The Cornelius Vanderbilt IV Papers, 1897-1974, include correspondence, manuscripts of writings, lecture materials, reviews of his books and film, personal papers, legal and business documents, photographs, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks of his various writing and lecture projects. The forty-five boxes of the collection cover approximately 26.03 linear feet. Cornelius Vanderbilt IV was an inveterate traveler and much of his writing consists of articles written for several different periodicals as he journeyed throughout the world, observing the political and social scene. He was the biographer of his mother, Grace Wilson Vanderbilt, and the collection contains memorabilia, newspaper clippings, photographs, and correspondence related to his mother’s reign as queen of New York and Newport society. There are also many photographs and clippings pertaining to Cornelius Vanderbilt IV’s career as a journalist and lecturer, as well as radio scripts from the broadcasts he made in the 1930s and 1940s.
The bulk of the collection consists of his writings .His earliest work as a cub reporter for the “New York Herald” is contained in leather-bound scrapbooks. Other scrapbooks hold the articles he wrote as a free-lance correspondent for other eastern newspapers. Four volumes of scrapbooks contain the work he produced as owner and editor of the “Illustrated Daily News” in Los Angeles in 1923-1924. By far the largest part of his writings are to be found in the seventeen boxes of the articles he wrote , from the 1920s to the 1960s, for his own newsletters as well as for the regular columns for Script magazine and other periodicals such as Liberty magazine. His topics, depending upon the periodical, usually had to do with the international or national political scene or with the latest social trends. As a foreign correspondent, his family name and connections, especially in the 1930s and 1940s, gained him access to exclusive political and military groups, so he was often able to “scoop” rival journalists. He offered his readers insight into the increasingly menacing world of the 1930s and early 1940s. He was a prolific writer and often reworked the same material for the variety of publications for which he wrote. As a reporter of social trends, he was in a unique position. He characterized himself as a man of the people but moved among the wealthiest and most influential social, political, and entertainment circles. He reported on these personalities and their activities to the buyers of magazines and the subscribers to his newsletters.
The collection of clippings involves much about his own career, but also pertains to publicity about his famous family, especially his mother, Grace Wilson Vanderbilt, and his father, Cornelius Vanderbilt III.
Among the photographs are various studio portraits made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of the other photographs were taken by Cornelius Vanderbilt IV during various trips throughout the world in the 1930s and 1940s.
The collection will be of interest to those researching the Vanderbilt family and to those looking into journalism of the first half of the 20th century. The writings capture the personalities, social trends, and political views of the era.