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RG 30/276 - Laurence H. (1888-1986) and Frances C. MacDaniels (1891-1986)
Scope and Content

The Laurence H. and Frances MacDaniels papers contain biographical and college-related files, correspondence, and photographs.  The bulk of the material is correspondence (with indexes initially prepared by Ellen Speers), and most of the material documents their Oberlin connection up to 1920.  (Laurence's work at Cornell University is documented in a collection held by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collections, Kroch Library, Cornell University.)  Photographs, almost all dated before 1920, strongly complement the correspondence in that they capture visually their lives at Oberlin.

The papers are organized around nine records series.  Series I consists of biographical information and college-related files, dated between 1908-1917.  Included here are Laurence's undated address book, a helpful eugenics study of the Cochran family completed by Frances, and items relating to the MacDaniels' studies in high school and college.

The bulk of the MacDaniels papers is correspondence, both incoming and outgoing, most of which is dated before 1920.  The incoming correspondence, dated between 1907 to 1917, belonging to the unmarried Laurence MacDaniels, is the most significant.  The majority of the 540 letters, mostly sent to him by his future wife during his studies at Cornell University (1913-1917), document his long distance relationship with Frances.  The courtship letters offer a fascinating view of two people in love; they also report on Frances' life in Cincinnati as a member of the Cochran family, her struggle to start and maintain a career making use of her Oberlin education, and future plans of marriage.  Rich in detail, these letters, including a few that survived from Laurence, underscore a close relationship that lasted over 70 years.  Laurence's tight relationship with his mother, Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels, is also documented.  After he left Oberlin for Ithaca, New York, Mrs. MacDaniels often wrote to her son about life in Oberlin, family news and history, contact with Rosa Dale Cochran, gardening, and her sojourn at El Rosario, son Fred's dairy ranch outside of Mexico City, Mexico.  Outgoing correspondence includes letters dated 1919-20 describing the MacDaniels' work in Turkey with the American Committee for Relief in the Near East.

After 1920, the volume of incoming letters is considerably less, yet those that exist offer details into many lifetime friendships the MacDaniels formed at Oberlin College.  Coupled with a small amount of outgoing mail (post 1960), the letters provide a picture of current happenings in their lives.  The letters often report on Oberlin class reunions, memorable experiences as students at Oberlin College, children, and grandchildren.  Letters from 1977-1978, both incoming and outgoing, discuss aspects of Cochran family history.  Letters sent by Frances to researcher Richard A.G. Dupuis detail Cochran-Cox family history, especially the family relationship with Charles Grandison Finney.  Other correspondents of the MacDaniels include Don King, Keyes Metcalf, and Otis Curtis.

The MacDaniels papers also contain a small number of letters (incoming and outgoing) of Cochran-MacDaniels family members.  Mostly dated between 1913 and 1924, the letters document Cochran-MacDaniels interactions as a result of the marriage of Frances and Laurence.  The majority of the correspondence was received by Rosa Dale Allen Cochran (dated 1913-1924) and Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels (dated 1912-1914).  Frances, in her letters to Rosa Dale Allen Cochran, demonstrates the closeness between the two.  In 1913, she describes in great detail the floods that destroyed parts of Dayton, Ohio, where she resided.  Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels kept a lively correspondence with Rosa Dale Allen Cochran, often reporting on Laurence and Frances, life in Oberlin, and grandchildren.  Correspondence of Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels contains several poignant letters from Laurence and Frances MacDaniels.  A 1914 letter from Laurence describes his first meeting with the Cochran family in Mt. Auburn.  Frances wrote to Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels in an effort to discover what traits a "perfect" wife for Laurence would possess.

The MacDaniels papers also contain valuable non-textual materials (photographs and photographic albums).  These documents provide rich visual evidence of Laurence and Frances MacDaniels at Oberlin College, their personal activities, and the Cochran family in Mt. Auburn.  Included are three photo albums, one each from Laurence (dated c. 1900s) and Frances MacDaniels (dated 1909-1914), and Frances' older sister, Helen Finney Cochran (dated 1912-1919).  Frances and Helen Cochran's photo albums contain several snapshots of the Cochran family.  Other noteworthy items include posed portraits of many of the MacDaniels' classmates/friends.  Especially interesting are two images (c. 1910s, 1932) depicting MacDaniels, Otis Curtis, Don King, and Keyes Metcalf, as Oberlin College students, and twenty years after graduation.  A significant number of images of Oberlin College Athletics in the 1910s are present, including many which appeared in the Oberlin College yearbook, Hi-O-Hi.  Interesting items include photographs of the 1910 Oberlin College—Ohio State University football game, and c. 1910s football team member portraits (featuring MacDaniels, Otis Curtis, and Keyes Metcalf).  Other images include six undated prints of several Oberlin College buildings.

