Potter Palmer and Palmer Estate papers

Inclusive Dates: 
1849–1920
Survey Repository: 

This record forms part of the Chicago’s Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource project funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For this project, the Archives surveyed archival repositories throughout the Chicago region to identify art-related materials contained in their holdings. While the Archives of American Art does not own any of the materials described herein, information about those materials and links to the original repositories have been included when available.

Descriptive Summary

10 linear feet of material (in 5 microfilm reels) consisting of account books for personal expenses (1880–1916), account books for management of the Palmer estate (1904–20), other volumes, and correspondence and other papers, primarily concerning Potter Palmer's Chicago real estate investments and other business ventures. Included is an investment account book (1918) of his wife, Bertha Honoré Palmer, and approximately 50 items concerning her Tiffany and Company purchases (1892–1920). The account books include a few notations relating to Mrs. Palmer's art purchases. Correspondence arranged in chronological order; Tiffany and other miscellaneous invoices filed after the correspondence folders.

Biographical Historical Note

Potter Palmer was a pioneering retailer who was largely responsible for the development of Chicago’s State Street into a major shopping center in the 19th century. He developed the Palmer House hotel and flourished in real estate investment. 

Socialite, philanthropist, and art collector Bertha Honoré Palmer was, with her husband, hotel magnate Potter Palmer, a leading patron of French Impressionist paintings and a major benefactor of the Art Institute of Chicago. As president of the Board of Lady Managers of the World’s Columbian Exposition of Chicago (1893) she was the driving force behind the creation of the fair’s Woman’s Building.

Additional Notes

Related collections: Bertha Palmer and Palmer Family Research Collection, H. and F Photo C World's Columbian Exposition Records, and George P. A. Healy Collection, Chicago History Museum; Bertha Honoré Palmer Correspondence Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago.