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Gridley-Hitchcock Family Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Hitchcock

Scope and Content of the Collection

Diaries, photographs, and correspondence of members of the Gridley family.

Materials include copies of diaries written by Ruth Daube Gridley and a diary by daughter Marion Gridley Hitchcock. Ruth's first diary is from 1917 to 1927 and includes notes about her life as a working woman following World War I and her 1923 marriage to William Gridley, and the second diary is from around the beginning of Gloria’s illness in 1945 until 1950. Marion’s diary is from 1951-1958, starting with her time at Grinnell College and continuing through the early years of her marriage. There are also copies of photographs of the Gridley family, as well as letters from William Gridley to Marion from 1963-1977. Many of William’s letters concern Gloria’s welfare, including navigating her Social Security benefits.

Also contains original letters ca. 1860-1910 of Josephine “Jophie” Wheat Gridley. The letters primarily concern daily life and family matters, and early letters also include observations about politics and the Civil War. As a young woman, Jophie was extremely close to her cousin Addie from Lee Center, and they corresponded frequently. One of Addie's letters describes the town's reaction to Lincoln's assassination, and another describes the attack of a Black man by a group of Irishmen. There are also many letters between Jophie and sister Alice. Alice’s 1882 correspondence describes the sudden and acrimonious end of her marriage, and the subsequent divorce procedures are explained in the 1885 letters from lawyer George L. Huntress. Later letters are mostly from Jophie’s children and nieces. There are numerous letters from boarding schools, including letters from Harry about Beloit College and the experiences of Alice and niece Addie at Rockford Female Seminary. There is also a letter from a woman named Mary S. White, whose own daughter is hospitalized in a catatonic state, and she consequently offers Jophie medical advice on Grace.

There is also a copy of the genealogical history of Eben Channing Gridley and wife Alice Mary Smith Gridley, written in 1998 by Marion Gridley Hitchcock. Additionally, there are miscellaneous personal materials, including a Civil War enlistment roster, purchasing catalogs, newspaper clippings, and writings.


  • Creation: 1860-2007
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1860 - 1970



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Gridley-Hitchcock Family Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Gridley-Hitchcock Family Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Marion Gridley Hitchcock and Family

Illinois family.

Born in 1929 in Chicago, Illinois, Marion Gridley Hitchcock was the second child of William and Ruth Gridley. Oldest daughter Gloria, born in 1927, developed a mental illness in her late teens, which, as Ruth's diary illustrates, had a major impact on the life of her parents. Marion Gridley graduated from Grinnell College and in 1953 married Stephen Hitchcock, an entomologist. After working in a research lab while Stephen finished his Ph.D. in California, the couple settled in Connecticut to raise their two children and many pets. After Marion’s mother died in 1965, William Gridley remained in Wilmette, Illinois, to care for Gloria. It became increasingly difficult for William to tend to Gloria while still working as a Chicago accountant and maintaining the large family house, and Gloria eventually became a patient at the Elgin State Hospital.

This collection also contains original correspondence ca. 1860-1910 of Marion's great-aunt, Josephine “Jophie” Wheat Gridley. Jophie’s husband Woodbridge was the older brother of Marion's paternal grandfather, Eben Channing Gridley. Josephine Wheat was born in 1841 and grew up around Amboy and Lee Center, Illinois. She married Yale graduate Russell Woodbridge Gridley in 1865 and they settled in Amboy where he ran a general store, frequently making business trips to his hometown of Candor, New York.

Despite suffering from poor health, Jophie stepped up as the family matriarch at a young age following her mother's death and was much loved. Her correspondence begins around the time older brother George went missing in the Civil War, having been killed in the 1862 battle of Perryville. Josephine’s younger sister Adelaide married Jophie's brother-in-law Eben, and she died from complications following the birth of their only child in 1874. The youngest Wheat sister, Alice, married Martin Garrison in 1874 and they had one daughter, but a scandalous affair on his part in 1882 led to their divorce. Younger brother Frederick "Fred" became a businessman and never married. Jophie also refers to several half-siblings like Nellie and Willie from the second marriage of Jophie's father, Lyman Wheat, to Harriet Lucretia Nash.

Jophie and Woodbridge had three children: Harry (1866-1953), Grace (1868-1913), and Alice (1880-1930). Harry attended Beloit College, from which he wrote many humorous letters. Grace was an active young woman until a mysterious illness left her catatonic for several months, and she was committed to a mental hospital. Alice attended Rockford Female Seminary and diligently corresponded with her mother. None of the children married. Additionally, after the death of Jophie's sister in 1874, Jophie became a surrogate mother for Adelaide and Eben's daughter, Addie. Nicknamed "Birdie," Addie later married and became Addie Gridley Smith, and she always referred to Jophie as “Mamma." When Addie was a teenager, Eben married second wife Alice Mary (Smith) Gridley, and they had several children, including Marion's father William Whiting Gridley in 1893. Education was prized in the Gridley family, and Jophie’s children, nieces, and nephews all attended Midwest schools and colleges. Woodbridge died in 1913, and Jophie followed in 1921. William Whiting Gridley regularly returned to Amboy in his later years to tend the Gridley cemetery plots, often bringing Gloria along.


1.3 Linear Feet (3 boxes)


Copies of letters, diaries, and photographs of Ruth Daube Gridley (diaries from 1917-1950) and daughter Marion Gridley Hitchcock (diary from 1951-1958). Also copies of letters to Marion by her father, William Whiting Gridley, after the death of his wife that concern his life as sole caretaker for Marion's sister, who was treated for mental illness. Collection also contains a large set of original correspondence from Marion's great-aunt, Josephine Wheat Gridley, primarily concerning family matters and daily life, ca. 1860-1910. There is also a genealogy book of the Gridley family and a variety of personal material including newspaper clippings, catalogs, and a Civil War enlistment roster.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, 1860-2005
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Personal, approximately 1860s-2007
Boxes 2-3

Collection Stack Location

1 22 3


Gift, Marion Gridley Hitchcock, 2009-2010.

Processed by

Emma Reynolds, 2010.

Inventory of the Gridley-Hitchcock Family Papers, 1860-2007, bulk 1860-1970
Emma Reynolds
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States