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Harris-MacLean Family Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Harris-MacLean

Scope and Content of the Collection

Letters, diaries, photographs, daybooks, ledgers, writings, genealogical material, and memorabilia of the Harris, Bent, Gale, Lane, and MacLean families.

The Bent family materials center around George P. Bent, Chicago piano retailer and author, and his wife Clara Ames Wingate Bent, whose ancestors were early settlers in Iowa. The collection contains a great deal of genealogical notes and correspondence penned by Clara. The Gale family materials include letters from Edith I. Gale, who died at an early age at a sanatorium, and business records as well as medicinal advertisements from John Greeley Gale, a physician based in Newton, New Hampshire. The Harris family papers include many love and courtship letters, letters describing travel all over the world, family news, memorabilia, and some financial documents. The Lane family materials include letters to her family from Dorothy Bent Lane, who wrote from Poland, Johannesburg, New Delhi, Cairo, and Beirut from the 1920s-1940s. The MacLean papers consist of the writings and other papers of sociologist Annie Marion MacLean, and letters between Murdoch Haddon MacLean and his fiance and later wife, Pearl Emma Harris (MacLean), and also Pearl to her immediate family, especially to her mother, Emma Susan Gale Harris, and her brother, Stanley Gale Harris. Pearl and Murdoch Haddon MacLean married in 1910 and had three sons: Haddon Harris, John Bartlett, and Gordon Gale MacLean. Murdoch MacLean worked for the Harris Trust and Savings Bank, and the family lived in Evanston, Illinois. Other families represented are mostly ancestors of the Bent family, and include Willsie, Wingate, and Abbot family information.

The photographs in this collection are mainly stored in photograph albums, and show the interconnections of the Bent, Harris, and MacLean families; the family's love of animals, pets, and travel; and their senses of humor and love of large family gatherings.


  • Creation: 1784-1980
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1880 - 1940



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Harris-MacLean 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 Harris Family

Upper class family and relatives based around Norman Wait Harris, founder of the Harris Trust and Savings Bank of Chicago.

Collection centers around the Harris family, but there are other materials relating to intermarried families, particularly the MacLean and Bent families. The documented Harris family lineage begins with Nathan Wait Harris (b. 1811), who married Charity Emeline Wadsworth, and had children Dwight J. Harris, Flavel W. Harris, Martha Emeline Harris, and Norman Wait (N.W.) Harris. N.W. Harris founded the Harris Trust and Savings Bank and was its president from its founding in 1907 to his death in 1916. N.W. Harris had three wives; the third, Emma Susan Gale Harris, represents the branch of the Gale family in this collection. The two of them had three children: Pearl Emma Harris (who married Haddon MacLean in 1910); Hayden Bartlett Harris (who married Lina Priscilla Small); and Stanley Gale Harris (who married Muriel Bent in 1913). The last, Stanley Gale Harris, also worked for the Harris family bank, from 1912-1963.

See series descriptions for more detailed biographies of the various families.


26.1 Linear Feet (48 boxes, 5 volumes, and 3 oversize boxes)


Letters, diaries, photographs, daybooks, ledgers, writings, genealogical material, and memorabilia detailing the life and travels of several wealthy Chicago families, mainly during the first three decades of the 20th century. The Harris family side is Norman Wait Harris, founder of the Harris Bank of Chicago, and his wife, Emma Gale Harris from New Hampshire, and their parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. Other major related families represented include Gale, Bent, Lane, and MacLean. Collection highlights include courtship letters, daybooks of a New Hampshire physician, whaling ship logs, works and correspondence of sociologist Annie Marion MacLean, and 19th and 20th century photograph albums.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Bent family materials, 1849-1975
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Gale family materials, 1814-1902
Boxes 3-7
Series 3: Harris family materials, 1784-1980, Bulk, 1880-1920
Boxes 8-23
Series 4: Lane family materials, 1909-1971
Boxes 23-24
Series 5: MacLean family materials, 1883-1964
Boxes 25-35
Series 6: Other families, unidentified, and miscellaneous, 1833-1913
Box 36
Series 7: Business records, 1907-1931
Box 37
Series 8: Photographs, 1850-1944
Boxes 38-47

Collection Stack Location

1 21 5-6, 1 30 1


Gift, Huntington Harris, 1975, with subsequent gifts from Dr. Cynthia O. Harris, Gordon MacLean, Rory MacLean, and other Harris and MacLean family members.

Separated Material

The following printed materials were separated from the Harris-MacLean Papers for individual cataloging:

MacLean, Annie Marion. Cheero. New York: The Womans Press, 1918.

MacLean, Annie Marion. Mary Ann's malady. Fragmentary papers dealing with a woman and rheumatism. New York: Broadway Publishing Company, 1914. Inscribed by the author to "Mr. Chipman."

MacLean, Annie Marion. Some problems of reconstruction. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1921.

Processed by

History Works staff, 1990s; Alison Hinderliter, 2010-2011.


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.

Genre / Form




Inventory of the Harris-MacLean Family Papers, 1784-1980, bulk 1880-1940
Alison Hinderliter
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