Skip to main content

Chauncey McCormick papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-McCormick

Scope and Content of the Collection

Letters, clippings, photographs, and mementos of Chicago businessman and philanthropist Chauncey McCormick.

McCormick was a major figure in Chicago society and business, and of some prominence nationally for his public work, and most of the correspondence pertains to such matters during the 1940s and 1950s. Letters include politically oriented correspondence to Senator Charles Baker, Mayor Martin H. Kennelly, Governor Adlai Stevenson, Dr. James Brown IV, and the chief of the United States Children’s Bureau, Katharine Lenroot. Also personal letters with longtime friends like his cousin and Chicago Tribune editor Robert McCormick, Herbert Hoover, and Philip L. Goodwin, as well as early letters between Chauncey and members of both the McCormick and Deering families. Some World War I correspondence is written in French to Général Louis de Maud'huy, and members of the Mirman, de Guigné, and de Polignac families, among others. Condolences sent to McCormick’s family upon his death account for a significant amount of correspondence. The collection also includes photographs McCormick took during World War I, portraits, the homes in Wheaton, Illinois and Seal Harbor, Maine, and publicity stills from events like Art Institute programs. Other material includes speeches and publications for his philanthropic groups, World War I memorabilia like maps and postcards, awards and certificates, biographical newspaper clippings about him or his work, and a cartoon by John McCutcheon.


  • Creation: 1887-1955



Materials are in English and French.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Chauncey McCormick 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 Chauncey McCormick

Chicago businessman and philanthropist.

Chauncey McCormick was born in 1884 to William G. and Eleanor Brooks McCormick. He was the nephew of Cyrus McCormick, a founder of the McCormick Reaper company. In 1914 Chauncey McCormick married Marion Deering, whose family owned a rival business which had merged with McCormick Reaper in 1902 to form the International Harvester Company. A close family, Chauncey and Marion raised their three sons C. Deering, Brooks, and Roger between their homes in Chicago and Wheaton, Illinois, and Seal Harbor, Maine. Starting in 1926, McCormick was a director of International Harvester. He was also president of the Miami Corporation investment firm.

McCormick attended Groton School and graduated from Yale in 1907. Married in Paris in 1914, he joined the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I, where he worked to supply medical attention and food to French refugee children. In 1918, he was sent to Poland by Herbert Hoover to organize food relief. He became a life-long advocate of the Polish people, working again for Polish relief during World War II. He received recognition for his wartime service from both the French and Polish governments.

McCormick’s post-war life was devoted mostly to philanthropic organizations, particularly the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was vice-president from 1932-1944 and president from 1944 until his death. He organized such major projects as the 1933 Century of Progress art exhibit and the1946 Masterpieces of English Painting exhibit. When the Institute faced its first financial emergency, he headed a fundraising campaign that successfully raised over a million dollars. McCormick was also active in child welfare groups like the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid society from 1943-1952, and in the mid-1940s campaigned to reform adoption laws. His other non-profit involvement included work for the American Foundation for the Blind, the Alexander Hamilton Memorial, and the McCormick Theological Seminary.

While he never ran for public office, McCormick was an active member of the Republican Party, a delegate to the 1936 Republican convention, and highly critical of New Deal initiatives. He remained close friends with Herbert Hoover, and continuously supported the former president’s projects and political career. A devout Christian, McCormick was a life-long member and elder of the Presbyterian Church. He died of a heart attack in Seal Harbor, Maine, in 1954.


6 Linear Feet (9 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Letters, clippings, photographs, and mementos of Chicago businessman and philanthropist Chauncey McCormick. He was the nephew of Cyrus McCormick, founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company which became part of International Harvester Company, and was president of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1944-1954. Correspondence concerns business, civic, philanthropic, religious, and political activities. Also contains speeches and writings, including those for the Art Institute, child welfare groups, and the Republican Party. Includes extensive material relating to McCormick's World War I service in the American Expeditionary Force in France and his direction of Polish food relief under Herbert Hoover.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1887-1955
Boxes 1-4
Series 2: World War I Service, 1917-1920
Box 5
Series 3: Organizations, 1939-1955
Box 6
Series 4: Personal, 1905-1955
Boxes 7-8
Series 5: Photographs & Mementos, approximately 1880s-1954
Boxes 8-9

Collection Stack Location

1 25 4, 1 30 4


Gift, Marion McCormick, 1957.

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 Chauncey McCormick papers, 1887-1955
Lisa Janssen and Emma Reynolds
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