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Adelaide H.C. Frick Papers

Identifier: HCFF.03

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Adelaide H.C. Frick consist of correspondence, notes and notebooks, calendars, financial records, printed material, ephemera, and objects documenting her life, interests, and family. Materials are divided into eight series as follows:

Series I: Correspondence, 1881-1935 and undated, contains letters to Adelaide H.C. Frick from family, friends, and other acquaintances. Materials are largely arranged by correspondent, although condolence letters to Mrs. Frick on the deaths of her daughter, Martha H. Frick, and husband, Henry Clay Frick, are grouped together. This series also contains a series of files compiled by Mrs. Frick's nephew, Karl F. Overholt, in the course of managing affairs for the family. These files are grouped first under Overholt's name, then alphabetically by topic. Items of note in this series include examples of correspondence between Mr. and Mrs. Frick dating from before their marriage; letters from Mrs. Frick's mother, Martha H. Childs; sister, Martha H. "Attie" Childs; and brothers, Howard and Marshall Childs, around the time of her marriage in 1881; and several invitations to dinners and receptions at the White House from Theodore and Edith Roosevelt.

Series II: Calendars, 1895-1929, consists chiefly of engagement calendars noting luncheons, dinners, receptions, teas, bridge games, and other social engagements. Names mentioned include the Westinghouses, Woodwells, Nicolas, and Frews, among many others. This series also contains printed desk and wall calendars, as well as schedules for the distribution of opera tickets (probably for the Frick box at the Metropolitan Opera in New York) among various friends and family members.

Series III: Notes and Notebooks, 1874-1930 and undated, contains both bound notebooks and loose notes, including guest lists, address books, shopping lists, inventories, and recipes. Some notebooks were used for more than one purpose, as noted below. The earliest item in this series is a composition book dating from 1874, when Mrs. Frick would have been about fifteen years old.

Series IV: Travel, 1878-1931 and undated, includes receipts, calling cards, passports, itineraries, stationery, brochures, clippings, ephemera, and other printed material pertaining to both domestic travel and trips abroad. Materials document travel to France, England, Spain, Italy, and The Netherlands, as well as California, the Grand Canyon, and Washington, D.C.

Series V: Accounts, 1888-1932 and undated, contains one cash book and one journal, along with receipts, bank records, and accounts payable vouchers documenting the personal finances of Mrs. Frick. Bank records include domestic accounts at Guaranty Trust Co. in New York, Union Trust Co. in Pittsburgh, and foreign accounts in London and Paris. Some files in this series were compiled by Mrs. Frick's nephew, Karl F. Overholt, in the course of managing various financial affairs for the family. These files are grouped first under Overholt's name, then alphabetically by topic.

Series VI: Stationery, 1881-circa 1919-1931 and undated, consists largely of unused stationery, especially calling cards, envelopes, invitations, place cards, and writing paper used by Adelaide H.C. Frick and Henry Clay Frick in the course of meeting their social obligations. Other materials include bookplates, gift tags, payroll sheets, stamps, Valentine cards, vouchers, and writing portfolios. Items of note include the calling card reading "Ada H. Childs," which was used by Mrs. Frick before her marriage, stationery used on board the chartered yacht "Shemara" in the summer of 1900, and two Valentine's Day cards probably dating from around 1900.

Series VII: Estate Files, 1920-1951, contains appraisals, inventories, clippings, correspondence, budgets, legal documents, and tax information pertaining to the settlement of Mrs. Frick's estate. Items of interest in this series include a copy of Mrs. Frick's will, inventories of the Frick family's country home (Eagle Rock), and notes pertaining to the appraisal of Mrs. Frick's New York property, which contain Joseph Duveen's opinion of a bust by Houdon.

