Karl Fenning Collection, 1881-1962

Karl Fenning Collection, 1881-1962

Finding Aid

Collection No. 74 (4.5 Linear Feet)
D.C. Community Archives


Frederick F. Wright, grandnephew of Karl Fenning, donated the collection to the D.C. Community Archives. The donation was originally made in July 2006, with subsequent donations in September 2006.


Karl Fenning was born in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1881, the only child of James and Annie Dey Fenning (he had an older, half brother, Frederick A. Fenning).

He attended Central High School in Washington, D.C., and went on to Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1903. He then returned to Washington, D.C. to attend law school at National University and Columbian (now George Washington) University.

Fenning practiced law in Washington, D.C. from 1904-1906, in New York City from 1906-1911, and in Cleveland from 1911-1921. On June 7, 1917, he married Hazel O’Neil. In 1921, President Harding appointed Fenning Assistant Commissioner of Patents, and in 1925 he was appointed Special Assistant to the Attorney General, a position in which he served until 1928.

From 1923 until 1946, Fenning was a professor of patent law at Georgetown University. He died Feb. 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of personal and professional correspondence, professional publications, clippings, genealogical and biographical information, memorabilia and family photographs. The materials are divided into four series:
  1. Professional Papers
  2. Personal Papers
  3. Photographs
  4. Ephemera

Series Descriptions

Series I: Professional Papers

This series is made up of correspondence relating to professional activities and teaching, professional publications, clippings, and biographical materials.

Series II: Personal Papers

Series II consists of educational records, correspondence and research concerning Karl Fenning’s ancestry, and papers relating to his wife, Hazel O’Neil Fenning, brother Frederick A. Fenning, and mother, Annie Dey Fenning. This series also contains general correspondence, including a letter from Carrie J. Kingdon (possibly Karl’s aunt or cousin), who was vacationing in Switzerland at the outbreak of World War I.

Series III: Photographs

This series includes photos of Karl Fenning at various ages. Also included are family photos, Karl Fenning’s birthplace, and images taken in the Washington, D.C. area, New Jersey, Florida, Boston, and Yosemite.

Series IV: Ephemera

Series IV includes the baby book of Karl’s niece, Katherine Hine Fenning, two leather wallets, a Metropolitan Police badge, a passport issued to Fenning in 1916, and various personal and professional certificates.


There are no restrictions to this collection.

Related Collections

Box Inventory

Series I: Professional Papers

Box 1

FF 1 Biography
FF 2 General Correspondence, 1903-1925
FF 3 General Correspondence, 1926-1962
FF 4 Department of Agriculture Appointments, 1900-1901
FF 5 Department of the Interior Appointments, 1902
FF 6 Clippings, 1904, 1917, 1921
FF 7 Publications: “A Neglected Well of Information,” Scientific American, 1924
FF 8 Publications: “Proposed Changes in the Building of the United States Patent Office,” Chemical Age, 1924
FF 9 Teaching and Lectures: Correspondence, 1925-1926
FF 10 Teaching and Lectures: Correspondence, 1932, 1947-1948
FF 11 Civil Service Application, 1942
FF 12 General Professional Papers, 1908, nd

Series II: Personal Papers

FF 13  General Correspondence: 1898-1926, 1948, 1953
FF 14 General Correspondence: Carrie J. Kingdon to Karl Fenning, November 1914
FF 15 Trinity College, 1899-1905
FF 16  Trinity College: Phi Gamma Delta, 1901-1904, 1948
FF 17 Law School, 1903-1905
FF 18 Property, 1917

Box 2

FF 19 Family: Ancestry, 1899-1942
FF 20 Family: Ancestry Correspondence, 1899-1942
FF 21 Family: Hazel Fenning, 1917, 1936, 1939
FF 22 Family: Frederick A. Fenning, 1907, 1936, 1944, 1964
FF 22A Baby Book of Katherine Hine Fenning, 1902
FF 23 Family: Annie Dey Fenning, Sketchbook, 1870
FF 24 Family: Annie Dey Fenning, 1921
FF 25  General Personal Papers
FF 26 General Personal Papers
FF 27 Memorabilia

Series III: Photographs

FF 28 Childhood, 1882-1900
FF 29 Trinity Commencement, 1903
FF 30 Fenning & Family, 1912
   Patent Office Photograph, 1925
FF 31 House, nd
  Woman, 1919
  Postcard: Huguenot Memorial Church, Pelham Manor, N.Y., nd
FF 32 House, Woman, Man, nd

Box 3

  • Framed Photo of Katherine Hine Fenning, c1910
  • Adirondacks, 1901
  • Harper Ferry, Train Scene, 1904
  • Karl Fenning, 1896
  • Karl Fenning, 1904
  • Karl Fenning, Trinity Commencement, 1903
  • Karl Fenning, 1900
  • Karl Fenning (more likely Frederick Fenning), nd
  • Karl Fenning’s birthplace, interior and exterior, 1881
  • Karl Fenning & Annie Dey Fenning, framed, 1905
  • Karl Fenning, framed, 1908
  • Annie Fenning, framed, 1900
  • Mother of Annie Fenning (?), framed, nd
  • Photo Album, D.C. area, Mt. Vernon, c1900
  • Photo Album, Trinity College, Yosemite, Summer Jobs, D.C. area, Hazel O’Neil Fenning, 1910-1925
  • House, nd
  • Building, nd
  • Man, dog, house, nd
  • Annie Fenning, Asbury Park, N.J., 1907
  • Mirror Lake, Yosemite, nd
  • Washington, DC scenes, nd
  • The New Lucerne Hotel Booklet, 1912-1913
  • Thomas Brokaw, Orlando, Fla., c1914
  • Karl & Annie Fenning, Orlando, Fla., 1914
  • D.K. Dey, October 1906
  • Postcard: to Annie Fenning from Carrie J. Kingdon, 13 Brainard St. Mt. Holly, N.J., 1909
  • Thomas Brokaw, woman, house, nd
  • Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Brokaw, 1919
  • Photos: Katherine Fenning, 1902-c1912

Box 4

  • Photos: Katherine Fenning, 1902-c1912
  • Photo: Karl Fenning and 6 men, c1903

Series IV: Ephemera

  • Baby book of Katherine Hine Fenning, 1902
  • Certificate, Admitted to Practice Law in Ohio, 1911
  • Certificate, Member, Ohio Sons of the American Revolution, 1912
  • Certificate, Appointed Scoutmaster, Boy Scouts of America, 1913
  • Certificate, Admitted, Attorney and Counselor, US Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1916
  • Certificate, Admitted, Attorney and Counselor, Supreme Court of the United States, 1925
  • Certificate, Member, American Arbitration Association, National Panel of Arbitrators, 1941
  • Passport, Karl Fenning, 1916
  • DC Metropolitan Police badge
  • Wallet, labeled KHF
  • Wallet, Trinity Senior Prom, 1903

Compiled by Rachel Telford, November 2006

DC Public Library, Special Collections
D.C. Community Archives

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