Harold Fowler McCormick Papers, 1892-1947

Scope and Content Note

The Harold F. McCormick Papers contain all the known extant papers of Mr. McCormick. They are sparse for the early 1920s but fairly complete otherwise. They are organized into two parts: Series 1F containing the papers of Harold McCormick, 1892-1947; and Series 2F consisting of brief papers of his daughter Muriel, 1920-1925. Series 1F is grouped by type of materials and within each group is arranged by year. The first group contains two subcategories in each year: Correspondence and Business Papers (with occasional other subcategories such as Speeches or Appointments), and within each subcategory arrangement is alphabetical by correspondent. McCormick family correspondence follows other correspondence. After this first chronological run is a run of bound volumes (in Box 82-83), one of Clippings, one of Printed Matter, and finally one unboxed volume containing Belle City Malleable Iron Company records. Three incomplete indexes to Series 1F (chronological, by name, and by subject) are located in a separate archives box on the McCormick shelf in the Archives Reading Room. Series 2F is arranged by year.

Part I: Harold Fowler McCormick Papers, 1892-1947. 90 boxes and 1 volume

With the exception of agreements, correspondence, reports, and accounts of the Belle City Malleable Iron Company at Racine, Wisconsin, acquired in 1899, all business records are sparse. Correspondence with McCormick's financial agents does include references to his many Chicago properties, and to stock invested in Chicago enterprises, various railroads, and western mines.

McCormick's correspondence also demonstrates his interest in a wide variety of civic activities and philanthropies, with substantial material appearing for the Merchants Club and Commercial Club, particularly their projects to develop the Chicago Plan for urban improvement and to locate the Naval Training Station; the Chicago Plan Commission; the John Rockefeller McCormick Institute for Infectious Diseases, established by McCormick and his wife in 1902 as a memorial to their son; the University of Chicago and its committees, of which he was a trustee for four decades; and Olivet Institute, of which he was chairman of the board. Contributions to many charities are shown, and scattered letters concern reform movements in Chicago, Democratic Party finances and candidates, the McCormick Theological Seminary, Princeton University, Washington and Lee University, and the Young Men's Christian Association.

The papers contain McCormick's letters, notes, a printed brochure, and reminiscences describing his peace plan, Via Pacis, developed in Switzerland in 1915, including correspondence with Jules Cambon, Edouard Dujardin, Edward M. House, and Elihu Root. Included also are his personal account of German peace terms he carried to Woodrow Wilson in 1918; correspondence with General Charles G. Dawes, for whom he served as procurement officer; and letters concerning the League to Enforce Peace and the League of Nations Association.

Correspondence appears frequently with members of the McCormick family, particularly with his mother, his brother Cyrus, Jr., and his sister Anita, dealing with their interlocking financial interests, family conferences, and philanthropies. Family and business connections also led him to correspond with John D. Rockefeller, and John D., Jr. The files contain many letters exchanged with doctors and clinics, especially in relation to arthritis or psychiatric treatment.

McCormick's papers confirm his reputation as a patron of music, to which he gave organizational time and financial support, keeping files relating to the Civic Music Association of Chicago, the Chicago Orchestral Association, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, the Chicago Opera Association, and the Chicago Civic Opera Company; corresponding with performing artists such as Cleofonte Campanini and Mary Garden; and writing a series of articles for the Chicago Daily News called “The Story of Grand Opera in Chicago” (1935). Enthusiasm for aviation, particularly the development of the Vertaplane, led him to communicate with E. Hicks Herrick, Gerardus P. Herrick, and others as early as 1901 and to encourage aircraft experiments; and records of European trips early in the century attest to his devotion to the development of the automobile. As a national amateur racquets champion, his interest in this and other sports is mirrored in the papers.

Part II: Muriel McCormick Correspondence, 1920-1926. 1 box

Series 2F consists of letter received by Harold's daughter Muriel and correspondence sent by her and her secretary. It primarily reflects her concern with refugee relief, music, the theater, and the Chicago Grand Opera. Also included are requests for employment, solicitations for financial aid, and some personal and family correspondence. Present are numerous communications from Arthur L. Sears concerning his affection for Muriel and his desire that they wed, and her family's negative reaction and concern over his mental health. Numerous items by Muriel are written in French or German. The material is arranged chronologically by years.