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Frank Kingdon Collection (ca. 1936 - 1946)
RepositoryNewark Public Library, Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center
Collection IDMG Nwk Kingdon
Size4 boxes
Collection Description
Dr. Frank Kingdon (1874-1972), educator, Methodist minister, political activist, and radio commentator, was born in London. He came to the U.S. alone, at age seventeen, in 1912, was ordained in the Methodist Church, and eventually served as pastor of several churches in Massachusetts. During this time earned his AB degree from Boston University, and won fellowship at Harvard to study philosophy and religion. In 1925 he accepted the pastorate of the Central Church, Lansing, MI. While in Michigan he did graduate work at Michigan State College, and received a degree of DD from Albion College (1927).

He moved to New Jersey to take the pulpit of a prominent Calvary Methodist Church in East Orange, and became a Trustee of Dana College in Newark. In 1934 he became president of the College. When the New Jersey Law School, Seth Boyden Business School, and Dana College merged in the 1930s to become the University of Newark, Kingdon was chosen as the University's first president (1936). He was deeply involved in the civic affairs of Newark, as president of the Newark Welfare Foundation for three years and as Campaign Chairman of the Newark Community Chest, and was much in demand as a lecturer.

Kingdon was the author of "John Cotton Dana, A Life" (1940), written with the encouragement of Dana's assistant and successor, Beatrice Winser, and of a number of other books on progressive theology and New Deal politics. In the months leading up to the United States' entrance into the World War II, he pressed for U.S. entry into the war through his membership in the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, the Fight for Freedom Committee, and other organizations.

In June 1940 he left the University of Newark to chair the Emergency Rescue Committee, which assisted European artists and intellectuals, many of them Jewish, seeking to flee Nazi-dominated countries. In this work, and in later years, he became closely associated with Eleanor Roosevelt, Reinhold Niebuhr, and many other progressive leaders and intellectuals. He took an active role in the New Jersey Joint Council on International Relations, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Union for Democracy. In the late 1930s Kingdon gave weekly addresses as part of the Newark Museum Program on Newark's WOR radio station; by January 1942 he was hosting a regular program on domestic and international news. After the War, he was a commentator for a time on radio programs produced by WMCA and WINS in New York. In the summer of 1947, he was hired as an editorial page columnist for the New York Post, where his column "To be Frank" ran until 1952. His strong progressive views brought him under FBI surveillance, into the 1960s, at the behest of J. Edgar Hoover himself. In his later years Kingdon lectured at the New School in New York.

Kingdon was married twice, to Gertrude Littlefield in 1915 and to Marcella Markham, an actress in 1946; both marriages ending in divorce. He had five children by his first marriage and one son, Tom, by the second marriage. Frank Kingdon died at his home in New York City in February 1972.
Collection Contents
Contents of the collection are as follows:

Box 1: consists of a scrapbook of pamphlets, reprints of articles, and newspaper clippings, primarily related to Kingdon's involvement in the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, and to his work as chairman of Emergency Rescue Committee (1941); 4 folders of Kingdon's "radio talks" on WOR (1936-1940, 1944); and 1 folder of incoming correspondence, mostly fan letters and requests for copies of his radio talks (1936-1939)

Box 2: consists of 3 folders of newspaper clippings, and a few leaflets, largely regarding Kingdon's speaking engagements, his work as president of Newark University, and his committee activities on behalf of humanitarian causes, issues of social justice, World War II, etc. (1937-1941)

Box 3, Folder 1: contains miscellaneous printed material, including sermons, addresses, reprints, and articles by Kingdon. Newark-related material by Kingdon includes an address to the Welfare Federation of Newark (1937), a radio talk entitled "New Jersey Art at the World's Fair," given in conjunction with the Newark Museum (1939); and a pamphlet entitled "Compact Definitions of Democracy, Socialism, Communism and Fascism," prepared for the Newark Public Library (1939).

Box 3, Folder 2: contains programs and announcements of Kingdon's sermons, lectures, and other speaking engagements; promotional material related to his committee work; and a report by David Harris, Director of the Newark War Veterans Service Bureau, regarding services rendered (1936-1946)

Box 3, Folder 3: contains correspondence, mostly Kingdon's letters and notes to his close friend, Beatrice Winser; many of the notes are related to Kingdon's radio talks, committee work, etc. (1936-1942). Also included are two reprints of Winser's open letter, "To American Librarians" (1939).

Box 3, Folder 4: consists of Newark University material, including 2 annual reports, a commencement program, a convocation address, material relating to Kingdon's resignation, etc. (1937-1940)

Box 4: contains transcripts (1945-1946, mailed to Beatrice Winser at the Newark Museum) of Kingdon's "Commentaries," a show which aired almost daily, and was produced in the studio of radio station WMCA. Kingdon's "Commentaries" were generally on topics relating to national and international politics.
FormatTextual materials
SubjectsEducation; Libraries; Media / Broadcasting; Politics and Government; Religion / Churches; World War II
Time Period20th Century
Access policyOpen for research
Finding AidYes
Finging Aid URL