Walker Butler Papers

An inventory of the collection at the University of Illinois at Chicago




Collection Summary

Creator:Butler, Walker
Title:Walker Butler Papers
Dates:1929/1951
Abstract: The collection consists of correspondence, clippings, reports, newsletters, minutes, speeches, pamphlets, programs, photographs, and scrapbooks. The materials pertain to Walker Butler's career as a legislator and jurist. Topics include development projects in Chicago, police training, the Chicago Transit Authority strike of 1968, and housing and workplace discrimination.
Quantity: 20 linear feet
Identification: WButler

Biographical Sketch

Walker Butler (1898-1969), the son of State Senator Michael J. and Margaret (McKevitt Butler, was born on Chicago's southeast side. After attending the Oakland and Libby public schools and graduating from Loyola Academy, Chicago, he attended Campion College in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where he pursued a pre-law course prior to enrolling in the Loyola School of Law, Chicago. In 1920, he received his law degree, was admitted to the Illinois State Bar, and joined the Republican law firm of Litsinger, Healy, and Reid as a law clerk.

By 1922, Butler had begun to practice on his own, specializing in both criminal and civil law. His trial work attracted the attention of Robert E. Crow, States Attorney of Cook County, Illinois, who appointed him as an assistant states attorney, 1926-1933, immediately assigning Butler to the South Chicago and Grand Crossing police courts. After six months, Butler joined Harry Ditchburn's staff of prosecutors.

As a prosecutor, Butler's specialty was organized crime, and he was successful in prosecuting such criminals as Willie Doody, Howard Door, Frank Bell, Gus Vogel, Richard Sullivan, and James (Iggy) Varecha. In addition, the St. Valentines Day Massacre, February 14, 1929. was assigned to Butler who pursued the investigation of this case for two years.

Butler returned to his private law practice in 1933. However, his retirement from public life was brief as he was appointed a special assistant attorney general Otto Kerner, the Illinois Attorney General. Butler prosecuted cases having to do with the mine war murders in southern Illinois, voting fraud in Madison County and vice in Champaign.

In 1939, Walker Butler married Erva Thompson and had two sons, Walker Jr., and Gary D. Butler.

In 1941, Governor Dwight Green asked Butler to establish the first Illinois training school for state police. Through his leadership as director, 1941-1942, he succeeded in attracting qualified teaching faculty and in standardizing the requirements for the state police, including physical examinations. Courses on the law of evidence arrest and trial procedures, investigations, and other essentials of police work were taught.

In 1942, Butler was elected to the Illinois Senate as a representative of the 13th senatorial district, a position to which he was re-elected in 1946 and 1950. One of the first issues to be considered by Senator Butler was property tax. As chairman, 1944-1945, of the Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate Tax Problems, he sponsored legislation providing for uniformity of assessment.

In 1947, Butler was appointed the first chairman of the Youthful Offenders' Commission. This Commission investigated the conditions at the St. Charles Training School for Boys, and proposed a program to prevent juvenile delinquency. In 1953, this Commission was renamed the Illinois Youth Commission.

Butler served as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules, 1945-1953, the Joint Legislative Commission on Disability Unemployment Compensation, 1945-1946, the Joint Legislative Commission on State Government Personnel Practices, and the Municipal Revenue Commission, 1951-1952. In addition, he was Majority Whip from 1949 to 1952, President Pro Tempore and Majority Leader from 1952-1953.

While serving in the Senate, Butler took on the legal case of Joseph Majczek. Majczek had served thirteen years of a life sentence in Joliet Penitentiary when new evidence established his innocence. As legal counsel, Butler contributed to Majczek's exoneration and official pardon.

Butler was known as the "father of the port" for his efforts to procure legislation establishing an authority to develop Lake Calumet Harbor and its connecting waterways. In 1951, the Illinois General Assembly created the Chicago Regional Port District Board. The Board could issue revenue bonds to finance dock construction, with the aim of providing more jobs and attracting more diversified industry into the Calumet Harbor area. In addition, the General Assembly appropriated $100, 000 for the completion of the Board's surveys and plans for construction of dock facilities. Civic, industrial and union leaders of the South Chicago area honored Walker Butler when they dedicated the Pennsylvania Railroad's new dock, the Walker Butler Dock.

When Butler resigned from the Illinois Senate in 1953 when he was elected Judge of the Superior Court, now the Circuit Court of Cook County. He held this position until his death in 1969. Judge Butler alternated between the criminal court, the divorce court and the common law jury division. In addition, he was assigned as Chancellor to hear equity cases in 1957. In 1961, he was elected President of the Illinois State Association of Superior and Circuit Judges.


Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence, clippings, reports, newsletters, minutes, speeches, pamphlets, programs, photographs, and scrapbooks. The materials pertain to Walker Butler's career as a legislator and jurist. Topics include development projects in Chicago, police training, the Chicago Transit Authority strike of 1968, and housing and workplace discrimination.


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Subjects:
Butler, Walker, 1889-1969 --Archives.
Discrimination in employment--Illinois--Chicago--Sources.
Discrimination in housing--Illinois--Chicago--Sources.
Economic development projects--Illinois--Chicago--Sources.
Judges--Illinois--Cook County--Biography--Sources.
Legislators--Illinois--Biography--Sources.
Police training--Illinois--Chicago--Sources.
Chicago Political and Civic Life


Detailed Description/Box and Folder Listing

Series I

BoxFolder
01Awards and certificates, 1942-1955
2Awards and certificates, 1957-1966
3Biographical data - statements, 1940-1966
4Butler, Margaret F. - correspondence, 1938-1945
5Calumet Region Congress - constitution and newsletters, 1949-1959
6Calumet-Sag Navigation Project - correspondence and statements, 1954-1956
7Calumet-Sag Navigation Project - correspondence and statements, 1957
8Calumet-Sag Navigation Project - correspondence and statements, 1957-1960
9Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and statements, 1949-1950
10Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and clippings, 1951
11Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and reports, 1952
12Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and reports, 1953
13Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence, 1954
14Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and reports, 1954
15Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence, 1954-1955
16Chicago Regional Port District -correspondence, 1955
17Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence, 1955
18Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and reports, 1956
19Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and reports, 1956-1957
20Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and reports, 1957
21Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and reports, 1957-1958
22Chicago Regional Port District - correspondence and reports, 1957-1958
23Chicago Regional Port District - reports, 1960
24Chicago Regional Port District Board - minutes, 1952-1956
25Chicago Regional Port District - Illinois House and Senate Legislation - correspondence, 1957
26Chicago Regional Port District - Illinois House Legislation - correspondence and statements,, 1921-1957
27Chicago Port District - Lake Calumet Harbor - pamphlet, 1961
28Chicago Regional Port District - railroad - correspondence and lists, 1955
29Chicago Transit Authority - clippings and statements, 1968
30Citizens Civic Committee Testimonials - correspondence and program, 1953
31Civil Service Protective Association - program, 1953
32Clippings, 1929-1969
33Correspondence, 1950-1969
34East Side School - correspondence, 1950-1952
35Education - correspondence, 1950-1953
36Exceptional Children - correspondence and proceedings, 1946-1968
37Fair Employment Practices Committee - correspondence, 1945
38Firemen - correspondence, 1951-1953
39Housing - correspondence, 1953
40Illinois Appellate Court - First District - statements, 1966-1969
41Illinois Circuit and Superior Judges Association - correspondence and program, 1962
42Illinois Cook County Democratic Party Central Committee, 1894-1895
43Illinois State Police - clippings and correspondence, 1941-1950
44Illinois Youth Commission - leaflets and reports, 1955-1958
45Illinois Youth Commission - legislation, 1953
46Illinois Youth Commission - pamphlets, 1954-1961
47Illinois Youth Commission - statistical reports, 1955-1958
48Illinois Youth Commission - statistical reports, 1959-1961
49Illinois Youth Commission - Division of Community Services - pamphlets, 1956
50Illinois Youth Commission - Division of Community Services - proceedings, 1954-1960
51Illinois Youth Commission - Division of Community Services - Advisory Board - correspondence and reports, 1951-1954
52Illinois Youth Commission - Division of Community Services - correspondence and reports, 1954-1955
53Illinois Youth Commission - Division of Community Services - correspondence and reports, 1955-1958
54Illinois Youth Commission - Division of Community Services - Advisory Board - correspondence and reports, 959-1962
55John Marshall Law School - memoranda and notes, 1931-1968
56King, Martin Luther, Jr. - clippings, 1966
57Labor Disputes - Coalition for United Community Action - clippings, 1969
58Majczek, Joseph - photographs and resolutions, 1945
59Miscellaneous File - broadsides and photographs, undated
60Mississippi Valley Association - Chicago Metropolitan Council - minutes and speech, 1957-1958
61Moose - correspondence, 1951
62People of Illinois vs. Albers, Battaglia, Ferro, Shingleton and Bossette - statements, 1934
63Press releases and speeches - general, 1945-1949
64Republican National Convention - Illinois Delegation - memorabilia, 1948
65St. Lawrence Seaway - newspapers and pamphlet, 1958-1959
66St. Lawrence Seaway - newspapers and pamphlet, 1958-1959
67Scrapbook - clippings, 1930-1967
68Scrapbook - clippings, 1939
69Scrapbook - clippings, 1939-1940
70Scrapbook - clippings, 1941-1946
71Scrapbook - clippings, 1942-1943
72Scrapbook - clippings, 1944
73Scrapbook - clippings, 1945-1947
74Scrapbook - clippings, 1946-1948
75Scrapbook - clippings, 1948-1949
76Scrapbook - clippings, 1949-1953
77Scrapbook - clippings, 1949-1952
78Scrapbook - clippings, 1952-1954
79Scrapbook - clippings, 1953-1968
80Scrapbook - clippings, 1954-1955
81Scrapbook - clippings, 1954-1958
82Seaport of Chicago Conference - pamphlet
83South Chicago Chamber of Commerce - pamphlets, 1952-1956
84South Chicago Trades and Labor Assembly - pamphlets, 1953-1957
85Wolf Lake State Conservation Park - correspondence and report, 1943-1955
86Youthful Offenders' Commission - minutes, 1949
87Youth, The Law, and The Courts - agenda and speech, 1952



