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Leo Frank papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS91

Scope and Content

This collection primarily consists of correspondence. There are letters of sympathy and support sent to Leo Frank and Lucille Selig Frank throughout his incarceration and after his death. Letters to the Franks are often written by many of the same people and share similar content. Also included is correspondence from members of the Frank and Selig families, from Frank's attorneys, from newspaper publishers and reporters, and to Governor Slaton on behalf of Leo Frank. In addition, the collection contains the Franks' financial records, documents and newspaper clippings about Leo Frank's legal case, and membership documents for religious and professional organizations.


  • 1912-1916, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

Leo Max Frank (1884-1915) was born to Rudolph and Rachel Frank in Cuero, Texas. The family moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1884. Leo Frank graduated from Cornell University's College of Engineering in 1907. The following year, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to work at the National Pencil Company. In 1910, Frank married Lucille Selig, the youngest daughter of a distinguished Jewish family in Atlanta. On April 27, 1913, Mary Phagan, a child laborer, was found murdered at the National Pencil Company's factory on South Forsyth Street in Atlanta. Frank was arrested two days later, and indicted by a grand jury on May 23, 1913. His trial began on July 28, 1913, and in less than a month he was convicted of Phagan's murder and sentenced to death. Georgia governor John Slaton commuted Frank's sentence to life imprisonment on June 22, 1915, and moved him to Milledgeville State Penitentiary, a minimum security work camp. This decision prompted a well-organized group to kidnap Frank from the penitentiary and transport him to Marietta, Georgia, on August 16, 1915, where they beat and lynched him. After Frank's death the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, a national Jewish fraternity, formed the Jewish Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith which today exists as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In 1982, the ADL petitioned the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to pardon Frank based on new evidence, but the board denied the request. In March 1986, the board reversed their decision and granted the pardon. The board refused to confirm Frank's innocence, but granted the pardon based on the state's failure to protect Frank and to convict his killers.


4.88 linear ft. (eight document cases, one oversize box)



System of Arrangement

This collection is organized into four series: I. Letters of sympathy and support; II. Family correspondence; III. Legal and public relations correspondence; and IV. Miscellaneous. Folders are arranged either alphabetically or chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1968 with subsequent additions.

Description Control

This collection was re-processed in 2012.

Leo Frank papers
Paul Crater
October 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305