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At a Glance
Material is arranged into three series.
The Leon Fraser Papers consists of business correspondence, materials related to his professional activities, and small selection of personal papers. The correspondence is organized chronologically, with the bulk being from the years 1938-1943. Additionally, selected correspondence is arranged alphabetically. Notable correspondents include Charles A. Beard, Nicholas Murray Butler, Fiorello LaGuardia, and John and Nelson A. Rockefeller amongst others. The series on professional activities outlines the many organizations that Fraser worked with over the course of his career. The material consists of correspondence, annual reports, by-laws, printed materials, and financial and legal documents. Lastly, the series of personal papers contains materials related to Fraser's personal finances and properties he owned. There is correspondence with his foster mother, Susan D. Bonar. There are clippings and photographs related to the launching of the steamship freighter "Leon Fraser" in 1942. Included here is a copy of Fraser's suicide note addressed to his son from 1945.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
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.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Leon Fraser Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
No additions are expected
Ownership and Custodial History
The Leon Fraser Papers were the gift of James and Victoria Fraser to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Columbia University in 2011.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Manuel A. Bautista Gonzalez PhD candidate Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 2012-2013.
Finding Aid written Adrien Hilton 06/2013.
Collection is processed to folder level.
2013-07-09 xml document created by Adrien Hilton
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Leon Fraser was a PhD graduate of Columbia University (he later added a law degree to his resume) who worked as a reporter for the New York World, was admitted to the New York bar (even though he did not yet hold a law degree), and returned to Columbia to teach public law at his alma mater. Fraser's support of pacifist causes in the years before America's entry into World War I caused Columbia to drop him as an instructor, but when America declared war on Germany, Fraser enlisted in the Army as a private. He rose to the rank of major by the end of the war and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts; after the war he held a variety of administrative positions in both government and private industry, and he served as a director, trustee, chairman, and treasurer for a number of businesses and charitable organizations. Fraser and another American, Gates McGarrah, served as the first two presidents of BIS, the Bank for International Settlements. (Fraser is another anachronism in this piece: the BIS was not founded until 1930 and Fraser did not become its president until 1935, so he could not accurately have been described as "president of the Bank for International Settlements" in 1923.) In 1945, while the 55-year-old Fraser was president of First National Bank of New York, he committed suicide at his summer home in North Granville, NY. He left behind a suicide note stating that he had been "depressed mentally and [had] suffered from melancholia that gets steadily worse." Obituaries noted that he had been in "low spirits" since the death of his wife two years earlier.