Scope and arrangement
The Adolph S. Ochs papers contain correspondence, letterpress books, scrapbooks, financial records, blueprints, maps, land surveys, photographs, honorary degrees and awards presented to ASO, and other material related to his life and career. The main areas of focus in the collection are the Chattanooga Times, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Public Ledger, the Philadelphia Times, Ochs' continuing interest in Chattanooga, and personal and family matters. The papers are divided into two series, People and Subjects, according to a system established at the Archives of the New York Times. These files were made up chiefly of correspondence. The New York Times Archives maintained a Book File and Map File as well. The Book File contained over 200 volumes of scrapbooks, biographies, photograph albums, and other bound volumes celebrating Ochs, the New York Times, and other aspects of his life. The Map File contained oversize items such as maps, surveys, blueprints, and scrapbooks. The contents of both of these files have been interfiled with related material in the People and Subject series. Both series contain the same types of material and are more fully described below.
Every aspect of Ochs' life is documented in the collection, from photographs of him as a child to testimonials sent to his family and the New York Times after his death. Material from Ochs' early career includes articles written while he was a young reporter, including his story on Johnson's funeral, letters of reference he received from Chattanooga leaders, material on various aspects of the Chattanooga Times and his leadership there. His detailed correspondence with EWO about his negotiations for the New York Times, drafts of his credo and editorial policy for the New York Times, documents concerning the construction of Times Tower and the renaming of Longacre Square to Times Square, and correspondence with and coverage of the expeditions of Richard E. Byrd, Robert Peary, and Charles Lindbergh are just a few items from the files documenting Ochs as publisher and guiding force at the New York Times. There is a great deal of material on Ochs's involvement in Chattanooga including the development of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee and his support and involvement with the Mizpah Congregation. Material from Ochs's later career includes correspondence with United States Presidents and notes about Ochs's meetings with them, minutes of Associated Press (AP) Board of Directors' meetings, and testimonials, honorary degrees, and awards presented to Ochs during his lifetime and at his death.
The New York Times Company Records. Adolph S. Ochs papers are arranged in two series:
- 53 boxes 21 volumes
This series contains correspondence, photographs, books, scrapbooks, and other materials that the Archives of the New York Times deemed to be of a personal nature or of minor subject interest. The files are arranged alphabetically by personal name and contain correspondence with and about that person. When applicable, cross-references are provided to relevant subject files. While this series contains mostly personal correspondence, many letters do mention Ochs's business interests. Letters to members of his family often concern the New York Times. Effie Wise Ochs's file contains the letters her husband wrote to her during his negotiations for the New York Times. His nearly daily letters to her provide descriptions of life in New York City at the end of the 19th century and details of his struggle to turn the Times into a viable paper. These letters, in which he discussed every aspect of his work, were passed around to the rest of the Ochs family in Tennessee.
Nearly every member of the family had a position at Ochs's newspapers. His father, brothers, brother-in-law, nephew, and cousin all worked for him. This series contains files on all these men: Julius Ochs, Milton B. Ochs, George W. Ochs-Oakes, Harry C. Adler, Julius Ochs Adler, and Ben C. Franck. His son-in-law, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, joined the New York Times after his marriage to Ochs's daughter, Iphigene, and became publisher after Ochs's death. Iphigene was involved in her father's business throughout her life. As a child, she laid the cornerstone for the Times Square building and, as a board member, exerted a huge influence at the paper after her father's death. While not every member of the Ochs family was an employee of Ochs, he felt responsible for everyone's security and gave money, usually in the guise of loans, to many of them.
Other material in this series includes Ochs's correspondence with prominent members of society, including explorers, presidents, foreign leaders, authors, and inventors. He developed a personal relationship with many of the people he met through the New York Times, including Spencer Trask, Jacob H. Schiff, George Eastman, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Admiral Robert E. Byrd, Charles Lindbergh, and many others. Ochs was often invited to the White House as well as the personal homes of U.S. presidents and often wrote about his interviews with them. For example, this series includes a narrative of his meeting with Calvin Coolidge in 1926, in which the two men discussed the war debts of the Allies and the World Court.
The People series includes notable material on the Leo Frank case. Frank was a Jewish man accused of the rape and murder of a young girl in Georgia in 1913. His trial was highly sensational and was covered by many newspapers, including the New York Times, which supported Frank. The Leo Frank file includes correspondence between Frank and Ochs as well as scrapbooks with correspondence, clippings, photographs, legal documents, and pamphlets about the case.
- 84 boxes 1 tube 168 volumes
This series contains correspondence, financial records, minutes, scrapbooks, photographs, films, maps, blueprints, and other material related to Ochs's newspapers and other business ventures, real estate interests, philanthropic works, and personal and family matters that the New York Times Archives was able to describe by topic, geographic, or organization names. Material on the activities and organization of the Chattanooga Times, New York Times, and Ochs's Philadelphia newspapers can be found here. This series also contains material on Ochs's estates Abenia and Hillandale, his anniversaries as publisher, personal events (such as birthdays, wedding celebrations, anniversaries, and vacations), Ochs's personal finances, and his speeches before the Associated Press and other professional organizations, as well as at commencements.
There is no file with the heading "New York Times." Material relating to the paper may be found in the files for such topics as "Advertising," "Buildings," "Circulation,", "Editorial," "Ownership and Control," and "Staff." Material on the Times can also be found in files on the polar expeditions of Admiral Byrd and Robert E. Peary ("Expeditions") and the trans-Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh ("Aviation"), the New York Times's Paris and Berlin Offices ("Paris," "Berlin") and files concerning Ochs's involvement with the Associated Press ("Associated Press"), including correspondence and minutes.
Ochs's ongoing interest in Chattanooga is reflected in his involvement in the development of Lookout Mountain and the Mizpah Congregation. This series contains correspondence, maps, surveys, and photographs relating to Ochs's philanthropic support for these two organizations, as well as many others. This series also contains material of a personal nature that the New York Times Archives was able to arrange under a subject heading. Examples of this type include the file of correspondence and telegrams regarding members of the Ochs family who were in Germany when war broke out in 1914 and their escape to London ("World War I: Family's Escape from Germany") and the photographs of Ochs with friends and family ("Pictures of Ochs"). A large part of this series is made up of numerous scrapbooks containing Ochs's awards, honorary degrees, and testimonials. Every milestone was celebrated by the New York Times, including Ochs's birthdays and anniversaries as publisher, and clippings, letters, photographs, and souvenir booklets were collected for every occasion. A short list of examples of material of this sort includes speeches made Ochs, photograph albums containing group portraits of the members every department within the New York Times, scrapbooks for vacations taken by Ochs, booklets from Ochs's and Effie's golden wedding anniversary, and photographs of his estates, Abenia and Hillandale.
Prominent correspondents in the subjects files include Louis Wiley, Carr Van Anda, Charles Ransom Miller, Spencer Trask, Jacob H. Schiff, August Belmont, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lillian Wald, and Thomas Edison.