Collection ID: MS 387

Collection context


Parsons, Charles, 1889-
Correspondence, speeches, writings, scrapbooks, printed matter, clippings and memorabilia of Charles Parsons, bibliophile and conservative polemicist and ideologist. Also included are some papers of Parsons' wife, Mary Elizabeth Curry Parsons, and speeches and writings of friends and associates of Parsons. Most of the papers are related to Parsons' advocacy and support of various conservative and anti-communist causes and issues, with the bulk of the material covering the period 1934-1965. Important correspondents include Lawrence Dennis, Gerald L. K. Smith, Dan Smoot, Harry Elmer Barnes, William F. Buckley, Jr., Booth Tarkington, Robert Welch, Hamilton Fish, Martin Dies, Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Robert A. Taft, and Harold Velde. Also included is correspondence with many other members of Congress.
23 Linear Feet


Rules or conventions:
translation missing: en.enumerations.resource_finding_aid_description_rules.Finding aid created in accordance with Manuscripts and Archives Processing Manual
Scope and Content:

The Charles Parsons Papers consist of 52 boxes of correspondence, writings, printed matter, and newspaper clippings. The correspondence and memorabilia of Charles Parsons' wife, Mary Elizabeth Curry Parsons, forms a small portion of the collection and covers the period from 1908 to 1919. The bulk of the collection, however, covers the period extending from 1934 to 1965.

The collection is arranged into six series: CORRESPONDENCE; WRITINGS; PRINTED MATTER AND SCRAPBOOKS; SUBJECT FILES; PERSONAL PAPERS, MEMORABILIA AND PHOTOGRAPHS; and PARSONS, CHARLES. The first series, CORRESPONDENCE, is divided into three subsections: "General Correspondence," "Congressional Correspondence," and "Correspondence of Others." Among the notable names which appear in the "General Correspondence" are: Lawrence Dennis, Gerald L. K. Smith, Dan Smoot, General George E. Stratemeyer, Henry Elmer Barnes, Curtis Nettels, William F. Buckley, Jr., Bernard Knollenberg, Booth Tarkington, Robert Welch, Hamilton Fish, William Loch, and Upton Close. There is also extensive and important correspondence with: Clifford F. Ahlers, Gregory Bern, Edwin Borchard, Owen Brewster, Charles Chase, Wallace S. Chase, Lawrence Cornwall, Herbert N. Davison, Frank P. Doherty, Robert Donner, Myron Fagan, Bonner Fellers, Percy Greaves, Hubert Heath, Sybil Howe, Ellis O. Jones, Henry H. Klein, A. S. Merrimon, Edward R. Place, Robert H. Williams, and the Republican National Committee.

"Congressional Correspondence" includes important letters from: Rep. Frank T. Blow (Ohio), Sen. Owen Brewster (Maine), Sen. John T. Bricker (Ohio), Rep. Howard Buffett (Nebr.), Sen. Homer Capehart (Ind.), Rep. Martin Dies (Texas), Sen. Homer Ferguson (Mich.), Rep. Bertrand W. Gearhart (Calif.), Sen. William E. Jenner (Ind.), Rep. Robert W. Kean (N.J.), Sen. William F. Knowland (Calif.), Rep. William Lemke (N. Dak.), Sen. Joseph McCarthy (Wis.), Sen. George W. Malone (Nev.), Sen. Richard M. Nixon (Calif.), Sen. Gerald P. Nye (N. Dak.), Sen. W. Lee O'Daniel (Texas), Rep. James C. Oliver (Maine), Rep. Frederick C. Smith (Ohio), Rep. Lawrence H. Smith (Wis.), Sen. Robert A. Taft (Ohio), Sen. Millard E. Tydings (Md.), Rep. Harold H. Velde (Ill.), Rep. Charles W. Vursell (Ill.), and Rep. John T. Wood (Idaho).

"Correspondence of Others" consists mostly of letters written by Parsons' friends to political and military leaders and government officials about various conservative causes and issues. These letters were apparently circulated among Parsons' friends. Many of the same names which appear in the Congressional and General correspondence sections appear here also. In addition, the correspondence of Mary Curry, who married Parsons in 1918, is included in this section.

PRINTED MATTER AND SCRAPBOOKS consists primarily of newspaper clippings. In addition, there are a variety of political newsletters and pamphlets, congressional news releases, reprints of speeches from the Congressional Record, and an assortment of literature from conservative political organizations.

SUBJECT FILES contains correspondence and printed matter arranged into a number of subject categories. Among these "Subject Files" are materials pertaining to the election of 1944, especially the candidacy of Governor John Bricker of Ohio for president of the United States; the Pearl Harbor investigation, which contains bound volumes of the statements of Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Major General Walter C. Short concerning the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; and Joseph McCarthy, which reveals something of the emotional response created by the death of Senator McCarthy.

PERSONAL PAPERS, MEMORABILIA AND PHOTOGRAPHS contains material such as programs, playbills, membership cards, postcards, and a large number of photographs relating to Parsons, his family and friends.

PARSONS, CHARLES contains 36 scrapbooks, most of which have clippings on politics, World War II, and Parsons' columns and letters to newspapers. Available on microfilm.

Biographical / Historical:

Charles Parsons was born in New York City on May 31, 1889, and educated at Yale University, graduating with the class of 1912. From May 1913 until December 1913 he worked for the freight department of the Long Island Railroad. In May of the following year he joined two friends in a gold and quicksilver mining enterprise at Chloride Cliff, California. Interrupting this venture in June 1916, he served with Squadron "A," Cavalry of New York City, on the Texas border for six months. His return to mining was cut short by the declaration of war on April 6, 1917. Parsons enlisted and was commissioned 1st Lieutenant of Infantry on November 27, 1917. He served with the 153rd Depot Brigade until his discharge on January 16, 1919, having been promoted to Captain of Infantry in September 1918.

