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Frank Henry Neely Papers

 Collection — Box: 3
Identifier: MS088

  • Staff Only


Frank H. Neely, business and civic leader in Atlanta, graduated from Georgia Tech in 1904. His ties to Tech remained strong throughout his life, and his philanthropy is visible throughout campus. These papers include scrapbooks, correspondence, and printed materials primarily documenting his receipt of the Gantt Medal (1952) and Taylor Key (1958), and the Neely medal collection which was housed in the Rae and Frank Neely Room in the Library and Information Center.


  • 1937-1969 (bulk 1964-1969)
  • Majority of material found within 1964 - 1969


General Physical Description note

(one document case)

Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


2 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The Frank Neely papers include scrapbooks, printed material, blueprints, and other items primarily documenting awards received by Neely and the Rae and Frank Neely Room at Georgia Tech.

Considerable printed material concerning medals appears to have actually been collected by former Georgia Tech library director Dorothy M. Crosland and added to the collection. These include auction catalogs and promotional materials, as well as a small amount of correspondence. An inventory of the Neely Medal Collection and subjects these medals document is also included. Loose items intended for the scrapbooks are included as well.

The two scrapbooks contain memorabilia for awards he was given. The first commemorates his receipt of the Henry Laurence Gantt Gold Medal in 1952. The Gantt Gold Medal, awarded by a board drawn from the American Management Association and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), is given for "distinguished achievement in industrial management as a service to the community." The memorabilia contained in this scrapbook includes the award itself, congratulatory letters and telegrams, programs, photographs, and newsclippings. Of particular note are a letter of regret from Herbert Hoover, who was invited to attend the ceremonies by ASME and telegrams from Ralph McGill and James Cox.

Other items in the scrapbook pre- and post-date his receipt of the award and include a newsclipping from 1949, when Eleanor Roosevelt and her son Elliott visited Georgia, materials from the dedication of the Rich Electronic Computer Center at Georgia Tech on December 2, 1955, and a letter from Georgia Tech's Reactor Advisory Board thanking Neely for his help. The items in this scrapbook were glued down and are therefore discolored where the glue was applied.

The second scrapbook was compiled to commemorate Neely's receipt in 1958 of the Frederick W. Taylor Key, awarded by the Society for Advancement of Management. Materials contained in this scrapbook include correspondence, newsclippings, telegrams, explanation of the award, and copies of Neely's remarks at the award dinner on October 30, 1958. Also included are materials for a reception given by the Georgia Chapter of SAM in honor of Neely on February 6, 1959, and clippings regarding the Nuclear Reactor at Georgia Tech. Materials in both these scrapbooks suggest that they were actually kept by Mrs. Neely.

The oversized box includes an Award of Appreciation given to Neely by Georgia Tech on October 20, 1960 in recognition of his many contributions to the institution, an article on medallist Elizabeth Bradley Jones, appointment of Neely to Georgia Nuclear Advisory Commission on March 12, 1957 by Governor Marvin Griffin, and a reprint of "The Store That Married a City" from a 1949 Saturday Evening Post. Most of the materials in this box, however, pertain to the decoration of the Rae and Frank Neely Room in the Price Gilbert Memorial Library; these include carpet and wallpaper samples, artist's renderings, and blueprints.

Biography of Frank Henry Neely

Frank Henry Neely, longtime employee of Rich's and a prominent civic leader in Atlanta in the mid-twentieth century, was born in Augusta, Georgia on January 19, 1884, the son of Benjamin and Henrietta Eve Carmichael Neely. Neely graduated from Georgia Tech in 1904 with a B. S. in mechanical engineering and accepted a position with Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in Pittsburgh.

In 1908, he returned to Atlanta, where he established a consulting firm. That same year, on February 4, he married Rae Schlesinger. Among his clients was the candy factory owned by his father-in-law, Harry Schlesinger. In 1915, he accepted a position with Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill, where he oversaw production in factories in Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, St. Louis, New York, and Minneapolis.

His friend, Walter Rich, president of the family-owned Rich's Department Store in Atlanta, in 1924 offered Neely the position of general manager in recognition of Neely's excellent administrative abilities. In his years at Rich's, his positions included executive vice president and secretary, president, and finally, chairman of the board of trustees. He helped turn around the ailing department store. Most notable among his achievements was his dictum that the customer is always right, making the store famous for its liberal exchange policy.

Despite his many accomplishments at Rich's, Neely is perhaps best known for his civic activities. the Atlanta Improvement Association; among the actions of this organization was the construction of viaducts in downtown Atlanta. That same year, he was named "Citizen of Atlanta" by the now-defunct publication, The Atlanta Georgian. Neely organized the Special Relief Commission in 1931, served for three years as the president of the Community Chest, chair of the Fulton County Department of Public Welfare, and chair of Fulton County's Planning and Zoning Commission. In 1937, he became director and deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (Sixth District), serving as chair of the board for sixteen years beginning in 1938.

During World War II, while acting as regional director of the War Production Board, Neely was instrumental in bringing Bell Aircraft Corporation (now Lockheed Martin) to Atlanta. He was named the first chair of the Georgia State Department of Commerce in 1948 and in 1952, became chair of the Georgia Better Roads Committee. In 1956, he helped organize the first Georgia Nuclear Advisory Commission, which was instrumental in bringing a nuclear reactor to Georgia Tech's campus. His ties to Georgia Tech remained strong throughout his life. At commencement exercises in 1941, guished Service Award and in 1944, was elected president of the Alumni Foundation. In 1967, he and his wife donated 58.55 acres of their 400-acre Neely Farm in Gwinnett County to Georgia Tech. The Rae and Frank Neely Room, located in the Price Gilbert Memorial Library, housed Neely's collection of medals and other artwork the couple donated to the institution. The Neelys established in 1960 what is now the Frank H. Neely Professorship in Nuclear Engineering and Health Physics. On January 11, 1963, Georgia Tech dedicated the Neely Nuclear Research Center.

As president of the Rich Foundation, Neely oversaw grants to Emory University for the School of Business Administration and to Georgia Tech for Rich Laboratories of Industrial Engineering and Rich Electronic Computer Center. Neely also held federal appointments. In 1953, he became a member of the Committee on Business Organization of the Department of Defense and he later served as a member of Kennedy's White House Committee on Youth Employment.

Rae and Frank Neely had one daughter, Rachel Neely Parker (d. March 17, 1988). Rae Neely, an Atlanta native, graduated from Girls High School, and went on to Smith College, from which she graduated in 1907. Founder of Child Service and Family Counseling Center, and the first person to serve as research director for the Georgia Department of Education, she was a poet, whose published works included Marguerite, the Sister and Wife of Kings, a one hundred page poem published by the University of Georgia Press in 1939. She also served as president of the Council for Jewish Women, and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Piedmont Driving Club, Capital City Club, Standard Club, and the History Class of 1884.

Frank Neely died on Friday, May 24, 1979 at age ninety-five, and Rae Neely died on Monday, January 14, 1980 at the age of ninety-six.

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.


Accession #1991.0701 (old number: 91-07-01).

General Physical Description note

(one document case)

Processing Information

Susan J. Illis processed these papers in 2003.

Inventory of the Frank Henry Neely Papers, 1937-1969 (bulk 1964-1969)
Susan J. Illis
Copyright 2002.
Description rules
Finding Aid Updated Using Rlg Best Practice Guidelines For Encoded Archival Description
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA