William Curtis Bok and Nellie Lee Holt Bok papers


Collection 3096

( Bulk, 1905-1984 ) 1836-1991
(25.7 Linear feet ; 69 boxes, 4 volumes)

Summary Information

Repository
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Creator
Bok, Curtis, 1897-1962.
Creator
Bok, Nellie Lee Holt, 1901-1984.
Title
William Curtis Bok and Nellie Lee Holt Bok papers
ID
3096
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1905-1984
Date [inclusive]
1836-1991
Extent
25.7 Linear feet ; 69 boxes, 4 volumes
Author
Finding aid prepared by Cary Majewicz.
Sponsor
Processing made possible by a generous donation from Dr. Enid Curtis Bok Okun.
Language
English
Mixed materials [Volume]
1-36
Mixed materials [Box]
1-69
Abstract
This collection documents the personal and professional lives of William Curtis Bok (1897-1962) and Nellie Lee Holt Bok (1901-1984). Curtis Bok (he rarely went by "William") worked as a lawyer in Philadelphia and was elected to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and later to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. During his tenure on the Supreme Court he oversaw the famous obscenity case Commonwealth v. Gordon, which has yet to be overturned. He married twice, first to Margaret Adams Plummer in 1924, and then to Nellie Lee Holt in 1934. Nellie Lee was born in Nebraska and worked as an educator at Stephen's College, Columbia, Missouri. Between 1926 and 1927 she traveled around the world on behalf of the college interviewing various educational and religious leaders, including Mohandas Gandhi. She maintained a tradition of civic engagement throughout her life. The collection also documents to lives of their children (Curtis had three children with his first wife and two with Nellie Lee) and the Holt and Bok ancestors, but to a lesser extent. Housed in sixty-nine boxes and four volumes, these materials span from the 1830s to the 1990s, and are comprised of a rich assortment of items from correspondence, clippings, and photographs, to book manuscripts, speeches, and court papers. Additional material includes estate papers, vital records, date books, calendars, journals, printed materials, financial papers, and ephemera.

Return to Table of Contents »


Biographical/Historical note

Curtis Bok, born in 1897 as William Curtis, was Edward and Mary Louise Curtis Bok’s oldest son. He attended Haverford School, the Chestnut Hill Academy, and The Hill School, a preparatory school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. When graduated from The Hill School in 1915, he moved to Massachusetts and began studying at Williams College. He left school around 1917 to join the Navy when the United States entered World War I. By the age of 21, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant. At the end of the war, Curtis returned to Philadelphia to ponder his future. He turned down the opportunity to work in his father’s publishing company, and instead decided to study law at the University of Virginia.

When he returned to Philadelphia, Curtis worked for a short time as the assistant district attorney of Philadelphia County. He took on cases that were deemed “hopeless,” and took a special interest in the plight of prisoners. He became an Eastern State Penitentiary trustee, and even volunteered to serve a term in prison so he could experience first-hand life behind bars.

Curtis was appointed to the city's Orphans Court in 1935, then to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. While serving locally, he oversaw what became his most famous case, Commonwealth v. Gordon, on obscenity and books. He ruled that if a controversial work had any social or redeeming values, it was not obscene. His decision still stands on the books today. He was later elected, as a Democrat, to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1958.

In 1924, Curtis married Margaret Adams Plummer; together they had a daughter, Margaret Welmeot, and two sons, Benjamin and Derek. The couple divorced in the early 1930s. He married Nellie Lee Holt, a religious educator from Nebraska in 1934, and the couple had two children, Rachael and Enid. Curtis maintained lifelong interests in music, sailing, and writing. His writing abilities and legal knowledge shined in four books--- The Backbone of the Herring;  I, Too, Nicodemus;  Star Wormwood; and a novel,  Maria---as well as his "Judge Ulen" that he wrote for the law magazine  The Shingle. He was deeply involved with the Curtis Institute of Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Curtis also wrote articles sailing and was a member of the United States Power Squadron, a non-profit organization that promotes boating safety and education. Curtis Bok died in 1962.

Nellie Lee Holt was born in Falls City, Nebraska, to William Robert Holt and Eve Lezetta [Giannini] Holt on February 1, 1901. The Holts were known regionally for their award-winning Berkshire hogs. Nellie Lee graduated from high school in 1917 and attended St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, where she studied piano at the school’s Conservatory of the Music. She went on to obtain a master's degree from the University of Nebraska. Her first career was as a teacher in the religious education department at Stephen’s College, Columbia, Missouri. She worked at the college from 1925 to 1934, and early on during her tenure, at the behest of the college's president, she went on a tour of Europe, Russia, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia to meet various leaders in education and religion. While in India, she stayed in two ashrams (religious settlements) with Mohandas Gandhi, whom she interviewed.

After marrying in 1934 marriage Nellie Lee and Curtis Bok moved to Philadelphia. Nellie Lee's first foray into public service began in 1935 when she was appointed to serve on the Philadelphia County Board of Mothers' Assistance, Old Age Pension and Relief of the Blind. She resigned in 1937, the same year their first child was born. In the 1940s, she and Curtis joined the Society of Friends. Among Nellie Lee's many interests were the humanities, the education of women, music therapy, mental health reform, and, like Curtis, the treatment of prisoners. She joined numerous service organizations and helped organize the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission. In 1956, she was appointed president of The American Foundation, Inc., which was set up by Curtis's father Edward Bok. (Curtis served as secretary of the organization up to his death.) The foundation promoted educational programs for and relating to prisoners. Additionally, it supported the Mountain Lake Sanctuary in Lake Wales, Florida, which was also founded by Edward Bok. Nellie Lee's dedication to the community also extended to service with the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Award, the Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Settlement School of Music, and the National Council of Crime and Delinquency, among other organizations.

Curtis and Nellie Lee lived in several locations throughout the region, including the Society Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, and Radnor, Pennsylvania. Later in life, Nellie Lee moved to an apartment in Center City, Philadelphia. She died in 1984.

Return to Table of Contents »


Scope and Contents note

The William Curtis Bok and Nellie Lee Holt Bok papers include sixty-nine boxes and four volumes and document the histories of the Boks and their respective families. The collection is arranged into four series, and the first two series are broken down further into subseries. Within each series or subseries, papers are arranged in rough chronological order. Almost all the papers have been re-housed into new folders, however, due to time constraints, old file folders that were in good shape were retained. Original folder titles were transferred to new folders whenever possible. The collection spons the period up to the 1990s, though Curtis died in 1962 and Nellie Lee died in 1984. Papers dating from after 1984 consist of a file from one of Nellie Lee's assistants, Ester Van Sant, and a few other items that were added to the collection by family members. Overwhelmingly, the collection is made up of correspondence, but there are also genealogical records, financial papers, school records, newspaper clippings, photographs, book manuscripts, speeches, printed material, date books and calendars, and miscellaneous ephemera.

The first series of twenty-two boxes is devoted to Curtis Bok. His papers are arranged into two subseries: Personal and  Professional. These materials present a fairly complete picture of Curtis's life from his earliest days in school to his final days as a judge on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Highlights in the  Personal subseries include a siginificant run of letters he wrote to his parents while in various schools, from the Haverford Academy to the University of Virginia. There are also outgoing letters and a diary he kept while serving in the U. S. Navy. Additional personal correspondence includes letters he wrote to Nellie Lee before and after their 1934 marriage. Items of interest in the  Professional subseries include papers on Curtis's landmark obscenity case of the 1950s; various other opinions, decisions, and notes on court cases; and papers on his books  The Backbone of the Herring;  I, Too, Nicodemus;  Star Wormwood; and  Maria.

The second series is comprised of forty-seven boxes that contain documents relating to the life and work of Nellie Lee Holt Bok. The material has been divided into five subseries: Early education, Stephen's College, and world tour;  Correspondence;  Personal;  Organizations and interests; and  Calendars, dayplanners, and notebooks. These papers date from her days as a religious educator at Stephen's College in the 1920s and 1930s, to her role as wife and mother, to her stint as president of Edward Bok's The American Foundation, Inc. and service with many other civic organizations from the 1950s onward. Partiocularly notable are papers related to her world tour in the first subseries. Between 1926 and 1927, she was charged by the president of Stephen's College to interview various educational leaders around the world, including Count Hermann Keyserling in Germany, founder of the School of Wisdom, and Mohandas K. Gandhi in India. Her interview with Gandhi was later published and she recalled her adventures in a manuscript she titled "The Neighborhood."

The third series contains the oldest material in the collection and is comprised of letters, family records, account books and notebooks, and clippings primarily from Nellie Lee's immediate family. There are files of papers from Nellie Lee's parents, William R. and Eva (Giannini) Holt, and various members of the Giannini family. Additionally, there are genealogical records on the Giannini, Holt, Speer, and Seymour families; clippings on the Holt family; daily journals of Laura Speer and Eva Holt; some family correspondence; and mixed family papers. There are also a few files of papers related to the Bok family and its genealogy.

The fourth and final series ( Oversized papers and printed material) consists of large family photographs and prints, sample of original art collected by the family, and a number of publications and unsorted clippings. Comprising the publications are two boxes of  Mid-Week Pictorials from 1918 to 1919 and a variety of British magazines commemorating the 1937 coronation of King George VI.

Return to Table of Contents »


Overview of arrangement

I. Curtis Bok, 1905-1962; 22 boxes

a. Personal, 1905-1964; 13 boxes

b. Professional, 1921-1962; 9 boxes

II. Nellie Lee Holt Bok, 1897-1991; 47 boxes

a. Early education, Stephens College, and World Tour, circa 1906-1991; 6 boxes, 4 volumes

b. Correspondence, 1917-1984; 12 boxes

c. Personal, circa 1900-1986; 10 boxes

d. Organizations and interests, 1897-1984; 4 boxes

e. Calenders, dayplanners, and notebooks, 1920-1984; 6 boxes

III. Holt, Giannini, and related families, 1836-1991; 4 boxes

IV. Oversized papers and printed materials, 1856-circa 1980; 5 boxes

Return to Table of Contents »


Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2011.

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
215-732-6200

Conditions Governing Access note

Some materials in the collection have been restricted due to their senstitive nature. These include: Curtis Bok mixed legal and financial papers (Box 11), Curtis Bok Estate tax return (Box 43, folder 11), and a medical notebook (Box 57, Folder 8). Please see the itemized box and folder list below for information on when these papers will be made available.

Provenance

Gift of Dr. Enid Curtis Bok Okun, Rachael Bok Goldman, and Derek Bok, 2005.

Accession number 2005.019.

Processing Information note

Approximately forty volumes and a number of rolled items from this collection are undergoing conservation treatments and are unavailable. Once conservation work is completed, the volumes will be returned to the collection and the finding aid will be updated.

Return to Table of Contents »


Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

P. J. Bok legal papers (Collection 3185)

The Philadelphia Award records (Collection 3081)

Philadelphia Fellowship Commission records (MSS155)

At other institutions:

Curtis Bok papers, 1941-1948 (C0012), Princeton University Library's Manuscripts Division, Princeton, New Jersey.

Return to Table of Contents »


Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Curtis Publishing Company.
  • Philadelphia Fellowship Commission.
  • The American Foundation, Inc.

