Helen Taft Manning and Frederick Manning Papers
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
Helen Herron Taft Manning (August 1, 1891 – February 21, 1987) graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1915, became Dean in 1917, and acting president in 1919. She left Bryn Mawr to obtain a Doctorate in History from Yale University and returned to Bryn Mawr as Dean in 1925. She served as Dean until 1941, and taught history until her retirement in 1957, though she continued to research and publish. She was the daughter of President William Howard Taft and Helen Herron Taft. She married Fredrick Manning in 1920. Frederick Manning (1894-1966) graduated from Yale in 1916, and earned a doctorate in history from the same institution. He served as a lieutenant of field artillery in the First World War, and started teaching at Swarthmore in 1925 to be nearer to his wife when she returned to Bryn Mawr. Some of the papers of his ancestor Elbridge Gerry Manning are included in this collection. Helen Taft Manning and Frederick Manning had two daughters: Helen Taft Manning Hunter (born October 5, 1921) and Caroline Manning Cunningham (born January 18, 1925.)
This collection contains personal and professional documents, correspondence, and newspaper clippings, with dates from 1862 to the 1980s (bulk dates from 1907-1960s). The materials relating to Helen Taft Manning are mostly from after her days as a college student at Bryn Mawr, i.e from after the 1920s. The materials relating to Frederick Manning on the other hand range from his years as a student at Yale University, his brief military service as an artillery officer in the First World War, to his teaching career at Swarthmore from the 1925 to the 1950s. This collection also houses extensive personal correspondence between the Taft Manning family and their friends over this time period. Finally, the papers of Elbridge Gerry Manning Jr. from the civil war era are an outlier to the dates of the other materials in this collection, though most of the letters in this collection are transcribed so were probably put together well after his life and death.
Following the Helen Taft Manning Papers Collection, this collection can be arranged into four series I. "Helen Taft Manning, Personal (Bulk, 1907-1960s,)" II. "Helen Taft Manning, Papers on Bryn Mawr (Bulk 1915-1987,)" III. "Frederick J. Manning Papers (Bulk 1915-1960s,)" IV. "Phelps Putnam's Writings (bulk 1915-1940s,)" V. "Elbridge Gerry Manning Papers (1862 to 1867,)" Series VI "President Taft Documents," Series VII "Photo Albums (Undated,)" pictures, and Newspaper Clippings.
The bulk of this collection's material is personal. In addition to the memorabilia, the letters in this collection speak primarily about personal affairs and private recollections. Although these letters belong to people who were prominent in both American national and state politics, very few of the letters actually touch on their political careers and instead focus on personal matters. Some of the letters addressed to Frederick Manning shed some light on his teaching career at Swarthmore.
Gift of Sarah Cunningham
- Bryn Mawr College
The materials in this series are private correspondence between Helen Taft Manning and friends and family members, with a large variety of personal memorabilia: Photo Albums of her family, colleagues and friends, grade books, academic progress reports for her two daughters' secondary education career and their baptism certificates and various medical records. There is also an invitation for the wedding of Helen Taft Manning and Frederick J. Manning. In particular, this series contains a good amount of almost daily letters from Frederick Manning to Helen from 1919 to 1920, right before their marriage. These letters can thus shed further light on the nature of their courtship. This series also contain correspondence with their two daughters while they were in school at Chatham Hall. There are also a few of their daughters' personal items such as birth certificates and passports. Many of the personal letters are addressed from individuals using only their first names. Nonetheless because a large amount of these letters are addressed to Helen Taft Manning, they can provide a different perspective on her life, with an insight on how her peers, friends and colleagues viewed her. Some of the people in these letters, such as her husband Frederick Manning, friend "Hezzie," already appear in the "Series I Personal" in the existing "Helen Taft Manning Collection." This series can also thus function as an apt supplement for that collection. The Ramsden letters contain details on how the Manning Family sponsored the two Ramsden siblings from England so they could stay with the Manning family and attend school in the United States during the first years of the Second World War. There are also letters on this subject in the "Helen Taft Manning Papers Collection."
This series contains documents pertaining to Helen Taft Manning's professional and academic career at Bryn Mawr College. In particular, this series contains a copy of an account of the estate of the deceased Helen Taft Manning. There is a citation for distinguished service awarded to Helen Taft Manning from Bryn Mawr College contained within its original binding, and the convocation program commemorating said event. There is also a copy of the minutes of a faculty meeting at Bryn Mawr in 1920 expressing their recognition of Helen Herron Taft as acting President, and a few notes from the Bryn Mawr Alumnae association. A Bryn Mawr College Bulletin from 1930 contains a record of letters written by her classmates from the Class of 1915 reflecting on their Bryn Mawr experience, however this book does not contain Helen Taft Manning's contribution although her name is included on the list of addresses at the end of this bulletin. A few other letters concern requests for to review a book, and a confidential letter requests an investment. This series also contains papers relating to the formation of the Helen Taft Manning fund for British History. It contains the record of donors, their letters, and their donation amounts, which in turn offers a guide to the creation of the Helen Taft Manning Professorship of British History at Bryn Mawr College.
This series contain documents pertaining to Frederick Manning's private and professional life. There are various memorabilia, letters, and documents spanning from his high school and college days to his teaching career at Swarthmore. The letters from his college days at Yale are mostly personal notes to friends, especially close companion Phelps Putnam, about their studies and leisure activities. Other personal memorabilia include records and pictures of music performances and concert programs at Yale, some old Yale exams with notes on them, and an unbound travel journal from his vacation in the Pyrenees in 1925 with his Yale friend Charles R. Walker. There are a few letters from his time as a Swarthmore professor, and some grade reports, but no syllabi or other teaching materials from his teaching career. Other documents of interest pertain to his brief military career in World War I. This collection contains Frederick Manning's honorable discharge notice from the army, letters regarding the military garrison on the Yale campus, and other letters with his friends Charles R. Walker and H. Phelps Putnam on wartime matters. The other letters are mostly personal affairs addressed to Frederick Manning from a variety of friends, family members and politicians such as Bronson M. Cutting. Most of these letters do not touch on political or social topics. Some of these letters are incomplete, and do not contain the names of the people writing these letters. Another folder contains a copy of Frederick Manning's will. Among the documents is a copy of the will and testament of Bronson M. Cutting, a Republican senator from the state of New Mexico who died in a plane crash in May 6th, 1935. The precise relationship between him and the Taft-Manning Family is unclear from this collection; there are a few letters from him to both Helen and Frederick Manning in this collection, though it does not shed much light on the subject.
The materials in this series are related to Phelps Putnam's poetic career and personal life. The bulk of this series consists of bound and unbound transcribed letters (almost yearly correspondence) he sent to his friend Frederick Manning. Putnam's extensive private correspondence with Frederick Manning, and the intensely passionate nature of these letters, can shed some more light on the precise nature of the relationship between these two close friends. There is also a collection of manuscripts and drafts of Phelps Putnam's poetry, some of which he shared with Frederick and Helen Taft Manning, and some with other friends. There are a few letters from his second wife Una Fayreweather Putnam to friends.
The materials in this series contain the personal papers of one Lieutenant Elbridge Gerry Manning, a Union officer from Massachusetts during the American Civil War and an ancestor of Frederick Manning. There are handwritten and transcribed personal letters dated from 1862 to 1867 sent to his parents. These letters detail his experiences serving in the Union Army during the American Civil War in such places as New Orleans and St. Louis. There is also a transcribed record of a letter from General George B. McClellan to the Army of the Potomac, and a notice of the death of President Abraham Lincoln. There are handwritten lists of inventories and supplies for the army (mostly clothing,) two photographs of Lieutenant Elbridge Gerry Manning (one framed one unframed,) and a book titled "a memorial sketch of Edgar M. Newcomb" that mentions Lieutenant Manning.
These documents relate tangentially to President Taft, and date from after his presidency. There is a copy of a document signed by President Warren G. Harding appointing President Taft as chief justice of the Supreme Court. A letter from Frederick Manning concerns a few particulars on Bob Taft's senatorial run; another letter discusses the donation of President Taft's entire archive of letters to the Library of Congress. On a similar note, a folder contains a copy of a contract signed by President Taft's children, wherein they agree to provide his personal letters to Henry Pringle who was writing a biography on President Taft. There is also a handwritten letter from President Taft to his son-in-law Frederick Manning dated to July 2nd 1921, wherein he writes about a few appointments for teaching.
The photos in this series are of friends and members of the Taft Manning family, mostly undated. Of particular interest is a photo album titled "Filipinas" with photos of President Taft and his family in the Philippines. Though the photos are undated, judging by their context they are likely from the first decade of the 1900s, which coincide with either President Taft's governorship of the Philippines or with his presence at the First Philippine Assembly in his capacity as the Secretary for War for the U.S. There are a few undated and unsent postcards and pictures from Santa Fé, New Mexico in this series, which does show that the Taft-Manning family made regular visits to the state of the aforementioned Bronson M Cutting. There are a few concert and musical performances programs from the Bi-Co Colleges, The newspaper clippings concern news of family and friends, as well as snapshots of the Taft-Manning family at Bryn Mawr College. They range in date from the early 1920s with articles on the courtship of Helen Taft Manning and Frederick Manning, to the graduation ceremonies of Helen Taft Maning's grandchildren from Bryn Mawr in the 1960s. The photo albums in this collection provide a unique snapshot of the members of the Taft-Manning family throughout the ages.