Moses P. Handy Papers

Dates: 1890-1895
Size: 3 Reels of Microfilm
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Provenance: After the death of Moses Handy in 1898, his papers remained with his widow, Sarah, in Chicago and afterwards at "Anchuka," her Berlin, Maryland, home about 1901. After the death of Sarah Handy in 1933, the papers were divided between two of her children, Cora Handy Benson and Henry Jamison Handy. The William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan purchased the papers from children of Cora and "Jam" between 1984 and 1986. This microfilm was purchased by the Chicago Public Library Special Collections Department by arrangement with the Clements Library in 1991.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: Copyright on all material in this microfilm is held by the Clements Library. Persons wishing to quote from or make any published use of any material on this film must obtain written permission from: The Director, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190.
Processed by: Processed at the Clements Library by Galen Wilson, 1986-1987.

Biographical Note

Moses Purnell Handy, son of Isaac William Ker (1815-1878) and Mary Jane Rozelle Purnell (1821-1848) Handy, was born April 14, 1847, in Warsaw, Missouri. His father had been sent out as a missionary to Missouri by the Presbyterian Church, but pastored an interdenominational congregation in Warsaw. He was an infant when his mother died and his father moved back east; most of his youth was spent in Portsmouth, Virginia. His secondary education was at Virginia Collegiate Institute in Portsmouth, under the direction of N.B. Webster. Handy was fourteen when the Civil War broke out, and on the evacuation of Norfolk and Portsmouth he was sent to his uncle William H. Purnell, Baltimore postmaster and a Union army colonel. At Baltimore, he was enrolled in the Rugby Institute.

Moses Handy's father Isaac was a Union supporter politically, but was slowly won over to the Confederate cause and became an ardent secessionist after the election of Abraham Lincoln, believing peaceful union to be an impossibility. When the Union army occupied Portsmouth, Isaac Handy went north with a pass from General Dix to New Castle, Delaware. Here he was arrested for voicing his southern sympathies too loudly, and was incarcerated at Fort Delaware Prison for several months. Moses removed from Baltimore and settled at Delaware City to be near his father, where he supported himself via clerking for an apothecary of whose store he found himself manager when the Confederate-sympathizing proprietor was arrested.

Upon his father's release from prison, Moses declined his uncle's offer of a northern education and ran the blockade, arriving in Richmond where he joined the Confederate Army on the staff of General Walter Hustad Stevens (1827-1867). He was in Richmond the last six months before its fall in April, 1865; the account he wrote of that event, at the age of seventeen, was his first journalistic sale. The Watchman of New York bought his story and published it serially between February and April, 1866. Coming to Richmond after the war, he worked as a mailing clerk for the Christian Observer. He also became a book agent as the Virginia merchandiser of The Life of Stonewall Jackson. In spring, 1866, he was sent to Orange Court House by the Richmond Dispatch to cover a speech of Congressman Henry Wilson; a second such article reporting a Horace Greeley address netted him a permanent position with the Dispatch.

While connected with the Dispatch, he served as a correspondent for several other newspapers, including the New York World, and was general manager for the southern states of the American Press Association. In 1873, the New York Tribune sent him as a special correspondent to Key West, Florida, where he sprang into national note as the only reporter to witness the transfer of the steamer "Virginius" from Spanish authorities to the United States government which narrowly averted a war between the two countries. The articles stemming from this event prompted an offer to Handy from the Tribune, and he joined its editorial staff in 1874. As a correspondent he traveled extensively, covering the woman's temperance crusade in Ohio, and political affairs in the South. Articles in September 1874, exposing shady monetary arrangements among Louisiana carpetbagger politicians caused several of the principals to retire temporarily from public life.

In October, 1875, Handy resigned the Tribune to become editor-in-chief of the Richmond Enquirer, of which he was newly one-third owner. Internal strife at that paper began almost immediately, culminating during Handy's absence in summer, 1876, at Philadelphia where he was a United States Centennial Commissioner for Virginia (similar to an office he held in 1873 by Presidential appointment to the International Exhibition at Vienna, Austria). He accepted an offer of associate editorship from the Philadelphia Times and remained with that newspaper until late 1880 when he became managing editor of the Philadelphia Press. In his years with the Press, its circulation rose from 10,000 to 60,000. He worked for James G. Blaine's presidential campaign in 1884; shortly afterwards he purchased and became editor of the Philadelphia News. His health broke in 1887, and after several months' recuperation, he was for a short time managing editor of the New York World before resigning to join Benjamin Harrison's campaign staff for the 1888 election.

