Finding aid for the Henry Clay Frick Papers, Series V ... · PDF file concern that would...

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    Repository The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives 10 East 71st Street New York, NY, 10021 © 2012 The Frick Collection. All rights reserved.

    Creator Frick, Henry Clay, 1849-1919.

    Title Henry Clay Frick Papers, Series V: Subject Files

    ID HCFF.1.5

    Date 1848-1966, undated

    Extent 34.3 Linear feet

    Abstract Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), a Pittsburgh industrialist who made his fortune in coke and steel, was also a prominent art collector. This series consists of materials organized by subject, and includes documentation of Frick's investments, real estate holdings, personal and household matters, and philanthropic activities.

    Preferred Citation

    Henry Clay Frick Papers, Series V: Subject Files. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

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    Henry Clay Frick was born 19 December 1849, in West Overton, Pa. One of six children, his parents were John W. Frick, a farmer, and Elizabeth Overholt Frick, the daughter of a whiskey distiller and flour merchant. Frick ended his formal education in 1866 at the age of seventeen. In 1871, Frick borrowed money to purchase a share in a coking concern that would eventually become the H.C. Frick Coke Co. Over the next decade, Frick expanded his business through the acquisition of more coal lands and coke ovens. In 1882, he partnered with fellow industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and assumed the chairmanship of Carnegie Bros. & Co. (later Carnegie Steel Co.) in 1889. During his tenure as chairman, differences between Frick and Carnegie emerged, most significantly in their approach to labor issues. The 1892 Homestead Strike strained relations between the two men for the rest of their working relationship, and he resigned from the company in December 1899.

    For the remainder of his life, however, Frick continued to be a fixture in industrial and financial circles in America. He served as a director of United States Steel Corporation, and of various railroads, banks, insurance companies, and invested in property in and around Pittsburgh, as well as in Massachusetts, New York, and Indiana. He also served on the boards of cultural, educational, and charitable organizations, including the American Academy in Rome, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Princeton University. Frick was a life-long collector of art, focusing chiefly on Old Master paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Vermeer, and Gainsborough. Upon his death in 1919, he bequeathed his New York City residence, along with the paintings, sculpture, furnishings, and decorative objects therein as a public museum now known as The Frick Collection.

    Frick was married to Adelaide Howard Childs of Pittsburgh, with whom he had four children: Childs Frick (1883-1965), Martha Howard Frick (1885-1891), Helen Clay Frick (1888-1984), and Henry Clay Frick, Jr. (born 1892, died in infancy). They maintained a home in Pittsburgh (“Clayton”), as well as an elaborate summer residence (“Eagle Rock”) on Boston’s North Shore, which was completed in 1906. From 1905-1914, the family also occupied the Vanderbilt mansion at 640 Fifth Avenue in New York, before building their own residence on the site of the former Lenox Library at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street. Henry Clay Frick died in New York on 2 December 1919.

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    Henry Clay Frick's Subject Files, 1848-1966 and undated, consist of correspondence, financial records, legal documents, notes, and printed material on a variety of topics relating to Frick's personal and business interests. These files were organized by Frick's office staff in Pittsburgh, and do not adhere to any chronological or alphabetical filing system. Instead, documents on a particular topic were gathered into an envelope, and envelopes were assigned sequential numbers. Four separate runs of numbers have been arranged in this series as the following four subseries: I: General Subject Files, II: Unfinished Matters, III: Finished Matters, and IV: Agreements. The last subseries among these papers, Subseries V: Bound Volumes, contains a handful of miscellaneous volumes used by Frick's office staff.