Family Name(s)

  • Bok family.
  • Giannini family.
  • Holt family.
  • Seymour family.
  • Speer family.

Genre(s)

  • Correspondence.
  • Speeches, addresses, etc.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Bok Tower Gardens (Lake Wales, Fla.)
  • Pennsylvania--Social life and customs.
  • Pennsylvania. Court of Common Pleas (Philadelphia County).
  • Pennsylvania. Supreme Court.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social life and customs--20th century.

Occupation(s)

  • Judges--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
  • Lawyers--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.

Personal Name(s)

  • Anderson, Isabella Giannini.
  • Bok, Derek Curtis.
  • Gandhi, Mahatma, 1869-1948.
  • Giannini, M.
  • Goldman, Rachel Bok.
  • Holt, Eva Giannini.
  • Holt, William R.
  • Keyserling, Hermann, Graf von, 1880-1946.
  • Okun, Enid Curtis Bok.
  • Speer, Laura.
  • Zimbalist, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, 1876-1970.

Subject(s)

  • Coronations--Great Britain--History--20th century.
  • Family life--Pennsylvania--20th century.
  • Lawyers as authors.
  • Sailing--Atlantic Coast (U.S.).
  • Spouses--Correspondence-–20th century.
  • Trials (Obscenity)--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
  • Voyages around the world--Description and travel.
  • War diaries.

Return to Table of Contents »


Collection Inventory

 I. Curtis Bok (1905-1962) 

Box
1-22

 a. Personal (1905-1962) 

Scope and Contents note

This subseries contains a mix of papers documenting Curtis's personal relationships and interests. Boxes 1-8 contain Curtis's outgoing letters to his parents while in school, the U. S. Navy, and college, as well as to Nellie Lee from before and after their marriage. (Nellie Lee's corresponding letters to Curtis are in Boxes 35-37.) Following this are other correspondence files, including those on the American Foundation (Box 9, Folder 7), environmentalist Rachel Carson (Box 9, Folders 9-10), and the Curtis Publishing Company (Box 10, Folder 2). Beyond the correspondence, there is also material on the coronation ceremony of England's King George VI (Curtis served on the American delegation that was sent to the event), numerous papers on sailing (Box 13, Folders 1-6), and other records such as Curtis's passports, will, and obituaries (Box 13, Folders 8-12). Note that the financial and legal papers in Box 11 are closed to researchers until 2037. Please see the box and folder list below for more information.

Box
1-13
Box Folder

Letters to parents from Haverford School, Chestnut Hill Academy, and summer camps (1905-1910, undated) 

1 1

Haverford School and Chestnut Hill Academy miscellaneous letters and writings (1907, 1908, undated) 

1 2

Hill School - letters to parents and report cards (1911-1915, undated) 

1 3-6

Hill School form letters, mailings, and miscellaneous (1910-1915) 

1 7

Hill School grade reports (1915, undated) 

1 8

The Hill School News (November 1914; January, May 1915)  

2 2

The Hill Record (November 1914-April 1915) 

2 2

Hill School - miscellaneous writing - "The Volunteer" (circa 1915) 

2 3

Handmade calender (1915) 

2 4

Williams College - letters to parents (1915-1916) 

2 5-6

Williams College - letters to parents (1917, undated) 

3 1-2

Williams College - miscellaneous (1916, 1917) 

3 3

U. S. Navy - letters to parents (October 1917-June 1919) 

4 1-7

University of Virginia - letters to parents (September 1919-May 1921) 

5 1-5

Letters to parents (1922, 1924) 

5 6

Letters to Nellie Lee Holt (January-July 1934) 

6 1-6

Letters to Nellie Lee Holt (August 1934-November 1934, undated) 

7 1-7

Letters to Nellie Lee Holt Bok (1935-1936, 1938-1940, 1942-1944, undated) 

8 1-2

Letters to William and Eva Holt (1934-1937, 1939-1962, undated) 

8 3-6

Correspondence (1914-1962) 

9 1-4

Mrs. Olga Samaroff Stowkowski (1930-1934) 

9 5

Incoming letters from friends in Philadelphia on marriage (1934) 

9 6

American Foundation (1953-1958) 

9 7

Sweet Briar College (1956-1957, 1959) 

9 8

Rachel Carson - outgoing correspondence (1955-1958, undated) 

9 9

Rachel Carson - incoming correspondence, articles, clippings (1956, 1962, 1964, bulk 1956) 

9 10

Curtis Publishing Company (1960) 

10 1

Correspondence with Benjamin Bok (1960) 

10 2

Swarthmore College honorary degree (1960) 

10 3

Society of Friends (undated) 

10 4

Miscellaneous correspondence (1935, 1959-1961) 

10 5

War diary (1917) 

10 6-8

"Coronation of King George VI" (circa 1937) 

10 9

Mixed legal and financial papers (1926-1957) 

Conditions Governing Access note

This box is closed to researchers due to the sensitive nature of the papers' contents. The materials will be made available on January 1, 2037.

