Collection inventory

Finding Aids

William J. Arkell Papers

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Feb 1989

Revision history:
30 Apr 2008 converted to EAD (AMCon)

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Arkell, W. J. (William J.), 1856-1930.
Title: William J. Arkell Papers
Dates: 1881-1894
Quantity: 39 items (SC).
Abstract: Papers of the American publisher, journalist. One commemorative menu, rest is business and personal correspondence, largely in connection with the Judge, a weekly magazine of wit and humor which began publication in 1881 in New York. Correspondents include August Belmont, James G. Blaine, George W. Childs, Charles A. Dana, Chauncey M. Depew, Joseph W. Drexel, Stephen B. Elkins, Joseph B. Foraker, George Jay Gould, David B. Hill, Collis P. Huntington, Robert Ingersoll, Levi P. Morton, John C. New, Bill Nye, William W. Phelps, Thomas B. Reed, Whitelaw Reid, Samuel Sloan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and William Kissam Vanderbilt.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

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.


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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

Table of Contents




SC 73 Belmont, August 1887 - 1 letter
SC 73 Blaine, James Gillespie 1886 - 1 letter
SC 73 Childs, George William 1886 - 1 letter (with three enclosures)
SC 73 Dana, Charles Anderson 1885, 1886 - 2 letters
SC 73 Depew, Chauncey Mitchell 1886 - 1 letter
SC 73 Drexel, Joseph W. 1885 - 1 letter
SC 73 Elkins, Stephen Benton 1881, 1886, 1887 - 3 letters
SC 73 Foraker, Joseph Benson 1886, 1887 - 2 letters
SC 73 Gould, George Jay 1885 - 1 letter
SC 73 Hill, David Bennett 1888 - 1 letter
SC 73 Huntington, Collis P. 1887 - 1 letter
SC 73 Ingersoll, Robert Green 1889 - 1 letter
SC 73 Malmesbury, James Howard Harris undated - 1 postcard
SC 73 Morton, Levi Parsons 1886, undated - 2 letters
SC 73 Merrill, (Major) 1886 - 1 outgoing letter
SC 73 New, John C. 1888 - 1 letter
SC 73 Nye, Bill undated - 1 letter
SC 73 Phelps, William Walter 1890 - 1 letter
SC 73 Reed, Thomas Brackett 1890 - 1 letter
SC 73 Reid, Whitelaw 1886, 1889 - 2 letters
SC 73 Sloan, Samuel 1887 - 1 letter
SC 73 Vanderbilt, Cornelius 1887, 1889, 1894 - 3 letters
SC 73 Vanderbilt, William Kissam 1886 - 1 letter
SC 73 Unidentified 1886-1891, undated - 4 letters
SC 73 Menu - commemoration of dinner given by Arkell to honor John A. Cockerill; clipping pasted on verso