Guide to the Frank Whitson Fetter Papers, 1902-1992
American economist on the faculty of Northwestern University, and economic advisor to international banks and governments. The papers of Frank Whitson Fetter span the years 1902-1992, with the bulk dating from the 1920s through 1980. Included are correspondence, diaries and journals, teaching materials, published books, articles and book reviews, and all the supporting research for these publications. There is also printed material, as well as additional research materials on index cards and microfilm. The files also contain fellowship and grant applications, conference and seminar programs, notes and texts of lectures and speeches, as well as financial papers, a scrapbook and photographs. The collection highlights the academic and consulting experiences (particularly the Kemmerer Commission) of a twentieth-century American economist, and documents his intellectual development as an historian of economic thought, as well as his many years of consulting and government service regarding international monetary issues. Centering on Fetter's publications and research, and to a lesser extent his teaching, the largest series in the collection are the Publications Series and the General Research Series. His publications and research focused on the study of the history of economics, British banking and monetary policy, inflation, and international economic thought. As reflected in the Correspondence Series, he corresponded with economists, academics, and writers. The Commissions, Consulting and Government Services Series includes the materials used to produce various economic reports for the foreign governments of Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Poland, and China. Other files contain Fetter's personal diaries, detailing how he spent his time while commissioned abroad, as well as an oral history about his international work. There is a relatively small amount of material concerning Fetter's personal life.
- Collection Number
- Frank Whitson Fetter papers
- Fetter, Frank Whitson, 1899-1991
- 114 Linear Feet, 68,400 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Correspondence, 1902-1992, undated (bulk 1950-1973).
- Calendars, Diaries and Journals, 1917-1989.
- Commissions, Consulting and Government Services, 1924-1974 (bulk 1924-1930).
- Northwestern University, 1947-1968.
- Publications, 1857-1992, undated (bulk, 1940-1979).
- General Research, 1923-1981.
- Personal Files, 1915-1991.
- Professional Files, 1925-1990.
- Pictures, 1909-1988, undated (bulk 1930).
- Oversize Materials
The papers of Frank Whitson Fetter span the years 1902-1992, with the bulk occurring from the 1920s through 1980. Included are correspondence, diaries and journals, college and university course materials, published books, articles and book reviews, and all the supporting research for these publications. There is also printed material, as well as additional research materials on index cards and microfilm. The files contain fellowship and grant applications, conference and seminar programs, notes and texts of lectures and speeches, as well as financial papers, a scrapbook and pictures. The collection highlights the academic and consulting experiences (particularly the Kemmerer Commission) of a twentieth-century American economist, and documents his intellectual development as an historian of economic thought. Centering on Fetter's publications and research, and to a lesser extent his teaching, the largest series in the collection are the Publications Series and the General Research Series. His publications and research focused on the study of the history of economics, in particular inflation and international economic thought. As reflected in the Correspondence Series, he corresponded with economists, academics, and writers. There is a relatively small amount of material concerning Fetter's personal life.
Fetter's research interests and publications were wide-ranging, and are documented in both the Publications and General Research Series. His articles and pamphlets from 1921-1990 address such topics as Irish and Latin American currency, economists and their relationship to politics, as well as trade, tariff and hard money issues. The articles focus mainly on the economic history of Great Britain in the 19th century, including the rise and fall of various economic trends and theories in the British financial system. One of the Kemmerer missions provided the basis for Fetter's first book, Monetary Inflation in Chile (1931), which foreshadowed his enduring interest in the causes of monetary instability. When later interests changed his focus to classical economics, and in particular to British economic thought from Adam Smith to John Stuart Mill, he illuminated the classic controversies over money and banking which at the time of the Napoleonic Wars shaped the economic theories and institutional structures that served Britain and the world before 1914. Such ideas are illustrated in Fetter's Development of British Monetary Orthodoxy 1797-1875 (1965) and The Economist in Parliament: 1780-1868 (1980). These are just two of the books for which the Publications Series holds drafts and final copies of manuscripts, revision notes, English and foreign language editions, background research, and correspondence. Manuscripts, research and correspondence are also available for Fetter's unpublished books, one dealing with the role of foreign capital in assisting developing countries, and the other concerning the rise of England's Overend, Gurney bank, and its subsequent financial collapse in 1866.
The General Research Series is a complement to the Publications Series, as Fetter used these research files for many different projects. The Alphabetical Files Sub-Series, organized by topic, reflect Fetter's personal and professional interests, and holds the body of reference material Fetter collected throughout his career. Much of this material deals with English banking history, and includes files on Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, the bullion controversy, and tariff issues. Examples of other interests are also in these files, including documents of Fetter's debunking efforts concerning the inscriptions on the Christ of the Andes monument and on the Jefferson Memorial. Other materials of interest are the de Tocqueville files, and his efforts at cataloging the economic references in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. A second alphabetical series of index cards and microfilm contain research on many topics of interest to Fetter. The Research on Published Articles and Pamphlets Sub-Series complements the Published Articles and Pamphlets Sub-Series in the Publications Series and contains correspondence and background research for the articles and book reviews.
In addition to research, Fetter's career involved a great deal of international consulting outside academia. He eagerly accepted commissions for projects throughout the world, and in the 1920s participated in the missions led by the Princeton economist, E.W. Kemmerer (known as the “money doctor”), advising numerous Latin American governments and others on their monetary problems. The Commissions, Consulting and Government Services Series includes the materials used to produce various economic reports for the foreign governments of Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Poland, and China. Other files contain Fetter's personal diaries, detailing how he spent his time while commissioned abroad. Photographs taken during consulting visits are in the Pictures Series. He worked collaboratively with the US. government and the government of India, Cuba, and Germany to secure economic stability for each of these countries. In the early 1950s Fetter was a State Department advisor on the German Debt Settlement. Fetter also testified before United States Congressional and Governmental Committees in the 1950s. In 1974, an oral history interview conducted by someone from the Harry S. Truman Library detailed Fetter's years of consulting and government service regarding international monetary issues.
Not only was Fetter a consultant, he also taught economics at Princeton, Haverford College, Northwestern University, and, upon his retirement, at Dartmouth College, where he adapted his Northwestern University course material for his classes. Fetter occasionally taught or advised at institutions such as Swarthmore College, the School for Advanced International Studies, and the University of Wisconsin. Both the Northwestern University Series and the Teaching Sub-Series of the Professional Files Series highlight such Fetter courses as Money and Banking, History of Economic Thought, International Investment, and Latin American Culture and Civilization. Also of interest are the files on the Ford Foundation Faculty Research Summer Seminar in 1957, where Fetter taught International Economic Problems and Economic Development to faculty from various colleges and universities throughout the Midwest. Fetter served on various Northwestern University committees such as the Budget Committee (1954) and the Honor System Committee (1963-1964).
His Student Papers Sub-Series in the Personal Files Series and Teaching Files Sub-Series in the Professional Files Series describe his educational experiences both as a student and teacher. The Teaching Sub-Series chiefly covers Fetter's teaching experiences before his appointment to Northwestern University, with just a few files during and after the Northwestern years. Fetter applied for and received a number of fellowships and grants throughout his career including a grant from the American Philosophical Society in the 1980s for research on the Overend, Burney Bank. These files are found in the Fellowships and Grants Sub-Series of the Professional Files Series.
Letters to and from colleagues with whom Fetter was closely associated, as well as correspondence with friends and family members including his father, the Princeton economist, Frank Albert Fetter, can be found in the General Correspondence Series. Among his correspondents were J. Garner Anthony, Robert D.C. Black, J. Chester Bradley, R.C. Brooks, Colin Campbell, Lino Castillejo, S.G. Checkland, (Chick) Eagen, Luther Evans, Max Farrand, Milton Friedman, Craufurd Goodwin, Barry Gordon, Frank Graham, Keith Horsefield, Hollard (Ho) Hunter, Per Jacobsson, E.W. Kemmerer, John Maynard Keynes, Charles Kindleberger, Samuel Loescher, Vernon Mund, Leslie Pressnell, Lord Robbins, Richard Sayers, Franklin Scott, Joseph B. Shane, Frederick Jackson Turner, F.W. Taussig, Alan Valentine, Jacob Viner, C.R. Whittlesey and Harold Williamson. Other letter writers of note are E.M. Forster, Upton Sinclair, and Gore Vidal. The Midwest Economics Association Sub-Series consists of correspondence documenting Fetter's involvement with the association and his term as president in 1952. The References and Recommendations Sub-Series, the last in the series, include letters written by Fetter, as well as letters requesting recommendations, and letters thanking him for writing.
