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COLLECTION Identifier: 2007-M161

Papers of Lila Hotz Luce Tyng, 1801-2000


Papers of Lila Hotz Luce Tyng, socialite and former wife of publisher Henry Robinson Luce.


  • Creation: 1801-2000

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Lila Hotz Luce Tyng is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


20.55 linear feet (28 file boxes, 2 cartons, 5 folio+ boxes)

The Lila Tyng papers include many autograph signatures, signed hand-written letters and signed typed letters. The nearly 100 folders of correspondence include telegrams in code and rare early picture postcards. There are consistently kept manuscript journals and diaries 1916-25, and many original manuscript and typescript compositions – poems, plays, narratives, talks, and art works by Lila, Henry Robinson Luce and others. There is abundant souvenir and rare printed matter including an oversize 1887 Chinese block print on fragile brown 'tissue.'

Among the oldest and most intriguing manuscript documents are the 1843-1880 legal papers: indentures of early immigrants to landholders in Morris and Passaic counties in New Jersey. These are not from the Luce-Tyng families; they were probably found in an old building on the property where Lu Shan was built. They appear to attest to the indentured persons' eventual success and wealth as landholders in the area.

Most of the Lila Tyng papers date from 1843-1985; the full span is 1801-2000. The late-19th-century portrait photographs were from Muddie's family. The richest correspondence series is also one of the earliest: from Lila to Muddie when Lila was at the Spence school 1914-1918, writing home to her mother in Chicago several times a week. For a close-up detailed picture of the lifestyle and habits of a high-spirited, bright, wealthy American girl during the World War I era in New York (and Chicago), this group of letters should be hard to top. There are letters to Lila from a number of what were then called "admirers" over the years, the most whimsical of which is a charming 1934 autograph letter, signed from Teddy Roosevelt.

Of interest, too, are the various letters, original compositions, documents, photographs and rare printed matter from Henry Robinson Luce's early career. These include 1916-30 business and financial records, 1917Army Artillery papers and, in 1925-1926, letters to Lila when he has gone to Cleveland whence TIME magazine is being relocated. His letters are rich in details of the start-up phase of his first major magazine, with remarks like "Roy is working like a Trojan," and other characterizations not quite so hearty. In Original Compositions ca. 1921-1933 are poems he and Lila wrote one another.

Boxes 29-33 were originally separated from the collection by Alan Brinkley during his work on a biography of Henry Robinson Luce. The boxes contain chiefly Luce family correspondence,1912-1948. The bulk of material is letters between Lila Hotz Luce and Henry Robinson Luce during the periods right before their marriage and a few years after. During their courtship in 1923, 'Harry' took his responsibilities earnestly; despite his involvement in starting up TIME, he tried get daily love letters to the Century – the train New York City to Chicago – or, when Lila was abroad, to the ship sailing that day. His letters often include heartfelt references, too, to TIME's infant days. Lila was an avid supporter, gladly going to check billboard ads or to visit newsstands asking for "TIME -- the magazine, not the Times." Letters to Henry Robinson Luce from his parents, Henry Winters Luce and Elizabeth Root Luce, are numerous. In addition to family correspondence is that from young Henry R. Luce to and from friends and business colleagues and prospects. A fascinating account of the details of the TIME inc. publishing empire is in a long letter from Roy Larsen to Henry Robinson Luce, abroad in 1932. Finally there are original compositions and clippings.

Carton 34 contains additional material returned in 2006 from Alan Brinkley, and are comprised chiefly of the correspondence between Lila Ross Hotz and 'Harry' Luce during their courtship 1921-1923. The first letter from Henry Robinson Luce is an apology to Miss Hotz for 'running out without saying goodbye', from the New Year's Eve dance in Rome where they met. Soon after he has fully warmed to his task of frequent and romantic correspondent to the ebullient young Lila. She had more of his letters than of her own as is natural – but she is very well represented here as the spirited and devoted interlocutor and recipient.

