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Helen Taft Manning and Frederick Manning Papers

Identifier: BMC-M142

Scope and Contents

This collection contains personal and professional documents, correspondence, and newspaper clippings, with dates from 1862 to the 1980s (bulk dates from 1907-1960s). The materials relating to Helen Taft Manning are mostly from after her days as a college student at Bryn Mawr, i.e from after the 1920s. The materials relating to Frederick Manning on the other hand range from his years as a student at Yale University, his brief military service as an artillery officer in the First World War, to his teaching career at Swarthmore from the 1925 to the 1950s. This collection also houses extensive personal correspondence between the Taft Manning family and their friends over this time period. Finally, the papers of Elbridge Gerry Manning Jr. from the civil war era are an outlier to the dates of the other materials in this collection, though most of the letters in this collection are transcribed so were probably put together well after his life and death.

Following the Helen Taft Manning Papers Collection, this collection can be arranged into four series I. “Helen Taft Manning, Personal (Bulk, 1907-1960s,)” II. “Helen Taft Manning, Papers on Bryn Mawr (Bulk 1915-1987,)” III. “Frederick J. Manning Papers (Bulk 1915-1960s,)” IV. “Phelps Putnam’s Writings (bulk 1915-1940s,)” V. “Elbridge Gerry Manning Papers (1862 to 1867,)” Series VI “President Taft Documents,” Series VII “Photo Albums (Undated,)” pictures, and Newspaper Clippings.

The bulk of this collection’s material is personal. In addition to the memorabilia, the letters in this collection speak primarily about personal affairs and private recollections. Although these letters belong to people who were prominent in both American national and state politics, very few of the letters actually touch on their political careers and instead focus on personal matters. Some of the letters addressed to Frederick Manning shed some light on his teaching career at Swarthmore.


  • Majority of material found within 1862 to 1867


Biographical / Historical

Helen Herron Taft Manning (August 1, 1891 – February 21, 1987) graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1915, became Dean in 1917, and acting president in 1919. She left Bryn Mawr to obtain a Doctorate in History from Yale University and returned to Bryn Mawr as Dean in 1925. She served as Dean until 1941, and taught history until her retirement in 1957, though she continued to research and publish. She was the daughter of President William Howard Taft and Helen Herron Taft. She married Fredrick Manning in 1920. Frederick Manning (1894-1966) graduated from Yale in 1916, and earned a doctorate in history from the same institution. He served as a lieutenant of field artillery in the First World War, and started teaching at Swarthmore in 1925 to be nearer to his wife when she returned to Bryn Mawr. Some of the papers of his ancestor Elbridge Gerry Manning are included in this collection. Helen Taft Manning and Frederick Manning had two daughters: Helen Taft Manning Hunter (born October 5, 1921) and Caroline Manning Cunningham (born January 18, 1925.)


7.5 Linear Feet (12 Document Boxes, 5 photo boxes)




This collection contains the official documents and letters, as well as personal memorabilia, correspondence, and photo albums (bulk dates from 1907-1960s) of Helen Taft Manning and Frederick Manning. Helen Herron Taft Manning, daughter of President William Howard Taft and Helen Herron Taft, graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1915. She was named Dean of Bryn Mawr College in 1917, and became acting President in 1919. After obtaining a doctorate in history from Yale University, she returned to Byrn Mawr in 1925 as Dean and Professor of History. She married Frederick Johnson Manning in 1920, a former Yale graduate who then took up a position as a professor in the History Department at Swarthmore College in 1925. The materials in this collection shed light on the life and career of both Helen and Frederick Manning, by means of the extensive personal and professional documents they shared with each other as well as their various family members and colleagues. This collection also contains a few documents belonging to Union Soldier Lieutenant Elbridge Gerry Manning Jr. (an ancestor of Frederick Manning,) and President William Howard Taft. Finally, this collection houses several manuscripts, correspondence, and poetry drafts by the Poet H. Phelps Putnam, Frederick Manning’s close friend from Yale. This collection can supplement the existing Helen Taft Manning Papers at Bryn Mawr and alongside that collection, constitutes an informative record on the personal and professional career of Helen and Frederick Manning, as well as their peers and colleagues from the political and literary worlds.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Sarah Cunningham

Related Materials

TriCollege Libraries Archives and Manuscripts: Helen Taft Manning Papers

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Bryn Mawr College Library

Bryn Mawr College Library
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