Benton family Leo Frank papers
Scope and Content
This collection contains documents pertaining to the 1913 murder of Mary Phagan and the murder trial of Leo Frank. Newspaper articles and a dissertation describe the details of the trial and Frank's lynching as well as new witness for the case and the push for a pardon for Frank in the 1980s. Also included are genealogy papers on the Phagan family.
- Phagan family (Family)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.
Mary Anne Phagan (1899-1913) was born in Florence, Alabama, to William Joshua Phagan (1873-1899) and Frances Benton (1874-1947). She was the youngest of five children: Benjamin Franklin (1893-1971), Ollie Mae (1894-1963), Charlie Bryan (1896-1963), and William Joshua (1898-1973). In 1912, Frances Benton married John William Coleman (1858-1936) and the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where Mary Phagan worked at the National Pencil Company factory. On April 26, 1913, Mary Phagan was found murdered in the factory. Leo Frank, the factory manager, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. Georgia governor John Slaton commuted Frank's sentence to life imprisonment, which prompted a well-organized group to kidnap, beat, and lynch Frank. Frank's guilt remains highly contested.
Mary's brother William Joshua married Mary Delilah Richards (1901-1992) and had four children, James (1926-2004), Anne (1918-1996), Jack (1923-), and Betty (1931-2018). James Phagan named his daughter Mary Phagan (Kean) (1958-) after "Little Mary Phagan" and they worked to have her story remembered as well as against Leo Frank's post-mortem pardon. Frances Benton's brother, Durell Benton (1880-1941), also lived in Atlanta with his wife Lula (1881-1951) and his three children, Lex (1905-1973), Bertie (1906-1977), and Frank (1908-1964). Lex Benton married Anna Lee (1913-1997) and they had one daughter, Patricia (1930-2013).
0.209 linear ft. (one half document case and three oversize folders)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was processed in 2019.
- Benton family Leo Frank papers
- Allison Maier
- June 2019
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English.