While traveling in Europe in 1914, Parsons met Mary Elizabeth Curry of Kansas City, whom he married on April 6, 1918. Their daughter Mary Curry Parsons was born May 5, 1920, in New York City. During the winter of 1921 Parsons worked for a branch of the motion picture industry in Dallas, Texas, but the following spring the main office shut down due to an industry-wide slump. Apparently, this was the last time he was employed.

Parsons' wife died on March 29, 1925. The following year he and his daughter went to England and lived there, chiefly in London, until the war began in 1939. During his stay there he made many friends among the colony of authors and artists and theatrical people. His chief interest was book collecting. He became a member of the First Edition club of London donating many books and manuscripts he had collected to the Yale Library, including manuscripts of Tennyson's earliest poems, personal papers of Robert Browning, and substantial collections of Arthur Machen and James Brand Cabell.

Upon his return to the United States in 1939, Parsons' interest in politics became more active. He was a staunch isolationist and vehemently opposed Roosevelt and the New Deal. He spoke out against U.S. entry into World War II and opposed giving aid to Great Britain.

Parsons befriended Tyler Kent, the young code clerk in the American Embassy in London, who made and kept copies of secret communications between President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. Kent was arrested by the British and charged with espionage, although he was finally jailed for the lesser charge of theft of government documents. Charles Parsons considered Kent a patriot and worked for his release. He also corresponded with several of the thirty defendants in the mass sedition trial following their indictment in 1942, especially Lawrence Dennis, Elizabeth Dilling, Ellis O. Jones, and Colonel Eugene N. Sanctuary. Most of the papers concerning this case, together with Parsons' correspondence with Kent, have been arranged separately. See: the Tyler Gatewood Kent Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Following the war, Parsons continued his political activities by opposing the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, and what he believed were the imperialistic ambitions of the Soviet Union. An early and vigorous supporter of congressional investigations into "un-Americanism" and "subversion," Parsons became an ardent admirer of Senator Joseph McCarthy. He also campaigned for the impeachment of President Eisenhower, who he believed was guilty of appeasing the Soviet Union.

For a time Parsons edited and published "Parsons' Information Service," a mimeographed political newsletter which he circulated among his friends. This collection, however, contains only the issue for July 1, 1942. In addition, Parsons was also a regular contributor to The Broom, a pro-German, anti-Jewish newspaper published in San Diego, California, by Leon C. de Aryan.

Parsons communicated his political opinions primarily through his extensive correspondence with friends and public figures. In addition, he was an enthusiastic and frequent writer of letters to the editor, in which he argued his position with great flourish.

Charles Parsons died on December 23, 1969, at Devon, Pennsylvania.


Arranged in five series: I. Correspondence. II. Writings. III. Printed Matter and Scrapbooks. IV. Subject Files. V. Personal Papers, Memorabilia, and Photographs.

Indexed Terms

Anti-communist movements
Conservatism -- United States
Republican Party. National Committee
Yale University -- Students
Ahlers, Clifford F.
Barnes, Harry Elmer, 1889-1968
Bern, Gregory G., 1901-
Blow, Frank T.
Borchard, Edwin, 1884-1951
Brewster, Owen, 1888-1961
Bricker, John W. (John William), 1893-1986
Buckley, William F., Jr., 1925-2008
Buffett, Howard, 1903-1964
Capehart, Homer E. (Homer Earl), 1897-1979
Chase, Clifford F.
Chase, Wallace S.
Close, Upton, 1894-1960
Cornwall, Lawrence
Davidson, Herbert M.
Day, George Parmly, 1876-1959
Dennis, Lawrence, 1893-1977
Dies, Martin, 1900-1972
Doherty, Frank P.
Donner, Robert, -1964
Fagan, Myron C. (Myron Coureval), 1887-1972
Fellers, Bonner Frank, 1896-1973
Ferguson, Homer, 1888-1982
Fish, Hamilton, 1888-1991
Gearhart, Bertrand Wesley, 1890-1955
Greaves, Percy L., Jr., 1906-1984
Heath, Hubert
Howe, Sybil
Jenner, William E. (William Ezra), 1908-1985
Jones, Ellis O.
Kean, Robert, 1893-1980
Klein, Henry H., 1879-1955
Knollenberg, Bernhard, 1892-1973
Knowland, William F. (William Fife), 1908-1974
Lemke, William, 1878-1950
Malone, George W. (George Wilson), 1890-1961
McCarthy, Joseph, 1908-1957
Merrimon, Augustus Summerfield, 1830-1892
Nettels, Curtis P. (Curtis Putnam)
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Nye, Gerald P. (Gerald Prentice), 1892-1971
O'Daniel, W. Lee (Wilbert Lee), 1890-1969
Oliver, James C.
Parsons, Charles, 1889-
Parsons, Mary Elizabeth
Place, Edward R.
Smith, Frederic Cleveland, 1884-
Smith, Gerald L. K. (Gerald Lyman Kenneth), 1898-1976
Smith, Lawrence Henry, 1892-1958
Smoot, Dan
Taft, Robert A. (Robert Alphonso), 1889-1953
Tarkington, Booth, 1869-1946
Tydings, Millard E. (Millard Evelyn), 1890-1961
Velde, Harold Himmel, 1910-1985
Vursell, Charles Wesley, 1881-
Welch, Robert Henry Winborne, 1899-
Williams, Robert H.
Wood, John Travers, 1878-
United States -- Politics and government -- 20th Century


Sterling Memorial Library
Yale Campus
New Haven, CT, USA
(203) 432-1735