Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Archives related to: Benton, William, 1900-1973

titleWilliam Benton Papers, 1839-1973
repositoryUniversity of Chicago, Library
descriptionWilliam Benton (1900-1973) Advertising executive, publisher, university administrator, U.S. senator and diplomat. Contains personal and professional correspondence, reports, legal documents, account books, diaries, manuscripts, speeches, research notes, transcripts of radio and television broadcasts, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, awards, and mementos. Papers highlight Benton's business and investment successes as well as his contributions to education and public affairs. Includes material relating to Encyclopaedia Britannica (1941-1973); Encyclopaedia Britannica Films (1939-1973); America First Committee; the Committee for Economic Development (1942-1973); Muzak (1941-1973); Benton & Bowles (1925-1973); the U.S. State Department (1941-1973); UNESCO (1946-1973); the McCarthy era; the establishment of Voice of America; the University of Chicago Board of Trustees; the Benton Foundation (1958-1973) commitments to Brandeis University, the University of Bridgeport, the University of Connecticut, the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, and the American Shakespeare Festival; and Connecticut and national politics (1948-1973).

Biographical Note:
Advertising executive, publisher, university administrator, U.S. senator and diplomat. Born Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1900. A.B., Yale University, 1921. Founded Benton Bowles, advertising agency, with Chester Bowles, 1929 Vice-President, 1937-1945, University of Chicago; Trustee, 1946-1965; Life Trustee, 1965-1973. Became owner, publisher, and chairman of the board of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1943.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, 1945-1947. U.S. Senator from Connecticut, 1949-1953. U.S. member of the executive board with rank of ambassador, UNESCO, 1963-1945. Established Benton Foundation for projects in communications and education, 1958. Died 1973.
extent306.5 linear feet
formatsBusiness Papers Personal Papers Correspondence Financial Records Photographs
accessNo restrictions
record source"art+collection"&page=1
finding aidFinding aid available in the Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library and on repository's Web site.
updated03/16/2023 10:29:59

titleWilliam Benton papers, 1940-1983.
repositoryArchives of American Art
descriptionCorrespondence; writings; notes; estate lists; contracts; photographs of works of art; exhibition catalogs; clippings; miscellaneous printed material.

REEL 925: Correspondence with artists, 1954-1968, concerning Benton's purchase and background of their works; and writings by Benton on Soviet art.

REEL 3134: A 13-page, incomplete, typescript, 1955, "Reginald Marsh as I Remember Him," by Benton. He writes of working with Marsh on the YALE RECORD and collecting Marsh's paintings.

REEL 4073: Correspondence, 1940-1983, with artists; typescripts on Marsh; writing by Jack Levine "How the Witches' Sabbath was Painted";
photographs and lists of works of art; a notebook "Works of Art on Loan to the William Benton Museum, University of Connecticut" from Benton's estate; a notebook "Painting Contracts" between artists, galleries, and Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; notebook "Sold," containing data on the sale of Reginald Marsh's work;

printed material on Rockwell Kent, Thomas Hart Benton, Benton's collection, and others; photocopies of 2 portions of Ivan Albright's sketchbooks; a notebook "Britannica Painting Exhibitions Manual of Procedure"; a 2 p. typescript "The Story of My Portrait" by Grant Wood's sister Nan Wood Graham; 3 illustrated notebooks by Ivan Albright; and a sketchbook by Reginald Marsh containing 33 figure sketches.

Correspondents include Ivan Albright, Thomas Hart Benton, George Biddle, Isabel Bishop, Aaron Bohrod, Salvador Dali, Abner Dean, Koren Der Harootian, Jimmy Ernst, Milton Hebald, Joseph Hirsch, Ben Johnson, Rockwell Kent, Frank Kleinholz, Jack Levine, Reginald Marsh, Henry Varnum Poor, James N. Rosenberg, Hella Moravic Sachs, and Orest G. Vereisky.

Bio / His Notes:
Art collector, politician; Chicago, Ill. Publisher of ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, Vice-President of the University of Chicago, Congressman from Connecticut, and an avid collector of American art.

Benton and Reginald Marsh were classmates and collaborated respectively as editor and illustrator for the Yale newspaper. During the Depression, Benton provided Marsh with a monthly stipend for which he received a monthly painting.

When he became chairman of the board of ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, Benton collected contemporary American painting to Americanize BRITANNICA's British image.

Most letters are photocopies.

Location of Original:
Albright and Marsh sketchbooks; and Marsh letter (reel 4073, fr.1158-1266: Originals returned to the lenders, Charles and Marjorie Benton, after microfilming.

extent1.0 linear ft. (on 3 microfilm reels)
formatsMicrofilm Correspondence Writings Estate Papers Photographs
accessPatrons must use microfilm copy.
record source
acquisition informationMaterial on reel 925 and 3134 donated by Benton 1968. His family donated and lent additional material 1985-1986, including originals of some letters which were originally donated as photocopies.
updated11/12/2014 11:30:13