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About Julius Chambers
Julius Chambers, F.R.G.S., (November 21, 1850 - February 12, 1920) was an American author, editor, journalist, travel writer, and activist against psychiatric abuse.
Life and works
Julius Chambers was born in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1850, the son of Joseph and Sarabella (née Walker) Chambers. When he was only eleven years old, he decided he wanted to be a journalist and spent his school vacations working in a local newspaper office. He first attended Ohio Wesleyan University, and later, Cornell University, from which he graduated in 1870. At Cornell, he was a member of the Irving Literary Society. Around 1880, while working as a journalist he spent some time reading law with Attorney General Brewster in Philadelphia and studying at Columbia College Law School.
New York Tribune
After leaving Cornell, he became a reporter on the New York Tribune.
While on sick leave on June 4, 1872, he discovered Elk Lake, adjoining Lake Itasca, in the Lake District of Northwestern Minnesota and declared it to be the source of the Mississippi River. For this he was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. This led to a series of newspaper articles and the book The Mississippi River and Its Wonderful Valley (1910).
Later in 1872, he returned to work and undertook a journalistic investigation of Bloomingdale Asylum, having himself committed with the help of some of his friends and the city editor. His intent was to obtain information about alleged abuse of inmates. After ten days, his collaborators on the project had him released. When articles and accounts of the experience were published in the Tribune, it led to the release of twelve patients who were not mentally ill, a reorganization of the staff and administration of the institution and, eventually, to a change in the lunacy laws. This later led to the publication of the book A Mad World and Its People (1876). From this time onward, Chambers was frequently invited to speak on the rights of the mentally ill and the need for proper facilities for their accommodation, care and treatment.
New York Herald
In 1873, he joined the staff of the New York Herald and was foreign correspondent for the newspaper for fifteen years. In 1887, his editor-in-chief sent him to Paris to launch the Paris Herald.
New York World
In 1889, Chambers became the managing editor of the New York World on the invitation of Joseph Pulitzer, where he remained until 1891.
In 1890, Pulitzer, Chambers, et al. were indicted for posthumous criminal libel against Alexander T. Stewart for accusing him of "a dark and secret crime", as the man who "invited guests to meet his mistresses at his table", and as "a pirate of the dry goods ocean." The charges were dismissed by the court. This sort of criminal action was common at the time and both Pulitzer and Chambers were indicted in a number of cases, in some of which they were acquitted, in others convicted.
Chambers also wrote a column for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, from 1904 onwards, called "Walks and Talks" and he continued to write it for the rest of his life.
He continued his travel writing and lectured in journalism at Cornell University from 1903 to 1904, and at New York University in 1910.
In addition to his works of fiction, he published over a hundred short stories and had two plays produced in New York, both comedies.
Chambers was married twice. For years he was a member of the Lotos Club, New York.