Lawyer and diplomat, of Woonsocket, R.I.
Size: 7.5 feet
Catalog number: MSS 907
Processed by: Rick Stattler, August 1997
©Rhode Island Historical Society
Lewis Metcalfe Walling (1908-1997) was born in Union Village, in North Smithfield, R.I. His father was Everett Walling, a state district judge from an old Woonsocket-area family. Lewis was educated at Phillips Academy and graduated from Brown University in 1930. He also studied abroad at the University of Nancy and the Sorbonne in Paris. He created a scandal in the staunchly Republican Walling family by announcing himself as a democrat. He received a law degree from Harvard in 1933, and entered the new field of labor law opened by New Deal reforms. He organized the R.I. Department of Labor and served as its first director from 1935 to 1937. For the next ten years, Walling served as an administrator in the U.S. Department of Labor, eventually becoming the second-most powerful person in the department behind Frances Perkins.
In 1947, Walling left the Truman administration for private practice. He was hired as a special labor consultant at General Electric, but left within a year, apparently because his convictions regarding worker rights were in conflict with company policy. He was a member of the New York labor law firm of Eidlitz, French, Fink & Markle from 1948 to 1951, opening a Providence branch in 1949. In 1951, he left to spend two years in Guatemala as an advisor to the new left-wing Arbenz government, helping to establish the first minimum wage laws there. From 1955 to 1957, he served as director of the United States Economic Aid Mission to Cambodia, and worked closely with Prince Norodom Sihanouk. From 1957 to 1960, he was in Colombia as director of the U.S. Operations Mission. He went to Africa in 1960 as the representative of an aluminum company, and remained there through 1974 and a variety of voluntary positions as an economic advisor. He retired to Randolph Center, Vermont in 1974.
In 1934 Walling married Frances Slosson Holliday (1910-1973) of Indiana. They had two children, Lewis M. Walling Jr. and Alexander R.H. Walling. Lewis Jr. died in a plane crash in Vietnam in 1962. Frances Holliday Walling died in a flash flood in Tunisia in 1973. Walling remarried to Sydney Parker in 1974; she was the widow of Walling's Harvard Law School friend Jameson Parker.
In addition to his professional activities, Walling maintained a lifelong interest in theater, as an amateur performer and a reviewer. He was interested in the anthroposophical movement founded by Rudolf Steiner, and served as chairman of the board at the first Waldorf School in Steiner founded in America in the 1930s. Walling also served on the board of the Shelburne Farm Museum in Vermont from 1978 to 1989.
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Scope and content:
The collection contains subject files and correspondence from the entire span of Walling's life, though his years in the R.I. Department of Labor and as a diplomat in the 1950s are best represented. There are also some papers of his parents and of his first wife. Researchers should be aware that Walling's official papers from the period 1937 to 1947 were deposited at the Truman Library in 1982.
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The bulk of these papers were donated by Lewis Metcalfe Walling in 1982. Two additional boxes were donated by his son in 1997.
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This collection still remains largely unprocessed, although Harold Kemble began work on the collection in 1983 and drafted a brief finding aid. Another box of material is expected from Walling's son Alexander; full processing should wait until all material has arrived.
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The following is only a rough inventory:
Box 1. Letters, 1928-1940
Box 2. Letters, 1940-1951
Box 3. Letters, 1950-1961
Box 4. Letters, 1949-1969
Box 5. Letters, 1960-1975, and speech file
Box 6. Publications and miscellaneous
Box 7. Baby book, 1908
High school, elementary school, 1921-1927
Brown University, 1927-1930
Minimum wage board - Jewelry industry - meetings, 11-12/1936
" " - notes, 1936-1937
" " - public hearing, 1/25/1937
Letters to parents, 1937-1943
Correspondence re Holocaust refugee William Meyer, 1941-1942
Correspondence with John Stonborough, 1941-1985
Job searches, 1950-1967
Memo to Eisenhower re extraterrestrials found in Roswell, 1952.
Correspondence with Woodworth L. Carpenter Jr., 1957-1978
Cambodia miscellany, 1957
Columbia investments, 1960-1975
African trip, 2-5/1965 - Diaries and notebooks
African trip, 2-5/1965 - Misc.
Ghana - Frances Walling, American Field Service, 1972-1973
Correspondence with Kwaku A. Baah, former chauffeur in Ghana, 1972-1975
Walling Partners agreement, 1976
Undated letter from Peter Pears (companion of Benjamin Britten)
Certificates and citations, 1909-1984
Theater reviews written, Vermont
Frances H. Walling - Diary, 1925, Indiana?
- Diary, 1936, Providence
- Estate, 1973
Everett L. Walling - National Security League certificate, 1916
Account book of trip to Europe, 1894
- Death, 1957
Anna W.H. Walling - Travel diaries, 1920-1953 (10 volumes)
- Scrapbook, 1905-1938
- Estate, 1969
Box 8. Oversized scrapbook re Department of Labor, 1942-1947
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Africa - Travel and description
Cambodia - Travel and description
Carpenter, Woodworth Jr.
Columbia - Travel and description
Diaries - 1920-1953
Diaries - 1925
Diaries - 1936
Guatemala - Travel and description
Jewelry industry - Rhode Island
Labor bureaus - Rhode Island
Life on other planets
New Deal, 1933-1939
Rhode Island. Department of Labor.
United States. Department of Labor.
Walling, Anne W.H. (d.1969)
Walling, Everett L. (d.1957)
Walling, Frances (Holliday) (1910-1973)
Woonsocket, R.I. - Social life and customs
World War, 1939-1945 - War work - United States
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