Elizabeth Chandler Papers

Dates: 1891-1931 (Bulk dates, 1891-1899)
Size: 0.5 linear feet
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: C00004
Provenance: Letters purchased from Charles Apfelbaum, Rare Manuscripts & Archives, Watchung, New Jersey in 1998.
Access: No restrictions.
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Elizabeth Chandler Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Johanna Russ, June 2014; Preliminary processing by volunteers in prior years. After being open for a few years for research, a researcher listed which letters specifically mentioned the 1893 World’s Fair. In 2018, an archivist annotated those six letters.

Biographical Note

Elizabeth (Bessie) Chandler of Massachusetts traveled with her aunt, Mary Ware, to Tarpon Springs, Florida, in 1891. There she met Albert Hafner. Albert had immigrated to the United States from Switzerland with his brothers John and Joe sometime in the late 1800s. Albert and Bessie became engaged. Soon after, Bessie traveled to St. Augustine, Florida, with her aunt, where she spent much of the next decade, and Albert traveled on to Chicago where he began living. His brother John, sister-in-law Lena and two nephews, Joe and John Jr., lived on a farm in Evanston. Albert spent much time there over the next 10 years, including living there for many months while his brother returned to Switzerland to visit their mother. Albert dabbled in a variety of business ventures over the years, from cigar sales for a supplier in Florida to real estate sales in the Chicago suburbs. In 1898, Albert spent time in the military during the Spanish American War. The same year, as a National Guard member, he served at the Battle of Virden, a labor clash in southern Illinois. Throughout, he wrote to Bessie of his experiences.

After eight years living apart with no movement toward marriage, Bessie suggested breaking the engagement. The last letter from Albert concedes to her wishes while speaking about his shame over the fact that he never felt financially stable enough to marry and support her. He then was called back to Switzerland because his mother was ill. It appears that he lived there for the rest of his life. The final letter from Bessie on June 18, 1899, tells Albert that she feels they will not be parted for long.

A small part of this collection includes Bessie’s later attempts to find Albert again. In 1929, she was able to locate one of his nephews, Joseph A. Hafner, who still lived in the Chicago area. Joseph confirmed that his Uncle Albert had remained in Switzerland and was still living, though he had not contacted him in years. Bessie’s letter encouraged Joseph to write his Uncle Albert and pass along her letter. It is unclear whether Bessie and Albert ever reconnected.

Scope and Content

This collection is made up almost entirely of letters, with a small number of newspaper clippings, photographs and hand-copied poems, prayers and literary excerpts. The letters, written primarily by Albert, document his near-decade living in Chicago, 1891-1899. He discusses attending the 1893 World’s Fair; dealing with the hard winters; living in boarding houses; farm life in Evanston; commuting around the city on foot, bicycle and train; his various business ventures; his time in the military during the Spanish American War; and his time in the National Guard as an amateur photographer at the Battle of Virden, the southern Illinois labor incident at which striking miners were killed in an altercation with authorities.

Arrangement/Series Description

Letters are arranged chronologically.

Subject Headings

  • Chicago (Ill.)--History--19th century.
  • Correspondence--1890-1900.
  • Long-distance relationships.
  • World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)

