Mary Virginia McCormick Papers, 1871-1923


Summary Information
Title: Mary Virginia McCormick Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1871-1923

Creator:
  • McCormick, Mary Virginia, 1861-1941
Call Number: McCormick Mss 1D; McCormick Mss 2D; McCormick Mss 3D; McCormick Mss 4D

Quantity: 25.2 c.f. (63 archives boxes)

Repository:
Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Abstract:
Papers of Mary Virginia McCormick, eldest daughter of Chicago industrialist Cyrus Hall McCormick and Nettie Fowler McCormick, who became mentally incompetent at the age of nineteen. The papers consist of correspondence; early diaries and school notebooks; reports from doctors, nurses, and companions; legal documents; and financial records. These concern relations with members of her family, arrangements for her personal welfare and medical treatment, upkeep of her several homes and estates in the United States and Canada, and plans for travel to her homes and to Europe.
Correspondence describes Virginia's daily activities and state of mind and contains detailed advice concerning her care. Medical letters, reports, and casebooks deal with her mental condition. Legal papers relate to sanity hearings and trusteeships. Financial records concern investments; management of her estate; household, personal, and medical bills; and expense accounts. Her papers, ending in the year of her mother's death in 1923, lack any information relating to the last three decades of her life, when she lived chiefly in California as a millionaire recluse with a staff of some thirty persons.
Virginia's mother, her brother Cyrus H., Jr., and her uncle Eldridge M. Fowler, served as original conservators and trustees for her share of the estate inherited from her father; her younger brother and sister, Harold and Anita, were successor trustees; and Judson F. Stone, representing McCormick Estates, managed her financial affairs. In addition to the correspondence of each of these individuals and many who cared for her, the papers include medical case histories and diaries of doctors such as Alice Bennett and Sanger Brown; and letters and reports from Grace T. Walker, head of Mary Virginia's household for forty years.

Language: English

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mcc0001d
 ↑ Bookmark this ↑

Contents List
McCormick Mss 1D
Series: General Correspondence and Personal Papers, 1871-1922, undated
Physical Description: 24 archives boxes including 14 volumes 
Subseries: 1. General Correspondence, 1871-1921, undated
Scope and Content Note: This subseries consists of general correspondence relating to the affairs of Mary Virginia McCormick. Early correspondence, from 1871 to 1885, consists primarily of letters from members of the McCormick family to Mary Virginia, while correspondence after 1886, when Mary Virginia was first treated for mental illness, concerns arrangements for her care. Her household and its operation are described in detail, with information on personnel, upkeep of her several houses and grounds, and purchases of clothing and sundries; plans are included for travel between her various houses and for European trips; and the daily activities and states of mind of Mary Virginia are often referred to, though not in medical terms. The bulk of the correspondence is written by Cyrus McCormick, Jr. and Nettie Fowler McCormick, who, with Eldridge M. Fowler, served as Mary Virginia's trustees; by Mary Virginia's nurses and companions, particularly Dr. Alice Bennett and Miss Grace Walker, both of whom served as heads of the household; and by secretaries and agents of the McCormick family.
Arrangement of the Materials: The subseries is arranged chronologically by years; within a given year, some folders are labeled as containing primarily plans for trips, notes on house and grounds, etc. The labeled folders represent only rough sub-divisions, however, rather than thorough and complete categorization by subjects.
Box   1
1871-1882
Box   2
1882-1887
Box   3
1888-1890
Box   4
1890-1895
Box   5
1896
Box   6
1897-1898
Box   7
1899
Box   8
1899-1900
Box   9
1901
Box   10
1901-1902
Box   11
1902
Box   12
1903
Box   13
1903-1904
Box   14
1904
Box   15
1904-1905
Box   16
1905
Box   17
1905
Box   18
1906
Box   19
1906-1915
Box   20
1916-1921 and undated
Box   20
Volume   1
Autograph Book, 1874
Box   20
Volume   2
Address Book
Box   20
Volume   3
Insanity as a Symptom of “Bright's Disease,” by Alice Bennett, M.D., Ph.D.
Subseries: 2. Personal Papers, 1872-1922, undated
Scope and Content Note: This subseries consists of correspondence and notebooks by Mary Virginia McCormick, including letters (some unsent) written to her mother, brothers, and sister, to Drs. Favill and Mitchell, and to Rev. Hall. Fragmentary letters written by Mary Virginia may also be found attached to the nurses' reports and letters, but these are incomplete and usually incoherent.
Arrangement of the Materials: The series is arranged chronologically by years, although much of the later correspondence is undated. At the end of the series are 11 volumes of diaries and notebooks, some consisting of schoolwork, others of personal notes.
Correspondence
Box   21
1872-1885
Box   22
1885-1893
Box   23
1894-1922 and undated
Box   24
Volume   4
Composition Book, 1872-1876
Box   24
Volume   5
Diary of Trip to Centennial Exhibition, 1876
Box   24
Volume   6
“Centennial Accounts,” 1876
Box   24
Volume   7
School Notebook, Psychology, 1879
Box   24
Volume   8
Notes on Trip, 1881
Box   24
Volume   9
Diary, 1882
Box   24
Volume   10
Alphabetized Notebook, 1882-1881
Box   24
Volume   11
“Account,” 1884
Box   24
Volume   12
My Book , circa 1881
Box   24
Volume   13
Notebook, 1885
Box   24
Volume   14
Notebook, undated
McCormick Mss 2D
Series: Financial Papers, 1879-1912
Physical Description: 24 archives boxes including 44 volumes 
Scope and Content Note