Varying aspects of Fetter's personal and professional life are reflected in this collection in both the Personal Files Series and the Professional Files Series. The Alphabetical Files Sub-Series in both series highlight his personal and professional interests. An enthusiastic sportsman, Fetter's canoe and cross-country ski trips are represented, as is his involvement in forestry and conservation through such groups as the Hanover Conservation Council and the Izaak Walton League of America. An active member of the Religious Society of Friends, Fetter's interest in peace concerns is evident throughout his life. He participated in the Institute of International Relations sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, held at Haverford College in 1934 and 1935. These files are located in the Teaching Sub-Series of the Professional Files Series. During the 1970s, Fetter also supported peace efforts during the Vietnam conflict, participating in letter writing efforts to the U.S. Congress. His associations with a number of professional organizations are represented in the files of the American Economic Association, the Midwest Economic Association, the History of Political Economy, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. During the 1930s, he also wrote a number of editorials (primarily on gold issues) for the St. Louis Dispatch, which are also included here. Other complementing sub-series in the Personal and Professional Files Series are the Travel files and the Conference and Seminars files and the Lectures and Speeches files. Fetter traveled widely, sometimes to attend language school courses, and other times to attend conferences or deliver lectures throughout the world. Personal information, including his marriage to Elizabeth Pollard in 1929, and his second marriage to Elizabeth Stabler in 1978, are a part of the Biographical Material Sub-Series in the Personal Files Series. Financial information is found in the Financial Papers Sub-Series of the same series.
Fetter was a consistent diarist, and the Calendars, Diaries and Journals Series records many events of the author's life. The earliest diaries document Fetter's 1917-1918 work with the New York Shipbuilding Yard, and his 1920 trip and work throughout the Western United States. There are other miscellaneous travel journals, including those of Elizabeth (Polly) P. Fetter from her 1929 trip to China and her 1937 trip to England. There is also a straight run of calendars from 1967-1989, and an Address Book Sub-Series containing the addresses of friends and colleagues throughout the United States and abroad.
The Pictures Series contains personal images as well as documentary photographs of Fetter's consulting work. Included are images from the commissions in South and Central America, in Poland and China, from his consulting work in Cuba for the Commission of Cuban Affairs (1934), in Ecuador for the Export-Import Bank (1939), and in India for the Lend-Lease Administration (1943-1944). Yet the majority of photographs are from Fetter's trip to Russia in 1930, taken mainly in Kazan and Moscow. Other travel photographs include those taken at the Economic History meeting in Switzerland in 1965, the Economic History meeting in Switzerland in 1965, several canoe trips, and a Colorado ski trip in 1976. There are also photographs taken at Northwestern University in 1956 and Dartmouth College in 1968.
Access to the Collection
A portion of the Publications Series is restricted.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in the Fetter papers have been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library or consult a reference archivist.
Documents Fetter's work as an economic advisor to countries throughout the world, as well as his United States government service. Includes charts, clippings, correspondence, diaries and journals, graphs, printed material, reports, and research notes. Consists of fourteen subseries, each divided by country and topic. See the Pictures Series for photographs taken on missions.
Arranged in three subseries: Courses (1947-1967), Committees (1954-1964), and Miscellaneous (1960-1966). Courses, arranged alphabetically, include assignments, bibliographies, syllabi, exams, grade books, handwritten and typed research notes, as well as correspondence and memos regarding his classes. Files documenting Fetter's committee work and other university activities contain correspondence, research notes, reports, and programs.
This largest series contains all of Fetter's formal writings, both published and unpublished, as well as published writings of interest to him. Published articles, book reviews, books, pamphlets, manuscripts, correspondence, serials, and clippings contained within seven subseries. Contains photocopied research material (RESTRICTED) and transcripts of copied archival material. All research and correspondence for the Articles and Pamphlets Sub-Series is in the Research on Published Articles and Pamphlets Sub-Series of the General Research Series.
The second largest series contains much of Fetter's collected research, and consists of three subseries: Alphabetical Files, Cards and Film, and Published Articles and Pamphlets. The Alphabetical Files are organized by topic and include magazine and newspaper clippings, bank records, court records, statistics, charts and tables, notes on readings, and bibliographies. A second set of alphabetical research files consists of microfilm and index cards. The final sub-series contains correspondence and background research for Fetter's articles and pamphlets, and complements the Published Articles and Pamphlet's sub-series in the Publications Series.
Materials from Fetter's library, including a small amount of correspondence and a review of Erich Roll's History of Economic Thought.
Comprised of the following subseries: Alphabetical files, Biographical Material, Financial Papers (1920-1988), Student Papers (>1915-1926) and travel (1920-1988). The Alphabetical files contain autographs, certificates, newsletters, newspaper clippings, printed programs, and political action correspondence. The Biographical Material files include army discharge papers, guest books, a marriage certificate and wedding announcements, medical records, obituaries and resumes. The Financial Papers contain expense books, income tax returns, real estate closing papers and stock certificates. The Student Papers cover course notes, research material, papers, his dissertation, as well as transcripts and grade books. The last sub-series, Travel, includes correspondence, business cards, maps, travel brochures and travel guides, as well as passports and visas.
Arranged by topic.
Comprised of the following subseries: Alphabetical Files, Conferences and Seminars (1933-1985), Lectures and Speeches (1928-1981), and Teaching (1925-1990). The Alphabetical Files include material regarding the organizations in which Fetter was actively involved, and contain annual reports, application forms, articles and pamphlets, catalogs, correspondence and memos, editorials, library maps, membership lists, newsletters and newspaper clippings, programs, public hearings and bills, research notes, reports, surveys and telegrams. In the second sub-series, various conferences and seminars that Fetter attended throughout his career are documented with national and international agendas and programs, attendance lists, correspondence, notes and presented papers. The Fellowships and Grants subseries includes copies of his applications, correspondence, news releases, notes and published directories. Fetter was a frequent speaker and the Lectures and Speeches sub-series is comprised of a variety of material documenting these talks. There are articles of interest, lecture notes, outlines and texts of his talks, as well as newspaper clippings and newsletters, and press releases and programs. The final sub-series primarily covers Fetter's teaching experiences before his appointment to Northwestern University, with just a few files during and after the Northwestern years. Typical academic materials are contained here, including course assignments, bibliographies, exams, grade books, readings and syllabi, Fetter's lecture notes, including articles of interest, correspondence and memoranda, newspaper clippings, reports and speeches, as well as his students' papers are contained here. There are also college newspapers and commencement programs. Arranged by topic.
Contains black and white (a few color) photographs, and negatives of Fetter, family members, friends, and colleagues. Chiefly pictures taken during a trip to Russia in 1930 , when Fetter visited Kasan and Moscow, and other travels around the world. Contains one album composed of pictures relating to the Import/Export Bank of Ecuador. Arranged alphabetically by subject (usually a geographic location), followed by “people,” “places,” and “trips” categories.
Photographs from Russia (1930) have been digitized and are available in Americans in the Land of Lenin - Duke Digital Collections
Of particular interest are the 1925-1927 Kemmerer Commission Scrapbook, and the 1929 four-volume report of the Kemmerer China Commission of Financial Experts. There are also research materials, newspaper clippings, and various statistical sheets.
|1899, May 22||
Born, San Francisco, Calif.
Graduate of Princeton High School, Princeton, NJ
A.B., Political Science, Swarthmore College (Phi Beta Kappa)
A.M., Princeton University
A.M., Harvard University
Ph.D., Economics, Princeton University
Assistant Professor and Professor of Economics, Princeton University
|1929, Jan. 14||
Married Elizabeth Pollard (d. 1977)
Member of Commission on Cuban Affairs, organized by the Foreign Policy Association
Associate Professor and Professor of Economics, Haverford College
Guggenheim fellowship (Research on banking in Great Britain)
Economist for the Export-Import Bank of Washington
Economic Advisor to the Central Bank of Ecuador
Economic Advisor with the Lend-Lease Administration and the Department of State; ten months spent in India
Professor of Economics, Northwestern University
Advisor to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Advisor to the Department of State, Division of German Affairs, and member of the American Delegation to London for the Preliminary Conference on German Debts
Visiting Haney Professor, Dartmouth College
Married Elizabeth Miller Stabler (d. 1985)
Frank Whitson Fetter served as a member of the following organizations: American Economic Association (Executive Committee, 1944-1946), Midwest Economic Association (President, 1952), and National Bureau of Economic Research (Director, 1950, 1973; Chairman, 1965-1967).
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Banks and banking, Central
- Economists -- Correspondence
- Economic policy
- Economics -- Study and teaching
- International economic relations
- International trade
- Monetary policy -- Great Britain
- Monetary policy -- South America
- World politics
The professional papers of Frank Whitson Fetter (1899-1991), economist, university professor and government advisor, were bequeathed to the Duke University Library by Frank Whitson Fetter in his will in 1991.
Processed by: Tara Tappert, Denise Dolan, and John Gribble
Completed in 1992
Encoded by Stephen D. Miller