Skip to main content

Frank Parsons papers

Call Number: MS 11

Scope and Contents

The Frank Parsons Papers consist of ten boxes of correspondence and writings by, to or relating to Frank Parsons, (1854-1908), political scientist, lawyer, teacher, and lecturer and writer on economics and social reform. There are two boxes of letters by or to his intimate friend and associate, Ralph Albertson, and a few papers involving the latter's settlement of Parsons' estate; also, one folder of letters to Dr. Charles Fremont Taylor, editor and publisher.

After graduating from Cornell University in 1873, Parsons worked for a railroad, taught school and was admitted to the Boston Bar. He worked as chief clerk of a law firm for a time and then opened his own office. Mr. Parsons also worked for Little and Co., publishers, as a text book writer, gave public lectures on economics and sociology and taught in college. As recorded in WHO WAS WHO IN AMERICA, his positions and distinctions include: professor of history and political science, Kansas Agricultural College, 1897-1900; professor of political science and dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Ruskin University; director of the history department, Bureau of Economic Research, Washington during which time he testified before the U.S. Industrial Commission on public ownership of railroads, telegraphs and telephones, 1901-1902; traveled throughout Europe and America studying railway systems, co-operative institutions, etc.; lectured in leading cities of Pacific Slope for the University Extension Association of Chicago. Mr. Parsons was the author of the Following books: The Story of New Zealand, 1904; The Heart of the Railroad Problem, 1906; and, The Railways, The Trusts and the People, 1906. He was born in Mount Holly, New Jersey and died there unmarried in 1908.

The Parsons correspondence contains very little of a personal nature, but concerns projects in which he was interested, such as Boston University Breadwinne's College, Kansas State Agricultural College, Ruskin College of Social Science, municipal government, municipal ownership of public utilities, the eight-hour day (one folder from educators, public officials, etc.) settlement, work, vocational guidance, etc. Among many persons represented in this correspondence, with number of letters as indicated, are Susan B. Anthony (2), Phineas T. Barnum (1), Alice Stone Blackwell (1), Edward Bellamy (2), Phillips Brooks (3), John R. Commons (2); also one to Albertson, Ernest Howard Crosby (2), Eugene V. Debbs (1), Henry George (2), Washington Gladden (2), Senator George F. Hoar (1 of 11 pages), Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes (2), William Dean Howells (2), Marietta Holley (4), Mary Ashton (Rice) Livermore (1), Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (2), Francis Parkman (1), Jacob Riis (2).

The letters to Ralph Albertson, other than those from friends and members of his family and those concerned with Parsons' affairs, are mainly from persons interested in the cooperative movement and The American Co-operator, of which Albertson was editor, 1900-1904; and persons previously associated with him in the Christian Commonwealth, Andrews North Carolina, and Commonwealth, Georgia, experiments in which he played a major part, 1895-1900. Several from Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Kendall, 1904-1905, written from Los Mochis, Distrito del Fuerte, Sinaloa, Mexico, where there was apparently an American colony, give interesting comments on conditions there.

By far the major part of this collection is made up of addresses, lecture notes, and outlines, manuscripts of articles, etc., by Frank Parsons. The subjects include a wide variety of interests such as astronomy, civics, health, humor, industrial education, labor, legal doctrines and social progress, literature, logic, and eloquence, the cooperative movement, eight-hour day, ethics, geology, municipal ownership, marriage, and government, political economy, railways, schools, social reform suffrage, trusts and monopolies, and youth guidance. Included are a few papers by other persons.

The papers were donated to the Yale University Library by Hazel (Hammond) Albertson in 1946.


  • 1888-1908


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Hazel Hammond Albertson, 1946.


The papers are arranged in five series: I. Documents. II. Personal Materials. III. Correspondence. IV. Writings. V. Miscellaneous.


4 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, notes and manuscripts for books and articles, and other documents and papers of Frank Parsons, lawyer, educator, and lecturer and writer on economics and social reform. There is very little material of a personal nature. Included is a file of correspondence with Ralph Albertson, a close friend of Parsons, mainly concerned with the cooperative movement.

Biographical / Historical

Railroad worker, lawyer, textbook editor, professor of political science at Kansas Agricultural College and Ruskin University; employed by the Bureau of Economic Research (1901-1902); active in the cooperative movement.

Separated Materials

Box 3 was decommissioned. Contents transferred to the Ralph Albertson Papers, MS 1752.

Guide to the Frank Parsons Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Jan Simmons under the supervision of Francis Radvonovsky
September 1969
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours