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Karl Fenning Papers

Identifier: 074

Scope and Contents

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: Professional Papers, Personal Papers, Photographs, and Ephemera.


  • Creation: 1881-1962


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Use

No known restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

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 the District, and later Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1903. He then returned to Washington to attend law school at National University and Columbian College (now George Washington University). Fenning practiced law in Washington from 1904-1906, in New York City from 1906-1911, and in Cleveland, Ohio from 1911-1921. On June 7, 1917, he married Hazel O’Neil. In 1921, President Warren 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 February 28, 1963 in Washington.


4.5 Linear feet

4 Boxes


Series 1: Professional Papers
This series is made up of correspondence relating to professional activities and teaching, professional publications, clippings, and biographical materials.

Series 2: Personal Papers
This series 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 3: Photographs
This series includes photos of Karl Fenning at various ages. Also included are family photographs, Karl Fenning’s birthplace, and images taken in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Florida, Boston, and Yosemite National Park.

Series 4: Ephemera
This series includes the baby book of Karl’s niece, Katherine Hine Fenning, 2 leather wallets, a Metropolitan Police Department badge, a passport issued to Fenning in 1916, and various personal and professional certificates.

Custodial History

Frederick F. Wright, grandnephew of Karl Fenning, donated the collection to the Library in July 2006, with subsequent donations in September 2006.

Related Materials

Lemon and Mary Hine Correspondence Collection (Collection 076)

Processing Information

Basic archival processing procedures were applied to the collection when it was processed.

Karl Fenning Papers
An inventory of Karl Fenning Papers at DC Public Library
Finding aid prepared by Rachel Telford.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001