The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library records consist of correspondence and memoranda, photographs, architectural records, minutes, ledgers, financial and legal documents, printed material, scrapbooks, and audio-visual materials documenting the founding and administration of the Collection and the Library.
The Frick Collection records date from 1881 to the present with the majority dating from 1931, when the transformation of the Frick residence into a public museum began. Records document lectures, symposia, and concerts held at the Collection, as well as building construction and renovation projects, exhibitions, and art acquisitions. Of particular interest are Henry Clay Frick's art collecting files, dating from 1881 to 1920.
The Frick Art Reference Library records, which begin with Helen Clay Frick's founding of the Library in 1920, document the acquisition of books, exhibition and auction catalogues, photographs and related material, as well as photograph expeditions, lectures, and staff research projects.
The papers of the Frick family date from the 1860s to the 1980s and consist of correspondence, photographs, albums and scrapbooks, diaries, financial records, printed material, and architectural records documenting the lives of Henry Clay Frick, his wife, Adelaide, and their children, Helen Clay Frick and Childs Frick. These materials give valuable insight into the history of the Frick family and members of their circle, which included politicians, art dealers, business leaders, university officials, fellow art collectors, and philanthropists.
Some notable figures represented in these papers are Andrew W. Mellon, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, Joseph Duveen, and J. Horace Harding. The collection also documents the family's own art collecting and their philanthropic interests, which ranged from museums and educational institutions to hospitals and parks.
Manuscript collections in The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library Archives consist primarily of art research files, gallery records, photographs of artists, and artists' correspondence and personal papers that were donated to the Frick Art Reference Library. The research files of art scholars contain correspondence, photographs, notes, and printed material and include documentation of such artists as Gilbert Stuart and Gian Paolo Panini, as well as general research on early American artists and Western European art. The records of two galleries, the American Art Association and Peter H. Davidson & Co., Inc., contain sales records, inventories, correspondence, and photographs of artwork. Artists are documented through collections of photographs and letters, photographs of artists in their studios, and papers of two artists, Charles Hawthorne and Raymond P. R. Neilson.