TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Administrative Information

Biography of Arthur Meeker, Jr.

Scope and Content of the Collection

Organization

Selected Search Terms

Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1906-1971

Series 2: Personal Materials, 1906-1972

Series 3: Works, 1906-1972

Series 4: Meeker Family Materials, 1884-1950

Series 5: Photographs, ca. 1850s-1960s

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Inventory of the Arthur Meeker, Jr. Papers, ca. 1850-1972, bulk 1920-1945


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 Meeker, Arthur, 1902-
Title Arthur Meeker, Jr. Papers
Dates ca. 1850-1972
Dates bulk 1920-1945
Extent 5 linear feet (11 boxes and one oversize box)
Abstract Correspondence, personal materials, works, and photographs of Chicago author Arthur Meeker, Jr.
Language Materials are in English.
Repository Newberry Library, Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
Collection Call Number Midwest MS Meeker
Collection Stack Location 3a 41 4

Administrative Information

Cite As

Arthur Meeker, Jr. Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

Provenance

Gifts of Mary Meeker Cramer and Fanny Butcher, 1976; Robert Molnar, 1977.

Processed by

Diana Haskell, 1978; Lisa Janssen, 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 Arthur Meeker, Jr. Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Arthur Meeker, Jr. 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 Arthur Meeker, Jr.

Novelist, newspaper columnist, and son of prominent Chicago society family.

Arthur Meeker, Jr. was born in 1902, the son of Arthur Meeker and Grace Murray Meeker. His father was an executive at Armour & Co., and his mother was the daughter of a well known Chicago family who grew up on Prairie Avenue. In addition to Arthur, the Meekers had three daughters, Grace, Katherine and Mary.

The Meeker family’s first residence was also on Prairie Avenue. They later built a luxurious home at 3030 Lake Shore Drive, and also owned Arcady Farm near Lake Forest. The family was quite active in society, throwing lavish parties and supporting the arts and conservative political causes.

Meeker studied at Princeton and Harvard, where he majored in playwriting. He was unhappy in college and never graduated. He tried his hand at several writing endeavors, including writing society and travel items for the Chicago American, the Chicagoan, Chicago Herald and the Daily News before finding success as a novelist with several highly regarded historical works. His most well known novel was The Ivory Mischief, which recreated 17th century France. He wrote two novels with Chicago settings: The Far Away Music andPrairie Avenue, which drew on his experiences growing up in the midst of Chicago's high society in the early part of the 20th century.

Arthur Meeker travelled extensively in Europe and eventually purchased a chalet in Switzerland where he spent part of each year. He wrote faithfully, sometimes daily to his mother from these trips. During the 1930s Meeker writes of an intense relationship with a man named Allen, and it's possible to assume from the tone and his parents disapproval, that it was a homosexual relationship. At the time of his death he had been living with a Robert Molnar from as early as 1940, and Meeker left his estate to Molner in his will. Meeker died in their New York City apartment on October 22, 1971.

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Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence with family members and colleagues including E. M. Delafield and George Dillon, research notes and a handwritten manuscript of the novel The Ivory Mischief, datebooks, biographical materials; genealogical materials on the Meeker and Murray families, and photographs.

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

  • Delafield, E. M., 1890-1943
  • Dillon, George, 1906-1968
  • Meeker, Arthur, 1866-1946
  • Meeker, Arthur, 1902-

Subjects

  • Children of the rich -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Correspondence -- 1901-1950
  • Correspondence -- 1951-2000
  • Expatriate authors
  • Male Homosexuality -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Manuscripts, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Mothers and sons -- Correspondence
  • Novelists
  • Photographs -- 1901-1950
  • Photographs -- 1951-1900
  • Photographs -- 1951-2000
  • Rich people -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Socialites -- Illinois -- Chicago
  • Upper class -- United States -- Social life and customs

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Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1906-1971

Primarily letters between Arthur and family members, most significantly, his mother Grace Murray Meeker. This correspondence presents a fascinating narrative of Arthur's development as a writer and his relationships with fellow society denizens. His mother describes life at Meeker family homes in Chicago and Santa Barbara, California, and often encloses clippings from the society pages. The correspondence also chronicles what may possibly be a homosexual romance between Arthur and a young man named Allen who he supported financially. Unfortunately, some correspondence was altered by Meeker's younger sister Mary, who snipped out names and sometimes large sections of her letters from Arthur. The series also includes letters from author E. M. Delafield, poet George Dillon and Ann Mulchany, the sister of Meeker's longtime companion Robert Molnar.
Arranged alphabetically with family correspondence first followed by a small amount of incoming correspondence from friends and colleagues.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Cramer, Ambrose C., n.d.
1 2 Cramer, Mary Meeker, 1915-1944
1 3 Gray, Katherine Meeker, 1926-1928, n.d.
1 4 Meeker, Arthur, 1907-1943
1 5 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1906-1912
1 6 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1913-1915
1 7 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1916-1919
1 8 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1920-1921
1 9 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1922
1 10 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1923
2 11 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1924
2 12 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1925-1926
2 13 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1927
2 14 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1928
2 15 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1929
2 16 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1930-1931
2 17 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1932-1933
2 18 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1934-1935
3 19 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1936-1937
3 20 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1938-1939
3 21 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1940-1941
3 22 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1942-1944
3 23 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, 1945
3 24 Meeker, Jr., Arthur (all to sister Mary), 1951-1965
3 25 Meeker, Jr., Arthur, undated
4 26 Meeker, Grace (later Cramer, then Lloyd), 1928, n.d.
4 27 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1910-1919
4 28 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1920-1921
4 29 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1922
4 30 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1923
4 31 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1924
5 32 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1925
5 33 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1926
5 34 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1927
5 35 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1928
5 36 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1929
5 37 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1930-1931
5 38 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1932-1933
5 39 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1934-1935
5 40 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1936-1937
5 41 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1938-1939
6 42 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1940-1941
6 43 Meeker, Grace Murray, 1942-1944
6 44 Meeker, Grace Murray, undated
6 45 Meeker, Maria Louisa Griggs, 1902-1922, n.d.
6 46 Miscellaneous Family, 1908-1931, n.d.
6 47 O'Connell, Minnie, 1912-1922
6 48 O'Connell, Minnie, 1923-1932
6 49 O'Connell, Minnie, 1933-1939
6 50 O'Connell, Minnie - greeting cards, ca. 1910s-1940s
7 51 Burdon-Muller, Rowland (regarding purchase of chalet), 1947
7 52 Delafield, E. M. (Elizabeth), 1931-1943
7 53 Dillon, George (includes draft of poem on back), ca. 1930s
7 54 Meigs, M. C. / Chicago Herald Examiner (includes print illustration of Meeker from paper), Jul., 26, 1928
7 55 Molchany, Ann (outgoing from Meeker), 1940-1971
7 56 Miscellaneous Incoming, 1919-1942, n.d.

Series 2: Personal Materials, 1906-1972

Contains a few biographical clippings, papers concerning the sale of the family apartment, memorabilia, and several datebooks from the last years of Meeker's life.
Arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder Contents
8 57 Apartment - inventory and sales contract for 1100 Lake Shore Drive, 1947
8 58 Clippings - biographical, reviews, obituaries, 1906-1972
8 59 Datebooks, 1967-1968
8 60 Datebooks, 1969, 1971
8 61 Miscellaneous memorabilia, ca. 1940s-1950s
8 62 Portfolio - leather, monogrammed, n.d.
8 62a Scrapbook containing clippings of Meeker columns, travel brochures, and photographs from Switzerland (see oversize), 1951-1952, n.d.

Series 3: Works, 1906-1972

Primarily materials pertaining to Meeker's major work, The Ivory Mischief, including research notes and a handwritting manuscript. Also contains the texts of two speeches and two columns written by Meeker.
Arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder Contents
8 63 Clippings, 1923, 1930
8 64 Research Notes - typed and handwritten, ca. 1930s
8 65-68 Research Notes - notebooks, ca. 1930s
8 69 Speeches - drafts, ca. 1960s
8a 69a The Ivory Mischief - Book 1, ca. 1930s
8a 69b The Ivory Mischief - Book 2, ca. 1930s
8a 69c-d The Ivory Mischief - Book 3, ca. 1960s
8a 69e The Ivory Mischief - Epilogue, ca. 1930s

Series 4: Meeker Family Materials, 1884-1950

Clippings and genealogical materials collected by Arthur Meeker, Jr.'s Aunt Margaret Beckman Meeker. Includes a travel diary kept by Grace Murray Meeker from 1884.
Arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder Contents
9 70 Clippings, ca. 1920s-1960
9 71 Correspondence (mostly reproduced typed letters from 1884-1854), 1921-1934
9 72 Diary of Grace Murray (Meeker), 1884
9 73 Genealogical Notes - Meeker family narrative, n.d.
9 74 Genealogical Notes - Murray Family, n.d.

Series 5: Photographs, ca. 1850s-1960s

Portraits of Arthur Meeker, Jr. and other family members, family snapshots, photographs of society events, family homes, travel and research photos of Prairie Avenue. Also includes a photo of the cast of "Evie's Husbands," an early play by Meeker.
Arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder Contents
10 75 Cramer, Mary Meeker - group portrait of costume party before the wedding of Theodora Winterbotham, 1925
10 76 Meeker, Arthur, ca. 1970s-1940s
10 77 Meeker, Arthur and family - snapshots, ca. 1910s-1920s, 1960s
10 78 Meeker, Arthur and Grace Murray Meeker - golden wedding anniversary (includes family portrait), 1942
10 79 Meeker, Jr., Arthur - childhood portraits (see also oversize), ca. 1902-1910s
10 80 Meeker, Jr., Arthur - adult portraits (see also oversize), ca. 1920s-1960s
10 81 Meeker, Jr., Arthur - group photos, social events, 1934, n.d.
10 82 Meeker, Arthur Burr, Maria Louisa Griggs Meeker and family, ca. 1850s-1900
10 83 Meeker, Grace Murray, ca. 1890s-1932
10 84 Meeker, Grace Murray - group portrait of bridesmaids at the wedding of Grace Kellogg (includes Mary Armour, Lois Kellogg, Harriet King, Jenny Royce, and Sarane Seeley), 1889
10 85 Meeker, Margaret Beckman, 1886-ca. 1910s
10 86 Meeker & Murray relatives, ca. 1880s-1920s
10 87 Meeker Family Homes - Arcady Farm, Santa Barbara, Utica, undated
10 88 Cast of "Evie's Husbands," 1923
10 89 Prairie Avenue and miscellaneous portraits (research for Prairie Avenue), ca. 1860s-1880s
10 90 Signed Portraits - Claire Dux, "Edith" and "Alix" (see also oversize), 1934, n.d.
10 91 Travel - France, 1948
10 92 Unidentified and Miscellaneous (see also oversize), ca. 1880s-1940s