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Gookin family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Gookin

Scope and Content of the Collection

Materials related to banker and designer Frederick W. Gookin and his family, including correspondence, diaries, and artwork.

Correspondence is chiefly letters from Frederick W. Gookin to his wife Marie S. Gookin, documenting their courtship as well as his daily activities during business trips or while Marie Gookin was away. Letters describe Chicago friends, city activities, food, and weather, as well as details about his art world contacts during trips to New York. There are also letters from Marie S. Gookin to her sister Nathalie Kennedy, describing the family cats, vacations in Colorado, and a trip to Europe in 1914 during the outbreak of World War I.

The majority of the diaries belonged to Elisabeth A. Gookin, Frederick W. Gookin's mother, and chronicle her daily activities, including descriptions of the labor required to maintain the household, her health, and also her general attitude and emotional state. There is also is a detailed diary kept by Elisabeth Gookin of the family's twelve visits to the World's Columbian Exposition, and her travel diaries describing trips to Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. There are also diaries from Marie S. Gookin and Mary Gookin, Frederick W. Gookin's sister, and a few items related to the Gookin family and Frederick Gookin's membership in the Chicago Literary Club.

Artwork consists of Frederick W. Gookin's designs for A.C. McClurg, the Chicago Literary Club, and others, including commercial advertisements, bookplates and book covers. Frederick W. Gookin was an early member of the Chicago Literary Club, and designed their publications for over 20 years.


  • Creation: 1861-1922
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1883-1921



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Gookin 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 at

Biography of Frederick William Gookin family

Chicago banker, calligrapher and designer.

Frederick W. Gookin (1853-1936) was born in Ludlow, Vermont, to Frederick Young Gookin and Elisabeth Patrick Gookin. He had one sister, Mary H. Gookin (1855-1915). The family later relocated to Joliet, Illinois, and then to Chicago in 1872. Frederick W. Gookin went to work as a banker, supporting his parents and sister, while at the same time cultivating an interest in calligraphy, design, and Japanese art. While he remained a banker, he also worked in commercial design, creating advertisements and illustrating publications for a variety of Chicago business and organizations. His interest and expertise in Japanese wood block prints led him to art appraisal and consultant work for collectors interested in Japanese art, which he also promoted through lectures and publications. Around 1903 he left banking to become a freelance art advisor, and was eventually appointed the first curator of the Clarence S. Buckingham Collection of Japanese prints at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was an early member of the Chicago Literary Club, and served as their secretary/treasurer from 1880-1920.

He married Marie Sieboth, of Utica, NY, in 1898. The couple had one daughter, Nathalie Clotilde Gookin, nicknamed "Girlie" (1901-1980).


4.6 Linear Feet (7 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Family correspondence, including letters from Chicago banker, artist, calligrapher, and designer Frederick Gookin to his wife, Marie S. Gookin, 1897-1922, documenting Chicago friends, city life, and sports when Marie Gookin was away, as well as Frederick Gookin's activities while on business trips to New York. Also other family letters, diaries of Mary H. Gookin and her mother Elisabeth A. Gookin, 1864-1896, including one regarding daily attendance at the World's Columbian Exposition, and drawings, sketches and finished art work created by Frederick Gookin.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, 1897-1922
Boxes 1-4
Series 2: Family papers, 1861-1921
Boxes 5-6
Series 3: Artwork, 1883-1921
Box 7

Collection Stack Location

1 20 5; 1 30 1

Other Finding Aids

See also Chicago Literary Club records, Midwest MS Chicago Literary.


Gift, Kathleen Van Deusen, 1985.

Processed by

Kelly Kress, 2010.


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.

Inventory of the Gookin family papers, 1861-1922, bulk 1883-1921
Kelly Kress
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