Eleanor Medill Patterson was born on November 7, 1881 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States. She was the second of two children and only daughter of Robert Wilson Patterson, Jr. , and Elinor (Medill) Patterson, both of Scots-Irish ancestry. Her mother was a daughter of Joseph Medill, editor of the Chicago Tribune, the city's leading newspaper; her father succeeded Medill as editor. Her parents were not a happy pair, the father preoccupied with work, the mother intent on social position. Cissy, as her brother Joseph called her (she disliked her given name, Elinor Josephine, and later changed it to Eleanor Medill). Cissy became a willful, "spoiled" child, as she later admitted, and suffered the consequences all her life.