11 1-5

The Forum magazine (June 1940) 

12 1

Curtis Publishing Company clippings (circa 1947-circa 1969) 

12 2

Photographs (circa 1930-circa 1960) 

12 3

Invitation to Kennedy/Johnson inauguration (1961) 

12 4

Miscellaneous writings, speeches, memorials (1939-1962) 

12 5

Mixed correspondence and miscellaneous (1933-1962) 

12 6

Miscellaneous from folder labeled "memorabilia" (1935-1962) 

12 7

Miscellaneous (circa 1936-1983) 

12 8

United States Power Squadron (1949, 1954) 

13 1

Passage to England (1954) 

13 2

Newport-Santander Race (1957) 

13 3

Newport Race to Spain (1957) 

13 4

Sailing (1957-1959, undated) 

13 5

"Motor Boating," The Yachtsmen's Magazine (1957) 

13 6

"Important papers" (1920-1959) 

13 7

Passports (1946-1957) 

13 8

Personal calender (1950) 

13 9

Will (7 February 1961) 

13 10

Biographical information (1962, undated) 

13 11

Tributes and obituaries (1962-1964) 

13 12

 b. Professional (1905-1964) 

Scope and Contents note

The Professional subseries is made up primarily of items concerning Curtis's judicial work and his books. Curtis authored four books:  The Backbone of the Herring;  I, Too, Nicodemus;  Star Wormwood; and  Maria (published the year of his death). Related papers include correspondence, reviews, clippings, manuscript pages, and notes (Boxes 17-19). There are two boxes of articles on and by Curtis and transcripts of speeches dating from the 1930s to the 1960s (Boxes 19-20). Curtis's writing abilities are further highlighted in his "Judge Ulen" articles that were published in the law magazine  The Shingle. Box 22 contains a run of the  The Shingle from 1939 to 1941, with a few single issues dating from 1942 to 1961, while Box 21, Folder 1 contains some drafts of these same articles. Other materials in this subseries include notes, opinions, and decisions pertaining to several court cases Curtis oversaw; papers and clippings from his campaigns for district attorney, the Philadelphia Superior Court, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; and items from Curtis's time on the City Planning Committee.

Box
14-22
Box Folder

Court decisions as attorney (1921, 1924) 

14 1

Court of Common Pleas decisions (1937, 1939) 

14 2

Court opinions (1939, 1947, 1952, undated) 

14 3

Fitzgerald v. City of Philadelphia (loyalty oath case) - opinion and associated research (1948, 1952-1953) 

14 4

Commonwealth v. Gordon (obscene books case) - opinion (1949) 

14 5

Commonwealth v. Gordon (obscene books case) - notes and related opinions (1950-1953) 

14 6

Commonwealth v. Gordon (obscene books case) - correspondence (1948-1953) 

14 7

Commonwealth v. Gordon (obscene books case) - clippings (1952) 

14 8

Famous judicial opinions (1949-1960) 

14 9

Court of Quarter Session opinion, re: Judge Carroll (1934, 1935) 

15 1

District attorney campaign - papers and clippings (1935) 

15 2

Campaign for Superior Court - letters, clippings, speeches, and ephemera (1943) 

15 3

Campaign for Pennsylvania Supreme Court - correspondence, clippings, returns, photographs, and ephemera (1958-1959) 

15 4-8

Congratulatory letters on appointment to ambassador of Russia (1936) 

16 1

Lady Desborough letters (1937, 1938) 

16 2

Earl Warren and J. Edgar Hoover letters (1939) 

16 3

University of Virginia - Dean Ribble (1947, 1957) 

16 4

Rudolf Sheeler (prisoner) (1948-1951) 

16 5

Morris, Ernst, et al. (1957) 

16 6

Letters from and regarding prisoners (1951, 1952, 1958, 1959) 

16 7

Robert Heineman (prisoner) (1951-1957) 

16 8

Philbrick - Senator McCarthy, et al. (1953) 

16 9

Miscellaneous correspondence (1938-1942, 1961) 

16 10

The Backbone of the Herring - incoming thank you and congratulatory letters (1941-1943, undated) 

17 1-2

The Backbone of the Herring - clippings and reviews (1941-1942) 

17 3-4

I, Too, Nicodemus - incoming thank you and congratulatory letters (1946-1948, undated, bulk 1946-1947) 

17 5

I, Too, Nicodemus - reviews and clippings (1946-1947) 

17 6-7

I, Too, Nicodemus - chapter 10 manuscript (?) (undated) 

17 8

Star Wormwood - manuscript and notes, correspondence, reviews, and miscellaneous (1958-1961, undated) 

18 1-6

Star Wormwood - clippings and letters from Canadian lawyers (1959) 

19 1-2

"Maria Sullivan - old pages" (undated) 

19 3

Articles - published (1935-1960) 

19 4

Articles - drafts or unpublished (1943-1957, undated) 

19 5

Philadelphia magazine - article on Curtis Bok and obscenity (October 1978) 

19 6

Speeches - New Deal lectures (circa 1935) 

19 7

Speeches - Reform Congragation Kenseth Israel (1937) 

19 8

Speeches - Philadelphia Award (1947) 

19 9

Speeches - Delaware River Power Squadron (1950-1952) 

19 10

Speeches - American Book Publishers Council (1953) 

19 11

Speeches - National Book Award (1954) 

19 12

Speeches - Roscoe Pound lectures (1955) 

20 1

Speeches - University of Virginia lectures (1957) 

20 2

Speeches - Curtis Institute of Music commencement (1958) 

20 3

Speeches - Juristic Society (1959) 

20 4

Speeches - Radcliffe commencement (1960) 

20 5

Speeches - remarks for Alexander Hillsberg (1961) 

20 6

Speeches (1936-1960, undated) 

20 7-9

"Judge Ulen" articles (drafts) (1939-1945) 

21 1

Law articles (1954, undated) 

21 2

Problems in Criminal Law, 1935 (microfilm copy) (1983) 

21 3

Cty Planning Committee - "Report of the Non-Partisan Citizens Committee" (1 April 1935) 

21 4

City Planning Committee - copy of report and related correspondence and clippings (1935) 

21 5

Review of his books (1941-1959) 

21 6

Civic service (1943-1956) 

21 7

Papers from school children (1946, 1950, undated) 

21 8

"Court is in Session" - cases for television show (1949, 1950, undated) 

21 9

Miscellaneous (1940-1962, undated) 

21 10
Box

Issues of The Shingle (1939-1941, February 1942, March 1948, March 1950, April 1958, March 1959, April 1961) 

22

The Legal Club of Philadelphia booklet (1 September 1961) 

22

United States Board of Tax Appeals, Docket No. 66747; Girard Trust Company, et al., Executors, Estate of Edward Bok v. Commissioner of the Internal Revenue (1936) 

22

Return to Table of Contents »


 II. Nellie Lee Bok (1897-1991) 

Box
23-60

 a. Early education, Stephens College, and world tour (circa 1906-1991) 

Scope and Contents note

These materials document Nellie Lee's early life before her marriage to Curtis Bok in 1934. As the subseries name implies, there are three groups of papers. The first (Box 23) is made up of items from Nellie Lee's high school and college days that include writings, reports cards, a personal journal, a copy of her thesis on author Gilbert K. Chesterton, and notes on a trip to London she took in 1925. The next group (Boxes 23-25) highlights her tenure as a religious educator at Stephen's College in Columbia, Missouri. While there she helped further the school's new bible-based "Burrell Class" that was founded in 1921. Some of her lectures from the class are in Box 24, Folders 1-2. Additionally, she published articles in the Burrell Class's newsletter, The Grail (Box 25), and the school's general newsletter,  Stephen's College Bulletin (Box 23, Folder 9). Making up the rest of the subseries are items related to her world tour of 1926 to 1927. Charged by the president of Stephen's College, Nellie Lee, accompanyied by her mother, set off to interview a number of educational and religious leaders across the world. During her eight-month-long tour that started in London and concluded in Japan, she visited over a dozen countries in Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Southeast Asia. Most notable among her interviews was that of Mohandas Gandhi. She spent almost two months in India and talked with Gandhi on several occasions. Her interview with him was later published in several outlets, including the  New York Times. Among the papers related to this trip (Boxes 26-27) are the addresses of various locales she visits, correspondence, clippings, drafts of her article on Gandhi, a travel journal (Volume 4), and three bound volumes (1-3) containing her recollections of the entire journey entitled "The Neighborhood."

Box
23-28
Volume
1-4
Box Folder

High School diploma, school and college report cards (circa 1906-1922) 

23 1

Miscellaneous manuscripts (circa 1912-1933) 

23 2-4

Thesis - "Gilbert K. Chesterton, A Literary Artist" (1922) 

23 5

Notes on trip to London (1925) 

23 6

Journal (1920-1924, 1933-1934, undated) 

23 7

"In Tagore's Neighborhood" - drafts and published article (1928) 

23 8

Stephen's College Bulletin (1933, 1958, 1959) 

23 9

Burrell Class speeches (1933-1934, undated) 

24 1-2

Autobiography of religious education programs at Stephen's College (1944) 

24 3
Box

The Grail (Stephen's College, Burrell Bible Class newsletter) (1925-1933) 

25
Box Folder

World Tour - addresses [locations] (1926) 

26 1

World Tour - Correspondence and clippings (1926-1927) 

26 2

World Tour - Miscellaneous documents (1926-1927) 

26 3

World Tour - letters home (August 1926-February 1927) 

26 4-7

"Burning Ghats" portfolio (circa 1930) 

26 8

Drafts and published articles on Gandhi by Nellie Lee Holt (circa 1928) 

27 1-2

General articles on Gandhi and India (1984, 1959, undated) 

27 3

Article reprint permission (1956) 

27 4

Provenance of "The Neighborhood" manuscript (1991) 

27 5

Trip to India - accounts and expenses (1925-1926) 

28 1

"The Neighborhood" original manuscript (1926-1927) 

28 2-5
Volume

"The Neighborhood" bound manuscript (1926-1927) 

33-35

Travel diary (1925-1926) 

36

 b. Correspondence (1917-1984) 

Scope and Contents note

This subseries was borne out of a run of correspondence that was found separate from the bulk of Nellie Lee's personal papers that were placed into subseries 3. The letters, many of which were in their original envelopes, have been re-housed into twelve boxes. Boxes 29-34 contain incoming and some outgoing letters between Nellie Lee and mostly family members from 1917 to 1971. Boxes 35-37 contains letters she wrote to Curtis Bok from both before and after they were married in 1934. (Curtis's corresponding letters to her are in Boxes 6-8.) The remaining letters in the subseries are a mix of business and personal correspondence, including miscellaneous family letters.

Box
29-40
Box Folder

Correspondence (1917-1936) 

29 1-7

Correspondence (1937-1940) 

30 1-6

Correspondence (1944-1956) 

31 1-12

Correspondence (1957-1960) 

32 1-6

Correspondence (1961-1964) 

33 1-6

Correspondence (1965-1971, undated) 

34 1-8

Letters to Curtis Bok (January-July 1934) 

35 1-7

Letters to Curtis Bok (July-November 1934) 

36 1-6

Letters to Curtis Bok (circa 1934-194, undated) 

37 1-5

Herbert (Nicholas) Kubly (1963-1977) 

38 1-3

Mixed personal and business (1912-1938) 

38 4-7

Mixed personal and business (1940-1984) 

39 1-7

Miscellaneous family (1934-1984) 

38 8

Miscellaneous family (1934-1984) 

40 1-6

 c. Personal (circa 1900-1986) 

Scope and Contents note

This subseries is comprised of items that highlight Nellie Lee's social activities, though due to the fine line between her social and civic engagements, there is some overlap between papers in this subseries and the next ( Organizations and interests). The first few boxes contain some of Nellie Lee's speeches and writings, notably a radio series she wrote called "Women in '36" (Boxes 42-43) and a manuscript on Hulda Hoover, President Herbert Hoover's mother (Box 43), and clippings and papers pertaing to major family events, such as her 1934 wedding to Curtis Bok. (Boxes 41-42). Following these boxes are a mix of correspondence, printed materials, and other documents pertaining to Nellie Lee's social outlets, friends, and various awards she received. Among these are a few folders of papers regading donations of Bok papers and artifacts to libraries and museums, such as the Library of Congress (Box 44, Folder 6), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Box 45, Folder 5), and the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (now part of the University of Sciences, Philadelphia) (Box 46, Folder 3). Rounding out the subseries are groups of papers from other family members that Nellie Lee collected, namely Enid C. B. Schoettle, Derek Bok, Sissela Myrdal Bok, Welmoet Roland Holst, and Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist (Boxes 47-49). Box 50 contains miscellaneous printed matter (including articles on the Boks) and programs. The estate tax return in Box 43, Folder 11, is closed to researchers until 2037. Please see the box and folder list below for more information.

Box
41-50
Box Folder

Miscellaneous clippings, some on family members (1915, 1937-1975) 

41 1

Speeches and writings (1929-1934, 1956-1965, 1981) 

41 2

Letters of appreciation received at Stephen's College (1928-1934) 

41 3

Wedding annoucement, Chicago Tribune (9 October 1934) 

41 4

Wedding preparation papers (1934) 

41 5

Wedding clippings (1934) 

42 1

Letters of appreciation received in Philadelphia, including wedding newspaper clippings (1934-1945, undated) 

42 2

Letters of appreciation received in Philadelphia (1934-1945, 1959, 1968, 1976, 1983, undated) 

42 3

Invitations to family events (1934, 1945, undated) 

42 4

Financial notes (circa 1939-circa 1980) 

42 5

Stowkowski Trust (1935-1985) 

42 6

Stowkowski Trust - Mr. and Mrs. Willem H. Thorbecke (1967-1982) 

42 7

"Women in '36" - radio talks for Franklin Roosevelt (1936) 


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   43 1
    Box Folder
Mixed materials   42 8

Box Folder

Clippings on Curtis Bok (1937-1941) 

43 2

"Hulda Hoover" manuscript and copies of letters from Herbert Hoover (1940) 

43 3

Curtis Bok - American Law Institute speech and Youth In Crime (1940, 1954, 1980) 

43 4

G. H. Katz, MD (1947-1972) 

43 5

Miscellaneous notes, clippings, and ephemera (1955, undated) 

43 6

Kelly family - correspondence concerning wedding gift (1956) 

43 7

Passports (1957, 1953, 1963, 1980) 

43 8

Efram Zimbalist (1958, 1972, 1974, 1975) 

43 9

Te Ata and Ataloa (1959-1976) 

43 10

Curtis Bok Estate tax return (1961) 

Conditions Governing Access note

The Curtis Bok Estate tax return of 1961 is closed to researchers due to the sensitive nature of its contents. It will be made available on January 1, 2037.

43 11

Clippings on Eleanor Roosevelt (1962) 

43 12

Stuart J. Freeman (1962-1963) 

43 13

Collection on Curtis Bok's Maria - correspondence, reviews, typescripts (1962-1965) 


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   43 14-16
    Box Folder
Mixed materials   44 1

Box Folder

Alfred A. Knopf Incorporated (1962-1979) 

44 2

American Legion - Curtis Bok Memorial Post no. 45 (1964) 

44 3

American Friends of the Hebrew University award (1964) 

44 4

Gift of Edward Bok papers to the Library of Congress (1964-1970) 

44 5

Anthony McNulty - correspondence regarding "job pursuit, Inquirer, robbery" (1965) 

44 6

Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. Stinnes (1966-1980) 

44 7

Jane Hill Meyer (1967-1980) 

44 8

Francis Bosworth (1967-1982) 

44 9

Margaret Margrave (1967-1984) 

45 1

Honorary degree from LaSalle College (1968) 

45 2

Pauline G. Boss (1968-1982) 

45 3

Travel photographs and slides (1977-1978, undated) 

45 5

Bok pictures at Museum of Art, Philadelphia, and 330 Spruce Street (1967-1978) 

45 5

Buert and Cory SerVaas [Curtis Publishing Company] (1970-1973) 

45 6

Letter of support for Steven Morrison, conscientious objector (1971, 1972) 

45 7

Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania award (1973) 

45 8

Golden Plate award (1974) 

45 9

Self-written biography (1974) 

45 10

Awards and recognitions (1974, 1983) 

45 11

Claudine Carlson (1974-1985) 

45 12

Paul Good - book on landmark court decisions, including chapter on Curtis Bok regarding censorship (1976) 

45 13

Samuel T. Freeman and Company - consignment of President's letters (1976) 

46 1

Philadelphia College of Pharmacy - gift of antique mortar (1976) 

46 2

Bicentennial ceremonies - copies of speeches and prayers (1976) 

46 3

Portrait of Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist to children, step-children, grandchildren, and step-grandchildren (1978-1984) 

46 4

Nellie Lee Bok interviewed by Walter Phillips (12 December 1979) 

46 5

Painting - Italian nativity, re: conservation (1980) 

46 6

80th birthday celebaration (1981) 

46 7

Miscellaneous (1918-1967, undated) 

46 8-9

Ester Van Sant papers (1984-1986) 

46 10

Family photographs and images (circa 1900-circa 1960) 

46 11

Derek Bok papers (1947-1984) 

47 1

Enid C. B. Schoettle - "drawings and notes from childhood" (1943-1945) 

47 2-3

Enid C. B. Schoettle papers, school brochures, and newspapers clippings (1944-1968, 1985, undated) 

47 4-7

Rachel Carson papers (1965-1975, undated) 

47 8

Sissela Myrdal Bok papers (1967-1979, 1984, undated) 

47 9

Correspondence from Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist (1936, 1937, 1953, 1956, undated) 

48 1

Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist - trip to Rome (1953, 1954) 

48 2

Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist - commencement address given to Curtis Institute of Music (1959, 1960) 

48 3

Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist correspondence (alphabetically arranged by author) (1957-1969) 

48 4-11

Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist - obituaries and remembrances (1966-1970) 

48 12

Welmoet Roland Holst papers (1940, 1963-1976) 

48 13

Curtis Bok memorial service (1962) 

49 1

Incoming letters on Curtis Bok's passing (alphabetically arranged by author) (1962) 

49 2-7

Published articles (1921-1924) 

50 1

Printed matter containing articles about the Boks (1928-1982) 

50 2

Programs and booklets from dinner honoring Frank Lloyd Wright (1951) 

50 3

Philadelphia magazine containing article on Nellie Lee Bok (1979) 

50 4

Miscellaneous printed matter and programs (1927-1961) 

50 5-6

 d. Organizations and interests (1897-1984) 

Scope and Contents note

The papers in this subseries document Nellie Lee's civic ventures and lifelong crusades, such as prison and mental health reform. It contains papers pertaining to The American Foundation, which was founded by Edward Bok and of which Nellie Lee served as president for a time (Box 51). There are numerous files of papers on music therapy, particularly a program founded by Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins in the 1970s, as well as papers on general music education and piano lessons (Boxes 52-53). The last box in this subseries, Box 54, contains an assortment of papers and printed material on mental health reform, Quakers, crime prevention, business and religious leadership, and agriculture. There is also a file of papers from the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission, which Nellie Lee helped establish (Box 54, Folder 4).

Box
51-54
Box Folder

The American Foundation - "Weyer Report" (1955) 

51 1

The American Foundation - reports to the board (1962-1964, undated) 

51 2

The American Foundation papers, including those on Bok Tower Carillon (1964-1984) 

51 3

Ronald Barnes - correspodence regarding Bok Tower Carillon (1964-1980) 

51 4

Ester Lupe - American Foundation (1965-1973) 

51 5

Brees Carillon Library - Barnes Collection (1966-1980) 

51 6

The American Foundation - mailings to board members (1978-1979, 1981) 

51 7

The American Foundation - miscellaneous (1965-1984) 

51 7

Nordoff-Robbins [music therapy] (1969-1974) 

52 1-2

Paul Nordoff correspondence and papers (1974-1977) 

52 3

Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Tour, New Zealand, August-October 1974 (1975, undated) 

52 4

Sabina Nordoff [Mrs. Paul Nordoff] (1975-1982, undated) 

52 5

Clive and Carol Robbins music therapy (1977-1978) 

52 6

Paul Nordoff will and related papers (1977-1981) 

52 7

Rollins College - Annie Russell (1897, 1981-1983) 

53 1

Alexander Hillsberg, musician (1948-1971) 

53 2

Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck [Philadelphia Dance Academy] (1956-1983) 

53 3

Benjamin Boretz, music critic, The Nation - collection of columns (1962-1963) 

53 4

Curtis Institute of Music 50th anniversary (1974-1978, bulk 1975) 

53 5

Committee for "William Penn" opera (1975, 1982) 

53 6

Martha Hitchins and Phyllis Drake, musicians (1979-1981) 

53 7

Piano lessons - "Pianumbrella Book" by Jeanne Behrend (circa 1981) 

53 8

Piano lessons - letters and publications from Jeanne Behrend (1981) 

53 9

"Peace Child" - children's musical celebration (1983) 

53 10

Music organizations - miscellaneous (1958-1981) 

53 11

Women voter organizations (1925) 

54 1

Quaker material (1942, 1958) 

54 2

Papers and clippings from miscellaneous organizations (1942-1975) 

54 3

Fellowship Commission (1949-1966) 

54 4

Mental health reform - miscellaneous (1961-1967) 

54 5

Agriservices Foundation - David E. Ensminger (1964-1983) 

54 6-7

Prison law and reform - miscellaneous (1966-1980) 

54 8

Lady Bird Johnson and crime prevention (1967-1968) 

54 9

Wesley Wiksell, Lousiana State University - prison reform (1972) 

54 10

W. Horsley Gantt, The Pavlovian Society (1977) 

54 11

Judge Hastie award committee (1979) 

54 12

Brother Daniel Burke, LaSalle College (1979-1984) 

54 13

Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania (1983) 

54 14

"Blocs" - Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (1983-1984) 

54 15

 e. Calendars, dayplanners, and notebooks (1920-1984) 

Scope and Contents note

The final subseries is comprised of various notebooks, date books, and dayplanners that Nellie Lee kept during her life. There are several "Communications" notebooks from the 1980s in which Nellie Lee recorded all her daily transactions with people in person, by mail, and by phone. A notebook containing medical data is closed to researchers until 2062. Please see the box and folder list below for more information.

Box
55-60
Box Folder

Notebooks (1920, undated) 

55 1

Notes on literature, writings, speeches (circa 1932-1955, undated) 

55 2

Calendar pages and miscellaneous notes (1959-circa 1964) 

55 3-4

Invitations book [disbound] (1962-1982) 

55 5

Calendar, notes on family, personal notes (circa 1965-circa 1978) 

55 6

Calendar pages, addresses, notes on houses and employees (1966-circa 1980) 


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   55 7-8
    Box Folder
Mixed materials   56 1

Box Folder

Addresses, notes, ephemera (1975-1976, 1979-1980, undated) 

56 2-4

Dayplanners (1961-1963, 1979-1982, 1984) 

57 1-5

Notebooks [logs of daily tasks] (October 1983-October 1984) 

57 6-7

Medical notebook (1984) 

Conditions Governing Access note

This notebook is closed to researchers due to the sensitive nature of its contents. It will be made available on January 1, 2062.

