justice Hugo L., Feb. 20, 1962
1 8 Bradley, Rev. Preston, 1964, n.d.
1 9 Braun, Zev, Sept. 17, 1988
1 10 Butts, Virginia, 1976, 1986
1 11 B, 1962-1986
1 12 Caen, Herb, n.d.
1 13 Cassidy, Claudia, Mar. 14, 1968
1 14 Cervi, Gene, Jun. 30, 1964
1 15 Chapman, Stephen, Mar. 6, 1984
1 16 Chicago Daily News / Chicago Sun-Times - interoffice memos, phone messages, incoming and outgoing correspondence, 1960-1986
1 17 Cliffs Notes, Jun. 28, 1924
1 18 Club 76, Oct. 28, 1957
1 19 Conrad, Barnaby, n.d.
1 20 Conyers, Jr., John, Jan. 13, 1965
1 21 Cook, Stanton R. (Chicago Tribune), Feb. 20, 1986
1 22 Cooper, John C., Jun. 29, 1971
1 23 Cousins, Norman, 1957-1978
1 24 Cox, Allan, May 24, 1985
1 25 C, 1955-1982
1 26 Deseret News, 1962-1964
1 27 Detroit Free Press, 1976, 1985
1 28 D, 1961-1984
1 29 E, 1959-1982
1 30 Economics Club of Chicago, 1983-1986
1 31 Elliott, David (San Diego Union), Apr. 5, 1985
1 32 Epstein, Barbara (New York Review of Books), Aug. 28, 1986
1 33 Evans, Bergen, Oct. 28, 1954
1 34 Field, Jr., Marshall, 1959-1976
1 35 Field Newspaper Syndicate, 1976-1984
1 36 Foote, Jr., John (includes writing and artwork), 1950-1961
1 37 Freed, David L., Sept. 24, 1964
1 38 Fuller, Jack, May 8, 1986
1 39 F, 1967-1986
1 40 Gallup, George (American Institute of Public Opinion), Jan. 11, 1971
1 41 George's (restaurant), 1967
1 42 Grimes, Millard B., Oct. 15, 1963
1 43 G, 1957-1985
1 44 Hackler, Lloyd (includes letter from St. Louis Dispatch), 1968
1 44a Hagle, Elliott D. (includes reply from Harris), 1967
1 45 Hargis, Billy James, Feb. 8, 1971
1 46 Harr, John E., Sept. 25, 1951
1 47 Harris, George, May 6, 1986
1 48 Harrison, Dale, May 3, 1968
1 49 Helena Rubinstein, Nov. 10, 1954
1 50 Hodes, Barnet, Dec. 5, 1975
1 51 Hollywood Squares, Aug. 18, 1978
1 52 Houghton Mifflin Company (incoming and outgoing), 1966-1986
1 53 Hutchins, Robert M., 1951-1975
1 54 H, 1956-1985
1 55 Isaacs, Norman E. (St. Louis Times), 1967
1 56 Janesville Gazette, 1967-1986
1 57 Joel, George W. to C. J. Bulliet - letter of introduction for Harris, Jan. 17, 1933
1 58 J, 1971-1977
1 59 Knight, John S., 19967-1975
1 60 K, 1957-1984
1 61 Lederer, Eppie (Ann Landers), 1975-1977
1 62 Lenoir-Rhyne College, 1980, 1986
1 63 Leo Burnett Company, Inc., 1965-1972, n.d.
1 64 Levi, Edward H., 1967-1974
1 65 L, 1956-1967
2 66 MacDonald, John D., 1967, 1969
2 67 Marovitz, Judge Abraham, n.d.
2 68 Marx, Groucho, Mar. 1, 1952
2 69 Mayer, Milton, 1957-1986
2 70 McAuliffe, Mike, 1968
2 71 McCormick, Chauncey, Nov. 13, 1950
2 72 McCormick, Fowler, 1966-1967
2 73 Miami Herald, 1960, 1984
2 74 Miller, Henry (written by secretary), Jan. 10, 1968
2 75 Munnecke, Wilbur C., Jan. 2, 1951
2 76 Murray, George (Chicago American), 1967, n.d.
2 77 M, 1957-1984
2 78 National Endowment for the Humanities, 1971-1972
2 79 Neff, John U., 1961-1962
2 80 News America Syndicate, 1984-1986
2 81 New Yorker, Dec. 10, 1984
2 82 Nielsen, Arthur C., 1964-1970
2 83 N, 1961-1983
2 84 Obenshain, D. D., Jan. 13, 1960
2 85 O'Brien, Howard V., Jun. 28, 1946
2 86 Ohta, Norio, 1984, 1986
2 87 Olsen, Jack (Time magazine), n.d.
2 88 O'Neill, William D., Sept. 15, 1986
2 89 Orange Coast Daily Pilot, 1967
2 90 Parent Education Project, Feb. 27, 1958
2 91 Percy, Charles H., 1961, 1967
2 92 Peterson, Peter G., 1968-1984
2 93 Phi Delta Kappa, 1956-1957
2 94 Pugnetti, Donald A., Jan. 22, 1982
2 95 P, 1956-1985
2 96 Randall, Clarence B., Feb. 21, 1967
2 97 Reader's Digest, 1944-1986
2 98 Reich, John (Goodman Theatre), Jan. 7, 1971
2 99 Riordan, Tom, Mar. 2, 1968
2 100 Rodgers, Richard, Nov. 3, 1950
2 101 Ryan, Jack, May 31, 1961
2 102 R, 1963-1986
2 103 Scott, William J. (Attorney General State of Illinois), Mar. 3, 1979
2 104 Shay, Arthur, May 7, 1979
2 105 Short, Bobby, Apr. 13, 1972
2 106 Siegler, Phyllis (relative), Apr. 1, 1962
2 107 Speyer, A. James, Jun. 13, 1968
2 108 State of Wisconsin - Department of Public Welfare, 1955
2 109 Stein, Bob, ca. 1970s
2 110 Stokes, Bill, n.d.
2 111 Stevens, Ashton, 1950, n.d.
2 112 S, 1951-1985
2 113 Terkel, Studs, 1962, 1985
2 114 Toole, Fred, Dec. 26, 1978
2 115 Trout, Willard K., Feb. 8, 1952
2 116 Tucci, Niccolo, Nov. 16, 1961
2 117 T., 1953-1980
2 118 University of Wyoming, Sept. 20, 1970
2 119 Untermeyer, Louis and Ralph E. Shikes, Mar. 29, 1950
2 120 U, 1968, 1986
2 121 Valley News Dispatch / Valley Times, 1957-1973
2 122 Van Buren, Abigail (Dear Abby), 1971
2 123 Van Dorn, W. G., May 20, 1976
2 124 Variety Club of Illinois, 1976
2 125 Watts, Clyde J. (regarding Ted Walker legal case), Feb. 8, 1963
2 126 Wendt, Lloyd, 1978, n.d.
2 127 WFMT, Aug. 9, 1959
2 128 Wheeler, Charles (University of Northern Iowa), 1973
2 129 W, 1977-1986
2 130 Yates, Sidney R., Sept. 3, 1957
2 131 Zawacki, Edmund I., Oct. 1964
2 132 Zupanc, Terri, May 21, 1982
3 133 Correspondence regarding proposed magazine, Reflections (includes manuscripts), 1961
3 134-135 Correspondence regarding speaking engagements, 1957-1985
3 136 Correspondence regarding the Valerie Percy Scholarship Fund, 1969-1972
3 137 Requests for Permission to Reprint, 1966-1979
3 138 Requests for Permission to Reprint, 1980-1981
3 139 Requests for Permission to Reprint, 1982
3 140 Requests for Permission to Reprint, 1983-1986
3 141 Outgoing, 1980, 1986
3 142 Correspondence not to or from Harris, 1971-1986
3 143 Unidentified, 1960-1986, n.d.