Series Descriptions

Series I.  Biographical and College-Related Files, 1908-1999, n.d. (0.3 l.f.)

Contains Oberlin College and Cornell University files of Laurence H. and Frances MacDaniels.  Included here is Laurence's undated address book and a 1914 eugenics study form completed by Frances of the Cochran family.  Other noteworthy items include Laurence's Oberlin College transcript, letters of recommendation, and a 1912 commencement booklet.  This series also contains photocopies of Frances transcripts of classes taken at Woodward High School (dated 1908) and the University of Wisconsin (dated 1910).  Files are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

Series II.  Correspondence (incoming) of L.H. MacDaniels, 1907-1917 (0.55 l.f.)

Consists of the incoming correspondence of Laurence H. MacDaniels.  The 540 letters, arranged in chronological order, were sent during this ten year period.  The bulk of correspondence is dated between 1913 and 1917, during his study at Cornell.  Correspondents include childhood and college friends Otis Curtis, Keyes Metcalf, and Don King.  The majority of letters were sent by Frances and Laurence's mother, Ellen MacDaniels, documenting their close relationship.  An index is filed at the front of the series.

Series III.  Correspondence of Frances MacDaniels, 1914-1916 (0.05 l.f.)

Contains a small amount of correspondence received by Frances MacDaniels before her marriage to Laurence.  Arranged chronologically, most letters were sent from Laurence and his mother, Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels.  These letters report on their engagement, wedding plans, and life in Oberlin and Ithaca, New York.  An index is filed at the beginning of the series.

Series IV.  Correspondence (incoming) of L.H. and Frances MacDaniels, 1916-1932, 1945-1984  (0.03 l.f.)

Contains incoming correspondence, arranged chronologically, of L.H. and Frances MacDaniels.  Most letters in this series were written before 1930, and were almost exclusively from Laurence's mother Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels.  Topics often reported by his mother were life in Oberlin, gardening, and trips to El Rosario, Mexico, as well as attempts to bring Frances and Laurence back to Oberlin.  A small number of letters were received after 1945, and were almost all from childhood and college friends.  Correspondents included Keyes Metcalf, Elmina Lucke, and Don King.  An index is filed at the beginning of the series.

Series V.  Correspondence (outgoing) of L.H. and Frances MacDaniels, 1960-1984  (0.02 l.f.)

Consists of outgoing correspondence, arranged chronologically, of Laurence H. and Frances MacDaniels.  Most letters were written to childhood friend and Oberlin College classmate Keyes Metcalf.  Letters sent by Frances to researcher Richard A.G. Dupuis in 1977 offers insight to Cochran-Cox family history, and their interactions with Charles Grandison Finney.  An index is filled at the beginning of the series.

Series VI.  Correspondence (incoming and outgoing) of L.H. and Frances MacDaniels, as Class President, 1956-1984  (0.1 l.f.)

Contains correspondence of Laurence MacDaniels in his capacity as president of the class of 1912.  Material included here reports on arrangements for the 45th and 50th class reunions of the class of 1912, as well as contains a few class letters reporting on meetings, Oberlin, and other gatherings.  Documents are arranged chronologically.

Series VII.  Correspondence (incoming and outgoing) of Allen-Cochran-MacDaniels Family Members, 1914-1924, 1974-1975  (0.05 l.f.)