    Subseries I: General Subject Files, 1848-1966 and undated, is the most voluminous of the materials in this series. These files largely concern real estate transactions, loans and financial assistance to family members, friends, and business associates, and investments in railroads, utilities, mining, banking, and manufacturing. Other topics of interest include Frick's private railroad car “Westmoreland,” the family's box at the Metropolitan Opera; social events hosted by the Frick family, and membership in a range of clubs, societies, and other organizations. These papers also document philanthropic endeavors and the lease of various properties, including the Vanderbilt mansion at 640 Fifth Avenue in New York, the Robert S. Bradley house in Prides Crossing, Mass., a vacation cottage in Palm Beach, Fla., apartments at Louis Sherry's in New York, and the charter of the steam yacht Shemara. An alphabetical index of topics and their corresponding envelope numbers is filed in the beginning of the subseries. Note that some gaps exist among the sequence of envelope numbers, and that some envelopes are empty, indicating that their contents may have been removed and stored elsewhere by Frick's office staff. The location of materials transferred out of these files is often unclear.

    Subseries II: Unfinished Matters, 1903-1949 and undated, and Subseries III: Finished Matters, 1907-1921 and undated, appear to be two parts of the same sequence of numbered envelopes. As in the General Subject Files subseries, documents pertaining to a transaction or topic were assigned a numbered envelope. Notations were made on the envelopes concerning action taken and the existence of relevant documentation. Matters considered unresolved at the time of Frick's death were probably left in their envelopes, even though action may have been taken and recorded in the course of handling Frick's estate. For those matters considered resolved during Frick's lifetime, the envelope was stamped "Closed" and the contents of the envelopes were removed to another location as indicated on the envelope, with the empty envelope remaining in the file. Documentation from closed matters was transferred into the General Subject Files above (sometimes referred to in notes as the "regular file") or the Henry Clay Frick's Voucher Files, also in this repository ( While the envelopes in the Unfinished Matters subseries are largely empty, they do contain detailed summaries of action taken and existing documentation, and can provide references to materials filed elsewhere among Frick's papers.

    Subseries IV: Agreements, 1884-1925 and undated, pertain largely to real estate transactions and investments in in various companies. Exceptions to this include an agreement with F.J. Osterling for renovations at Clayton, and contracts for utilities at Clayton and the Frick Building. A bound record of agreements filed at the beginning of the subseries contains details such as the parties involved, pertinent dates (i.e. expiration, payment, renewal, cancellation,

    Finding aid for the Henry Clay Frick Papers, Series V: Subject Files, 1848-1966, undated Part of the Frick Family Papers, on deposit from the Helen Clay Frick Foundation Archives


    Summary Information

    Biographical Note

    Scope and Content Note


    Administrative Information

    Controlled Access Headings

    Collection Inventory

    Subseries I: General Subject Files 1848-1966, undated

    Subseries II: Unfinished Matters 1903-1949, undated

    Subseries III: Finished Matters 1907-1921, undated

    Subseries IV: Agreements 1884-1925, undated

    Subseries V: Bound Volumes 1911-1920s

  • etc.), a synopsis, and the location of related documentation. As with the General Subject Files, Unfinished Matters, and Finished Matters, there are unexplained gaps in the sequence of numbered agreements in this subseries.

    A small group of materials, Subseries V: Bound Volumes, 1911-1920s, contains an address book, an index to a file case, and an inventory of securities held in a safe deposit box.

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    Materials are arranged in five subseries:

    I. General Subject Files, 1848-1966, undated

    II. Unfinished Matters, 1903-1949, undated

    III. Finished Matters, 1907-1921, undated

    IV. Agreements, 1884-1925, undated

    V. Bound Volumes, 1911-1920s

    Files are primarily arranged by envelope number; unnumbered envelopes are arranged alphabetically by title.

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    Access Restrictions

    These records are open for research under the conditions of The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives access policy. Contact the Archives Department for further information at


    On deposit from the Helen Clay Frick Foundation, 2001.

    Processing Information

    Arranged and described by Julie Ludwig, 2012, with funding from the Helen Clay Frick Foundation.

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    Deeds. Financial records.

    Personal Name(s)

    Frick, Adelaide Howard Childs, 1859-1931. Frick, Childs, 1883-1965. Frick, Helen Clay, 1888-1984. Frick, Henry Clay, 1849-1919.


    Railroads--History. Steel industry and trade.

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