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Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-HayesA

Scope and Content of the Collection

Diaries, travel journals, sketch books, writings, and other papers of Chicago writer Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes.

The diaries document Hayes's daily life, musings on psychology, ideas of future poems and stories, and sketches. Many diaries also include inserts of letters, news articles, photographs, and other papers. The travel journals document her trips within the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The journals include diary entries, photographs, sketches, and poems inspired by the locations visited. Many journals have inserts, including: letters, plant and flower pressings, maps, and papers relating to hotels she stayed at and sites she visited. Some travel journals show her participation in archeological digs in the Middle East, Mediterranean, and United States, as an amateur archeologist, and include notes, photographs, inserts about the archeological dig, and letters. There are sketchbooks and loose drawings that include drawings and watercolor paintings. The writings include Hayes's poetry and short stories. The poetry is bound by years, manuscripts of poetry volumes, and loose verses. Some of the loose poems pertain to the topic of family and are about family members. The short stories include multiple drafts of the same story and drafts of children's books, including original artwork by Hayes. Other papers include, date books, financial information about Ragdale and Hayes, and miscellaneous biographic and autobiographic materials. Also includes correspondences about Hayes's work written by other authors, people in the business, and friends. There are some papers pertaining to the creation of Ragdale, first as a family home by her grandfather, the Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, and the early years of Ragdale as an Artists' retreat. The papers also include invitations to speak at conferences and events and drafts of speeches.

Some dates in the diaries overlap and include inserts outside the date range of the dairy. Diaries also include references to materials not included in the collection and to travel journals from that year. Newberry has electronic transcriptions of select works and the printouts are available and arranged after the originals.


  • Creation: 1934-2006



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes 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 at If anyone uses the material for publication the family will be notified by the library.

Biography of Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes

Chicago poet, writer, artist, and founder of Ragdale, a working retreat for artists.

Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes was born in Chicago, Ill., on July 2, 1922 to a lawyer father and sculptor mother. Her mother was Sylvia Shaw Judson, a prominent Chicago sculptor. She was raised in the city, living in Lincoln Park. Her family was a great patron and benefactor of the arts in Chicago, a legacy that she shared, through her poetry and artwork and by creating turning her family’s estate, built by her grandfather, the Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, into a retreat for writers, musicians, and artists to live in and work and collaborate on their art forms. Hayes attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and later the University of Chicago. Where she met her first husband Ned Ryerson and began a new life together on the East Coast. There they started a family and Hayes attended Harvard University receiving a degree in Education with an emphasis on child psychology. After her divorce she moved back to Chicago and became active in the art scene happening in the city and it was at this time she created the Ragdale foundation and used Ragdale as a place for artists and creativity. She was also involved with the literary, and especially with poetry in Chicago. She taught poetry, created a poetry group and edited a monthly newsletter. She traveled widely and was an amateur archeologist in later years, working on archeological digs in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Hayes died on October 13, 2006 in Chicago from complications from an automobile accident.


11.3 Linear Feet (27 boxes)


Daily journals, travel journals, sketchbooks, writings, and other papers of Chicago writer Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes, who founded and ran Ragdale, a retreat for writers, musicians, and artists, at her family's Lake Forest estate designed by her grandfather, Howard Van Doren Shaw. Dating from 1934-2001, Hayes' journals contain extensive reflections on motherhood, marriage, writing, and a host of other topics, as well as her own creative work. They document an independent woman entering adulthood in the 1940s and making her way in the world.


Papers arranged by type of material.

Collection Stack Location

1 38 4


Gift, Nora Ryerson, 2016.

Processed by

Amy Pinc, 2016.

Inventory of the Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes papers, 1934-2006
Amy Pinc
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States