Supplement I

BoxFolder
01Postcards, 1910-1918
2Documents, 1914
3Newspaper clippings, 1932-1967
4Election cards, 1933-1953
5State of Illinois House of Representatives - Resolution in Memory of Margaret F. Butler, 1945
6Readers Digest, 1946
7Senate Bill No. 320., 1951
8Walker Butler Testimonial Banquet - programs, seating chart, letterehead, accounting and correspondence, 1953
9Election - correspondence, 1953-1956
10Walker Butler Dock Dedication Ceremony - programs, correspondence and memos, 1956-1959
11Citizens Committee Dinner Honoring Walker Butler - invitation and correspondence, 1959
12Newspaper clippings - port dedication and Walker Butler story, 1959
13Correspondence, 1959-1969
14Dry and Lawless Years - book and telegram, 1961-1972
15First Federal etc. v. Stevenson - correspondence, 1966-1969
16Board of Commissioners of the County of Cook - Resolution in Memory of Walker Butler, 1969
17Diary of Walker Butler, 1969
18Newspaper Clippings, 1969-1970
19Correspondence, 1969-1971
20State of Illinois House of Representatives - Resolution in Memory of Walker Butler, 1970
21State of Illinois Senate - Resolution in Memory of Walker Butler, 1970
22Chicago Regional Port District Plaque unveiling - photographs and newspaper clippings, 1970
23The Green Tree: Voice of the South Shore Country Club, 1970
24A Few Facts About the Career of Walker Butler, undated
25Photographs - Walker Butler, undated
26State of Illinois v. Leopold and Loeb - Closing Argument of Robert E. Crowe, undated.