Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Varian Fry papers, 1940-1967

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0461
Bib ID 4078792 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Fry, Varian, 1907-1967
Title Varian Fry papers, 1940-1967
Physical Description 9 linear feet (20 boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged into 9 series: Series I: Cataloged Correspondence; Series II: Arranged Correspondence; Series III: Personal Correspondence; Series IV: Subject Files; Series V: Manuscripts; Series VI: Photographs; Series VII: Printed Material; Series VIII: 2004 Addition; Series IX: 2005 Addition



The collection includes the original manuscript of "Surrender on Demand", Mr. Fry's account of his wartime experiences, which was later rewritten for young readers as "Assignment Rescue" (New York, Four Winds Press, 1968). Among the correspondents represented in the collection are Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Roger Baldwin, Norman Thomas, J. Edgar Hoover, and Herman Wouk. In addition to the material relating to the Emergency Relief Committee (later known as the International Rescue Committee), the collection includes correspondence and papers concerning Fry's work as a writer on foreign affairs as well as copies of his books.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Varian Fry papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Archival Materials

Fry's letters to Daniel Benedite, 1941-1955, are in the: Friedrich Ebert Foundation: Address--5300 Bonn 2, Godesberger Allee 149, Germany.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 06/--/89.

Revision Description

2010-01-28 Legacy finding aid created from Pro Cite.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Articles Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Audio tapes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bibliographies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (literary) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Maps Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Passports Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photonegatives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Receipts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reports Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tax returns Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Visas Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Baldwin, Roger N (Roger Nash), 1884-1981 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chagall, Marc, 1887-1985 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Editors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Emergency Rescue Committee Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ernst, Max, 1891-1976 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Foreign agents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gide, André, 1869-1951 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hoover, J. Edgar (John Edgar), 1895-1972 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
International Rescue Committee Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kinsey, Alfred C (Alfred Charles), 1894-1956 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Komroff, Manuel, 1890-1974 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lipchitz, Jacques, 1891-1973 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Macdonald, Dwight Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Malraux, André, 1901-1976 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Miró, Joan, 1893-1983 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Refugees -- France Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Songs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Winter, Ella Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 -- France Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 -- War work Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wouk, Herman, 1915- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Fry, a 32 year old Harvard-educated classicist and editor from New York City, helped save thousands of endangered refugees who were caught in the Vichy French area during World War II. His efforts saved prominent persons: Max Ernst; Marc Chagall; Hannah Arendt; Andre Breton; Marcel Duchamp; Franz Werfel; Jacques Lipchitz; Lion Feuchtwanger; Heinrich Mann; Hans Sahl; Wilfredo Lam; Walter Mehring; Otto Meyerhoff; and Alma Mahler. In total, Fry and his collaborators helped to save around 4,000 people. In 1991, 24 years after his death (1967) in obscurity, Fry received his first official recognition from a United States agency, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. In 1996, Varian Mackey Fry was named as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Heros and Martyrs Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. He was the first American recipient of Israel's highest honor for rescuers during the Holocaust. After the war, Fry wrote a memoir of his days in marseilles"Assignment Rescue". The FBI kept a file on him throughout his life, viewing his activities with some suspicion.