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Fred C. Kelly Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MA
Date: Mar 1968

Biographical History

Fred Charters Kelly (1882-1959) was an American humorist, newspaperman, columnist and author. From 1910 to 1918 he wrote the first syndicated Washington news column. He was the official biographer of the Wright brothers and was active in the efforts to bring the Kitty Hawk to the Smithsonian Institution from the British Museum in London. He also wrote books on George Ade, Kin Hubbard, and various other subjects, and was the author of numerous magazine articles.

Kelly was born in 1882 in Xenia, Ohio and graduated from public school there before attending the University of Michigan from 1900 to 1902. He began his newspaper career at the age of 14 as a local correspondent for a small town newspaper, and then authored a humorous column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer for five years. During his early years in Washington, while writing his column "Statesmen, Real and Near," he began contributing special articles to leading magazines. For 18 months during World War I, he served as special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After the war, Mr. Kelly bought and operated a farm in Peninsula, Ohio, continued free-lance writing, and began his career as an author. His works include Human Nature in Business (1920), How to Lose Your Money Prudently (1933), The Wright Brothers (1943), and George Ade - Warm Hearted Satirist (1947).

Kelly was a member of the National Press Club, Overseas Writers Club, and the Players Club. He had a son, Fred C. Kelly Jr., with his first wife; with his second wife, Marcelle van den Heuvel, whom he married in 1938, he had two children, Brian and Jeanne.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Fred C. Kelly Papers consist of correspondence, subject files, writings, photographs, and material relating to the Wright brothers. Each of these categories is further subdivided as shown in the shelf list.

Correspondence relates to Kelly's various interests and writings and to personal matters. His correspondents include George Ade, Claude Bowers, Andre Maurois, Max Lerner, William Borah, William Sydney Porter, Warren Harding, 0.0. McIntyre, and E.L. Mencken. Included are more than one hundred letters from Booth Tarkington (1918-1945). Mr. Kelly's letters from Orville and Milton Wright are separated from this category and filed with the Wright brothers material. The scrapbook of clippings in Oversize 1 also contains some correspondence, including that of Henry Allen, Governor of Kansas, and George Ade.

Subject files include ephemera, biographical and genealogical material, drawings and newspaper clippings, both loose and compiled in a scrapbook.

Writings includes manuscripts, proof sheets and printed copies of articles; books; notebooks; notes; outlines; a playlet; poems; short stories; and speeches.

Photographs includes pictures of Mr. Kelly, his family and friends.

The subject of the Wright brothers was important to Mr. Kelly. In addition to writing a book, The Wright Brothers, and various articles, Kelly was also the editor of a book of letters, Miracle at Kitty Hawk (1951), and How We Invented the Airplane, by Orville Wright. Wright Brothers material includes letters to Mr. Kelly from Orville and Milton Wright; photostatic copies of correspondence of the Wrights with each other and to and from others; diagrams; legal documents; photographs and writings by and about the Wrights.

German and French political posters (1934-1936) and an etching mentioned in the original finding aid cannot be located as of 2/27/09.

Arrangement of the Collection

Incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically by author and the outgoing is arranged chronologically. Subject files are arranged alphabetically by subject or type; clippings about and by Mr. Kelly are arranged chronologically, and clippings of reviews of his books are arranged alphabetically by book title. Writings are arranged alphabetically by type; within that, articles and books are arranged alphabetically by title and manuscripts of other authors are arranged alphabetically by author.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Ade, George, 1866-1944.
Anderson, Sherwood, 1876-1941.
Angell, Norman, 1874-1967.
Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937.
Biddle, Nicholas, 1893-
Blythe, Samuel George, 1868-1947.
Bok, Edward William, 1863-1930.
Borah, William Edgar, 1865-1940.
Bourke-White, Margaret, 1904-1971.
Bowers, Claude Gernade, 1879-1958.
Brisbane, Arthur, 1864-1936.
Catton, Bruce, 1899-1978.
Churchill, Winston, Sir, 1874-1965.
Cobb, Irvin S. (Irvin Shrewsbury), 1876-1944.
Croy, Homer, 1883-1965.
Elliott, Edward C. (Edward Charles), 1874-1960.
Fitzgerald, Barry, 1888-1961.
Harding, Warren G. (Warren Gamaliel), 1865-1923.
Henry, O., 1862-1910.
Hollis, Henry French, 1869-1949.
Hosking, Arthur.
Howe, Will David, 1873-1946.
Hull, Cordell, 1871-1955.
Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957.
Hutton, Graham, 1904-1988.
Insull, Samuel, 1859-1938.
Janis, Elsie, 1889-1956.
Kelly, Fred C. (Fred Charters), 1882-1959.
Kettering, Charles Franklin, 1876-1958.
Klein, Julius, 1901-1984.
Lane, Franklin K.
Lattimore, Owen, 1900-1989.
Leacock, Stephen, 1869-1944.
Maurois, André, 1885-1967.
McCulloch, Carleton Buel, 1871-1949.
McCutcheon, John T. (John Tinney), 1870-1949.
McFarland, Marvin Wilks, 1919-
McIntyre, O. O. (Oscar Odd), 1884-1938.
Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956.
Moley, Raymond, 1886-1975.
Morgan, Byron.
Mowrer, Paul Scott, 1887-1971.
Nenni, Pietro, 1891-1980.
Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920.
Priestley, J. B. (John Boynton), 1894-1984.
Rook, Clarence, 1862-1915.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1887-1944.
Schuster, M. Lincoln (Max Lincoln), 1897-1970.
Snow, Edgar, 1905-1972.
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962.
Tarbell, Ida M. (Ida Minerva), 1857-1944.
Tarkington, Booth, 1869-1946.
Tarkington, Susanah, 1870-1966.
Terhune, Albert Payson, 1872-1942.
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972.
Webster, Harold Tucker, 1885-1952.
West, Rebecca, 1892-1983.
Willkie, Wendell L. (Wendell Lewis), 1892-1944.
Wodehouse, P. G. (Pelham Grenville), 1881-1975.
Wright, Orville, 1871-1948.
Young, Art, 1866-1943.


Authors, American -- 20th century.
Humorists, American.
Journalists -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.
Reviews (document genre)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Fred C. Kelly Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Fred C. Kelly, 1949-1959.

Table of Contents

Correspondence, incoming

Subject files



Wright Brothers material