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A.C. McClurg & Co. Records

Identifier: Midwest-MS-McClurg

Scope and Content of the Collection

The A. C. McClurg and Co. Records contain correspondence, contracts, royalty statements, record books, scrapbooks, and photographs. The records only partially document the publishing activities of the Chicago company. The collection contains neither manuscripts nor galleys of the books A. C. McClurg & Co. published. Collection contains almost no records of the wholesale and retail book, stationery and other merchandise distribution arm of the company.


  • Creation: 1873-1967
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1910 - 1950



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The A.C. McClurg & Co. Records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The A.C. McClurg & Co. Records 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.

History of the A.C. McClurg & Co.

Chicago publishing house and wholesaler and retailer of books and merchandise.

A.C. McClurg & Co. traces its origins to Chicago’s oldest book and stationery store which was founded in 1844. The young Alexander C. McClurg went to work for the company, then known as S. C. Griggs, in 1859. McClurg resumed working for Griggs after returning from the Civil War with the rank of general. S.C. Griggs lost all its contents in a fire in 1868. But when the store was completely destroyed by the great Chicago Fire of 1871, Griggs decided to sell his share of the company to E. L. Jansen, A. C. McClurg and F. B. Smith. Jansen, McClurg & Co. was established in 1872. The business flourished and in 1873 published its first title, Landscape Architecture by H. W. S. Cleveland. By 1880 McClurg’s ranked as one of the country’s largest book distributors. In addition to its wholesale book business, McClurg supplied to small-town retailers throughout the West and Midwest a variety of merchandise, including “blank books and tablets, stationery, typewriter paper and supplies, hair and tooth brushes, druggists’ sundries, pocketbooks, pipes, pocket cutlery, etc.”

Although the book distribution component of the company was more successful than its publishing side, General McClurg felt secure enough to start publishing the monthly literary magazine the Dial in 1880 and continued to do so until 1892. It was during this period that George Millard created the rare book section that became known as the “Saints and Sinners Corner.” In 1886 the company changed its name to A.C. McClurg & Co.

When the firm’s premises were destroyed by fire in 1899, General McClurg decided to reorganize as a corporation with shares sold to employees. He died soon thereafter in 1901. Little publishing took place until 1914 when the firm negotiated what turned out to be its most profitable publication, Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. McClurg & Co. went on to publish 10 more Tarzan titles. Eventually Burroughs set up his own company to deal with all iterations of his famous character.

In 1923 A. C. McClurg chose to focus its entire efforts on wholesale work by selling its bookstore located at 218 South Wabash Street in Chicago to Brentano’s. The remainder of the company was finally liquidated in 1962.


9.8 Linear Feet (25 boxes)


Correspondence, contracts, royalty statements, record books, a scrapbook, and other materials from the A.C. McClurg publishing company, which was established in Chicago in 1872.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Administrative Subject Files, 1873-1967
Boxes 1-19
Series 2: Record Books, approximately 1898-1964
Boxes 20-23
Series 3: Scrapbook, 1938-1944
Box 24
Series 4: McClurg History, approximately 1935-1944
Box 25

Collection Stack Location

1 2 1


Gift, A.C. McClurg & Co., 1968, with subsequent additions.

Separated Materials

The following books were removed to be cataloged separately:

  • A Classified Catalogue of 3500 Volumes Suitable for a Public or School Library. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1901.
  • A Classified Catalogue of 3500 Volumes Suitable for a Public or School Library. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., [1907]
  • A Classified Catalogue of Selected Standard Books for a Public Library. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1910.
  • A Classified Catalogue of Selected Standard Books for a Public Library. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1912.

Processed by

Adrian Alexander; Roberta Kovitz, 2008.

Inventory of the A.C. McClurg & Co. Records, 1873-1967, bulk 1910-1950
Roberta Kovitz
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 7/27/2011: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

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

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States