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Stearns Family Papers

Identifier: SC143-STEA

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the papers of Frank Stearns and his son, Foster Stearns as well as his wife Martha Stearn and her father, John F. Genung. Materials in the collection date from 1882 to 1966. It is arranged into the following four series: Frank Stearns; Foster and Martha Stearns; Art and Objects belonging to Foster and Martha Stearns and John F. Genung.

The Frank Stearns series consists of one box of correspondence and a political scrapbook from August 1923, when Calvin Coolidge became president of the United States. There are letters from Calvin Coolidge to Stearns as well as retained copies of Stearns’ letters to Coolidge. Most of the correspondence involves greetings, thank you notes and personal comments. The “political letters” concern Massachusetts politics and Coolidge’s election.

The Foster and Martha Stearns series includes personal correspondence, some relating to Massachusetts politics, personal interests, and donations of materials to Dinand Library. Additionally, there are letters from Cardinal Spellman, Mary Balascheff, a White House employee and other correspondents. There also are family genealogies, albums documenting the Stearns’ activities and travels to Europe, family portraits, photograph graphs of family members and classmates of Martha Stearns and seven scrapbooks documenting Stearns’ political career.

The Art and Objects belonging to Foster and Martha Stearns series holds a variety of objects and artwork. Notably, the Stearns’ medals collection is found in this series and includes his personal medals of honor, papal, civil and military. Additionally, pieces from the couple’s art collection are held. The Stearns were supporters of the arts, which is evident through the art they collected while living in Turkey. Many of the pieces in his series were the work of Russian emigre artists, who settled in Turkey after the Russian Revolution. Other highlights include a mosaic tile, a lace crochet piece by Grace Coolidge and Easter Cards distributed to Russian Soldiers by the Imperial Family.

Finally, the John F. Genung Series mostly contains photographs of the Genung family including John and his daughter, Martha. Of note are the travel journal documenting a family trip to Europe and a photograph album of a trip to Sinai in 1907.


  • 1882-1966


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Materials believed to be under copyright or other restrictions are available for limited noncommercial, educational and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States copyright law and with proper citation. Please note that the College of the Holy Cross may not hold the rights to all items in this collection. Users assume responsibility for identifying all copyright holders and for determining whether permission is needed to make any use of the content. For permission under rights held by the College, please contact

Biographical Note

Frank W. Stearns, a native of Boston MA, was an American businessman, whose father founded the R. H. Stearns department store in Boston. Stearns graduated from Amherst College 1878 and joined his father’s dry goods firm in Boston. He became a partner of the firm in 1881 and was appointed chairman of its Board of Directors in 1919. Stearns is known for being an early supporter and close friend of his fellow Amherst College alumnus, Calvin Coolidge. He married Emily Williston Clark in 1880, and died in Boston in 1939. Foster W. Stearns, a librarian, diplomat, Congressman, and benefactor was born in 1881 to Emily and Frank Stearns in Hull, Massachusetts. He graduated from Amherst College in 1903, Harvard University in 1906, and Boston College in 1915. He began his career as a librarian at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, working there from 1913 to 1917. Then, he was the State Librarian of Massachusetts but his tenure was brief because he enlisted in the military after the United States entered World War I. Stearns served as a first lieutenant and was wounded during the St. Mihiel Offensive on September 12, 1918. Afterwards, he was an assistant military attaché at the General Headquarters of the Amen Expeditionary Forces in France.

After the war, Stearns served in the State Department in Washington, D.C. from 1920 to 1921. Stearns was the third secretary of the American Embassy in Constantinople (now Istanbul) from 1921 to 1923, and was the second secretary of the American Embassy at Paris from 1923 to 1924. While in Turkey, Stearns and his wife were very active in trying to assist Russian refugees, who were fleeing from the communist regime. Increasing deafness from his war injury compelled him to end his diplomatic career and return to librarianship. Stearns was the Librarian of the College of the Holy Cross from 1925 to 1930. The first librarian to oversee the then newly constructed Dinand Library. From 1937 to 1938, Stearns was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Later, he was a United States Representative (NH) from 1939 to 1945. He died on June 4, 1956.

Stearns married Martha Genung on June 22, 1905. Martha was the daughter of John F. Genung, a professor at Amherst College. She wrote several books on needlepoint and edited The Transplanting, a Narrative from the Letters of Marie Balascheff, A Russian Refugee in France. She also was a student of New Hampshire history and worked with two historical societies. She died in 1972.

John Franklin Genung, born in 1850, was a professor at Amherst College from 1882 until 1917. He taught English, biblical literature and rhetoric. He published several books concerning biblical literature and rhetorical guidelines during his career. Additionally, he was an ordained Baptist minister. He had three children with his wife and his oldest was Martha Genung Stearns.


6.56 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Acquisition Note

This collection was donated in multiple donations to the college by Martha Stearns between 1956 and 1972. Additionally, Foster and Martha Stearns donated numerous books to Dinand Library since his tenure as first librarian in the late 1920s. Many of these books may be found in the Rare Book collection of Archives & Distinctive Collections.

Related Materials

Portrait of Foster Stearns by Nikolai Becker, 1923. See RG14.04 Series 1 for records pertaining to Foster Stearns tenure as librarian of Dinand Library.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Revised Summer 2021

Repository Details

Part of the Distinctive Collections Repository

One College Street
Worcester MA 01610