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Edward B. McLean Papers

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 22 Sep 2010

Biographical History

Edward "Ned" Beale McLean (1889-1941) was an American newspaper publisher and owner of the Washington Post, inherited from his father, from 1916 to 1933. McLean's ownership of the paper came after a court battle to overturn his father's will. His other ventures included thoroughbred horse racing, and he was for a time owner of the Hope Diamond. He was declared legally insane in 1933 and eventually died at Sheppard-Pratt Sanitarium in Towson, Maryland.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Edward B. McLean Papers consists of correspondence, financial material, and memorabilia.

Correspondence, primarily personal in nature, spans more than 30 years and is entirely incoming. Topics include the purchase of boats, horses, clothing, etc.; bets placed; letters from political figures regarding editorials published in the Washington Post; offers of collectibles; and so on. There are three or four letters from Mrs. McLean (Evalyn Walsh McLean, 1886-1947) relating to sale of some property known as Clonmel, dating from June and July of 1910.

Among the correspondence are some items of particular interest. There is a letter (8 Feb 1909) from John Hunkey [?], expressing his distress on hearing that McLean and his wife intended to become Catholics; the letter is accompanied by Hunkey's essay, "One of the Reasons Why I Left an Orthodox Church." A letter from Guy D. Goff, U.S. Senator from West Virginia (19 Jan 1922) includes the text of a William McKinley memorial address which Goff delivered in Niles, Ohio a few days later.

Mrs. McLean was evidently deeply moved by the 1932 kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. During her divorce from Edward in1934, con man Gaston Means persuaded her to give him $100,000 ostensibly to be used to recover the child; Means absconded with the money and was later convicted and sent to jail. The collection includes a letter (13 May 1934) from attorney James M. Phelan, which reads in part:

I have made a very thorough investigation of the story of our little friend and I regret to report to you that he is just somebody else trying to capitalize on the tragedy...I greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness in sending him to me and can readily understand why is [h]is story had such an affect [sic] on you. He fooled me until I had thoroughly investigated him...It goes back to Gaston and then washes out.

Financial material consists of a few receipts, some for train travel, and some small pieces of paper in envelopes which may or may not represent wagers placed.

Memorabilia includes a penmanship book, membership card and certificate for the Congressional Country Club, a program from the 1900 Intercollegiate Regatta (Universities of Columbia, Georgetown, Cornell, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), and other items.

Arrangement of the Collection

Within the series, material is arranged chronologically.


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


McLean, Edward Beale, d. 1941.
McLean, Evalyn Walsh, 1886-1947.


Newspaper publishing -- United States.
Newspapers -- United States.
Upper class -- Social life and customs.
Upper class -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Programs (documents)
Receipts (financial records)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Edward B. McLean Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1963.

Internal transfer, 1967.

Table of Contents


Financial material