Charles E. Broughton Papers, 1916-1953

Summary Information
Title: Charles E. Broughton Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1916-1953

  • Broughton, Charles E., 1873-1956
Call Number: Milwaukee Mss BA; PH 1633; PH 1640; PH 1736; PH 1737

Quantity: 8.0 c.f. (15 archives boxes and 14 volumes) and 309 photographs (2 binders and 3 folders)

Archival Locations:
UW-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives / Milwaukee Area Research Ctr. (Map)
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Papers of Charles Broughton, an editor of the Sheboygan Press (Wis.). Most of the materials pertain to Broughton's other activities as member of the Wisconsin Democratic party, philanthropist, anti-prohibitionist, fund raiser, conservationist, champion of the Wisconsin cheese industry, and patron of state and local history. Some of the correspondence deals with the management of the newspaper. Due to his newspaper work and broad range of activities, Broughton exchanged letters with many people of state and national importance. Also of interest is correspondence from a number of servicemen during World War II, sent to Broughton for inclusion in the newspaper.

Language: English

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Charles E. Broughton, who spent 44 years as a successful newspaper editor and zealous civic leader, was born at Lamartine, Wisconsin, seven miles from Fond du Lac, Oct. 22, 1873. His parents had very limited means; and as a boy he helped his mother husk corn on the shares, worked in a blacksmith shop, and painted wagons at the old La Belle Wagon Works in Fond du Lac. His formal schooling ended at the age of 11, when he began his newspaper association as a printer's devil and errand boy with the Fond du Lac Journal.

Broughton attended night school whenever he could, as his ambition was to become a reporter and editorial writer. At twenty he obtained employment in the composing room of the Milwaukee Sentinel, soon was reporting for the Waukesha Dispatch, then the Fond du Lac Reporter, and finally for the Fond du Lac Commonwealth. Due to his desire to express himself editorially, he purchased the Campbellsport News, a weekly paper, but soon was persuaded by Congressman Charles H. Weisse to become manager of the Sheboygan Press. On the death of Congressman Weisse, Broughton bought his interest, and become part owner and editor of the Press.

The Press became one of the most influential, liberal papers in the state, largely due to Broughton's own reputation as an editor. His pen and paper were at the service of countless worthwhile projects. He never hesitated to expose an injustice, and his editorials exhibited a fine understanding of human problems. It was written of him that “Thruout the year we have observed how the editor of the Sheboygan Press is able to wield a powerful pen on almost any topic, courageously, and with uncanny accuracy.” In 1947 he published a volume of his representative editorials called, “From an Editor's Pen.”

Small city philanthropist, anti-prohibitionist, fund raiser, conservationist, champion of the Wisconsin cheese industry, and patron of state and local history, Broughton was obviously also a joiner of joiners. He was a member of half a dozen fraternal orders, several newspaper organizations, and many civic and state groups. The latter included service as a curator and vice president of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. He was responsible for the founding of Sheboygan's Kiddies Camp for underprivileged children, the YMCA, and the Safe Rider's Club. He was a director of the Sheboygan Redskins basketball team, the Sheboygan Baseball Association, and the county Welfare Board. In 1952-1953, Broughton was a member of the Governor's Committee for the St. Lawrence Seaway. He financed conservation awards to 4-H club members and Boy Scouts, opposed stream pollution, and supported the development of Horicon Marsh for public use. Broughton Marsh Park was so named in recognition of his successful efforts to restore Sheboygan Marsh, and Broughton Drive in Sheboygan honored him for his community service.

Although Charles E. Broughton was an important influence in a half century of Sheboygan's development, his reputation extended beyond his own community and even outside the state. As a very active Democrat, he was National Committeeman from Wisconsin from 1932-1941, and was often mentioned as a possible candidate for governor or senator. As an Elk, he served as Grand Exalted Ruler in 1946. As a conservationist, he was a national director of the Izaak Walton League, 1946-1949. As an editor, he served as public interest director for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, 1936-1951.

In the course of his life, many honors came to Broughton, of which the most outstanding were: (1) First Honorable Mention by the Pulitzer Prize Committee for his editorial campaign against inhuman treatment of patients at Wisconsin's mental institutions, 1935, (2) One of the first seven in the world to receive the Salvation Army's Distinguished Service Award, and (3) The Honor Roll Award of the Izaak Walton League.

In 1951, partly due to labor troubles, Broughton sold his interest in the Sheboygan Press and turned his interests to his radio station, WHBL. He died October 31, 1956, survived by his widow. One child, a son, had died in infancy. An interesting observation concerning a man such as Broughton is that though he was constantly giving time and money to Protestants, Catholics, Hebrews, and the Salvation Army, Broughton did not, himself, belong to a church.

Scope and Content Note

The Broughton papers, chronologically arranged, are organized in five series: Correspondence, Articles and Speeches, News Clippings and Memoranda, Scrapbooks, and Photographs. It will be noted that many letters are cut diagonally in the upper left corner. Groups of letters had often been glued together at the corners, and cutting was considered the most satisfactory way to separate them quickly in arranging.

