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Kenneth Farrand Simpson papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 92

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of correspondence, political memoranda, campaign literature, and printed matter documenting Kenneth Simpson's career as chairman of the Republican County Committee in New York (1935-1940). The papers also include case and client files from Simpson's legal practice. The papers highlight Simpson's support for Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1936 New York mayoral campaign, his opposition to Thomas E. Dewey's candidacy for presidential nomination in 1940, and his own successful campaign for election to the United States House of Representatives from the Seventeenth Congressional District of New York in 1940.

Dates

  • 1900-1983
  • Majority of material found within 1923 - 1941

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Scrapbooks in Series VI are available on microfilm (2,284 frames on 4 reels, 35 mm.) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, at cost. Order no. HM121.

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Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain.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 Helen Louise Seggerman, 1983

Arrangement

Arranged in six series: I. Correspondence, 1913-1941. II. Political Papers and Congressional Files, 1934-1941. III. Writings, 1936-1941. IV. Case and Client Files, 1923-1941. V. Personal Papers and Photographs, 1900-1983. VI. Scrapbooks, 1925-1941.

Extent

14.5 Linear Feet (37 boxes and 4 reels of microfilm)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.0092

Overview

The papers consist of correspondence, political memoranda, campaign literature, and printed matter documenting Kenneth Simpson's career as chairman of the Republican County Committee in New York (1935-1940). The papers also include case and client files from Simpson's legal practice. The papers highlight Simpson's support for Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1936 New York mayoral campaign, his opposition to Thomas E. Dewey's candidacy for presidential nomination in 1940, and his own successful campaign for election to the United States House of Representatives from the Seventeenth Congressional District of New York in 1940.

Biographical / Historical

Kenneth Farrand Simpson was born in New York City on May 4, 1895 into a socially prominent family. His father was a well-known throat specialist and professor of laryngology at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Simpson attended Hill School and was a member of the Yale College Class of 1917. He served in the military during World War I and was stationed in France from June, 1918 until the summer of 1919. On his return to the United States, he entered the Harvard Law School and completed his LL.B. degree in 1922. He was admitted to the bar in the same year and began his legal practice in New York City.

Simpson initially joined the legal firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, but in 1925, after becoming involved in Republican Party politics, Simpson was offered a position as assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. At the time, the government was attempting to adjudicate a number of cases involving German-owned property which had been confiscated during World War I. Simpson became a specialist in tracing vital witnesses who resided abroad. He made several trips to Europe, during one of which he met Alexander Kerensky, the former premier of Russia, who became a good friend.

Simpson resigned from the United States attorney's office at the end of 1927 to become a partner in the firm of Barnes, McKenna & Halstead (later Barnes, Richardson & Halstead). Severing his connection with this firm in 1934, he joined Hunt, Hill & Betts, where he worked until 1939 when he formed the partnership of Simpson, Brady & Noonan.

As his legal career developed, Simpson became more and more engrossed with politics and rose to positions of leadership within the Republican Party. A liberal who believed his party had to abandon some of its conservative dogma to win and who exhibited a tolerance for the New Deal, Simpson served as president of his district club, 15th Assembly-District leader, and state committeeman. In 1935 Simpson was elected to the powerful position of Republican county chairman and from then on played a crucial role in rebuilding the New York Republican Party.

In 1937, Simpson orchestrated the reelection of Fusion Party candidate Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia with Republican Party endorsement. Simpson's efforts also insured the election of Republican candidates for president of the Board of Alderman and comptroller. Simpson also persuaded Thomas E. Dewey to run for the office of District Attorney and Bruce Barton to seek election to the House of Representatives from the 17th Congressional District. The success of these candidates marked Simpson as a political boss, and in December he was elected to the Republican National Committee to succeed Charles Dewey Hilles. Simpson worked hard in Dewey's unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1938, but by late 1939 Simpson had become disenchanted with him. Simpson saw Dewey as usurping his political authority and declared his opposition to Dewey's presidential bid in 1940. He played a vital role in nominating the liberal Wendell Wilkie and stopping Dewey. Simpson worked hard in Wilkie's unsuccessful campaign, while triumphing in his own bid for election from the 17th Congressional District. Shortly after being sworn-in as a member of the House of Representatives, Simpson died of a heart attack on January 25, 1941.

In 1925 Simpson married Helen-Louise Knickerbocker Porter. They had four children. In addition to his political achievements, Simpson and his wife contributed to the civic organizations and cultural life of New York. He was a member of the Player's Club, the Grand Street Boys' Association, and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and was a patron of music and a collector of modern art. He numbered among his friends cultural leaders such as Norman Bel Geddes, Gilbert Seldes, and Gertrude Stein.
Title
Guide to the Kenneth Farrand Simpson Papers
Status
Under Revision
Author
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan
Date
January 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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

Location

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

Opening Hours