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Chicago Press Club Records

Identifier: spe-a00022

Scope and Contents

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 and illustrator Felix Palm.


  • 1880 - 1987


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions. Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least 24-hours prior to your research visit to coordinate access.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

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.


8.5 Linear Feet (in 6 boxes and 2 bound volumes)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of the official newsletter of the Chicago Press Club, minutes of the board of governors’ meetings (1949-1987), guest books of club visitors and portraits of club presidents by Chicago artist/illustrator Felix Palm.


Materials are arranged roughly alphabetically by subject or format and often chronologically within.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These records were donated by the Chicago Press Club's last president, Robert J. Herguth, in March 1999.

  • Journalism Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings



Guide to the Chicago Press Club Records
Original author unknown. Processed, circa 1999. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Johanna Russ, 2021.
circa 1999
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875