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Francis Burton Harrison papers

Identifier: MSS 14969

Scope and Contents

The Francis Burton Harrison papers (1921-1945; 0.5 cubic feet) consist of personal and family papers of (1873-1957), United States Senator and Governor-General of the Philippines. Most of the correspondence is from the World War II era, and the Harrisons had just escaped the Biarritz and San Jean de Luz region of the German Occupied zone of France in [April?] and made their way to the United States in 1941.

Much of the general correspondence is of a genealogical nature or is in response to a gift of The Virginia Carys by Harrison or an article written by him. Frequent correspondents concerned with genealogy and scattered throughout his correspondence folders include: Susan Winter Atkins; Francis L. Berkeley, Jr.; Landon C. Bell, Columbus, Ohio; R. Blomfield, London; Minnie G. Cook, Founder of the Order of First Families of Virginia, Washington, D.C.; Mrs. Philip Wallace Hiden, [Martha (née Woodroof) Hiden (1888–1959)]; William B. Marye, Baltimore, Maryland; Gertrude Randolph Bramlette Richards, Washington, D.C.; Elizabeth Hawes Ryland, Richmond, Virginia; Clayton Torrence, Virginia Historical Society; and Sue Ruffin Tyler.

Other individuals or topics are noted for each general correspondence folder, with the dates of their correspondence in parenthesis following their names.


  • Creation: 1921-1945


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Note

Francis Burton Harrison was born in New York City on December 18, 1873, as one of four children of Burton Norvell Harrison, a lawyer and former secretary to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Constance Cary, a novelist and Civil War heroine. Harrison was a graduate of Yale University in 1895, where he was a member of the secret society Skull and Bones, and received his law degree from the New York Law School two years later. His early work included two years as an evening instructor at the New York Law School and service in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War.

Harrison was a member of the Democratic Party and served as a member of Congress from 1903-1905, and 1907-1913 until he resigned to become the chief executive of the Philippines, 1913-1921. While in Congress, he was responsible for the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, which finally passed on December 17, 1914. In 1934, he was asked to return to the Philippines to help them transition from a United States territory to commonwealth with an elected Filipino government. He became the principle advisor of the first President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon, in November 1935, for almost a year and then returned at Quezon’s request in May 1942, to serve the government in exile after the Japanese invaded the Philippines.

Francis Burton Harrison was married six times and had children in five of his marriages. The following list of children has been constructed from several incomplete sources and from internal information from the letters but cannot be vouched for with total confidence.

List of Francis Burton Harrison's children

  1. Mary Crocker (1882-1905), married on June 7, 1900, she died in automobile accident in 1905. Children: Barbara Harrison Wescott married Lloyd Bruce Wescott; and Virginia Randolph Harrison (1901-?), married Marius de Zayas
  2. Mabel Judson Cox, married on January 16, 1907. Children: Burton Norvell Harrison II, Dolly Harrison, and Randolph Burton Harrison (1911-1912)
  3. Salena Elizabeth Wrentman (later Mrs. Alexander Fitzjames Graham Watson), married May 15, 1919. Children: Francis Burton Harrison, Jr. (“Kiko”) married Dora Maxwell, Geoffrey Harrison, and one daughter, Verna Harrison
  4. Margaret Wrentman (died 1941), married April 8, 1927. Children: one son, Norvell Harrison (died 1941 in Arizona at age 14)
  5. Doria Lee, married November 19, 1935. Children: one daughter, Ursula Fairfax Harrison Biddle (1937-1996)
  6. Maria Teresa (no children)


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 document box)


The correspondence is arranged chronologically within files. Family correspondence has been grouped within the file by individuals with their names on the front of each insert.


Donated by Archibald Hobson, 27 March 2010.

Francis Burton Harrison papers
Sharon Defibaugh
Description rules
Archives, Personal Papers, And Manuscripts (Washington: Library Of Congress)
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States