Walter Ansel Strong Papers
Scope and Content of the Collection
Correspondence, speeches, personal and family materials including genealogical information, and photographs.
Strong had a close, loving relationship with his wife Josephine, and revealed much about his work at the Chicago Daily News in his letters to her. His solid work ethic and commitment to family are evident in his correspondence with his brother Richard. Other aspects of his career are represented in the texts of his speeches and the materials regarding his purchase of the Chicago Daily News in 1925. The memorial books and condolence letters received upon his death indicate the high level of esteem with which he was regarded, in both the journalism community and the city of Chicago. Details of Walter Strong's life are further illuminated in the recollections of his son Jonathan, through correspondence with grandson David S. Strong.
- Creation: 1847-2008
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1912 - 1931
- Strong, Walter Ansel, 1883-1931 (Person)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The Walter Ansel Strong Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Walter Ansel Strong 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 Walter Ansel Strong
Owner and publisher of the Chicago Daily News, 1925-1931.
Walter Ansel Strong was born in Chicago to physician Albert Bliss Strong and Ida Cook Strong on August 13, 1883. He had three brothers, Ralph Stillman, Edward Albert, and Richard Leroy (two other siblings, Albert Bliss and Helen Elizabeth, died in infancy). In 1895, 10-year-old Edward died of diphtheria, and Albert Strong was institutionalized due to mental issues. The stress of these events prompted Ida Strong to take her youngest child Richard to California, leaving Walter and Ralph in Chicago. With his mother absent and his father incapacitated, Walter Strong lived at a Chicago YMCA while attending high school and working for Victor Lawson, publisher of the Chicago Daily News. After his father's death in 1900, Strong continued to work for Victor Lawson, who also aided him financially. Strong worked selling the Chicago Daily News from street corners during the day, and attended Lewis Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology) at night, graduating in 1901 with a degree in civil engineering.
Upon graduating from Lewis Institute, Strong attended Beloit College in Wisconsin. In addition to his studies, he held a variety of jobs to support himself and his mother, including selling electrical appliances, running a roller skating rental business, and working at the Beloit Free Press. He also participated in sports, edited the college newspaper, and acted in theatrical productions. After graduating in 1905, Strong moved back to Chicago to work as an audit clerk at the Chicago Daily News. In 1908 he accompanied Victor Lawson to Europe, working as Lawson's secretary, and by 1910 had become auditor and office manager of the Daily News. Strong also attended John Marshall Law School during this time, graduating in 1912.
Strong married Josephine Webster in 1913, and the couple settled in Evanston. They had five children: Walter Ansel Jr. (1914), Jonathan Webster (1917), Robert Kitchell (1919), Anne Haviland (1922), and David Seymour (1925). He continued to advance at the Daily News, gaining Victor Lawson's trust and respect, and in 1921 was officially appointed business manager. Under his direction the Daily News acquired radio station WMAQ (formerly WGU), becoming one of the first newspapers to operate a radio station. Victor Lawson died in August of 1925, leaving no instructions in his will regarding the disposition of the Daily News, and Strong spent the rest of the year working out the details of purchasing the newspaper.
Strong's tenure as publisher of the Daily News coincided with Prohibition. The activities of gangsters and bootleggers such as Al Capone and Bugs Moran, as well as the machinations of mayor William Hale Thompson's administration, kept Washington D.C. and the rest of the nation focused on Chicago. As publisher of a major Chicago newspaper during this tumultuous time, Strong became quite respected and well-known, serving on the boards of directors of the National Association of Broadcasters and International Advertising Association. In 1926 he traveled to Europe, meeting with French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré as well as Benito Mussolini, then Prime Minister of Italy. He later spent time in Washington D.C. with Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, becoming particularly friendly with Hoover. As a highly admired representative of the newspaper industry and the Chicago community, he gave many speeches, including a well-received talk at the University of Chicago known as "Newspapers and the New Age". Strong also oversaw the Daily News' construction of a new, modern building on the Chicago River, which involved negotiating air rights over existing railroad property, and presided over the paper's move in 1929.
Throughout his life, Strong was contacted periodically by his younger brother Richard, who was still living in California and constantly in need of financial support. Strong attempted to find steady work for his brother and encouraged him to settle down and support himself and his family, but eventually resorted to sending him a regular allowance. He had also been overseeing construction of the family home, Stronghold, in addition to his responsibilities on the Daily News. These various stresses took a toll, and on May 10, 1931, Walter Strong died of a heart attack at the age of 47.
3.4 Linear Feet (5 boxes, 1 oversize box)
Correspondence, personal documents, photographs, and family materials related to Walter Ansel Strong, publisher of the Chicago Daily News from 1925-1931.
Papers are organized in the following series
- Series 1: Correspondence, 1912-1931
- Box 1
- Series 2: Richard L. Strong Materials, 1921-1932
- Boxes 1-2
- Series 3: Career, 1922-1949
- Box 2
- Series 4: Personal, 1912-approximately 1975
- Box 3
- Series 5: Family Materials, 1847-2008
- Boxes 3-5
- Series 6: Photographs, approximately 1861-1931
- Box 5
Collection Stack Location
1 33 6-7
Other Finding Aids
See also the Edward Price Bell Papers (Midwest MS Bell), Charles H. Dennis Papers (Midwest MS Dennis), Victor F. Lawson Papers (Midwest MS Lawson), and Field Enterprises Records (Midwest MS Field Enterprises)
Gift, David S. Strong, 2009.
Kelly Kress, 2009.
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.
- Lawson, Victor Freemont, 1850-1925 (Person)
- Strong, Walter Ansel, 1883-1931 (Person)
- Bell, Laird, 1883-1965 (Person)
- Tietjens, Eunice, 1884-1944 (Person)
- Webster family (Family)
- Strong family (Family)
- Beloit College (Organization)
- Chandler, Harry, 1864-1944 (Person)
- Strong, Albert Bliss (Person)
- Strong, Erastus Albert (Person)
- Strong, Jonathan W. (Person)
- Strong, Josephine Webster (Person)
- Chicago Daily News, Inc. (Organization)
- Webster, Towner K. (Person)
Genre / Form
- Inventory of the Walter Ansel Strong Papers, 1847-2008, bulk 1912-1931
- Kelly Kress
- Language of description
- Script of description