Consists of correspondence received by Rosa Dale Allen Cochran (dated 1913-1924), William C. Cochran (dated 1913-1916), and Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels (dated 1912-1914), as well as two letters, dated 1974-1975, written by Mary Rudd Cochran.  Correspondents of Rosa Dale Cochran include Frances, Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels, and Laurence MacDaniels.  Laurence MacDaniels, and his sisters Anna and Alice were frequent correspondents of Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels.  Included here also is correspondence received by William C. Cochran.  Containing routine telegrams from Frances, it also possesses a 1916 letter from Laurence attempting to get better acquainted with his future father-in-law.  Two letters written, dated between 1974 and 1975, by Mary Rudd Cochran urged her grandniece, Janet Miller, daughter of Carolyn MacDaniels Miller, to pursue a career in librarianship.  Files are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.  A partial index is filed at the beginning of the series.

Series VIII.  Non-Textual Materials Files, 1900s-1910s, 1919-1923, 1932, 1972, 1974, 1980 (2.0 l.f.)

Contains photo albums, portraits, photographs of Oberlin College sports and activities, and a file of postcards and invitations.  Included here are three photo albums, one each from Frances MacDaniels (dated 1909-1914), her older sister Helen Finney Cochran (dated 1912-1919), and Laurence MacDaniels (dated c. 1900s), all depicting activities in and around Oberlin and Cincinnati.  Other photographs (c. 1910s) depict Oberlin College football, the Glee Club, and track, as well as undated prints of Oberlin College buildings.  Files are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically. Also includes a photo album from Laurence MacDaniels' work in Turkey, Egypt, and Greece from 1919 to 1920 with the American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE), later called the Near East Foundation (NEF). The photographs depict a wide range of life in and images of the Near East: people, farming, courtyards, homes, markets, shops, museums, churches. They also depict remains of the First World War: abandoned German equipment, military equipment and personnel, and destroyed sites from the War. Also depicted are Mr. and Mrs. MacDaniels and photos showing the relief effort. The negatives of these photos are included, as well.  Also included is a DVD disk containing 164 .tiff images of the photographs in the album of the Near East relief work. [2003/070]

Series IX.  Additional Correspondence of Laurence & Frances MacDaniels, 1917-24, 1944-79  (Received as late accretions, 1997/59, 1998/114, 1999/083, 2000/017, 2000/050) (0.4 l.f.)

1997/59- Correspondence of Laurence and Frances MacDaniels and their relations.  Includes letters of Samuel D. Cochran (1847, 1900), Everett MacDaniels to Laurence MacDaniels, Fred to Laurence MacDaniels, and Laurence MacDaniels from his mother, Ellen Woodbury MacDaniels.  Arranged chronologically.

1998/114 - Correspondence of Laurence and Frances MacDaniels and family.  Includes letters of Mary R. Cochran, Everett MacDaniels, Anne Fauver, Frances MacDaniels to Mary R. Cochran, Ben Fauver, and Watt P. Marchman to Laurence MacDaniels.  Arranged chronologically.   

1999/083 - Correspondence of Laurence and Frances MacDaniels and W. W. Peet.  Includes 38 letters of Frances MacDaniels to her family in which she describes her work as a member of the American Committee for Relief in the Near East in Turkey, 1919-20.  Five letters were written by Laurence MacDaniels to family while he was in Turkey.  A letter by W. W. Peet to friends and relatives of the members of the Relief team is also included.

2000/017 - Correspondence of Mary Rudd Cochran to Janet Miller and Frances MacDaniels.

2000/050 - Correspondence of Mary Rudd Cochran to Janet Miller and Carolyn Rudd MacDaniels Miller.

2007/011 – Correspondence of Mary Rudd Cochran to Robert Miller, Carolyn Rudd MacDaniels Miller, and Janet Miller. 


The papers were received as part of the twenty separate accessions from Ellen MacDaniels Speers,  Carolyn MacDaniels Miller and Janet Miller between 1992 and 2000.  Three accessions were central in the creation of this collection:  1996/097, 1996/106, and 1996/116. Since 2000, one additional accession was received from Janet Miller (2007/011).  Eugene Taylor donated a DVD containing images of the Near East relief photo album.

Related Materials

Additional material regarding Laurence H. and Frances MacDaniels may be found in the following institutional papers:  Henry Churchill King (2/6), Ernest Wilkins (2/7) Physical Education Department (9/6), Alumni Association (20), and Alumni Records (28).  Personal paper groups containing material relating to Laurence H. and Frances MacDaniels include:  William C. Cochran (30/8), George N. Allen (30/67), and Mary Rudd Cochran (30/282).

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