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Charles L. Hutchinson Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Hutchinson

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, writings, scrapbooks and miscellany relating to Chicago financier and philanthropist Charles L. Hutchinson, in particular regarding his interest in civic and cultural matters, the arts and the founding and development of the Art Institute.

The letters are incoming, almost all of them to Hutchinson with a few to his wife and eight others. Among the important correspondents, among others, are Francis H. Bacon, James Henry Breasted, Daniel H. Burnham, Charles Norman Fay, Frank W. Gunsaulus, John W. Root, and artists William Holman Hunt and Henry Ward Ranger. There are voluminous scrapbooks which contain a record of art purchases made by the Hutchinsons on extensive travels, both for their personal collection and for the developing Art Institute of Chicago.

Other scrapbooks contain personal matter – clippings, pictures, invitations, etc. Also, a typewritten diary kept intermittently by Hutchinson, a lengthy notebook which records his work with St. Paul’s Universalist Church, copies of several his speeches, mementos and travel miscellany, items of memorabilia and a few undated photographs.


  • Creation: 1868-1934



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Charles L. Hutchinson Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Charles L. Hutchinson 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 Charles L. Hutchinson

Chicago financier, trustee and philanthropist.

Charles Lawrence Hutchinson was born in 1854. In 1856 his family moved from Lynn, Massachusetts, to Chicago, where his father, Benjamin P. Hutchinson, became a successful grain merchant, meat-packer, and one of the founders of the Corn Exchange National Bank. Charles Hutchinson succeeded his father in business and in banking, and his wealth and prestige allowed him to become one of the city’s leading cultural philanthropists.

Because he was a man of wide interests with a strong sense of civic duty, Hutchinson’s activities were not confined to finance but ranged over many aspects of Chicago life. Though his greatest enthusiasm was for art and the establishment and growth of the Art Institute, Hutchinson was president, board member, trustee and/or supporter of perhaps as many as seventy organizations and social institutions, orphanages, hospitals and schools. Among his numerous involvements, he served as president of the Chicago Board of Trade, director and chairman of the Fine Arts Committee of the World’s Columbian Exposition, trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, president of the Chicago Orphan Asylum, president of St. Paul’s Universalist Church, vice-president of the Egypt Exploration Fund, president of the American Federation of the Arts, and treasurer of the Cliff Dwellers, of the Municipal Art League, and of the Chicago Sanitary District. Also, at the founding of the University of Chicago, in 1890 he was named a trustee of the new institution where he served as treasurer until his death.

Of Hutchinson’s life-long work with social and cultural agencies, his involvement with the founding and development of the Art Institute was his most passionate activity. In 1879 he was a trustee of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and 3 years later when it was renamed the Art Institute he became president – an office he held for the rest of his life. He spent years searching for and acquiring works of art for the museum and for his personal collection as well, often traveling abroad on buying trips with his wife, Frances Kinsley Hutchinson, and sometimes with his friend and fellow-trustee of the University of Chicago, Martin A. Ryerson.

Charles Hutchinson was regarded as one of Chicago’s finest citizens, spending his life working and giving to bring culture and comfort to his city. He died in 1924, leaving no children.


2.1 Linear Feet (5 boxes)


Correspondence, writings, scrapbooks and miscellany related to Charles L. Hutchinson, Chicago financier, trustee, and philanthropist, particularly regarding Hutchinson’s relationship with the Art Institute of Chicago. Correspondence is solely incoming, mostly to Hutchinson, but also to Mrs. Hutchinson and a few others. Group of writings consists of speeches and diary notebooks. The several scrapbooks hold numerous receipts of art purchases, articles, clippings, a few letters and notes. The miscellaneous material includes a range of art-related items, personal memorabilia, and a few photographs


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, 1875-1934
Boxes 1-4
Series 2: Scrapbooks, 1878-1920
Box 4
Series 3: Writings, 1881-1916
Box 5
Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1868-1934
Box 5

Collection Stack Location

1 22 6


Gift, Robert Bayer, 1950.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2010.

Inventory of the Charles L. Hutchinson Papers, 1868-1934
Virginia Hay Smith
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