Loyola University Chicago

University Archives & Special Collections

Samuel Insull papers and related collections

Samuel Insull

Samuel Insull was a Chicago public utilities magnate. Born in England in 1859, Samuel Insull became the private secretary and bookkeeper for Col. George E. Gouraud, London agent of Thomas Edison. In 1881 Insull became the private secretary of Edison and was in charge of establishing the Edison Machine Works at Schenectady, New York. He was the second Vice President in charge of the manufacturing and sales department of Edison General Electrice and the second Vice President of the General Electric Company. Insull came to Chicago in 1892 as president of the Chicago Edison Company. In Chicago he established the first all-steam-turbine generating station in the world at Fisk Street Station. He consolidated the electrical supply of Chicago by merging the Commonwealth Electric Company and the Chicago Edison Company in 1907, creating the Commonwealth Edison Company, more commonly known as ComEd. The public utilities he was president or chairman of include the Public Service Company of Northern Illinois; the Middle West Utilities Company; Peoples Gas, Light and Coke Company; the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad Company; and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. From 1917 to 1919, Insull chaired the State Council of Defense of Illinois, and he was the principal sponsor of the Chicago Civic Opera. Following the 1929 Stock Market Crash, Insull's companies collapsed and he was indicted for mail fraud, embezzlement, and violation of federal bankruptcy laws. After two federal trials he was acquitted on all charges. Samuel Insull passed away in Paris, France, in 1938.

The Loyola University Chicago Archives collects records and papers relating to Samuel Insull. The collections in this area include the papers of Samuel Insull; published works relating to his life and work; records of companies owned, headed by, or affiliated with Insull; and the papers of individuals who worked with Insull.