Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Leon Fraser papers, 1897-1945, bulk 1924-1943

Summary Information

Abstract

Leon Fraser 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 prominent businesses and charitable organizations. He earned his PhD from Columbia University and taught public law there as well. Fraser committed suicide in 1945 at his summer home in North Granville, New York. The Papers consist of business and personal correspondence, materials related to his professional activities, and a small section of personal papers. The bulk of the materials range in date from 1924-1943.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1569
Bib ID 8647293 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Fraser, Leon, 1889-1945
Title Leon Fraser papers, 1897-1945, bulk 1924-1943
Physical Description 28 linear feet (28 linear feet 7 document boxes 21 record containers 2 flat boxes)
Language(s) Material is in English.
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Arrangement

Arrangement

Material is arranged into three series: Series I: Correspondence, 1918-1944; Series II: Professional Activities, 1918-1945; Series III: Personal Papers, 1897-1944

Description

Summary

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.

  • Series I: Correspondence

    Series I contains business correspondence. It is arranged chronologically by year and divided by letter of last name. The bulk is from 1938-1943. Additionally, selected correspondents have been listed alphabetically. Notable correspondents include: Charles A. Beard, Nicholas Murray Butler, Fiorello LaGuardia, and John and Nelson A. Rockefeller amongst others.

  • Series II: Professional Activities

    Series II consists of materials related to the professional activities of Leon Fraser from 1918-1943. Contained within this series are annual reports, by-laws, correspondence, legal and financial documents, and other printed material. Documented here is Fraser's work with the Bank for International Settlements, the United States Steel Corporation, Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, the American National Red Cross, and Columbia University. Please note that box 27 contains material related to material found in earlier boxes, researchers should consult both instances of an organization.

  • Series III: Personal Papers

    Series III contains the personal papers of Leon Fraser. Included here is financial material related to various properties owned by Fraser as well as investments. There is a sizable amount of correspondence between Fraser and his foster mother Susan D. Bonar. Some speeches and writings of Fraser's can be found in this series as well. Additionally, there are clippings, photographs, and a scrapbook documenting the launching of the steamship freighter "Leon Fraser" in 1942. Lastly, there is a copy of the suicide note that Fraser left for his son in 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 two 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.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Leon Fraser Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Accrual

No additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Manuel A. Bautista Gonzalez PhD candidate Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 2012-2013.

Finding Aid written Adrien Hilton 06/2013.

Revision Description

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.

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.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
American National Red Cross Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bank for International Settlements Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Banks and banking Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Fraser, Leon, 1889-1945 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States Steel Corporation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

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.