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John Willy Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Willy

Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection includes John Willy’s catalogs, hotel periodicals, and newspaper clippings.

Additionally, collection contains materials related to the conferral of Willy’s honorary doctorate and his obituaries in various newspapers and hotel periodicals. The collection also includes photographs of Willy's friends taken by various Chicago-area portrait photographers between 1870 and 1900. Collection contains small amount of material relating to Willy’s family, including his marriage certificate to Mary Louise Launder, a periodical edited by Dorothy Willy, and a picture of Hattie Launder.


  • Creation: 1871-1984



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The John Willy Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The John Willy 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 John Willy

English-American hotel journalist, editor, and hospitality education advocate.

John Willy was born February 22, 1859 in Ilminster, England and arrived in Chicago in 1879 without friends or family. Despite his lack of connections, Willy established a successful hotel supply and press company, publishing hotel manuals and textbooks in addition to his popular periodical, The Hotel Monthly. Willy worked his way up to a position of prominence within the hotel world by reporting and then editing for the National Hotel Reporter. He then established his own magazine, The Hotel Quarterly (later Monthly) as a hotel directory for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Willy’s modesty and dedication to the hotel industry made him beloved in his later years. Having published hotel textbooks and petitioned for hospitality classes at Michigan State University, MSU honored Willy with a doctorate in 1937. Hundreds of hotel professionals, journalists, students, and friends wrote testimonials of Willy’s great service and impact on the industry.

Willy married Mary Louise Launder in 1885 and had three children, Louise Azanath Willy (1886-1969), Dorothy Elizabeth Willy (1889-1974), and John Knight Willy (1899-1965). He died unexpectedly on December 22, 1944 after a fall in his home.


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)


Periodicals, newspaper clippings, catalogs and other documents pertaining to the life and hotel periodical business of John Willy. Also includes photographs of friends of Willy taken by Chicago-area portrait photographers.


Materials arranged alphabetically.

Collection Stack Location

1 36 4


Gift of Mary Falconer, 2004.

Processed by

Emma Martin, 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 John Willy Papers, 1871-1984
Emma Martin
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