57 8
Box

Pocket calendars (1944-1980) 

58

Miscellaneous - Rolodex, card files, and audio cassette tapes (1975, 1976, undated) 

59

"Communications" notebooks (1980-1983) 

60

Return to Table of Contents »


 III. Holt, Gianinni, and related families (1836-1991) 

Scope and Contents note

The oldest papers in the collection are in this third series which focuses primarily on Nellie Lee's immediate family, the Holts and Gianninis. Th Holts of Nebraska originated from a family that started in New Haven, Connecticut; while the Gianninis were from Virginia, but traced their roots back to Italy. Among papers from the Giannini family are early accounts and correpondence dating from the mid to late nineteenth century (Box 61, folders 1-5). A few letters are in Italian. Holt family papers take up the bulk of Boxes 62 and 63 and include William R. Holt's (Nellie Lee's father) record of family-prized pedigreed Berkshire hogs (Box 62, Folder 6), Eva Holt's (Nellie Lee's mother) travel journal from when she chaperoned Nellie's Lee's world tour of 1926 to 1927 (Box 62, Folder 9), and another journal of a trip to Europe made by Nellie Lee, Eve Holt, and Nellie Lee's aunt Laura Speer in 1963 (Box 63, Folder 5). Also among these files are family records; genealogical notes on the Holts, Gianninis, Speers, Seymours, and Eatons; other journals, correspondence, calendars, and clippings. Box 64 contains three folders of papers on the Bok and related families and two folders of mixed family papers.

Box
61-64
Box Folder

Gianinni family legal papers (1836-1860) 

61 1

Gianinni family accounts and insurance policies 

61 2

M. Gianinni account book (1841, 1843) 

61 3

Gianinni family letters, including letters from Italy 1850-1857, 1896, 1900, 1951, undated) 

61 4

Miscellaneous Gianinni family papers (1854-1948) 

61 5

Gianinni, Holt, and Speer family records (1866-1953, undated) 

61 6

Gianinni, Speer, and Seymour family clippings (circa 1915-circa 1920) 

61 7

Isabella Gianinni Anderson papers (1929-1984) 

61 8

Isabella Gianinni Anderson copies of will (1962, 1965, 1969) 

61 9

Gianinni, Seymour, and Eaton genealogical records (circa 1930) 

62 1-2

Laura Speer letters to Nellie Lee Bok (circa 1964-1967) 

62 3

Laura Speer daily journals (1955-1959, 1961-1962) 

62 4-5

William R. Holt record of pedigreed Berkshires (1899-1912) 

62 6

William R. Holt letters and booklets (1910, 1952, 1953) 

62 7

William R. Holt obituary, letters, pictures (1951) 

62 8

Eva Holt travel journal (1926-1927) 

62 9

Eva Holt daily journals (1923-1938, 1942-1962) 

63 1-2

Eva Holt invitations log (1955-1964) 

63 3

Eva Holt calendar (1967-1968) 

63 4

"Trip to Europe" [Eva Holt, Laura Speer, Nellie Lee Bok] (1963) 

63 5

Eva Holt letters to Nellie Lee Bok (1964-1967) 

63 6

Newspaper articles on Holt family (1934-1982) 

63 7

Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist letter to Holt family (1934-1957, undated) 

63 8-9

Regarding Holt family papers at Nebraska State Historical Society (1973-1980) 

63 10

Bok and deMeester cousins (1965, 1968, undated) 

64 1

Bok family genealogy (1977-1979, undated) 

64 2

Curtis Kise paper, "My Family Roots" (1991) 

64 3

Mixed family papers (1901-1972) 

64 4-5

Return to Table of Contents »


 IV. Oversized papers and printed materials (1856-circa 1980) 

Scope and Contents note

Comprising this final series of five boxes are large family photographs, oversized original art and prints, clippings, and printed matter. Images of members of the Bok family span Boxes 65 and 66. Box 65 also contains contemporary images of the Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Florida, as well as clippings on the Curtis Institute of Music from the 1970s. Other items in Box 66 include three folders that house a variety of British magazines commemorating the coronation of King George VI in 1937. Boxes 67 and 68 contain Mid-Week Pictorials, a magazine once published by the  New York Times, dating from 28 March 1918 to 19 June 1919. The final box of the collection contains unsorted clippings, most of which appear to pertain to Curtis Bok's career or Bok family achievements.

Box
65-69
Box Folder

Original prints and artwork (1856, 1877, 1950, undated) 

65 1-2

Mary Curtis Bok, photograph of painting (undated) 

65 3

Bok Tower - prints, photographs, newspaper article (1920, 1971, undated) 

65 4-5

Clippings - Curtis Institute of Music (1972-1975) 

65 6-8

Nellie Lee Bok, photograph (undated) 

65 9

Family photographs (circa 1898, undated) 

66 1

Mary Curtis Zimbalist Bok birthday posters (undated) 

66 2

King George VI coronation - The Sphere: Coronation record number (1937) 

66 3

King George VI coronation - commemorative magazines (1937) 

66 4

King George VI coronation - commemorative newspaper articles (1937) 

66 5
Box

Mid-Week Pictorials, published by the  New York Times (28 March 1918-19 June 1919) 

67-68

Unsorted clippings pertaining to members of the Bok family (circa 1930-circa 1980) 

69

Return to Table of Contents »