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James Edmund Scripps Papers

Identifier: 1987-01

Collection Scope

SERIES I: Research Materials (1859-1967) consists of material collected by Cyril Player, who was employed by the children of James Scripps to write his biography. The result was an unpublished manuscript. The collection consists chiefly of Player’s notes and portions of the book, with comments and correspondence from others. It contains biographical and genealogical research notes, correspondence, a few small publications and a small number of news clippings. This series also contains James Scripps’ travel diary, his smaller sketches of European churches and architectural details, and some miscellaneous Scripps’ correspondence.

SERIES II: WILKINSON SCRAPBOOKS (1859-1980) is a series of photocopies of materials compiled from various sources by Warren S. Wilkinson, a Scripps descendant, who ultimately donated the collection to the Bentley Historical Collection. Volume I contains the preface in which Warren lists the various collections he utilized in compiling the scrapbooks. Box 6 contains transparencies of Warren’s scrapbooks photographed by John Beresford and donated by him to the Archives. Also included here is James Scripps’s 1905 autobiography, transcribed by Wilkinson.

SERIES III: NEWSPAPERS is a collection of historic newspapers relating to the Scripps family. It is not known if these were collected by family members or by Cyril Player.


  • 1850 - 1980
  • Majority of material found within 1881 - 1943



Access to the collection is unrestricted.


Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.


James Edmund Scripps was born in London, England on 19 Mar 1835 to James Mogg Scripps and his second wife, Ellen Mary Saunders. Ellen died in 1841 and the family emigrated to the United States in 1844, settling in Cleveland, Ohio. The family settled in Rushville, Illinois on land purchased by William Armiger Scripps in 1843. In Nov 1844, James Mogg married his third wife, Julia A. Osborn.

After receiving primary school education, James E. worked on the family farm until he traveled to Chicago in 1857 and was engaged as a reporter for the Chicago Democratic Press which was co-founded by his uncle, John Locke Scripps. In 1858, James determined to make a business of buying and selling pelts and hides, which he did until Apr 1859, when he relocated to Detroit to take charge of the commercial department of the Detroit Daily Advertiser. In 1862, the Advertiser consolidated with the Detroit Tribune and James remained with the paper until 1873. On 16 Sept 1862, he married Harriet Josephine Messinger (1838-1933) and they had six children: Ellen Warren (1863-1948), Anna Virginia (1866-1953), James Francis (1870-1882), Harriet Mary (1873-1875), Grace Messinger (1878-1971), and William Edmund (1882-1952).

On 23 Aug 1873, James sold the Tribune and founded The Evening News (later renamed The Detroit News). He subsequently acquired or founded newspapers in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis. He was also one of the major founders of the Detroit Museum of Art (now known as the Detroit Institute of Arts), and in 1889, donated his personal art collection to help form the museum’s core collection of paintings by the old masters. From 1891-1893, James built the Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church in Detroit.

In 1902, James became interested in radio after listening to a Detroit experimental wireless operator, Thomas E. Clark. James E. Scripps and his only son, William Edmund Scripps, attended a private demonstration of Clark's system of wireless transmission of Morse code and then helped finance Mr. Clark's work.

James also served as a member of the Michigan State Senate, 3rd District from 1903-1904. He died on 29 May 1906 in Detroit leaving a large estate in trust.


2.6 Linear Feet ((4 MS, 1 OS), Newspapers)

Language of Materials



James Edmund Scripps, father of Cranbrook founder Ellen Scripps Booth, was born in London on March 19, 1835 and emigrated to the United States in 1844, settling in Rushville, Illinois. After working on the family farm, Scripps moved to Chicago to work as a reporter for the Chicago Democratic Press, which was co-founded by his uncle, John Locke Scripps. After relocating to Detroit in 1859, he worked for the Detroit Daily Advertiser. On September 16, 1862, Scripps married Harriet Josephine Messinger and they had six children: Ellen Warren, Anna Virginia, James Francis, Harriet Mary, Grace Messinger, and William Edmund. In 1873, he founded The Evening News (later Detroit News) and also founded newspapers in Chicago, Cinncinnati, Cleveland, and St. Louis. Scripps was a major founder of the Detroit Museum of Art (later Detroit Institute of Arts) to which he donated his personal collection of art in 1889 to build their core collections. Between 1891 and 1893, he built the Trinity Episcopal Church in Detroit. He became interested in wireless radio transmission research in 1902 and Scripps and his son, William Edmund, helped finance the work of Thomas E. Clark. This collection contains research materials collected by Cyril Player, who was employed to write Scripps' biography. It also includes Scripps' travel diary and sketches of European churches and architectural details. This collection also contains photocopies of the scrapbooks compiled by Warren S. Wilkinson as well as Wilkinson's transcription of Scripps' autobiography. The collection also comprises original newspapers that relate to the Scripps family.


This collection is comprised of several small collections of Scripps family material and is arranged in original order in three series reflecting separate acquisitions: Research Materials (boxes 1-4); Wilkinson Scrapbooks (boxes 5-6); and Newspapers (housed in Historic Newspapers Collection in map cabinet).

Additional Access

A spreadsheet index of Scripps' drawings in Series I is available.

Additional Access

An index to the collection is available.


This collection was donated to the Cranbrook Archives in several lots; the Cyril Player material by Henry Scripps Booth; the research collection by Warren Wilkinson as well as by John Beresford.

Other Copies

The originals of the Wilkinson scrapbooks are located at the Bentley Historical Collection at the University of Michigan.

Related Materials

George Gough Booth Papers (1981-01)

Ellen Warren Scripps Booth Papers (1981-03)

Harriet J. Messinger Scripps diary (1995-21)

E.W. Scripps Papers (1990-18): photocopies pertaining to George Booth, James Scripps and related newspaper businesses.

James E. Scripps Papers (a collection of original and research materials compiled by Warren Wilkinson), Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

Vance H. Trimble Collection (original material generated for the Scripps Biography), Robert E. and Jean R. Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University

Mason & Rice architectural drawings of Trinity Church, commissioned by J.E. Scripps

Processing History

Pre-processed by Gregg Trendowski in Jun 1990. Processed and finding aid created May 1991 by James Luzenski. Reprocessed by Cheri Y. Gay, February 2013.

Guide to the James Edmund Scripps Papers
James Luzenski
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman

Revision Statements

  • 2013: Reprocessed by Cheri Y. Gay

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository