William Curtis Bok and Nellie Lee Holt Bok papers

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 th...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Authors: Bok, Curtis 1897-1962. (Creator), Bok, Nellie Lee Holt 1901-1984. (Creator)
Collection:William Curtis Bok and Nellie Lee Holt Bok Papers
Collection Number:3096
Format: Manuscript
Subjects and Genres:
Online Access:Link to finding aid
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Item Description: Processing Information: 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.
Physical Description: 26.0 Linear feet ; 70 boxes, 36 volumes
Access: 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.
Summary: 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.
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.