Chicago Press Club Records

Dates: 1880-1987
Size: 1.5 linear feet
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: SPE: Chicago Press Club
Provenance: These records were donated to the Chicago Public Library by the Club's last president, Robert J. Herguth, in March 1999.
Access: No restrictions. Researchers, please request this material 24 hours in advance of use.
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Chicago Press Club Records, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library

Historical Note

The Press Club of Chicago was established on January 11, 1880 following a visit to Chicago by President Ulysses S. Grant. At a reception for the President at McVicker's Theater, Samuel L. Clemens commented upon the absence of a club for newspaper men such as could be found in New York. Several weeks later, sixteen journalists assembled at the Tremont House to organize a club, elect officers and draft a constitution and by-laws. Soon after, two rooms were secured for the club at 133 Clark Street, and the first full meeting of the Press Club of Chicago was held there on February 22, 1880. Forty-three applications for membership were reviewed. The club was incorporated in December 1880, and by 1882 it had become a powerful factor in the newspaper life of Chicago. In 1894, the rival newspaper organization "The Newspaper Club," which was established in 1893 by journalists from daily newspapers, merged with the Press Club of Chicago, further strengthening its membership.

The Club grew and flourished until the Depression of the 1930s when financial hardships caused the disintegration of many businesses and organizations. It was not until the late 1940s that the Club would rebuild, primarily through the efforts of WON news commentator Robert F. Hurleigh. Due to the Club's bad repute during the 1930s, the organization was re-named the Correspondence Club, and space was leased in the Sheraton Hotel. The Club officially reopened on May 2, 1949, and by September of that same year, membership was 352 strong. With the election of Arch Ward as the first president of the re-organized club, a tradition was initiated of providing portraits of each elected president. A year after its re-organization, the club's name was changed to the Chicago Press Club.

The year 1960 was an important one for the Club, with the launching of a newsletter, Overset: News Bulletin of the Chicago Press Club; revision of the constitution and bylaws; and a move into a newly renovated space on the penthouse floor of the St. Clair Hotel. Through the 1970s, the Club continued to grow and expand its programs (such as member outings, scholarship programs and international travel), as well as its member services (such as leasing larger spaces, operating a restaurant and hiring food services and chefs). By the 1980s, however, the Club once again found itself in a difficult financial situation. Expenses exceeded dues at a time when Chicago's economy was generally faltering, and taxes owed to the IRS and the Illinois Department of Revenue could not be paid according to a negotiated payment plan. At an emergency meeting of the Board of Governors on January 26, 1987, Board members voted to retain counsel for filing a proceeding under Chapter Seven of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Following this meeting, the Club abruptly folded.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of the official newsletter of the Club, minutes of the Board of Governors' meetings 1949-1987, guest books of club visitors, miscellaneous records and portraits of Club Presidents by Chicago artist/illustrator Felix Palm.