This series contains three categories of material: legal papers, financial reports, and bills for the living expenses of Mary Virginia McCormick and members of her household.

Among the legal papers, documents of particular importance are those giving control of Mary Virginia's share in the McCormick estate to Cyrus McCormick, Jr., in 1884, and those declaring Mary Virginia insane and establishing a trust to manage her affairs, in 1889-1890.

The financial reports fall mainly between the years 1900 and 1911, and consist of reports made by the head of Mary Virginia's household to the conservators. In addition, there are reports submitted by the trustees (originally composed of Nettie Fowler McCormick, Cyrus McCormick, Jr. and Eldridge M. Fowler) and conservators to the state courts. The trustees' reports concern the investment of Mary Virginia's fortune, while the conservators report on the expenses of Mary Virginia and her household.

The third category, bills, begins in 1879, before a trust was set up. The bulk of the material deals with the period after 1888, when Mary Virginia was being treated for mental illness.

The volumes in this series contain additional financial records. The first volume is an account of grocery expenses in 1882, while Mary Virginia lived in New York. The second volume is an expense book kept by Dr. O.E. Davis when Mary Virginia was taken on a trip to Europe. The remaining notebook volumes cover daily expenditures and were kept by Mrs. L.J. Moses while she was head of the household in 1893-1896. Finally, there are nine volumes of check stubs.

