Charles Henry Ray Papers mssRY

Gayle Richardson
The Huntington Library
August 2020
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108

Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
Title: Charles Henry Ray papers
Creator: Ray, Charles Henry
Identifier/Call Number: mssRY
Physical Description: 7 Linear Feet (3 boxes, 1 expansion folder, 29 folders)
Date (inclusive): 1826-1950
Date (bulk): 1838-1871
Abstract: A collection of material related to Charles Henry Ray, American physician, abolitionist, politician, journalist, and editor.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Charles Henry Ray papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Julia Ray Andrews, 1943 and gift of Paul Ray and Julia Ray Andrews in 1954.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Henry Ray (1821-1870) was a physician, abolitionist politician, journalist, editor and owner of the Chicago Tribune from 1855 to 1863. Ray was born in Norwich, New York; his father was Levi Ray (1796-1850). Ray attended the Norwich Union Seminary and from 1837 to 1838, he studied medicine under Thompson Meade of Poolville, New York. In 1838, he decided to join the military and became a surgeon's mate; in 1840 was commissioned Surgeon of the 105h Regiment of Infantry. An unknown scandal caused him to leave the military and he ended up in Bedford, Massachusetts where he enlisted as the surgeon on the whaling bark Newton bound for South Africa. Ray returned to Bedford in August 1843 and went to New York to study medicine; in 1844, he decided to move West. Ray went first to Iowa and, a year later, to Illinois, having obtained a letter of recommendation to John T. Stuart, a law partner of Abraham Lincoln. He settled in Springfield where he joined the Washingtonian Temperance Society. Together with Tench S. Fairchild, he tried to start a temperance newspaper and joined the Sons of Temperance. In 1846, he married Jane Yates Per Lee and moved to Mackinac, Illinois and set up a medical practice. Soon the family moved to Galena, Illinois where Ray became a proprietor of a newspaper The Galena Jeffersonian. Known for his strong abolitionist politics, Ray reported for his own newspaper and for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune on the Kansas-Nebraska Act crisis and became a powerful political force in the state. In 1855, in partnership with Joseph Medill, Ray bought the Chicago Tribune. Although he was skeptical about Lincoln's commitment of anti-slavery causes, he assumed the role of his advisor in 1856. In 1861, his first wife died, and three years later he married Julia Annah Clark, daughter of Lincoln Clark (1800-1886). In 1863, he sold his interest in the Tribune to Medill and devoted his time to business investments; most were unsuccessful and having lost money in these enterprises, he returned to Chicago and assumed the post of the editor of the Chicago Evening Post. He became a patron of the arts and founded the Chicago Historical Society. He died in Chicago on September 24, 1870.

Scope and Contents

A collection of approximately 437 items from 1826 to 1950, it consists of the professional, political, and personal correspondence and papers of Charles Henry Ray; chiefly letters addressed to him. Included are letters discussing family news; Ray's studies of medicine in New York; the whaling voyage from 1841 to 1843 onboard the New Bedford whaler Newton; early medical practice in Illinois; business affairs; the Chicago Tribune; the Chicago Evening Post; his involvement in the trade with the South during the Civil War. Also, contemporary politics, including the Republican party, the Lincoln presidency and the Civil War. Correspondents include Levi Ray, Jane Yates Per Lee Ray, Julia Annah Clark Ray, Harvey Hubbard, William M. Fenton, Serranus Clinton Hastings, Tench S. Fairchild, Charles S. Hempstead, James Wilson Grimes, Joseph Medill, Henry Martyn Smith, Lyman Trumbull, Elihu Benjamin Washburne, Horace White, and others. Also included are newspaper clippings of the obituaries of Charles H. Ray, and photographs and portraits of Ray and his second wife. The collection also includes additional family and political letters and a manuscript of "Charles H. Ray and the Chicago Tribune."

Processing Information

Processed by Huntington Staff, circa 1960. In 2020, Gayle Richardson created the finding aid derived from a legacy summary report.


Arranged chronologically.


Individual call numbers included in the collection: mssRY 1-294.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Chicago tribune Chicago evening post
Abolitionists -- Illinois
Businessmen -- Middle West
Journalists -- Illinois
Newspaper editors -- Illinois
Physicians -- Illinois
Politicians -- Illinois
Slaves -- Florida -- History -- 19th century
Whaling ships -- Massachusetts -- New Bedford
Chicago (Ill.) -- History -- 19th century
Florida -- History -- 1821-1865
Illinois -- History -- 19th century
Illinois -- Politics and Government -- 19th century
Kansas -- Politics and Government -- 1854-1861
Middle West -- History -- 19th century
Norwich (N.Y.) -- History
United States -- History -- 19th century
United States -- History -- 1815-1861
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
United States -- History -- 1865-1898
United States -- Politics and Government -- 1841-1861
United States -- Politics and Government -- 1861-1865
United States -- Politics and Government -- 1865-1869
Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
Personal papers -- Illinois -- 19th century
Fairchild, Tench S.
Fenton, William M. (William Matthew), 1808-1871
Grimes, James W. (James Wilson)
Hammond, O. T., active 1838
Hempstead, Charles S., 1794-1874
Hastings, S. Clinton (Serranus Clinton), 1814-1893
Hubbard, Harvey, active 1847
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
Medill, Joseph, 1823-1899
Ray, Jane Yates Per Lee, -1861
Ray, Julia Annah Clark, 1840-1913
Ray, Levi, 1796-1850
Smith, H. M. (Henry Martyn), 1828-1894
Trumbull, Lyman, 1813-1896
Washburne, E. B. (Elihu Benjamin), 1816-1887
White, Horace, 1834-1916
Equal Rights Party (N.Y.)
Newton (Bark)
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )
Sons of Temperance of North America
United States -- Kansas-Nebraska Act

Box 1


Box 2


Box 3


Folder 1-29


Scope and Contents

Additional family and political letters.
Folder 1

Dorothy Culp. Charles H. Ray and the Chicago Tribune 1948-1950