Series 2: Correspondence from Readers, 1951-1986

Contains letters written to Harris by his readers. Correspondents range from admiring to extreme, from serious criticism from businesses and professionals to religious fanatics, prisoners, the mentally unstable, and lonely people looking for guidance in their lives. Letters are often accompanied by materials from readers such as religious tracts and newsletters from organizations. In 1977 Harris published a controversial column about the authorship of the bible which generated an impassioned reaction from readers. Harris composed the "Gospel Memo" in response and offered it to all who requested it, thus this series also contains numerous of these requests.
Arranged chronologically.

Box Folder Contents
4 144 Responses to the "You be the Editor" survey, 1951
4 145-150 General, 1951-1975
5 151-157 General, 1976-Apr. 1976
6 158-161 General, May-Aug. 1976
7 164 General, Sept. 1976
7 165-168 General, Oct.-Dec. 1976
8 169-175 General, Jan.-Jun. 1977
9 176-181 General, Jul.-Dec. 1977
9 182-184 Requests for Memo on the Gospel, 1977
10 185-189 Requests for Memo on the Gospel, 1977
11 190-193 Requests for Memo on the Gospel, 1977
12 194-195 Requests for Memo on the Gospel, 1977
12 196-197 General, Jan. 1978
13 198-202 General, Feb.-Apr. 1978
14 203-208 General, May-Sept. 1978
15 209-213 General, Oct. 1978-Feb. 1979
16 214-218 General, Mar.-Jun. 1979
17 219-224 General, Jul.-Dec. 1979
18 225-233 General, Jan.-Sep. 1980
19 234-239 General, Oct. 1980-Feb. 1981
20 240-245 General, Mar.-Jul. 1981
21 246-251 General, Aug.-Dec. 1981
22 252-258 General, Jan.-Jul. 1982
23 259-267 General, Aug. 1982-Dec. 1985
24 268-273 General, 1986
24 274 General, Undated
24 275 Outgoing (mostly form letters), 1963-1982