Nicknames in correspondence:
  1. Lila Ross Hotz/Luce/Tyng's nicknames in correspondence with family and friends include Honey, Hun, Schatz, Tod, Toodles and Wutz or Wotz; Mud, Muddy, Imune, and Emunee. For about the last 50 years, Muff.
  2. In early correspondence with her mother, Lila is Honey, Hun or Tod; with her father it is Toodles or Tod, with her brother Robert, Wotz or Wutz. When her son Peter writes her from boarding school, it is to "Mud" or "Muddy," "Imuné" or "Emunée". Later her family decided on a name change, and from some time ca. 1950-60 she becomes and remains until her death "Muff" – pronounced Moof. She was Lila Luce as Henry Robinson Luce's wife; between husbands she used the name Mrs. Joseph Ross, although the Social Register approved the name Mrs. Ross Luce. After her divorce from Sewell Tyng, she used Lila Tyng for the rest of her life.
  3. Although they did not name their son Henry "III," Henry Robinson Luce refers to his infant son in letters soon after Henry was born as "III" and "Henry III." Usually the third Henry in the family was called Henry or Hank, distinguishing him from the two "Harrys." Henry Winters Luce was Henry Robinson Luce's father. Both Henry Winters Luce and Henry Robinson Luce were known in adulthood as "Harry," both most often signed letters that way.
  4. Elizabeth Root Luce, Henry Robinson Luce's mother, signs letters to friends and relations "Elizabeth Root Luce" or "B" or "Bess," to Lila, "Mother Luce," and to Henry Robinson Luce, "Mother."
  5. In her Line-a-Day diary 1921-25 Lila writes, "B—l" is Henry Robinson Luce. Early correspondence from a "B—l" appears to be not from Henry Robinson Luce but to him. Still, she may have used it as a code of her own. Several notations made late in life may be inaccurate. She notes, for example, that Sewell Tyng died in 1943, but there is a letter from him dated 1945; she identifies a letter clearly from one of her other admirers as from "Henry Robinson Luce." While her mind was clear, it was devoted to accuracy and willing to face truth; the few inaccurate late-life notes are thus fairly easy to spot.


Lila Ross Hotz was born 26 March 1899 in Chicago to Lila Frances Ross/Hotz and Robert Schuttler Hotz, Sr. She attended Miss Spence's School in New York City 1914-1918. The mother and daughter were extremely close. "Muddie," as Lila called her mother, lived with Lila from about 1950 until her death in 1964. Lila's father died young. When he was on his deathbed in the summer of 1918, the year she graduated from Spence, she came home and enrolled at the Moser school, learning the practical skills of typing and shorthand. After his death on 25 Aug 1918, she slowly stopped writing in the diary she had kept so exuberantly for years, and for three weeks it is blank. After her father's death, her mother married Frederick T. Haskell.

Lila married Henry Robinson Luce on 22 December 1923; they were divorced in September 1935. They had two sons: Henry Luce, born 28 April 1925, and Peter Paul Luce, born 18 May 1929. During the marriage Henry Robinson Luce was a founder of TIME and Fortune magazines. In 1935 Henry Robinson Luce contracted to have a beautiful French-chateau style home built on a large estate in Gladstone, New Jersey. It was named Lu Shan – Chinese for "Luce Mountain" -- at the suggestion of Henry Robinson Luce's father, Henry Winters Luce, who, with his wife Elizabeth Root Luce, spent many years in China. Henry Robinson Luce apparently never lived at Lu Shan; he and Clare Boothe Brokaw married in November of 1935.

For many years Lila's habit was to spend the week in New York at her Park Avenue apartment and the weekend at Lu Shan, where her sons lived when they were not at boarding school. Lu Shan was not only an elegant home staffed to care for the family; for years it was a fully staffed working farm, as is witnessed by a newspaper article ca. 1940 on the extremely productive Lu Shan dairy cows.

In 1939 Lila married Sewell Tyng, a staff attorney for then governor of New York, Thomas Dewey. They lived in Ecuador, where Tyng had business interests, for most of 1939-41. In 1943, she divorced Tyng, but she kept his name for the rest of her life. Lila lived primarily at Lu Shan in later years, maintaining her travels and social life and entertaining her many guests with elan and energy.

Lila Tyng was a socialite; her time, energy and money went into the enjoyment of her own social life and into work for the benefit of others. A poet, a ballroom dancer, and a world traveler from her early years, she was always a great lover of life. With her irrepressible spirit, no matter what curves life threw her, she seemed to make a quick and buoyant recovery. Lila Tyng maintained friendly relations with her ex-husbands.

She even seems somehow to have accepted Henry Robinson Luce's dilemma when he fell for "the other woman," Clare Boothe. Henry Robinson Luce fulfilled his responsibility to her and the boys in the way that he could: by providing for them handsomely. Lila, for her part, maintained a great affection for Henry Robinson Luce throughout his life (he died in 1967), corresponding with him and saving souvenirs of his astounding and repeated successes. He thanked her not long before his death for her consideration of Clare Boothe Luce and for having "never fanned the flames of gossip." Lila maintained cordial if limited communication with Clare Boothe Luce, who died in 1987, and continued to admire and respect Henry Robinson Luce's memory until her own death in 1999.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2007-M161

The papers of Lila (Hotz) Luce Tyng were given to the Schlesinger Library by her son Peter Paul Luce in August 2007.

Processing Information

Container list: May 2007

By: Archiva at the request of the donor

Tyng, Lila Hotz Luce, 1899-1999. Papers of Lila Hotz Luce Tyng, 1801-2000: A Container List
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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