University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Wallace Heckman Papers 1871-1926

© 2007 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Heckman, Wallace. Papers




4.5 linear feet (3 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Wallace Heckman served as business manager and counsel of the University of Chicago from 1903-1924. These papers include correspondence and writings by Heckman. All correspondence is dated 1923-1926, regarding the end of Heckman’s tenure at the University, as well as his involvement in several Chicago social, philanthropic, and arts organizations. Much of the correspondence from 1924 concerns the maintenance of his Ganymede Farm in Oregon, Illinois, home of the Eagle’s Nest Artists’ Colony. The writings include text of speeches and essays written by Heckman as a student at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, as well as toasts, speeches, and eulogies presented by him between 1871 and 1926.

Information on Use


Open for research, no restrictions.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Heckman, Wallace. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Wallace Heckman was born May 2, 1851 in Moscow Mills, Ohio. He attended Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, graduating in 1874. After marrying and relocating to Chicago, Heckman served as senior member of the law firm Heckman, Elsdon, & Shaw from 1885 until 1903. He then became business manager and counsel of the University of Chicago, a position he held from 1903 to 1924. Under his financial supervision, the university began significant expansion, purchasing lands surrounding the Midway Plaisance and extending from Washington Park in the west to Dorchester Avenue in the east. Heckman also served at different times as a vice-president of Chicago Surface Lines, President of the Illinois Civil Service Reform Association, a member of the executive committee of the Municipal Voters’ League, and as a trustee of Hillsdale College.

In 1898, Heckman purchased a plot of land near Oregon, Illinois, which he named Ganymede Farm. A strong patron of local artists, Heckman agreed to lease fifteen acres of the land to a group who came to be known as the Eagle’s Nest Artists’ Colony. Included among the members of the Eagle’s Nest were artists Ralph Clarkson, Charles Francis Browne and Oliver Dennet Grove; writers Hamlin Garland, Henry B. Fuller and Horace Spencer Fiske; architects Irving D. and Allen B. Pond; sculptors Lorado Taft and Nellie Walker; organist Clarence Dickinson; and University of Chicago Secretary James Spencer Dickerson. So long as each member of the organization presented an annual public lecture or demonstration, Heckman provided the land for a fee of one dollar per year. Taft’s famous 50-foot concrete Black Hawk statue still stands on the site of the Eagle’s Nest Colony. In 1945, through the combined resources of the state assembly, the Department of Natural Resources, and the city of Oregon, the 273-acre plot of Ganymede Farm was purchased and renamed Lowden State Park as a memorial to former Illinois governor Frank O. Lowden.

Heckman was active as a writer and public speaker throughout his life, speaking regularly at meetings and ceremonies of the University Club, Quadrangle Club, Cliff Dwellers, and City Club of Chicago.

Heckman died on March 7, 1927 in Chicago, a few days after the passing of former university president Harry Pratt Judson. The Wallace Heckman Memorial Fund, one of the oldest University of Chicago Law Library book funds, was established by Heckman’s wife Tillie in 1929.

Scope Note

The Wallace Heckman Papers consist of three boxes. The collection holds several folders of correspondence covering the years 1923 to 1926, mainly regarding financial and business dealings relating to the maintenance of Heckman’s Hyde Park home and his Oregon, Illinois property, Ganymede Farm. Additionally, B1 F2 contains correspondence relating to the 1926 illness from which Heckman never fully recovered. The organization of the1924 correspondence (B1 F4-16) is based on Heckman’s own filing system: These letters are organized according to name of company or type of correspondence.

The Wallace Heckman Papers also include the texts of several essays, orations, speeches, toasts, and eulogies written by Heckman between 1871 and 1926. These include his Class Day speech given at his graduation from Hillsdale College in 1874, a speech given at the fiftieth wedding anniversary of his grandparents, a toast presented at a reunion of the Alpha Kappa Phi fraternity, and a speech given at the presentation of Ralph Clarkson’s portraits of Eli B. and Horace W. Williams to the University of Chicago. B1 F19 includes final drafts of several speeches, essays, orations, and eulogies; rough drafts are found in B1 F18 and in B3.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:


Harper, William Rainey. Papers.

Lowden, Frank O. Papers

Ryerson, Caroline Hutchinson. Papers

University of Chicago. Presidents Papers. 1889-1925

Subject Headings


Box 1    Folder 1

correspondence, 1923-1924

Box 1    Folder 2

correspondence, 1923-1926

Box 1    Folder 3

correspondence, 1924

Box 1    Folder 4

correspondence, A-B, 1924

Box 1    Folder 5

correspondence, C, 1924

Box 1    Folder 6

correspondence, C-D, 1924

Box 1    Folder 7

correspondence, E-F, 1924

Box 1    Folder 8

correspondence, G, 1924

Box 1    Folder 9

correspondence, H-J, 1924

Box 1    Folder 10

correspondence, K-L, 1924

Box 1    Folder 11

correspondence, M, 1924

Box 1    Folder 12

correspondence, N-Q, 1924

Box 1    Folder 13

correspondence, R, 1924

Box 1    Folder 14

correspondence, S, 1924

Box 1    Folder 15

correspondence, T-V, 1924

Box 1    Folder 16

correspondence, W-Z, 1924

Box 1    Folder 17

The Crescent, Hillsdale College Commencement Book, July 1874

Box 1    Folder 18

Composition book, 1871-1873

Box 1    Folder 19

Composition book, 1871-1896

Box 1    Folder 20

Speech given at presentation of two portraits to university, n.d.

Box 1    Folder 21

Family tree photomontage and short story written by Heckman’s grandson, Andrew Herschel, n.d.

Box 2

Letterbook, 1924-1926

Box 2

Index of correspondents, ca. 1924-1926

Box 3

Scrapbook, ca. 1920s