The Correspondence is largely related to business matters, newspaper work, and club activities. It illustrates the many subjects on which a vigorous and well-known editor receives communications and influences opinion. Several topics treated in the correspondence are worthy of particular note:

  1. Broughton's opposition to prohibition, and his public debates with Rev. Robert Gordon (1929-1933)
  2. Negotiations concerning the burial of Chief Kahquados, last of the Potawatomi chieftains (1930-1931)
  3. Problems of the Wisconsin cheese market, and hearings on charges of price fixing in connection with the farmer's call board of Plymouth (1931-1933)
  4. The campaign to force a legislative investigation of the state mental institutions (1934)
  5. Broughton's work as a member of the Democratic National Committee. Correspondence of this period shows particularly the relations of Democratic patronage and public jobs, especially in post offices (1932-1941). Letters are also concerned with state Democratic politics (1932-1952)
  6. The development of Horicon Marsh and Sheboygan Marsh, and the fight on pollution in the state (1930-1949)
  7. Activities as a national officer in the Elks (1940-1946).

Due to his newspaper work and his varied activities, Broughton received letters from many people of national reputation. A list of these follows:

Correspondent Dates of Letters
Allen, Robert S. January 6, 1941
Arnold, H. H. November 26, 1943
Barkley, Alben August 30, 1949
Burton, Harold H. April 29, 1946
Butler, Nicholas Murray February 26, 1929; November 6, 1933
Byrnes, James F. January 13, 1947
Cantor, Eddie December 29, 1933
Catt, Carrie Chapman May 5, 1928
Clapper, Raymond January 2, 1941
Crowley, Leo T. (5 Letters) 1933-1941
Cudahy, John (7 Letters) 1933-1941. Includes Letters from Poland: October 8, 1934, October 24, 1935; Ireland: November 16, 1938; Belgium: March 5, 1940
Daniels, Josephus November 4, 1935
Darrow, Clarence undated
Davies, Joseph E. May 13, 1940
Debs, Eugene V. April 30, 1926
Donaldson, J. M. October 17, 1949
Douglas, William O. May 28, 1946
Early, Stephen October 18, 1940
Eisenhower, Dwight D. June 6, 1946
Farley, James (Many Letters) 1933-1941
Goodland, Walter S. (3 Letters) 1943-1947
Harriman, Averill December 8, 1948
Heil, Julius P. January 5, 1939; May 31, 1939
Hoover, J. Edgar (5 Letters) 1936-1943
Hopkins, Harry March 17, 1939
Howe, Louis M. (Many Letters) 1932-1936
Hull, Cordell September 23, 1943; Sept. 4, 1945
Johnson, Hugh S. June 12, 1935
Jones, Jesse February 16, 1945
Kantor, McKinley October 30, 1940
Knox, Frank April 22, 1939
Kohler, Walter J., Jr. April 27, 1940; March 4, 1952
Kohler, Walter J., Sr. (Many Letters) 1929-1940
Landon, Alf December 28, 1937
La Follette, Philip F. June 7, 1939
La Follette, Robert M., Jr. October 7, 1925; May 25, 1929; September 9, 1931
McCutcheon, John T. undated
McNutt, Paul V. April 26, 1940
Marshall, George September 4, 1945
Morgenthau, Henry, Jr. April 18, 1934
Nelson, Gaylord October 19, 1949; October 28, 1949
Pearson, Drew November 1, 1940
Rennebohm, Oscar May 23, 1950
Robinson, Edward G. September 5, 1940
Roosevelt, Eleanor May 5, 1933; February 21, 1936; March 12, 1946
Roosevelt, Franklin D. January 2, 1932; March 1, 1932; March 12, 1932; April 9, 1932; April 11, 1932; April 22, 1932; June 22, 1932; September 2, 1932; November 3, 1932; November 4, 1932; January 27, 1933; November 26, 1933; February 7, 1934; June 19, 1935; January 27, 1933
Rubin, William (Many Letters) 1932-1952
Schmedeman, A. G. (5 Letters) 1934-1941
Spellman, Cardinal September 15, 1947
Stritch, Archbishop September 27, 1932
Tarbell, Ida May 7, 1928
Truman, Harry December 17, 1948
Wallace, Henry A. April 27, 1945
Welles, Sumner November 29, 1945
Willkie, Wendell L. December 4, 1943; April 11, 1944
Zimmerman, Fred February 1, 1939

One other group of letters deserves mention only because of the letters written by one person. During World War II a great many soldiers and sailors wrote to Broughton, and among these letters the only ones of significant value are those from Tom Thomas written from North Africa and Italy. There are about a dozen of Thomas' letters, beginning in 1943, October. They are well written and descriptive.

Most of the Articles and Speeches contained in the Broughton papers treat of the same subjects as those listed above for the correspondence.

News Clippings and Memoranda: in addition to miscellaneous memoranda, there is information here on the investigation of state mental institutions, the Farmer's Call Board of Plymouth, and Horicon and Sheboygan Marshes.

The Scrapbooks contain news clippings, maps and letters on historical markers, the Horicon Marsh, civic activities, democratic activities, Broughton's trips and speeches, governor and senator possibilities, presidential campaigns, politics, news stories, personal items, and copies of Broughton's editorial column.

Photographs include images of improvements made to the Sheboygan Marsh County Park, 1932-1935; and incidents related to a 1952 goodwill “cruise” of a group from Sheboygan via Mackinac Island to Detroit, Michigan. Others are formal portraits of Broughton, informal poses, and images of events such as speaking engagements and radio interviews, primarily between 1922 and 1956.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Presented by Charles E. Broughton, Sheboygan, Wis., 1953.

Contents List
Milwaukee Mss BA
Series: Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   10-11
Chief Simon Kahquados Correspondence, 1930-1931
Box   15
Package   1
Messages sent to Broughton at the time of his Auto Accident, 1947
Box   15
Package   2
Letters and News Clippings on Broughton's Retirement from the Sheboygan Press, 1951
Box   1
Folder   12-13
Prohibition Correspondence, 1928-1932
Chronological Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   1-9
Box   2
Box   3
Box   4
Box   5
Box   6
Box   7
Box   8
Box   9
Box   10
Box   12
Box   13
1952-1953 and undated
Series: Articles and Speeches
Box   13
Folder   2
Articles, 1930-1945
Speeches and Broadcasts, Mainly by Broughton
Box   13
Folder   1
1920, 1924, 1927-1930
Box   13
Folder   3-5
Box   13
Folder   6
Series: News Clippings and Memoranda
Box   14
Folder   2
Broughton Biography, 1934-1946, undated
Box   14
Folder   5
Elks, Memoranda, 1942-1948, undated
Box   14
Folder   7
Farmers Call Board in Plymouth, Memoranda, 1930-1952, undated
Box   14
Folder   4
Marshes, Conservation, Pollution, Memoranda, 1937-1951, undated
Box   14
Folder   8
Mental Institutions, Memoranda, 1933, undated
Box   14
Folder   9
Miscellaneous, Memoranda, 1930-1952, undated
Box   14
Folder   6
Miscellaneous, Memoranda, 1942-1948, undated
Box   14
Folder   1
News Clippings Regarding Broughton, 1929-1952, undated
Box   14
Folder   3
News Clippings Regarding Topics of Interest to Broughton, 1931-1952, undated
Box   14
Folder   10
Presidential Inauguration, Memoranda, 1949
Series: Scrapbooks
Volume   9
Campaign Speeches, News Clippings, 1936
Volume   3
Civic Activities and Honors, News Clippings, 1932-1940
Volume   12
Civic Activities Including Fund Drives, News Clippings, 1939-1941
Volume   5
Democratic Activities, News Clipping, 1931-1933
Volume   14
Editorial Column, "From An Editor's Pen," News Clippings and Letters, 1947-1948
Volume   3
Fiftieth Anniversary in Journalism, News Clippings, 1933-1938
Volume   3
Funerals of Notables, News Clippings, 1934-1939
Volume   6
Governor and Senator Possibilities, News Clippings, 1931-1936
Volume   3
Governor's Military Staff, News Clippings, 1933-1939
Volume   1
Historical Markers, News Clippings, 1925-1941
Volume   2
Horicon Marsh, News Clippings and Maps, 1927-1940
Volume   3
Mexican Trip, News Clippings, 1935
Volume   3
Miscellaneous, News Clippings and Photographs, 1934-1940
Volume   11
Personal Items and News, News Clippings, 1939-1941
Volume   8
Political Interests, News Stories, and Civic Activities, News Clippings, 1934-1938
Volume   7
Presidential Campaign, News Clippings, 1932
Volume   10
Presidential Campaign, News Clippings, 1936
Volume   13
Retirement from Democratic National Committee, News Clippings, 1941
Volume   3
Rocky Knoll Sanitorium, “The San Dial” Newsletter, 1933-1934
Volume   3
Salvation Army, News Clippings and Photographs, 1932-1940
Volume   3
Sheboygan Community Fund, News Clippings, 1935
Volume   3
Sheboygan County Historical Society, Photograph, 1931
Volume   4
Speeches, News Clippings, 1928-1931
Volume   3
Washington D.C. Trips, Inauguration Invitations, 1937, 1941
Volume   3
Washington D.C. Trips, News Clippings and Photograph, 1934-1937
Volume   3
Wisconsin Association for the Disabled, News Clippings, 1929-1935
Volume   3
Wisconsin State Historical Society, News Clippings, 1933-1939
Series: Photographs
PH 1633
Sheboygan via Mackinac to Detroit cruise, 1952
Physical Description: 7 photographs 
PH 1640
Sheboygan Marsh County Park, 1932-1936
Physical Description: 10 photographs 
PH 1736
Broughton Photographs
Physical Description: 126 photographs 
PH 1737
Broughton Photographs, continued
Physical Description: 166 photographs