Again, his health failed and he went to Europe to regain his strength. He declined the consulship to Egypt in 1891 in favor of the appointment of Chief of the Department of Publicity and Promotion for the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, the first department of that project to be organized. He was one of five commissioners sent to Europe in 1891 on behalf of the Fair to foster interest in it. During the Exposition, 1892-1893, Handy weathered severe attacks on the financial integrity of his department, and was able to resign, at the Fair's conclusion, with honor. From 1894 to 1895 he was a special correspondent for the New York Mail and Express and the Chicago Inter-Ocean, while living in New York. In 1895 he returned to Chicago as political writer and editor-in-chief of the Times-Herald, where his column "Major Handy's Point of View" established his reputation as something of a political prophet.

While on the staff of the Times-Herald, he was an organizer of both the American Honest Money League (1896) and the National Business League (1897). He campaigned for William McKinley in 1896 but was unsuccessful in his bid for a foreign consulate as part of the spoils. He accepted appointment in 1897 as Special Commissioner of the United States to the Paris International Exposition (1900) and he and Mrs. Handy spent the fall of that year in France. Moses became ill, and upon their return to America in November they went to Augusta, Georgia, for the winter. Here Moses Handy died January 8, 1898, at the age of fifty.

Handy married in Cumberland County, Virginia, April 15, 1869, Sarah Ann Matthews (1845-1933), the daughter of George Hancock and Martha Miller Matthews. They were the parents of seven children: William Matthews (1870-1925), Rozelle Purnell (1871-1920), Agnes Gordon (1873-19__), Sarah Virginia Chaille (1876-1963), Moses Purnell Jr. (1878-1897), Cora Macon (1882-1958), and Henry Jamison (1886-1983). Sarah Handy survived her husband by a third of a century. For many years she wrote a newspaper advice and household-hints column under the pen name of Helen Oldfield. Shortly after Moses's death, she purchased land near Berlin, Maryland, from her mother-in-law's family. Here she built "Anchuka" in 1899 and 1900, where she lived out her years. She died August 2, 1933, and was buried beside her husband in the Buckingham Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Berlin.

Scope and Content

This collection contains microfilm of original documents in the Handy Family Papers held by the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Moses Handy's involvement with the World's Columbian Exposition, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America in 1492, netted the Handy Family Papers two and a half boxes of correspondence, reports, financial records, brochures, and memorabilia. Handy's advertising campaign, begun in 1890 as chair of "Department O” (Publicity and Promotion), has been cited as the prototype of modern public strategies. Material concerning the Exposition is filed in box 25 folder 12 through box 27 folder 7. Information about the San Francisco Mid-Winter Exposition (1893), a sort of subsidiary event to the main Chicago attraction, is in box 27, folders 8-72.

The collection has been filmed without targets. However, the items in each folder have been filmed with the folder itself as a backdrop. The folder title and number are visible along the margin of each document indicating location. Each file filmed is listed in the Box-folder List, pages 4 to 6 in this guide.

Related Materials

Various World's Fair collections.

Container List

Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 12 Administration--printed pamphlets
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 13 Auditor; 1892-93
Reel 1 Box 25 Folders 15-20 Not filmed
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 21 Concessions
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 22 Dedication and opening of fair
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 23 Department Chiefs' annual reunions
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 24 Department of Agriculture and Commerce
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 25 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Correspondence; 1890-1891
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 26 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Correspondence; 1892
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 27 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Correspondence; 1893 January-June
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 28 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Correspondence; 1893 July-September
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 29 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Correspondence; 1893 October-December
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 30 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Correspondence; 1894-1895
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 31 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Finance and personnel
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 32 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Miscellaneous
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 33 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Monthly reports; 1891
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 34 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Monthly reports; 1892
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 35 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Monthly reports; 1893
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 36 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), National Commission to Europe (1891): Accounts
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 37 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), National Commission to Europe (1891): Correspondence; 1891 January-June
Reel 1 Box 25 Folder 38 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), National Commission to Europe (1891): Correspondence; 1891 July
Reel 1 Box 26 Folder 1 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), National Commission to Europe (1891): Correspondence; 1891 August-1892 January
Reel 1 Box 26 Folder 2 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), National Commission to Europe (1891): Lists and miscellaneous
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 3 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Niagara Falls trip
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 4 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Printed publicity
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 5 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Publicity articles
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 6 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1891June
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 7 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1891July
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 8 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1891August
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 9 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1891September
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 10 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1891October
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 11 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1891 November
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 12 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1891 December
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 13 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1892 January
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 14 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1892 February
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 15 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1892 March
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 16 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1892 April
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 17 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1892 May
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 18 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports;1892 June
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 19 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports; 1892 July
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 20 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports; 1892 August
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 21 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports; 1892 September
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 22 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports; 1892 October
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 23 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports; 1892 November
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 24 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports; 1892 December
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 25 Department O (Publicity and Promotion), Weekly reports; 1893
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 26 Dinner honoring Moses Handy
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 27 Exhibit brochures and concert programs
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 28 Ferris wheel
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 29 General correspondence; 1890-1892
Reel 2 Box 26 Folder 30 General correspondence; 1893
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 31 Invitations (manuscript)
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 32 Invitations--Administration
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 33 Invitations--Foreign, A-I
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 34 Invitations--Foreign, J -Z
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 35 Invitations--Organizations and exhibits
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 36 Invitations--United States and state governments (1 of 2)
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 37 Invitations--United States and state governments (2 of 2)
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 38 Invitations to dinners
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 39 Maps, transportation, accommodations
Reel 3 Box 26 Folder 40 Official catalog (Conkey)
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 1 Press register 1893
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 2 Printed forms
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 3 Publicity--Miscellaneous reviews
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 4 Songs
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 5 Souvenirs and press ribbons
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 6 Tickets and passes
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 7 World's Congress Extension; 1896
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 8 San Francisco Mid-Winter Exposition, Correspondence and miscellaneous; 1893 Aug-Oct
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 9 San Francisco Mid-Winter Exposition, Correspondence and miscellaneous; 1893 Nov
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 10 San Francisco Mid-Winter Exposition, Correspondence and miscellaneous; n.d.
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 11 San Francisco Mid-Winter Exposition, Printed publicity
Reel 3 Box 27 Folder 12 San Francisco Mid-Winter Exposition, Publicity articles by William Matthews Handy

The following material regarding the World's Columbian Exposition in the Handy Papers was not included on this microfilm. Material was not included which was more or less duplicated by original items held by the Chicago Public Library. Items such as advertising cards and brochures were unindexable in this collection and have their main value in the exhibit potential of the originals. Oversize material was not filmed. Excluded material is as follows.

Box 25 Folder 14 Buildings--Sketches and descriptions
Box 34 Folder 5 Buildings--Sketches and descriptions (oversize)
Box 25 Folder 15 Cards & announcements--Administration, organizations, & state governments
Box 25 Folder 16 Cards & announcements--Foreign
Box 25 Folder 17 Celebrations--Boston and New York
Box 25 Folder 18 Commercial advertising brochures--Home economics
Box 25 Folder 19 Commercial advertising brochures--Manufacturing
Box 25 Folder 20 Commercial advertising brochures--Publishing, religion, miscellaneous
Box 26 Folder 41 Photographs
Box 34 Folder 6 Photographs (oversize)
Box 34 Folder 7 Publicity-Foreign
Box 34 Folder 8 Publicity-The Graphic
Box 34 Folder 9 Publicity-Miscellaneous reviews (oversize)
Box 35 Folder 1 Publicity-W. B. Conkey Co. (oversize)
Box 35 Folder 2 Publicity-World's Columbian Exposition History Company
Box 35 Folder 3 Publicity-World's Columbian Exposition Illustrated (1891)
Box 35 Folder 4 Souvenirs--White City replica (fold-out cardboard set)
Box 35 Folder 5 Tickets and passes (oversize)
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