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HUG 1264

Carney, Frank, 1861-1949. Papers of Frank Carney, 1877-1948 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUG 1264
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Carney, Frank, 1861-1949.
Title: Papers of Frank Carney, 1877-1948
Date(s): 1877-1948
Quantity: 1 collection (ca. 4 cubic feet (12 boxes)
Quantity: Extent is approximate.
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Frank Carney (1861-1949) was an employee of the Harvard College Library from the time he was thirteen until his retirement at the age of seventy. Carney was an amateur photographer and enjoyed an active social and cultural life outside of his work. The majority of the collection concerns his activities outside of work. Photographs from the late 1890s illustrate social life and costume of the period.

Acquisition Information:

The bulk of this collection came to the University Archives in August 1997 as accession number: 13635. . Papers were stored in suitcase, metal box, and a cardboard box. There were three unnumbered accessions in this collection long before 1997: Franklin T. Currier gave the University Archives some of Carney's personal correspondence in 1943, Carney himself gave the University Archives a "testimonial," the date of this acquisition is not recorded, and the Archives holds a sound recording of an address by Frank Carney, both its donor and its date unrecorded.

Custodial Information:

The bulk of Frank Carney papers were given by Ruth W. Flanders, on behalf of Lois E. Washburn, a friend of Carney's.
No accruals are expected.

Processing Information:

Processed by Maggie Hale April 1998.
When acquired, the collection had no order. At the Harvard University Archives, materials relating to Harvard University were placed together in one series. Remaining series were organized by type of material and arranged chronologically within series when dates were available. Several letters to Franklin Currier and others, an audio recording, and a testimonial book previously accessioned by the Archives were incorporated with the newly received material to form the current collection.
Kate Bowers added re-discovered sound recording 2005 October 17.

Conditions on Use and Access:

No restrictions on access apply.

Allied Material

Biography of Frank Carney

Frank Carney was born in County Tyrone, Ireland on September 20, 1861. He came to the United States as a boy, and started work as an errand boy and stack assistant at the Harvard College Library, Gore Hall, in May of 1875. In 1879, after several years of working in the Circulation Department, Carney began working in the Shelf Department, assisting G. F. Arnold. Arnold had been appointed Curator of the Shelf Department in 1878, marking the beginning of the department. Following Arnold's retirement in 1882, the Shelf Department was turned over to Carney, first under the direction of William Coolidge Lane, then under Tillinghast. In 1893, Carney was appointed Assistant in Charge of Shelves for 1892-1893. He was re-appointed in the fall of 1893, and given an appointment without limit of time as Assistant in Charge of Shelves in 1895.
On Sept. 1, 1911 Carney was appointed Superintendent of the Buildings of the College Library. Carney was praised as the hero of the move from Gore Hall into the newly constructed Widener Library for his work from 1912 to 1915. Frank Carney celebrated the completion of fifty years in the service of the library on May 1, 1925. It was not until 1932, however, that Carney retired from Widener Library and moved to Lake Boone, in Stow, Massachusetts.
Carney enjoyed an active social and cultural life outside of his hours in the Library. He frequently attended theatrical productions in Boston and Cambridge, and often took time to critique the performances. Carney was also an amateur photographer and experimented with processes and the hand coloring of photographs. Carney regularly took summer vacation trips to various New England locations. In the summer of 1891, he took a trip to Europe. As well as making a visit to his homeland of Ireland, Carney traveled through England, Scotland and much of Europe. Carney's travels continued in 1925 when he took a trip across Canada and the United States. Traveling by train and boat, Carney visited the scenic parks of the western United States.
Carney enjoyed outdoor activities throughout his life. He was a member of the Cambridge Bicycle Club in the 1880s. In 1922, at the age 61, he became a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and was an active member through 1932. He joined the Club on many of their annual trips: Washington's Birthday snowshoeing trips to New Hampshire, autumn trips to the Saguenay River, Christmas trips to Vermont. The trips were filled with activity, and occasional adventure. On one of his first trips with the AMC, Carney and two women were reported lost in a blizzard. Carney was later commended by the President of the AMC for his efforts to help the women. In 1929, Carney was lost overnight on AMC trip to the Saguenay River.
Carney continued to be an active man into his retirement. In February and March of 1941 he joined a local Stow family on an automobile trip to Florida, traveling on Skyline Drive and through the Great Smoky Mountains. Frank Carney died at Lake Boone, Stow, Massachusetts on December 7, 1949.

Series and Sub-series in the Collection

Scope and Content of the Collection

Although Carney was a long-time employee of Harvard, the majority of the collection concerns his activities outside of work. Harvard-related materials are limited and include a small amount of correspondence and assorted other items relating to Harvard University. Personal correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, notebooks, and photographs document Carney's interests outside of work. Early journals, scrapbooks and photographs reveal an enjoyment of an active social and cultural life. Photographs from the late 1890s illustrate social life and costume of the period, with Carney appearing in the company of groups of men and women. His travels, as well as his interest in educating himself on a wide variety of subjects, are documented in the papers.


This document last updated 2005 October 17.

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