Scope and arrangement
The Varian Fry genealogical research papers contains personal papers belonging to members of Varian Fry's extended family dating from 1829 to 1921, correspondence relating to Fry's genealogical research dating mainly from 1958 through 1962, and a comprehensive index to the research. The personal papers series is comprised of correspondence, notebooks, account books, diaries, and personal miscellany belonging to members of Varian Fry's extended family. Fry's research paid particular attention to his paternal great-grandfather, Francis Duncan, born in Scotland in 1810. Duncan, a mason, emigrated to the United States in 1832 and worked on such notable buildings as the "Marble Palace," home of A.T. Stewart & Company (and later, the New York Sun), and later became the director of the Peter Cooper Life Insurance Company. Other relations include Ambrose Lipscomb White, a prominent New York City surgeon and founding member of the New York Academy of Medicine, and his son Charles Belden White, a surgeon and Major in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Fry's genealogical research is chronicled through correspondence with churches; local, state and federal records bureaus; historical societies; and genealogical societies. In some instances, photostats and facsimiles of vital records are present. The body of correspondence between Fry and his cousins Jessie Bateman White and Elizabeth Richardson further illuminates family histories and relationships. Photographs of Fry's family date from the 1860s through the 1960s, and many include annotations from Jessie Bateman White.
Fry meticulously indexed and cross-referenced his research, as well as the personal papers collected from his family. The index traces his research through his own correspondence and family papers, as well as from such sources as vital records; newspaper, magazine and broadsheet articles; military records; legal documents; parish registers.
The Varian Fry genealogical research papers are arranged in four series:
- 1829-19215 boxes 2.08 linear feet
This series consists of personal correspondence, school notebooks, diaries, and personal miscellany belonging to members of families related to Varian Fry, particularly Fry's great-grandfather, Francis Duncan; Duncan's wife Hester, and his daughters Hester Isabella ("Bella"), Katherine, and Margaret ("Maggie"). Francis Duncan's papers predominantly include account books and diaries; material relating to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church; and correspondence with wife Hester from 1843 until his death circa 1860. Hester's papers include correspondence; leases and mortgage documents; and documents relating to her estate and the execution of her will. Also of note are letters from Dr. Charles Belden White, a Union Army surgeon, to his cousin Bella Duncan detailing his service at Fort Monroe and other military installations in Virginia between 1861 and 1863. The bulk of the material in this series dates from the 1860s through the 1890s.
- 1898-19663 boxes 1.25 linear feet
This series consists almost exclusively of correspondence between Varian Fry and various family members, genealogical organizations, and historical societies relating to his genealogical research. Photostats of vital records, including birth, death and marriage certificates, as well as military service documentation, are also included for some family members. Fry corresponded extensively with his cousin Jessie Bateman White between 1953 until 1966, who assisted him significantly in his research. The series is arranged alphabetically by family member, with each file representing Fry's findings relating to a specific individual, or his correspondence with that individual as it relates to his research.
- ca. 1856-19603 boxes 1.38 linear feet
This series contains photographs of Varian Fry's extended family.
4 boxes, 1.67 feet.