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Wacker family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Wacker

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, photographs, artifacts, keepsakes, and scrapbooks of the Wacker and Zimmerman families. Materials span five generations, starting with the parents of Charles Henry Wacker and ending with Wacker’s great-grandchildren. Highlights include 1928 films showing new Chicago buildings, streets, and parks; numerous photographs and photograph albums of the family and of their Lake Geneva retreat, Fair Lawn; letters between Charles Wacker and his daughter, Rosalie; World War I letters from a French soldier; World's Columbian Exposition tickets; a 1918 scrapbook documenting the wedding of Rosalie Wacker and Earle Zimmerman, and other materials.

[archivist's note, 2023: Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available online. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.]


  • Creation: 1812-2002
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1870 - 1970



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Wacker family papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available online. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Wacker family 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.

Biography of the Wacker and Zimmerman Families

Charles Henry Wacker (August 29, 1856 – October 31, 1929) was a German American businessman and philanthropist born in Chicago. His parents were German immigrants Frederick and Catharine Hummel Wacker. His father founded the Wacker and Birk Brewing and Malting Company in Chicago, and after his father’s death in 1884, Charles became president. In 1893, Charles served as a director for the World’s Columbian Exposition and later served as the Vice Chairman of the General Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. Charles was a prominent figure in promoting Daniel Burnham’s plan for improving Chicago, and was appointed Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission in 1909. He served in this role until 1926, when Wacker Drive was named after him.

Charles married Ottilie Marie Glade in 1887 and they had three children: Frederick Glade (1889-1948), Charles Henry Jr. (1891-1941), and Rosalie Wacker (1896-1968). Ottilie died on October 26, 1904, and Charles married Ella M. Todtmann in March 1919. The Wacker family spent much time at their country estate, known as Fair Lawn, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The home was built around 1893 with Charles involved in the design, and the home remained in the family until 1975.

Frederick G. Wacker married Grace Cook Jennings (1889-1984) in Nov. 1912 in New York. Frederick and Grace had three children: Ellen (1916-2003), Frederick Jr. (1918-1998), and Charles H. III (born 1921).

Rosalie Wacker married Earle Joseph Zimmerman (1890-1965) on October 5, 1918 in Chicago. Earle was born in St. Joseph, Missouri to Joseph and Florence Carey Zimmerman. He served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army during World War I and II, and was Chairman of the board of Zimm Manufacturing Company.

Rosalie and Earle Zimmerman had two children: Jane Ellen Zimmerman (born 1920), and Charles Wacker Zimmerman (born 1921). Jane married Warren Woods Shoemaker Jr. on December 31, 1947. Charles married Flora Elizabeth “Betty” Ellis in 1948 and had Charles Wacker Zimmerman Jr. and Robert D. Zimmerman.


19.2 Linear Feet (6 boxes, 7 oversize boxes, 4 oversize photo albums, and 1 oversize framed photograph)

4 items (2 DVDs, 2 open reels)


Papers of Chicago Plan Commission head, Charles H. Wacker, his immediate family, and the family of his daughter, Rosalie Wacker Zimmerman. Includes correspondence, photographs, artifacts, keepsakes, films, and scrapbooks spanning five generations.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, 1908-1984, bulk 1908-1919
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Family Materials, 1893-2002, bulk 1893-1939
Box 3
Series 3: Photographs, 1860s-1970s
Boxes 3-6, 4 photo albums, and 1 framed photograph
Series 4: Artifacts, Books, and Films, 1812-1980, bulk 1912-1928
Boxes 7-11, audiovisual boxes (restricted)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1880s-1960s, bulk 1918-1960s
Boxes 12-15

Conditions Governing Audiovisual Access

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available online. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Collection Stack Location

1 39 2, 1 43 5


Gift, Robert D. Zimmerman, 2015.

Processed by

Catherine Grandgeorge, 2017.

Inventory of the Wacker Family Papers, 1812-2002, bulk 1870s-1970s
Catherine Grandgeorge
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2022-10-19: Audiovisual materials have been removed from the collection. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Repository Details

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

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States