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Autograph Files of H. Edmund Friesell

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The entire collection is scanned and online.

What’s in the entire collection?

Friesell's autograph collection reflects a variety of collecting interests, including contemporary and historical political figures, prominent women, athletes and writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The collection contains letters, partial manuscript pages, and a small amount of corporate ephemera. Many letters are addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Lee of the Philadelphia Philomusian Club, and to journalist Constance Drexel.

Friesell collected many autographs of nineteenth and early twentieth century political figures who served at the local, state and federal levels. Materials related to national political figures include three presidents, Warren G. Harding, Benjamin Harrison, and Rutherford B. Hayes, and cabinet members Sumner Wells and Hugh S. Cumming, as well as two staffers, Charles E. Sawyer, physician to President Harding, and Malvina T. Schneider, Eleanor Roosevelt's secretary.

State level politicians of early twentieth century are also well represented. Letters from Pennsylvania governors James P. Pollock, John S. Fisher, as well as Lieutenant Governor Edward E. Beidleman are present. Other state level officials include Richard J. Baldwin, Speaker of the House of Pennsylvania, and Attorney General of Pennsylvania Francis Shunk Brown. United States senators from Pennsylvania, George Whorton Pepper and George T. Oliver, as well as the nineteenth century Republican Pennsylvania political boss Matthew Stanley Quay, round out the roster of prominent nineteenth century Pennsylvania statesmen.

The collection contains the signatures of multiple governors in the 1920s and 1930s from other states as well. Autographs of Myron T. Herrick, Republican governor of Ohio, Alvin Saunders, Territorial Governor of Nebraska and U.S. Senator, Michigan Governor Fred Green, and William L. Marcy, governor of New York, all indicate a collecting interest in state politics. The signatures of two Philadelphia mayors are also present.

The files also focus on American history, specifically the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. A partial manuscript signed by Robert Morris, the Revolutionary era financier, and a check signed by Stephen Girard, the American philanthropist and banker, are present. A limited number of Civil War era materials include: papers signed by John R. Mynick, Captain of the 3rd artillery at Fort Wadsworth, and Confederate General Jubal A. Early.A number of letters are from international figures to the journalist, Constance Drexel, of Philadelphia. These letters respond to her request for interviews or other information. Correspondence from General Miguel Primo de Rivera, dictator of Spain in 1920s, Prince Antoine Bibesco, Romanian ambassador to the United States, and American diplomats Alexander R. Magruder and William Phillips, demonstrates the breadth of Drexel's contacts.

The literary focus of the collection includes writers and poets of the 1920s and 1930s. Alfred P. Lee and his wife received letters from a number of journalists, including Leigh Mitchell Hodges, Amy Loveman, managing editor of the Saturday Review, and most notably Lowell Thomas, the American writer and broadcaster whose film, With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia, made T. E. Lawrence famous. Authors Pearl S. Buck and Stewart Edward White corresponded with Friesell. The autographs of American illustrator Alice Barber Stephens, Kate Douglas Wiggin, a children's author and educator, and author Maude Radford Warren were also collected.

In addition to the authors represented, a number of other noteworthy women's autographs are found in the collection. Mrs. Alfred P. Lee corresponded with Princess Der Ling in hopes of bringing her to a Philomusian Club event. The Manchu noblewoman was educated in Paris and wrote seven books about her experience as First Lady in Waiting to Empress Dowager Cixi. A letter from Harriet Taylor Upton of the Republican National Committee to Constance Drexel is present, as well as a few collected letters of Sara Yorke Stevenson, an Egyptologist who was the first woman to receive a degree from Harvard University. There is also a letter signed by Marian N. Horwitz, who was elected mayor of Moore Haven, Florida, in 1917.

Some of the papers relate to figures in popular culture, including athletes and murderers. The collection contains letters signed by golfers Walter Hagen and Frank McCracken, and boxer Tommy Loughran. A transcript of the court proceedings against Charles J. Guiteau for assassinating President Garfield, as well as a letter from John White Webster, a Harvard University Medical College lecturer who murdered and dismembered a colleague in 1849, suggest an interest in these infamous men.

In addition to correspondence, the miscellaneous records series includes documents and ephemera collected by Friesell for their historical significance. Most notable are a Royal Orange Society membership certificate and a 1610 indenture. Also present are English engravings of noted historical figures, including images of Dr. Johnson, Edmund Spencer, Sir Francis Bacon, Pascal Paoli, John Gay, William Shakespeare, Oliver Goldsmith, Cyrus W. Field, R. Fulton, and Charlotte Cushman. A number of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century documents are present, including an undated agreement to repair Washington School House, a copy of the 1778 Pennsylvania General Assembly Loyalty Oath, and a 1904 form letter from the then fledgeling Marconi Wireless Company.

About H. Edmund Friesell

H. Edmund Friesell was born in Pittsburgh in 1873 and was educated at the Western University of Pennsylvania which would later become of the University of Pittsburgh, and the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. In 1903, Friesell joined the faculty of the Dental School at the University of Pittsburgh where he later served as dean until his death in 1946. Throughout his life, Friesell collected autographs and books on a wide variety of topics; many of these books and manuscripts were gifted to the University of Pittsburgh libraries.

Dr. Alfred P. Lee practiced dentistry in Philadelphia. Dr. Lee and his wife were active in the Philomusian Club of Philadelphia, a cultural society that hosted prominent local and national speakers. The Lees had contacts in the fields of publishing and journalism, including the writer Constance Drexel.

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