Horace Sweeney Oakley papers
Scope and Content of the Collection
Correspondence, writings, speeches, notebooks, memorabilia, and photographs of Horace S. Oakley.
Includes correspondence, mostly incoming, of Oakley with friends, acquaintances, and his sister, Mary Oakley Hawley. Most of the correspondence and papers are topical – The Orchestral Association (Chicago, Illinois), the American Red Cross in Greece, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, and, to a lesser extent, on subjects such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Civic Music Association and Orchestra, the Croswell Memorial in Adrian, Michigan (filed under the name of Oakley’s client, Elizabeth Merrill), and the Newberry Library. There are also some of Oakley’s memorabilia such as programs, song books, and university social club pamphlets; as well as works such as his speeches, classroom and research notes, writings such as a paper on the Franciscan Missions of California, and his book of photographs taken in Macedonia after the First World War; plus photographs of his interests such as the Wayfarers Club and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as some snapshots of the Franciscan Missions and many more of people and places in Macedonia.
- Creation: 1881-1929
- Oakley, Horace Sweeney, 1861-1929 (Person)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The Horace Sweeney Oakley papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Horace Sweeney Oakley 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 at email@example.com.
Biography of Horace S. Oakley
Chicago lawyer and civic leader.
Horace Oakley was born in Prescott, Wisconsin on June 2, 1861. He received a law degree from National University in Washington, D.C. in 1881 and then studied literature at the University of Michigan. He then returned to Chicago to practice law and was admitted to the bar in 1883. Soon afterwards he became associated with the firm of Ball and Oakley which eventually became Wood and Oakley. The two partners, Mr. Charles B. Wood and Mr. Oakley, retired in 1927. The firm specialized in county, state, and municipal bonds; it was said that banks and investment houses in Chicago would not underwrite or manage bonds unless their form and legality were sanctioned by Wood and Oakley. During all this time, Oakley maintained his interest in classical studies which began with his studies at the University of Michigan. He read and spoke French and Italian, and he traveled much in foreign countries.
Oakley’s financial acumen and personality—he seems to have been an engaging, graceful, and knowledgeable speaker and conversationalist—contributed to his ever increasing civic leadership. He became a trustee of the Newberry Library, the Art Institute of Chicago, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and the Orchestral Association. For the Library, the Institute, and the School, he made continual contributions of books, art, money, a building, and suggestions for increasing the collections on classical subjects. For the Orchestral Association, he took the lead in financial matters relating to the orchestra, its new building, and the players. In fact, he acted as the point man for negotiations with James Petrillo and the American Federation of Musicians (he provided for all these institutions in his will).
Consonant with his interests and scholarship in classical studies, Oakley developed other interests. He explored and researched the Franciscan Missions of California and wrote papers on the topic. He also lectured on the need for a league to enforce peace, which came to the attention of President Wilson’s advisor, Colonel Edward House, who placed Oakley on one of his peace committees. In 1918, Oakley resigned from this committee when he was invited, because of his legal skills and interests in international law, to join the American Red Cross Commission to Greece. Oakley was sent there as deputy commissioner, and given the rank of Major. He remained with this commission from September 1918 to April 1919, surveying and reporting on relief efforts in Macedonia. He and his fellow officers took snapshots of the people and places they encountered, and a number of these pictures appear in the photo album, “In Macedonia:”, which is included in this collection.
As a socially gregarious man—Oakley was a tall man of imposing size—Oakley seems to have been an oft-invited party and weekend guest as well as a member of social clubs such as the Wayfarers and literary or professional groups such as The Chicago Literary Club, the Law Club and, the Illinois Bar Association. He also owned a villa, La Badia, near Fiesole, in Italy, and frequently sailed to visit it. It is on one of his journeys there that Oakley’s overtaxed heart gave out; he died at sea in December, 1929 aboard a liner taking him to Naples. He was a lifelong bachelor.
4.3 Linear Feet (9 boxes)
Correspondence and papers of lawyer and civic leader Horace S. Oakley. Also photographs, memorabilia, writings, and materials relating to his work with The Orchestral Association in Chicago, the American Red Cross Commission to Macedonia, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Papers are organized in the following series:
- Series 1: Correspondence and Subject Files, 1909-1929
- Boxes 1-2
- Series 2: American Red Cross in Greece, 1918-1926
- Box 3
- Series 3: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1919-1929
- Box 4
- Series 4: Orchestral Association (Chicago, Illinois), 1890-1929
- Box 5
- Series 5: Mementos, 1881-1929
- Box 6
- Series 6: Works, 1881-1927
- Box 7
- Series 7: Photographs, 1918-1929
- Box 8; Oversize Box (Box 9)
Collection Stack Location
1 27 6
Gift, Horace S. Oakley estate, circa 1930.
Lenore Glanz, 2008.
- Cassimatis, George N. (Person)
- Chicago (Ill.). Board of Education (Organization)
- Chicago Bar Association (Organization)
- Chicago Federation of Musicians (Organization)
- Civic Music Association of Chicago (Organization)
- Civic Orchestra of Chicago (Organization)
- Hamill, Charles H. (Charles Humphrey), 1868-1941 (Person)
- Hawley, Mary Oakley (Person)
- Merrill, Elizabeth Musgrave Croswell (Person)
- Newberry Library. Board of Trustees (Organization)
- Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961 (Person)
- Oakley, Horace Sweeney, 1861-1929 (Person)
- Orchestral Association (Chicago, Ill.) -- Records and correspondence (Organization)
- Art Institute of Chicago (Organization)
- Wayfarers' Club (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- Chicago Chamber Music Society (Organization)
- Stock, Frederick (Person)
- American National Red Cross -- Records and correspondence (Organization)
- American School of Classical Studies at Athens -- Records and correspondence (Organization)
Genre / Form
- Charities -- United States -- History -- 20th century
- Clubs -- Membership
- Manuscripts, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Missions -- California
- Symphony orchestras -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century
- Trusts and trustees -- Correspondence
- World War, 1914-1918 -- Civilian relief
- World War, 1914-1918 -- Greece
- Inventory of the Horace Sweeney Oakley papers, 1881-1929
- Lenore Glanz
- Language of description
- Script of description