• Identification00209187
  • TitleDescriptive inventory for the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company records, 1896-1960, bulk 1911-1942
  • PublisherChicago Historical Society
  • LanguageEnglish
  • RepositoryChicago History Museum Research Center 1601 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614-6038
  • OriginationEssanay Film Manufacturing Co. Ade, George Chatfield-Taylor, H. C. (Hobart Chatfield) Peck, Charles Mortimer Rinehart, Mary Mortimer Spoor, George K
  • Date
    • 1896-1960
    • 1911-1942
  • Physical Description10 linear feet (24 boxes)
  • LocationMSS Lot E

Research use of this collection is governed by the standard rules and regulations of the Chicago History Museum Research Center.

Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.

Gift of William F. Grisham and Gertrude E. Grisham (accession# 2007.0138.1, 2008.0216.1, 2009.0069.1, and 2010.0056.1).

Essanay Film Manufacturing Company records (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Film scripts and title pages, patent documents, correspondence, contracts, receipts and cancelled checks, newspaper clippings, and other materials relating to the early production of motion pictures by Essanay Film Manufacturing Company and Essanay Studios of Chicago (1907-1917) and later disposition of assets, such as patents for camera equipment and processes, real estate, and contacts. Scripts in the collection were written by George Ade, Charles Mortimer Peck, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and many others in a variety of genres, including adventures; fables for married life, family, and children; mysteries; and Westerns.

Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, an early motion picture production company, was founded in Chicago (Ill.) by George K. Spoor and Bronco Billy Anderson in 1907. Their first film, An Awful Skate, or The Hobo on Rollers, starred Ben Turpin and earned the studio several thousand dollars. The studio went on to make hundreds of films that starred some of the most famous actors of the day, including Wallace Beery, Francis X. Bushman, Gloria Swanson, Tom Mix, Ann Little, Helen Dunbar, Lester Cuneo, Virginia Valli, Edward Arnold, and Rod La Rocque. In 1914, the studio hired Charlie Chaplin and entered into its most successful period. The company shot films in California and Colorado as well as in Chicago. In 1918, Essanay merged with three other film studios to create V-L-S-E, which was absorbed into Warner Brothers in 1925. The Essanay building, located at 1345 West Argyle Street in Chicago, later became the home of St. Augustine College. Bronco Billy Anderson was the stage name used by Gilbert M. Anderson (1882-1971) when he starred in many Westerns made by Essanay. He was born Max Aronson.

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the George Spoor and Essanay Film Manufacturing Company manuscript collection; the Essanay Film Studios advertisements collection (1980.0007); the Essanay Film Studios collection of visual materials (1981.0021); the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company photographs (2007.0138); the Charlie Chaplin coloring books (2016.0042); and the Essanay News and Princess Sayrane, by Edith Ogden Harrison (publications cataloged in the library).

William F. Grisham and Gertrude E. Grisham donated boxes 1-8 in 2007 (2007.0138.1), boxes 9-13 in 2008 (2008.0216.1), boxes 14-17 in 2009 (2009.0069.1), and boxes 18-24 in 2010 (2010.0056.1).

  • Subject
    • Action and adventure films -- United States -- 20th century
    • Detective and mystery films -- United States -- 20th century
    • Motion picture cameras -- Patents -- United States -- 20th century
    • Motion picture industry -- United States -- 20th century
    • Motion picture studios -- Illinois -- Chicago -- 20th century
    • Motion pictures -- 20th century -- Biography
    • Motion pictures -- Production and direction -- 20th century
    • Silent films -- Illinois -- Chicago
    • Silent films -- United States
    • Western films
  • Names
    • Ade, George, 1866-1944
    • Anderson, Gilbert M., 1882-1971
    • Spoor, George K., 1871-1953
    • Spoor, Harry A., 1873-1929
    • Essanay Film Manufacturing Co. -- Archives
    • Essanay Studios (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Geographic Coverage
    • 1345 West Argyle Street (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Chicago (Ill.) -- Commerce -- 20th century
    • Chicago (Ill.) -- Intellectual life -- 20th century
    • United States -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
    • Uptown (Chicago, Ill.)

The collection is arranged in five series

Series 1. Film Scripts by Charles Mortimer Peck, George Ade, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and various other writers, 1912-1942 (boxes 1-10)

This series consists of film scripts in no discernible order.

Series 2. Film Scripts, individual and series, by Charles Mortimer Peck and others; George Ade fables, 1913-1937 (boxes 11-12)

This series consists of scripts for stand alone films and film series, it also has a few of George Ade's scripts that begin with "The Fable of...".

Series 3. George Ade fables, and film scripts by others, 1905-1939 (boxes 13-17)

This series consists of film scripts written almost entirely by George Ade; many of the titles begining with "The Fable of...".

Series 4. Scripts, title sheets, and administrative documents, 1896-1960 (boxes 18-20)

This series consists of a mix of film scripts, film title sheets, various lists, and company correspondence.

Series 5. Scripts, administrative documents, and patents, 1912-1958 (boxes 21-24)

This series consists of miscellaneous documents, being a mix of film scripts, various lists, company correspondence, and patents.