Series 3: Works, 1939-1987

Clippings of Harris' "Strictly Personal" columns, book and drama reviews, articles, book projects, manuscripts, poetry, texts of speeches, advertising copy, and reprints of columns in various publications.
Arranged alphabetically by type of work.

Box Folder Contents
25 276 Advertising Copy - Leo Burnett Co., 1966-1970, n.d.
25 277 Article - Ain't That a Pistol - reprinted from Phi Delta Kappan, 1956
25 278 Article - Communications, published in Profit Sharing, Jan. 1975
25 279 Article - Confessions of a White House "Enemy," published in The Chicagoan, Oct. 1973
25 280 Article - The Dilemmas of Modern Man, published in the Rotarian, Jun. 1968
25 281 Article - Do You Remember Leland? (includes column reprints), published in the Leelanau Enterprise Tribune, 1971
25 282 Article - The Enchanted World of Gilbert and Sullivan, published in the Chicago Daily News, Dec. 23-24, 1972
25 283 Article - The Great God Materialism, published in Today, Apr. 1951
25 284 Article - Ideal Season to Visit Door County, published in North Shore, ca. 1970s
25 285 Article - A Plea to Fight Crime with Prison Reform, published in the Chicago Daily News, Nov. 18-19, 1972
25 286 Article - A Strictly Personal View of the Trends of 30 Years . . .published in the Chicago Daily News, Sept. 19, 1971
25 287 Article - Sydney Harris' Door County, published in the Chicago Daily News, Jun. 12, 1971
25 288 Articles in Tennis Magazine (3 piece series), 1974
25 289 Article - Why Motorists Misbehave, published in Kiwanis Magazine, Apr. 1958
25 290 Articles - Miscellaneous short pieces in the Chicago Daily News, 1966-1978
25 291 Book - American Sexualis (private press, authorship uncertain), 1939
25 292 Book - The Jewish Mind (unpublished), outline, introduction, notes, n.d.
25 293 Book - Learning to Care (unpublished), partial manuscript, ca. 1970s
25 294 Book - Savvy (unpublished), manuscript, 1977
25 295 Book Outlines, 1957-1979
25 296 Columns, 1943-1949
25 297 Columns, 1950
26 298-305 Columns, 1951-1957
27 306-311 Columns, 1958-1962
28 312-315 Columns, 1963-1966
29 316-320 Columns, 1967-1969
30 321-325 Columns, 1970-1972
31 326-331 Columns, 1973-1976
32 332-337 Columns, 1977-1980
33 338-341 Columns, 1981-1983
33 342 Columns - Strictly Personal in Spanish language paper, 1969
34 343-350 Columns - Manuscripts, 1959-Apr. 1982
35 351-358 Columns - Manuscripts, May 1982-1983
36 359-365 Columns - Manuscripts, 1985-1987
36 366 Columns - Manuscripts, Undated
36 367 Forwards - manuscripts (books unknown), Undated
36 368 Great Books program - notes, 1948, n.d.
36 369 The Key (publication of Clinton E. Frank, Inc. Advertising), edited by Harris, 1973
36 370 Memo on the Gospel column (response to readers' letters), 1977
36 371-372 Notes, ca. 1970s-1980s
36 373 Poetry, ca. 1930s
36 374 Public Services Announcements - poster, proof, ca. 1960s-1970s
36 375 Report - A Factual Study of the Proposed Chicago Lake Front Airport (includes letter from Barnet Hodes), 1941, 1974
36 376 Report of the President's Committee on Health Education (includes correspondence), 1972
37 377-386 Reprints (Strictly Personal columns in various publications), 1959-1983
37 387 Reprints, Undated
38 388-409 Reviews - clippings, 1956-1982
38 410 Reviews, manuscripts, 1974-1985
39 411 Speech - 201: A Non-Space Odyssey, n.d.
39 412 Speech - Behavior Modification, n.d.
39 413 Speech -Bicentennial Talk, n.d.
39 414 Speech - The City of Man and the City of Beasts, n.d.
39 415 Speech - commencement speeches, n.d.
39 416 Speech - Communicating--Tuning in and Turning Off, n.d.
39 417 Speech - Communications Division UJA talk, n.d.
39 418 Speech - The Dilemmas of Modern Man, n.d.
39 419 Speech - Economics Club introductions, 1973-1985
39 420 Speech - Economics Club introductions, n.d.
39 421 Speech - Einstein and the World of Tomorrow, n.d.
39 422 Speech - Enjoying Your Child - manuscript and published versions, 1959
39 423 Speech - The Five Fingers of Crime, n.d.
39 424 Speech - The Future of the Arts in America - manuscripts and published versions, 1958
39 425 Speech - Georgia Press Institute, 1969
39 426 Speech - Great Books and Small Minds, n.d.
39 427 Speech - Growing Need for Better Decisions Through Statistics in Century Three, n.d.
39 428 Speech - Hospital Association of Pennsylvania, 1976
39 429 Speech - Industrial Design, n.d.
39 430 Speech - In Praise of Ignorance, May 1986
39 431 Speech - Is America Going Feminine - Northwestern University radio discussion, Feb. 2, 1947
39 432 Speech - The Meaning of Mental Health, n.d.
39 433 Speech - Middle Age Talk, n.d.
39 434 Speech - The Modern Theatre in America - manuscript and published versions, 1964
40 435 Speech - The Need for Liberal Arts in a Technological Society, n.d.
40 436 Speech - Perils of a Columnists - manuscripts and published versions, 1958-1969
40 437 Speech - The Pursuit of Excellence, n.d.
40 438 Speech - The Quest for Excellence, n.d.
40 439 Speech - Remarks at Detroit Youth Rally, n.d.
40 440 Speech - Search for Values in the Affluent Society, n.d.
40 441 Speech - The Shape of Things to Come, n.d.
40 442 Speech - Societal Changes of the '80s, ca. 1980s
40 443 Speech - Starr Commonwealth talk, n.d.
40 444 Speech - A Strictly Personal View of Advertising, 1957
40 445 Speech - Terrorism Talk, 1981
40 446 Speech - Transitions Talk, n.d.
40 447 Speech - WFMT Radio Talks, n.d.
40 448 Speech - What is School For? n.d.
40 449 Speech - unidentified and fragments, n.d.
40 450 Television - Action People program discussion - transcript, 1968

Series 4: Personal, 1944-1986

Biographical information, publicity and reviews of Harris' books, financial information, a small amount of family information, and promotional materials. Of particular interest are two government reports regarding the United States House Committee on Un-American Activities. Harris was singled out for, among other things, attending a Paul Robeson concert.
Arranged alphabetically by type of material.

Box Folder Contents
41 451 Biographical Information - interviews, press releases, obituary, 1964-1986
41 452 Book notification mailing lists, ca. 1950s-1980s
41 453 Book Reviews - For the Time Being, 1942
41 454 Book Reviews - Last Things First, 1961
41 455 Book Reviews - Leaving the Surface, 1968
41 456 Book Reviews - Majority of One, 1957
41 457 Book Reviews - various, 1954-1975
41 458 Certificates, 1944-1978
41 459-460 Clippings / Articles about Harris, 1953-1981
41 461 Family Materials, ca. 1950-1982
41 462 Financial Records, 1959-1985
41 463 Government reports on Harris' "Un-American activities," 1944-1964
42 464 Legal Documents, 1951, 1962
42 465 Miscellaneous - invitations, memorabilia, 1967-1983
42 466 Promotional Materials - ads, press kits, brochures (see also oversize poster), 1962-1968
42 467 Speaking Engagement - programs, 1964-1984
42 468 Syndication Client Lists, 1962-1978
42 469 Royalty Statements, 1978-1985

Series 5: Photographs and Audiovisual, ca. 1945-1981

A few family photographs and portraits, two cassette tapes sent by readers, one unidentified 1/4" reel-to-reel tape, a motivational film-strip set based on Harris's "Winners and Losers" column, and an oversize promotional banner.
Arranged type of material.

Box Folder Contents
43 470 Photographs - family and miscellaneous, ca. 1940s-1980s
43 471 Photographs - Sydney J. Harris portraits, ca. 1945-1981
43 472 Cassette tapes sent by readers (includes music and recorded phone messages), 1980, n.d.
43 473 Reel--to-reel tape (1/4"), content unknown, n.d.
43 Film-strip set "Winners and Losers" (includes cassette, guide, and booklet), 1977
Oversize promotional banner (rolled on shelf), ca. 1960s