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Amos Fries papers

Identifier: Ax 234

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, manuscripts by Fries, others, and Elizabeth Fries, miscellaneous materials, and photographs.

Personal and family correspondence is arranged chronologically, 1896 - 1919. Most of these are letters between Amos and Elizabeth Fries written while he was in France during World War I, 1917 - 1918. General correspondence is arranged alphabetically by subject, and the bulk dates are from 1948 - 1952. Correspondents include Lucille Cardin Crain, Greta S. Deffenbaugh, L.E. Faulkner, Mrs. Gerald O. Inman, Roscoe Peacock, George W. Robnett, and A.W. Sims as well as patriotic and educational organizations such as the Anglo-Saxon Christian Association of the U.S.A., Committee for Constitutional Government, Sentinels of the Republic, National Council for American Education, etc. Also included is a letterpress book containing letters written by Fries during 1903 - 1907, from the U.S. Army Engineer Office in Portland, Oregon. These letters mainly concern engineering projects in that area.

Manuscripts by Fries include an autobiography, written circa 1951 - 1952; articles and essays on education, military and chemical warfare; and printed materials.

Manuscripts by others include writings by the National Council for Prevention of War, Council for Democracy, Elizabeth Dilling, and Lucia Maxwell.

Manuscripts by Elizabeth C. Fries are mainly book reviews, with some writings on the DAR, education, and the “new social order.”

Also included in the collection are Fries’ military commissions, family photographs, and a scrapbook containing photographs of Edgewood Arsenal, Edgewood, Maryland, 1918.


  • Creation: 1903-1952


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Amos Alfred Fries was born in Debello, Wisconsin, in 1873. His family moved to a farm in northwestern Missouri when Fries was two. When Fries was fifteen, they moved again to Medford, Oregon. After high school, Fries attended West Point, graduating in April 1898. He was immediately assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant. Fries later served under Captain John Pershing in the Philippines and was present at the Moro uprising in 1901.

Upon his return to the United States, Fries was an engineer in the construction of The Dalles-Celilo Canal in Oregon. He was later placed in charge of all harbor work in Southern California and the Colorado River. During 1906 - 1909, he and his associates developed the plans for Los Angeles harbor.

Fries (now a general) was ordered to France when the United States entered World War I in 1917. He had expected to be the Director of Roads, but was ordered by General Pershing to organize a gas service. This later became the Chemical Warfare Service. Since all the qualified chemists were already busy with other matters, Fries had to recruit and train men who were totally unfamiliar with chemical warfare. Some of the junior officers recruited by Fries included Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson, baseball players, and Charles MacArthur, playwright. Fries made a success of the gas service, and after the war, Fries made sure there would never be a shortage of qualified men by having the Chemical Warfare Service established as a permanent part of the Army. Fries was appointed its Chief in 1920, and remained so until his retirement in 1929.

Upon retiring, Fries and his wife, Elizabeth (whom he married in 1898) devoted their time to promoting conservative patriotism. In 1935, Fries (who was then president of the District Public School Association in Washington, DC) attempted “to ban the teaching of communism in Washington schools.” He organized the Friends of the Public Schools of America, Inc., and he and Elizabeth edited the Friends of the Public Schools Bulletin, which warned against “subversive influences in education.” Fries also accused schools of not teaching patriotism and allowing children to read books containing un-American propaganda.

Fries was also active in the American Legion. Elizabeth Fries was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution; she wrote and gave speeches on topics relating to the DAR. Elizabeth Fries died in 1957. Amos Fries died in 1963 at the age of 90.


5 linear feet (6 containers (3 record storage boxes, 1 clamshell box, 1 flat box, 1 volume))

Language of Materials



Amos Fries (1873-1963) was an engineer, served in the Philippines during the Moro uprising, organized the Chemical Warfare Service, and was an advocate for conservative causes. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, manuscripts by Fries, others, and Elizabeth Fries, and photographs.


The collection is arranged by the following series: Personal Papers, Correspondence, Manuscripts, Photographs and Scrapbook.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection acquired as a gift to the UO Special Collections by Elizabeth Hurst in 1965.

Related Materials

Special Collections and University Archives hold related collections on the Philippine Constabulary and conservative and libertarian movement.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff, 1995.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Amos Fries Papers
Complete Description
University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team and Tanya Parlet. Revised by Emily Haskins.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA