1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Lewis Metcalfe Walling Papers

 Lawyer and diplomat, of Woonsocket, R.I.

 Papers, 1924-1995

 Size: 7.5 feet

 Catalog number: MSS 907

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, August 1997

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            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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Processing note:

            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

            Correspondence, 1924-1939

            Brown University, 1927-1930

            Correspondence, 1935

            Correspondence, 1934-1943

            Minimum wage board - Jewelry industry - meetings, 11-12/1936

                        "                                   "            - notes, 1936-1937

                        "                                   "            - public hearing, 1/25/1937

            Letters to parents, 1937-1943

            Correspondence, 1940-1949

            Correspondence re Holocaust refugee William Meyer, 1941-1942

            Correspondence with John Stonborough, 1941-1985

            Job searches, 1950-1967

            Correspondence, 1950-1959

            Memo to Eisenhower re extraterrestrials found in Roswell, 1952.

            Correspondence with Woodworth L. Carpenter Jr., 1957-1978

            Cambodia miscellany, 1957

            Columbia investments, 1960-1975

            Correspondence, 1960-1989

            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

            Biographical, 1947-1995

            Misc. press


            Theater performances

            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

Brown University

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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