Skip to main content

Elaine Madlener papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Madlener

Scope and Content of the Collection

Material relating to Madlener’s committee work for two benefit performances by Herbert von Karajan (with the London Philharmonic in 1955 and the Berlin Philharmonic in 1965), research on Karajan’s life and work, and manuscripts and notes for an intended (yet unwritten) biography of Karajan. The benefit committee work includes scrapbooks, working notebooks, programs, press releases, correspondence and photographs. Karajan biographical material includes articles, discographies, reviews, correspondence and photographs.

Also, autographs, correspondence and comments on the subject of autograph collecting, solicited and compiled by Madlener for her symposium and article “Contemporary Authors View the Autograph Collector”. Madlener also collected manuscripts and related material by British author Charles Langbridge Morgan.


  • Creation: 1916-1966
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1944-1965



Materials are in English, French, and German.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Elaine Madlener 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 Elaine Madlener

Chicago socialite and philanthropist. Researched and wrote about conductor Herbert von Karajan and autograph collecting.

Elaine (nee Wetmore) Madlener, wife of Otto Madlener, was born September 6, 1912 in Brooklyn, NY. She was a graduate of Rye Country Day School and attended Columbia University.

Madlener was the Board of Directors of the Grant Hospital Women’s Auxiliary 1943—1972 and served as its president 1960—1962. She co-chaired the committee that sponsored performances by Herbert von Karajan with the London Philharmonic (1955) and the Berlin Philharmonic (1965), benefiting Grant Hospital.

In 1948, Madlener was named the first woman secretary of the National Autograph Collectors Society (now the Manuscript Society). She authored articles on the subject of collecting in Autograph Collectors Journal (1951) and Antiquarian Bookman (1949, 1952). She presented a colloquium entitled “Contemporary Authors View the Autograph Collector” which was later published in Manuscripts (1955).

Madlener was a founding member of the Newberry Library Associates. She lived in Chicago and Winnetka, IL and Bath County, Virginia. She had two sons, Richard A. and William C. Madlener. She died March 28, 1989 (at the age of 76) in Brunswick, GA.

Biography of Herbert von Karajan

Austrian conductor.

Herbert von Karajan was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1908. He was educated at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and made his conducting debut in 1933 at the Salzburg Festival. At the height of his career Karajan led the Berlin Philharmonic, La Scala in Milan, the London Philharmonic, the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. He acted as guest conductor of major orchestras in Europe and the US, including the Orchestre de Paris, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Bayreuth Festival. In 1955 he succeeded Wilhelm Furtwängler as lifetime director of the Berlin Philharmonic.

There is dispute among researchers as to Karajan’s political associations—his career was buoyed when he joined the Nazi Party in 1934 and he was named director of the Aachen Stadttheater. In 1942 he married Anita Gutermann (who was part Jewish) and fell out of favor with the Nazis. When he made his US debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in early 1955, his concerts were met with picketing and protests. However, his performances in Chicago were not marked by controversy. His primary concern was always music over politics.

Karajan made over 800 recordings, more than any other conductor. He was a skilled pilot and an aficionado of cars, boats and motorcycles. He was married three times and had two daughters with his third wife. Karajan died of a heart attack in 1989.


1.3 Linear Feet (3 boxes)


Research material for a biography of Herbert von Karajan and material on autograph collecting gathered by Elaine Madlener, Chicago philanthropist and socialite. Material related to Madlener’s Grant Hospital committee work for two benefit performances by Karajan in 1955 and 1965, and manuscripts by British author Charles Langbridge Morgan.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1955-1965
Box 1
Series 2: Autograph Collecting, 1935-1955
Box 1
Series 3: Photographs, 1952-1956
Box 1
Series 4: Charles L. Morgan, 1916-1951
Box 1
Series 5: Working Notebooks, 1955-1965
Box 2
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1955-1965
Box 3

Collection Stack Location

1 25 5


Gift, Elaine Madlener, 1975; Richard Madlener, 1990-1992.

Processed by

Polly Smith, 2008.

Inventory of the Elaine Madlener papers, 1916-1966, bulk 1944-1965
Polly 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