Arrangement of the Materials: The series is arranged chronologically by year, followed by groups of account books, check stubs, and other records, each also arranged chronologically.
Box   1
1879-1885
Box   2
1888
Box   3
1888-1890
Box   4
1890-1891
Box   5
1891-1893
Box   6
1894-1896
Box   7
1896-1898
Box   8
1899-1900
Box   9
1901-1905
Box   10
1905-1906
Box   11
1906
Box   12
1906-1907
Box   13
1907
Box   14
1907-1908
Box   15
1908-1909
Box   16
1909
Box   17
1909-1910
Box   18
1910-1911
Box   19
1911
Box   20
1911-1912
Box   21
Volume   1
Household Account Book, 1882
Box   21
Volume   2
Dr. O.E. Davis Account Book, 1891
Mrs. L.J. Moses' Household Account Books
Box   21
Volume   3
1893 February
Box   21
Volume   4
1893 June
Box   21
Volume   5
1893 July
Box   21
Volume   6
1893 August
Box   21
Volume   7
1893 September
Box   21
Volume   8
1893 September
Box   21
Volume   9
1894 January & February
Box   21
Volume   10
1894 March
Box   21
Volume   11
1894 May
Box   21
Volume   12
1894 June
Box   21
Volume   13
1894 July
Box   21
Volume   14
1894 August
Box   21
Volume   15
1894 September
Box   21
Volume   16
1894 October
Box   21
Volume   17
1894 November
Box   21
Volume   18
1894 December
Box   21
Volume   19
1895 January
Box   21
Volume   20
1895 February
Box   21
Volume   21
1895 March
Box   21
Volume   22
1895 April
Box   21
Volume   23
1895 May
Box   21
Volume   24
1895 June
Box   21
Volume   25
1895 July
Box   21
Volume   26
1895 August
Box   21
Volume   27
1895 September
Box   21
Volume   28
1895 October
Box   21
Volume   29
1895 November
Box   21
Volume   30
1895 December
Box   21
Volume   31
1896 January
Box   21
Volume   32
1896 February
Box   21
Volume   33
1896 March
Box   21
Volume   34
1896 April
Box   21
Volume   35
1896 May
Box   22
Unbound Ledger
Scope and Content Note: Lists household and personal expenses for Mary Virginia McCormick, 1906-1911.
Check Stubs
Box   23
Volume   36
1905 July-1906 August
Box   23
Volume   37
1906 August-1907 July
Box   23
Volume   38
1907 July-1908 April
Box   23
Volume   39
1908 April-December
Box   23
Volume   40
1908 December-1909 July
Box   24
Volume   41
1909 July-1910 March
Box   24
Volume   42
1910 April-December
Box   24
Volume   43
1910 December-1911 August
Box   24
Volume   44
1911 August-1912 March
McCormick Mss 3D
Series: Medical Reports, 1882-1921, undated
Physical Description: 5 archives boxes including 3 volumes 
Scope and Content Note

This series consists mainly of unofficial records of Mary Virginia McCormick's physical and mental condition. The bulk of the material is letters written by different members of the household such as Miss Grace Walker and Dr. Alice Bennett to both Nettie Fowler McCormick and Cyrus H. McCormick, Jr. Included also are interviews with servants and other members of the household describing Mary Virginia's condition.

In addition to these unofficial reports, there are official medical reports such as that of 1889 which was used as evidence in the suit to declare Mary Virginia incompetent.

The three casebooks (vols. 1-3) describe the patient's day-to-day activities and reactions, and report on any significant changes in her condition.

Box   1
1882-1889
Box   2
1889-1891
Box   3
1892-1911
Box   4
1895-1921 and undated
Box   5
Volume   1
Casebook of Dr. Sanger Brown, 1887-1899
Box   5
Volume   2
Casebook, 1891
Box   5
Volume   3
Casebook, 1893 January-February
McCormick Mss 4D
Series: Nurses' Reports, 1896-1923
Physical Description: 10 archives boxes including 3 volumes 
Scope and Content Note: This series consists of nurses' daily reports on Mary Virginia McCormick, and two medical diaries kept by Dr. Alice Bennett in 1897-1898, while she was head of Mary Virginia's household. While the nurses' reports do give medical information, they are not exclusively medical; they often include general descriptions of Mary Virginia's activities and state of mind.
Arrangement of the Materials: The series is arranged chronologically by month.
Nurses' Reports
Box   1
1896 June 2-1897 March 7
Box   2
1897 March 8-November 8
Box   3
1897 November 9-1898 May 13
Alice Bennett Medical Diaries
Box   3
Volume   1
1897
Box   3
Volume   2
1898 January-June
Nurses' Reports
Box   4
1898 May 13-November 5
Box   5
1898 November 6-1899 April 25
Box   6
1899 April 25-1901 July 1
Box   6
Volume   3
1900 May-August
Box   7
1901 July 2-1903 September 2
Box   8
1903 September 3-1908 December
Box   9
1909-1916
Box   10
1917-1923