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Frances Arnold Family Letters


Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Frances Arnold was born in New York City in 1874, daughter of Francis and Augusta Arnold. After graduating the Brearly School, she attended Bryn Mawr College from 1893 to 1895, affiliating herself with the class of 1897. Upon leaving the College, she attended French finishing school and traveled abroad. In 1899 she returned to New York to teach mathematics at Brearly. Except for a brief stint supervising women building torpedos during World War I, Arnold remained at Brearly until 1930. She then retired to New Hampshire, where she was involved with community affairs.

The Frances Arnold papers is a collection of the personal correspondence of Frances Arnold, Bryn Mawr College class of 1897. The materials in the collection range from 1893 to 1902. The bulk of the collection is personal correspondence between Arnold and her family and Arnold's personal memorabilia.

The collection is arranged into four folders: "Letters, 1893-1897," "Family: Henry Arnold," "Family: Francis Arnold," and "Letters, etc., ca. 1897-1902."

"Letters, 1893-1897" comprises a book of bound letters from Frances Arnold to her mother, father, cousin, and "Minge," an unknown correspondent who is presumed to be family. The letters detail her time at Bryn Mawr College, her experience at French finishing school, and her life travelling in Europe. There are a few incoming letters in this book, but the vast majority were composed by Frances herself. The next folder, "Family: Henry Arnold" includes 8 letters (June 19- August 1, 1898) from Frances' brother, Henry, detailing his time as a member of Roosevelt's Rough Riders. "Family: Francis Arnold" includes 7 letters written by Arnold's father, Francis, during his business trip to a Brazilian coffee plantation. These letters clearly reveal the mutual distrust and disdain felt between white and Indigenous peoples in Brazil. The final folder, "Letters, etc., ca. 1897-1902" holds miscellaneous correspondence between family members (1897-1902), the letters from Frances Arnold and her mother, Augusta, and miscellaneous memorabilia.

The majority of the collection is family letters and memorabilia, and mostly of interest to family members. However, Henry Arnold's letters concerning his time as a Rough Rider and Francis Arnold's letters on his trip to a Brazilian coffee plantation may be of interest to researchers studying Roosevelt's Rough Riders or Indigenous/white relations on Brazilian coffee plantations during the turn of the century. Frances Arnold's letters illuminate education experiences for young women at the turn of the 20th century in both the U.S. and France.

Within folders, correspondence and materials have been arranged by date.

The collection was acquired by the College following Frances Arnold's death in 1976.

This collection of correspondence was acquired by the college after Frances Arnold's death in 1976, along with Arnold's collection of rare books. The correspondence collection was processed by Michele Kemmerer in the summer of 1988. A finding aid of the collection from 1988 notes that the collection consisted of Arnold's letters to her parents whilst at Bryn Mawr (1893-1895), French finishing school, and travelling Europe. It is unclear how these letters were housed. The collection also held two folders. The first contained miscellaneous correspondence between family members, dated from between 1897 and 1902. The second contained letters from Frances Arnold's brother, Henry Arnold, to his family, dated June 19-August 1, 1898; letters from Frances Arnold's father, Francis, to his family; letters from Frances Arnold and her mother, Augusta, during the summers of 1901 and 1902; and some miscellaneous memorabilia, including wedding invitations and thank you notes.

When a new finding aid was created for this collection in 2017, it comprised three folders. The first held Henry Arnold's letters to his family; the second held Francis Arnold's letters to his family; and the third folder held the miscellaneous correspondence between family members (1897-1902), the letters from Frances Arnold and her mother, and the miscellaneous memorabilia. However, the letters from Frances Arnold to her family were missing.

These letters were found in April 2019. They had been housed in the Small Collections of Alumnae Letters and Memorabilia, Box 1. On April 24, 2019, Cassidy Gruber Barutha and Eric Pumroy made the decision to move these letters into the Francis Arnold family letters collection.

Bryn Mawr College
Finding Aid Author
Christiana Dobrzynski, Cassidy Gruber Baruth
Finding Aid Date
2019 April 24
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17)

Collection Inventory

Letters, 1893-1897.
Family: Henry Arnold.
Family: Francis Arnold.
Letters, etc., ca. 1897-1902.

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