Series VIII: Printed Material and Miscellanea, 1877-1929 and undated, includes printed material, ephemera, and objects belonging to Adelaide H.C. Frick. Among the printed material are catalogs, brochures, books, postcards, and newspaper clippings, including a large number of clippings regarding the death of Henry Clay Frick. Ephemera and objects consist of calling cards, dog licenses, games and playing cards, a travel clock, pressed flowers, and locks of hair from Mrs. Frick's children. Unlike the calling cards in Series VI: Stationery, which were largely unused, the cards in this series were mostly received from friends and relatives of the Fricks. According to documentation found with the cards, some accompanied wedding gifts received by Mr. and Mrs. Frick in 1881, while others were received from callers during the couple's honeymoon. Other items of note in this series include a series of silhouettes (some probably depicting Mrs. Frick) signed "Ross, 1919," an 1895 copy of the by-laws of the Twentieth Century Club (founded in Pittsburgh in 1894), and a pair of season tickets to the Pittsburgh Orchestra's 1898-1899 season.


  • 1874-1951, undated


Access Restrictions

These records are open for research by appointment under the conditions of The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives Access Policy. For all inquiries or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Archives Department at

Biographical Note

Adelaide Howard Childs Frick, 1859-1931, was the wife of industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick. The daughter of a prominent Pittsburgh family engaged in the manufacturing and importing of shoes and boots, she met and married her husband in 1881. The first of their four children, Childs Frick, was born in 1883, followed by Martha Howard Frick in 1885, Helen Clay Frick in 1888, and Henry Clay Frick Jr. in 1892. Of the four children, only Childs and Helen Clay survived to adulthood. Martha Howard Frick died after a long illness in 1891, and Henry Clay Frick Jr. died in infancy.

From 1882 until 1905, the family occupied a large residence called Clayton at the corner of Penn and Homewood Avenues in Pittsburgh. During this time, Adelaide Frick was largely engaged in raising her children, in the daily management of the house, and in the activities of Pittsburgh society. In 1905, the family leased the Vanderbilt mansion at 640 Fifth Avenue in New York City, and a year later, they built a summer residence (Eagle Rock) in Prides Crossing, Mass. They later built their own residence in New York at One East 70th Street, which Mrs. Frick occupied from 1914 until her death in 1931. Her son Childs married Frances S. Dixon in 1913, and had four children of his own. Her daughter Helen, however, never married, and remained at home until Henry Clay Frick’s death in 1919.

After the death of her husband, Adelaide Frick served as one of the founding trustees of The Frick Collection, along with her son and daughter. For the remainder of her life, she divided her time between Pittsburgh, New York, and Prides Crossing, where she died in October 1931. Upon her death, the houses in Pittsburgh and Massachusetts passed to her daughter Helen, while the New York residence was closed for renovation and expansion. It opened to the public as The Frick Collection in December 1935.


23.8 Linear feet ((46 boxes).)

Language of Materials



Adelaide Howard Childs Frick, 1859-1931, was the wife of industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick. This collection contains correspondence, notes and notebooks, calendars, financial records, printed material, ephemera, and objects documenting her life, interests, and family.


Materials are arranged in the following series:

Series I: Correspondence, 1881-1935, undated

Series II: Calendars, 1895-1929

Series III: Notes and Notebooks, 1874-1930, undated

Series IV: Travel, 1878-1931, undated

Series V: Accounts, 1888-1932, undated

Series VI: Stationery, circa 1881-1931, undated

Series VII: Estate Files, 1920-1951

Series VIII: Printed Material and Miscellanea, 1877-1929, undated


Gift of the Helen Clay Frick Foundation, 2015.

Processing Information

Arranged and described by Julie Ludwig, 2014, with funding from the Helen Clay Frick Foundation.

Finding Aid for the Adelaide H.C. Frick Papers, 1874-1951, undated HCFF.03
Part of the Frick Family Papers
Finding aid prepared by Julie Ludwig
© 2014 The Frick Collection. All rights reserved.
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Repository Details

Part of the Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives Repository

10 East 71st Street
New York NY 10021 United States