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William J. Arkell Papers

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Feb 1989

Biographical History

William J. Arkell (1860-1930) was an American publisher and journalist from Canajoharie, New York. His publishing company, founded by his father, owned and published Judge, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, Demarest Magazine, and other popular American newspapers and magazines of the time.

The Judge was a weekly satirical magazine established in 1881 by former artists of the popular weekly Puck. Arkell purchased it in 1885 and used it in part to attack the Democratic administration of Grover Cleveland. Republican support boosted the magazine's circulation and by the early 1890s it reached 50,000. Cartoonists Eugene Zimmerman, Bernard Gillam, Art Young, Richard Outcault and James Montgomery Flagg were regular contributors.

Arkell sold his magazine interests in 1905 and moved from New York City to California, where he ventured into stock brokering and horse racing, organized the George Washington Coffee Company, and was active in politics. His brother, Bartlett Arkell, was founder of the Beech-Nut Packing Company and its president for 50 years.

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from William J. Arkell's obituary in the New York Times, Dec 31, 1930, p. 18.]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William J. Arkell Papers is comprised chiefly of incoming Correspondence written to the publisher of Judge, a weekly magazine of wit and humor which began publication in 1881 in New York. (There is a single outgoing item to Arkell's assistant, Major Merrill.) Arkell's correspondents included many prominent politicians (James Blaine, Chauncey Depew, S. B. Elkins, J. B. Foraker, David B. Hill, Levi P. Morton) and editors (George W. Childs, Charles A. Dana, John C. New, Whitelaw Reid) as well as industrialists and financiers (Joseph W. Drexel, George J. Gould, C. P. Huntington, Samuel Sloan, Cornelius and William K. Vanderbilt). A number of the letters (August Belmont, Foraker, New, Sloan) are replies to requests to provide photographs for the magazine, which featured caricatures and cartoons of the personalities who dominated the American scene at the turn of the century. In addition, the correspondence contains several responses by politicians (Blaine, Robert G. Ingersoll, T. B. Reed) to Arkell's invitations to contribute articles to the Judge, including one from Chauncey Depew (26 Mar. 1886):

Some day when the "Judge" has become the leading recognized organ of public opinion in the United States, and I have become so rich, that I can pursue journalism and literature for occupation and recreation, I shall petition for a column in your journal to exploit the well matured views which I expect then to have upon men and things, and which may be interesting because I will have passed the period when the motives of expediency or ambition will prevent the freest and frankest expressions of opinion upon either public questions or public people.

There are also a few letters (Gould, Vanderbilt) which thank Arkell for providing a free annual pass for the Saratoga, Mt. McGregor and Lake George Railroad.

In addition, there is a single item of Memorabilia: a menu commemorating a dinner given by Arkell to honor John A. Cockerill, managing editor of the New York World. A clipping documenting this journalistic social event is pasted on the verso of the menu.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Arkell, W. J. (William J.), 1856-1930.
Belmont, August, 1813-1890.
Blaine, James Gillespie, 1830-1893.
Childs, George William, 1829-1894.
Dana, Charles A. (Charles Anderson), 1819-1897.
Depew, Chauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell), 1834-1928.
Drexel, Joseph Wilhelm, 1833-1888.
Elkins, Stephen Benton, 1841-1911.
Foraker, Joseph Benson, 1846-1917.
Gould, George Jay, 1864-1923.
Hill, David Bennett, 1843-1910.
Huntington, Collis P. (Collis Potter), 1821-1900.
Ingersoll, Robert Green, 1833-1899.
Morton, Levi P. (Levi Parsons), 1824-1920.
New, John C.
Nye, Bill, 1850-1896.
Phelps, William Walter, 1839-1894.
Reed, Thomas Brackett, 1839-1902.
Reid, Whitelaw, 1837-1912.
Sloan, Samuel, 1817-1907.
Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 1843-1899.
Vanderbilt, William Kissam, 1849-1920.

Associated Titles

The Judge (New York, N.Y.)


Journalism -- United States.
Journalists -- United Statese.
Publishers and publishing -- United States.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

William J. Arkell Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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