Container List

Box 1 Folder 1 To: [Bessie], From: [A friend], circa 1891
Box 1 Folder 2 To: Bessie, From: J. Mascow, [1891]
Box 1 Folder 3 To: Bessie, From: Edith Parker, [1891]
Box 1 Folder 4 To: Bessie, From: Mary S. Stockbridge, 1891 January 11
Box 1 Folder 5 Certification of Albert and Bessie’s stay at Bethlehem in the Gulf of Mexico by A.P.K. Safford, 1891 April 20
Box 1 Folder 6 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1891 May 19, translated from German by Bessie, 1930 December
Box 1 Folder 7 To: Bessie, From: Mother, S.E. Chandler, [1891] May 24
Box 1 Folder 8 To: Bessie, From: Father, S.F. Chandler, 1891 May 24
Box 1 Folder 9 To: Bessie, From: [?]C. Avery, 1891 May 24
Box 1 Folder 10 To: Mrs. Ware, From: Frances L. Wilson, 1891 June 29
Box 1 Folder 11 To: Bessie, From: J. Mascow, 1891 August 30
Box 1 Folder 12 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 January 10
Box 1 Folder 13 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 January 29
Box 1 Folder 13a To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 February 1
Box 1 Folder 14 To: Bessie, From: Mr. Gray, 1893 February [?] 9
Box 1 Folder 15 To: Bessie, From: Alice, 1893 April 15
Box 1 Folder 16 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 May 8
Box 1 Folder 17 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 May 14. Letter written on Mecca Hotel stationery where he was staying. Describes his trip to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, and the Zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also describes a visit to Graceland Cemetery. Finally, mentions what people are saying about the World’s Fair: most have not visited yet, and there is belief it will be a financial failure.
Box 1 Folder 18 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 May 21. Letter written on Mecca Hotel stationery where he was staying. Describes continued construction of World’s Fair. Plaster dust is everywhere, and it is loud. Half of the exhibits remain closed. Plants are kept indoors for now until the weather improves more consistently. Even so, what is open and available is impressive.
Box 1 Folder 19 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 May 27
Box 1 Folder 20 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 May 30; June 2; June 9
Box 1 Folder 21 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 June 12. Describes a visit to the World’s Fair with his brother where he is disappointed that his brother can’t seem to enjoy himself because he misses his wife and children. Describes a separate visit to the Fair with his sister-in-law that is gossiped about in her Edgewater farming community because it was seen as inappropriate for her to leave her children with her brother’s family for an afternoon and attend the Fair with her brother-in-law.
Box 1 Folder 22 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 June 23
Box 1 Folder 23 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 June 29
Box 1 Folder 24 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 July 13, 15
Box 1 Folder 25 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 July 19
Box 1 Folder 26 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 July 22
Box 1 Folder 27 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 July 25. Describes an arrangement with a German acquaintance, Mr. Lintz, whereby he helps this machinist gain a concession exhibition permit for the Fair. As a result, he earns an Exhibitor’s Pass good for the rest of the season. While he gives little information on what Lintz & Eckhardt of Berlin actually does, he mentions that Lintz gives out samples of the cigars Hafner sells and directs people to Hafner’s storefront downtown for more.
Box 1 Folder 28 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 July 31
Box 1 Folder 29 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 August 3. Describes his visit to the caravels and Viking ship at the Fair. He is astounded that some people believe they are original. Bemoaning their ignorance, he states that the Midway Plaisance alone would draw at least 75% of the visitors to the Fair.
Box 1 Folder 30 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 August 9
Box 1 Folder 31 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 August 14
Box 1 Folder 32 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 August 20
Box 1 Folder 33 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 August 26
Box 1 Folder 34 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 September 1
Box 1 Folder 35 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 September 5
Box 1 Folder 36 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 September 8
Box 1 Folder 37 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 September 12. Describes visiting the Congress of Religions, the Catholic Congress and the Lutheran Congress. States that he enjoyed listening to learned lectures about world religions. Also describes a visit to the Fair’s Dahomey Village. He describes an incident where a visitor to the Fair burns one of the Dahomey women on the back with a cigar. The woman attempts to hit the man in retaliation, but is restrained. Others in the crowd urge the exhibit manager to call the police. The manager says this type of thing happens so often the police have told him the only solution is to close the exhibit, which he is unwilling to do. The offender escapes, and then he describes a debate among the crowd over the offender’s nationality, with Americans believing only a foreigner could do such a thing and immigrants believing only Americans could.
Box 1 Folder 38 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 September 21
Box 1 Folder 39 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 September 27
Box 1 Folder 40 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 October 3
Box 1 Folder 41 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 October 6
Box 1 Folder 42 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 October 24
Box 1 Folder 43 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 November 8
Box 1 Folder 44 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 November 13
Box 1 Folder 45 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 November 15
Box 1 Folder 46 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 November 20
Box 1 Folder 47 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 November 26
Box 1 Folder 48 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 November 27
Box 1 Folder 49 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 December 7
Box 1 Folder 50 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 December 14
Box 1 Folder 51 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 December 20
Box 1 Folder 52 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 December 28
Box 1 Folder 53 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1893 December 30
Box 1 Folder 54 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 March 18
Box 1 Folder 55 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 April 11; translated from German by Bessie, 1930-1931
Box 1 Folder 56 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 May 9
Box 1 Folder 57 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 May 12
Box 1 Folder 58 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 May 14
Box 1 Folder 59 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 May 17
Box 1 Folder 60 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 June 2
Box 1 Folder 61 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 June 5
Box 1 Folder 62 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 June 8
Box 1 Folder 63 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 June 10
Box 1 Folder 64 To: [Bessie], From: Albert, 1894 August 31
Box 1 Folder 65 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1894 October 10
Box 1 Folder 66 Letter of reference and letter to Nat Chandler [Bessie’s brother in Chicago], 1894-1895
Box 1 Folder 67 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1895 February 6
Box 1 Folder 68 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1895 February 12
Box 1 Folder 69 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1895 April 21
Box 1 Folder 70 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1895 April 29
Box 1 Folder 71 To: Bessie, From: W.H. Duval, 1895 December 4
Box 1 Folder 72 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 January 17
Box 1 Folder 73 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 April 18
Box 1 Folder 74 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 April 27
Box 1 Folder 75 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 August 2
Box 1 Folder 76 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 August 5
Box 1 Folder 77 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 August 10
Box 1 Folder 78 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 August 23
Box 1 Folder 79 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 August 30
Box 1 Folder 80 Between Albert and Professor Wilson, 1897 September 2
Box 1 Folder 81 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 September 11
Box 1 Folder 82 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 September 16
Box 1 Folder 83 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 September 21
Box 1 Folder 84 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 September 25
Box 1 Folder 85 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 October 12
Box 1 Folder 86 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 October 13
Box 1 Folder 87 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 October 25
Box 1 Folder 88 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1897 December 5
Box 1 Folder 89 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 January 5
Box 1 Folder 90 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 January 12
Box 1 Folder 91 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 January 20, 26
Box 1 Folder 92 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 February 2
Box 1 Folder 93 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 February 11
Box 1 Folder 94 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 February 25
Box 1 Folder 95 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 March 2
Box 1 Folder 96 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 March 3
Box 1 Folder 97 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 March 8
Box 1 Folder 98 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 March 21
Box 1 Folder 99 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 March 31
Box 1 Folder 100 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 April 7
Box 1 Folder 101 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 April 16
Box 1 Folder 102 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 December 8
Box 1 Folder 103 To: [?] Hafner, From: Albert, 1898 December 15
Box 1 Folder 104 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1898 December 22
Box 1 Folder 105 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1899 January 12, 25
Box 1 Folder 106 To: Bessie, From: Albert, 1899 February 23
Box 1 Folder 107 To: Albert, From: Bessie, 1899 June 18
Box 1 Folder 108 Items that accompanied Albert and Bessie’s letters, 1891-1899
Box 1 Folder 109 To: Bessie, From: Albert, undated
Box 1 Folder 110 Incomplete portions of letters from Albert to Bessie, undated
Box 1 Folder 111 To: Bessie, From [illegible initials], April 3
Box 1 Folder 112 Documentation of Bessie’s attempts to find Albert again, 1928-1929
Box 1 Folder 113 To: Bessie, From: George M. Doe, [1928] December 14
Box 1 Folder 114 To: Bessie, From: Joseph A. Hafner, 1929 January 8
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