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Marsh-Roberts-Mack Family Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-MarshRM

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, travel and personal diaries, business, property, and estate documents, genealogical materials, photographs, and other materials documenting the Roberts, Marsh, Mack, and related families.

The Individual Family series contains much of the material of members of the Marsh, Roberts, Mack, and related families. Of note is correspondence of Daniel Elston, early Chicago settler, and legal papers of his daughter Blanche and her husband Robert R. Clark. Both Clarks died in 1907, and Blanche, who lived a few months after Robert Clark, had inherited her father's considerable fortune. After Blanche's death, her will was disputed by her brother Daniel Jr. and his wife Alice, who were left nothing of the Elston estate. There is also a significant amount of fictional writing and intricate pen and ink drawings by George R. Roberts, much of it relating to Norse mythology. Roberts also kept humorous and detailed journals of his travels as a child and with his wife Katherine Marsh Roberts.

Miscellaneous family materials includes a large autograph collection, possibly started by Katherine Marsh Roberts. Much of the collection was glued onto notebook paper, some are loose signatures, and there is a collection of U. S. Congressmen autographs from the 1870s and 1880s signed on pieces of ribbon. The albums contain the signatures of various political figures as well as cultural, scientific, and artistic figures. Also contained in the series are genealogical research materials, diaries, greeting cards, and a set of Girl Scout badges from the 1920s.

The photographs series contains portraits and snapshots of the Marsh, Roberts and Mack families. Most photos are of the George R. and Katherine Roberts family, including many travel snapshots, and albums of friends and family, camping, and one album of a trip to the American Southwest in 1915.


  • Creation: 1706-1984
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1850 - 1950



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Marsh-Roberts-Mack 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 Marsh, Roberts, and Mack Families

Three prominent Chicago families involved in the insurance, lumber, and manufacturing businesses.

The Marsh family came to Chicago when George B. Marsh, of Genesee County, New York moved here with wife Sarah in 1854. Marsh was involved in lumber and manufacturing businesses. Sarah Clark Marsh was a member of the Clark family of which Clark Street in Chicago is named, and also related by marriage to Daniel Elston, an early Chicago settler, alderman, and namesake of Elston Avenue in Chicago. Their son Marshall Stuart Marsh, born in 1856, also went into the lumber business and was associated with the firm of St. John and Marsh for most of his career. He married the Bertha Smith, daughter of Albert B. and Roxana Smith, in 1881. Albert B. Smith was a pioneer in the telegraph business and was president for many years of Northwestern Telegraph Company. Marshall S. Marsh died in 1925, his wife Bertha in 1945.

Katherine Stuart Marsh, daughter of Marshall S. and Bertha Marsh, was born in 1885. She married George R. Roberts in 1909. Roberts, also born in 1885, was the son of George W. and Nellie Wilkinson Roberts. He was a partner with his father in the firm of George W. Roberts & Son, which dealt in insurance. George R. and Katherine S. Roberts settled in Highland Park, Illinois and had two children, George Jr., born in 1913, and Katherine Eleanor, born in 1910. Katherine Stuart Marsh died in 1932 and George R. married twice again, lastly to Ruth Campbell.

Katherine Eleanor Roberts, who went primarily by the name Eleanor, married Ralph B. Mack in 1933. Mack was a lawyer with the firm of Deneen and Massena, and they also settled in Highland Park where Eleanor was active in charity work. They had three children, Ralph Jr., Ken, and Suzanne. In the 1970s they retired to Laguna Beach, California. Ralph Mack passed away in 1981, and Eleanor in 1999.


6 Linear Feet (11 boxes, 1 oversize box, and 1 oversize rolled document)


Papers of the Marsh, Roberts, and Mack families, many members of whom were wealthy Chicago residents. Materials include correspondence, travel and personal diaries, business, property, and estate documents, genealogical materials, photographs, and other personal ephemera. Also contains materials from related families including letters and estate litigation of early Chicago pioneer Daniel Elston, who was related to the Marsh family via the marriage of Sarah Clark to George B. Marsh, as well as illustrations and stories by George R. Roberts, and a large autograph collection.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Individual Family Members, 1824-1984
Boxes 1-7
Series 2: Miscellaneous Family Materials, 1706-approximately 1960
Boxes 8-9
Series 3: Photographs, approximately 1850-1965
Boxes 10-11

Collection Stack Location

1 25 5


Gift of Suzanne Mack Bleecker.

Processed by

Lisa Janssen, 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.

Inventory of the Marsh-Roberts-Mack Family Papers, 1706-1984, bulk 1850-1950
Lisa Janssen
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