Series I. Correspondence
While the Correspondence series touches upon the various topics detailed in the other series, most of the letters pertain to McIlhenny's daily, personal activities, especially his busy social life. Based on many of the correspondents, this series attests to the privileged company he kept and reinforces the reputation McIlhenny earned as a distinguished connoisseur of art and antiques, world traveler, social planner and host, philanthropist and generous friend. While there is a limited amount of material with most individuals, many of the correspondents were among the most prominent in their fields, including government representatives, actors, maestros, musicians, members of royalty, clergy, and numerous titled gentry. More fully documented are McIlhenny's long-term friendships with professional colleagues at museums, universities and galleries in the United States and Europe, including John Coolidge, Paul Sachs, Arthur Upham Pope, Perry Townsend Rathbone, James Johnson Sweeney, and the artists Derek Hill and Emlen Etting. From his half-century association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, McIlhenny's most frequent correspondents included R. Sturgis Ingersoll, Henry Clifford, Robert Montgomery Scott, Joseph Rishel and Anne d'Harnoncourt. There is also significant correspondence with friends and frequent travel companions Gloria Etting and Angus Menzies, as well as with publishing magnate and fellow philanthropist and art collector, Walter H. Annenberg and his wife Lee. Correspondence primarily dating from the 1950s and 1960s with McIlhenny's sister Bernice Wintersteen and her four sons is also included. Earlier letters are part of the "Family records" series.
From the number of telegram transcriptions contained in the series, McIlhenny frequently relied on the wire service to communicate quickly with friends and associates. The subseries divisions reflect the two filing systems apparently utilized by McIlhenny's personal secretaries. In the first subseries, which comprises the years 1927 to 1975, there is a folder for each correspondent. Correspondence is then subdivided by McIlhenny's two bases of operation--Philadelphia and Ireland, the latter being the location of his summer estate, Glenveagh. In the second subseries of correspondence dating from 1976 to 1986, most of the material has been kept in general alphabetical runs, thus comprising more than one individual author per folder. Also as originally maintained by McIlhenny, most of the correspondence in both subseries has been processed by name of the individual, regardless of any organizational affiliation.