Cyrus Hall McCormick, Jr., Correspondence, 1870-1936

Scope and Content Note

Private and business correspondence of Chicago industrialist Cyrus Hall McCormick, Jr. Many segments of the papers concern McCormick's business life from the time he finished at Princeton University in 1879 until he retired from the board of the International Harvester Company in 1935. Internal operation, plant expansion, acquisition of factories producing materials needed by International Harvester, introduction of new lines of agricultural equipment, and both domestic and foreign marketing are revealed in communications passing through McCormick's offices. Frequent trips in the United States and Europe by McCormick and his brothers, Harold, and for a few years, Stanley, produced numerous messages on behalf of their company, an organization that came to own plants in cities far beyond the Chicago area and had production agreements with many foreign manufacturers. Voluminous correspondence was carried on with other company officials, bankers, lawyers, and competitors.

In addition to the business of his companies, McCormick's papers contain correspondence, reports, stock purchase records, and negotiations concerning a great number and variety of investments. Present are files for McCormick Estates through which the family maintained a large interest in Chicago real estate; the Merchants Loan & Trust Company and the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company, of which McCormick was a director; the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company of San Francisco, through which McCormick invested in mines in the West and Canada; and the Deepwater Coal and Iron Corporation operating in Alabama, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Correspondence and reports on contributions to charities constitute a large portion of the papers, representing hundreds of appeals and giving evidence of a selective response by Mr. and Mrs. McCormick. Motivated by their daughter's interest in the missionary work of the Waldensian Society, for many years after her death they corresponded with and supported Luigi Angelini at a school operated by the society in Italy. The chief beneficiary of their large Elizabeth McCormick Memorial Fund was child welfare in Chicago, especially open-air schools.

The Presbyterian Church, locally and in the mission fields, consistently received communications and funds. From the time of his father's death until his own, McCormick showed great concern for the McCormick Theological Seminary, of which he was a trustee and treasurer and for which his papers contain much correspondence concerning faculty, buildings, minutes of meetings, and treasurer's reports.

In 1889 he became a trustee for Princeton University, and for the remainder of his life corresponded with faculty members and other trustees. To a lesser extent his papers contain letters and reports relating to Lake Forest University, of which he was a trustee, and to other schools such as Dubuque Theological Seminary (Iowa), Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Virginia), Macalester College (Minnesota), and Washington and Lee University (Virginia). Institutions in and near Chicago, such as the Allendale Farm for Boys, Olivet Institute, and Presbyterian Hospital, also received his attention.

The work of the Young Men's Christian Association was of particular interest to McCormick, and there is ample evidence that he served as a working member of the Chicago YMCA and the board of the International Committee. The papers also demonstrate the McCormicks' interest in the Young Women's Christian Association and the Visiting Nurse Association of Chicago.

In 1917, McCormick's service as a member of the government's Special Diplomatic Mission to Russia (the Root Commission) produced letters, reports, and clippings concerning post-revolutionary economic and social conditions there, including progress of International Harvester Company agents in Russia.

McCormick was often asked to help welcome dignitaries to Chicago, and committee plans for receiving men such as Admiral George Dewey, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Georges Clemenceau, and David Lloyd George are filed with his papers. The McCormicks corresponded with the composer Serge Prokofiev, the pianist Gunnar Johansen, and the painter Vladimir Perfilieff; filed clippings concerning the Chicago Grand Opera; and gave active support to the Chicago Opera Association, the Art Institute, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Chicago Historical Society. He was particularly interested in the City Club of Chicago, the Commercial Club, and the National Civic Federation.

Numerous letters to, from, and about his mother, other family members, and relatives in the Adams, Esselstyn, Fowler, Hammond, McCormick, Merick, Shields, Spicer, and Stickney families are included. McCormick was involved in the administration of family estates and trusts for which many records appear in both his correspondence and business files. He administered the estates of his parents, of his first wife, Harriet, and of her aunt, Mrs. Elizabeth H. Stickney; was a trustee for the estates of his mentally incompetent sister, Mary Virginia, and brother, Stanley; advised his sister, Anita, on investments; and handled funds established in memory of his daughter and his wife. Very limited material appears related to his second wife, Alice Marie Hoit, whom he married in 1927. Her correspondence concerning the YWCA is included, a few letters and clippings make reference to her, and she signed many letters for him while she was McCormick's secretary prior to their marriage.