Container List

Box 1 Folder 1
  • Overset: News Bulletin of the Chicago Press Club. Set I:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Feb. 1960) ~ Vol. 17, no. 6 (Nov/Dec 1976)
  • Vol. 18, nos. 1, 3-6 (missing no. 2): 1977
  • Vol. 19, nos. 1-2, 4-6 (missing no. 3): 1978
  • Vol. 20, nos. 1-8: 1979
  • Vol. 21, nos. 1, 3-6 (missing no. 2 and 7?): 1980
  • Vol. 22, nos. 1-2, 4-7, 9 (missing no. 3, 8 & 10?): 1981
  • Vol. 23, nos. 2-7, 9-11 (missing nos. 1 & 8): 1982
  • Vol. 24, nos. 2-7 (missing no. 1): 1983
  • Vol. 25, nos. 1-4: 1984
  • No issues published from December 1984 - July 1985
  • Vol. 26, nos. 1-6 (1985/86)
Box 1 Folder 2
  • Overset: News Bulletin of the Chicago Press Club. Set II:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1-Vol. 6, no. 2
  • Vol. 6, no. 4 - Vol. 11, no. 6
  • Vol. 12, no. 2 - Vol. 13, no. 5
  • Vol. 14, no. 1 -Vol. 15, no. 2
  • Vol. 15, no. 4-Vol. 17, no. 3
  • Vol. 17, no. 6; Vol. 18, no. 1; Vol. 19, no. 2; Vol. 21, no. 1; Vol. 24, no. 2; Vol. 25, no. 2; Vol. 26, no. 5
Box 1 Folder 3 By-Laws of Chicago Press Club (2 copies)
Box 2 Folder 1 Correspondence Club. Roster. 1949
Box 2 Folder 2 Board Minutes. Vol. 1: August 13, 1949 - November 23, 1960
Box 2 Folder 3 Board Minutes. Vol. 1: February 14, 1961 - August 11, 1965
Box 2 Folder 4 Board Minutes. Vol. 2: January 11, 1966 - December 9, 1969
Box 2 Folder 5 Board Minutes. Vol. 2: January 15, 1970 - December 20, 1973
Box 2 Folder 6 Board Minutes. Vol. 2: January 24, 1974 - December 19, 1977
Box 2 Folder 7 Board Minutes. Vol. 3: February 6, 1978 - December, 1980
Box 3 Folder 1 Board Minutes. Vol. 3: January 1981 - December 13, 1983
Box 3 Folder 2 Board Minutes. Vol. 3: January 24, 1984- June 18, 1985
Box 3 Folder 3 Board Minutes. Vol. 3: July 16, 1985 - January 26, 1987
Box 3 Folder 4 Miscellaneous Records, including:
  • Draft of By-Laws article
  • Correspondence
  • Report of Feasibility Committee
  • List of Charter Members
  • Chicago Media Hall-of-Fame Ballot
  • Financial State for 1975
Box 3 Folder 5 Underset. Nos. 1-3 (parody of the newsletter Overset)
Box 3 Folder 6 Press Directory and Handbook. Democratic National Convention (xerographic copy), July 21, 1952
Box 3 Folder 7 Program for the Eighth Annual Dinner of the Chicago Press Veterans' Association, 1946
Box 3 Folder 8 News clippings (newsprint and xerographic copies), 1922-1986
Box 3 Folder 9 History of the Chicago Press Club, with correspondence containing remembrances of Club founding by charter members
Box 3 Folder 10 Biography of artist who painted portraits of Club Presidents
Box 3 Folder 11 Freeman, William H., editor. The Press Club of Chicago: A History -with Sketches of Other Prominent Press Clubs of the United States. Illustrated. Chicago: Press Club of Chicago, 1984
Box 4 Watercolor and oil portraits of Club Presidents:
Box 4 1950: No surviving portrait (Arch Ward)
Box 4 1951: Herb Graffis
Box 4 1952: Wilbur J. Brons
Box 4 1953: John P. Carmichael
Box 4 1954: Jere Hagen
Box 4 1955: Robert F. Hurleigh (Honorary President)
Box 4 1955: George A. Brandenburg
Box 4 1956: George Tagge
Box 4 1957: Frank P. Smith
Box 4 1958: Harry F. Reutlinger
Box 4 1959: Alvin E. Orton
Box 4 1960: John H. Thompson
Box 4 1961: Frank L. Hughes
Box 5 1962: Charles Ahrens
Box 5 1963: Robert E. Kennedy
Box 5 1964: George T. Schreiber
Box 5 1965: Maurice Fischer
Box 5 1966: Richard T. Orr
Box 5 1967: Herman Kogan
Box 5 1968: David Condon
Box 5 1969: Fred J. Pannwitt
Box 5 1970: MauryFalstein
Box 5 1971: Nick Poulos
Box 5 1972: Wendell Smith
Box 5 1973: Robert G. Schultz
Box 5 1974: Ed Baumann
Box 6 1975: Kermit Holt
Box 6 1976: Kenneth Towers
Box 6 1977: Jerry Harper
Box 6 1978: Thomas Dygard
Box 6 1979: Jerry C. Davis
Box 6 1980: Stephanie Fuller
Box 6 1981: Hugh Hill
Box 6 1982: Larry Townsend
Box 6 1983: William C. Burk
Box 6 1984: Harry Kariher
Box 6 1985: Jerry Field
Box 6 1986: Peter Nolan
Box 6 1987: No portrait (Robert J. Herguth just started his term when Club folded)
Bound Volume Guest Book. May 22, 1950 - September 22, 1961. Leather bound, with signatures and addresses of guests & visitors Guest
Bound Volume Book. May 16, 1962 - December 28, 1969. Leather bound, with signatures and addresses of guests & visitors
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