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RG3689.AM: Benjamin Franklin Watson, 1899-1993

Papers, etc.:  1896, 1906, and 1925-1971

Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska:  Attorney, Accountant

Size:  1.0 cu.ft.


Born April 30, 1899 at Friend, Nebraska, Benjamin Franklin (B. Frank) Watson was the son of Edward and Mary (Latta) Watson.  He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1916 and continued his education at the University of Nebraska and Yale, receiving a law degree from both institutions.  He also received certification as an accountant.  During World War I, Watson served as Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery.  Watson began his law practice in Lincoln in 1924.  In 1933, his History of the Nebraska Bank Guaranty Law was published.

On April 8, 1939, Watson left Lincoln for an extended stay in Europe.  The Committee of Commercial Law of the American Bar Association sent Watson to prepare a report on Europe’s economic situation, particularly the balance of trade involving Nazi Germany.  During August of 1939, he began a continental tour of Europe (in charge of four boys), but this was halted by the outbreak of war.  In 1941, Watson went to Argentia, Newfoundland, as an Assistant Camp Supervisor to help in the construction of a naval air base, serving with the 397th Bomb Group, 9th Air Division.  He also became editor of the air station’s magazine, The Argentia American.

After the war, Watson returned to his Lincoln law practice.  In 1952, he was unsuccessful in his bid for a municipal judgeship post.  He continued in his practice, still making his home in Lincoln with his wife and two children.  B. Frank Watson died on October 22, 1993.  He is buried in Andrew Cemetery at Friend, Nebraska.


This collection consists of one box of manuscript material arranged in five series:  1) Correspondence, 1896, 1906 and 1925-1971; 2) Scrapbooks, 1939-1941; 3) Writings of B. Frank Watson; 4) Newspaper Clippings; and 5) Miscellany.  This collection relates primarily to B. Frank Watson’s observations of pre-war Europe in 1939.  Material on Watson’s World War II experiences in Argentia, Newfoundland, is also included, as well as some of his legal and accounting works and notes.

Series 1 is comprised of correspondence, 1896, 1906 and 1925-1971, which was written and received by B. Frank Watson.  The most valuable part of this series and of the entire collection are the letters Watson wrote to Sam Smith, of the Veterans’ Weekly in 1939, which record his impressions of pre-war Europe.  He discusses the “state of uncertainty,” the rumors of impending war, and his own solutions, based on his economic studies, as to how war could be avoided.  Other letters of interest were written by Watson in 1941, when he was stationed in Argentia, Newfoundland, serving first as a Camp Supervisor and then as editor of The Argentia American.  The scrapbook, 1939-1941, of Series 2, contains newspaper clippings, photographs, and newsletters documenting Watson’s experiences in Europe and in Argentia, Newfoundland.  Also included is material on the Citizens’ Military Training Camps, a program in which Watson participated in 1940.

Series 3 contains writings of the Nebraska Bank Guaranty Law.  Two papers about trade relations and another essay entitled “We Armed Germany,” all presumably written by Watson, are included.  The newspaper clippings of Series 4 provide biographical information about Watson, his experiences in Europe, law cases, and his family.  The miscellany of Series 5 includes an interview with Watson about prominent Lincoln residents around 1915, financial and legal case notes, reports and writings of others, programs, pamphlets, music, teletype reports, certificates, itineraries, and Lincoln High School Reunion and Centennial material, 1971.

Note:  See the photo component [RG3689.PH] for related images.  See the library for a copy of Watson’s History of the Nebraska Bank Guaranty Law.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1896, 1906, 1925-1971

Box 1


    1. 1896, 1906, and 1925-May 1939

    1. June-December 1939

    1. 1941-1943

    1. 1945-1961

    1. 1971 and undated

Series 2 – Scrapbooks, 1939-1941

    1. Experiences in Europe (lectures), 1939-1940

    1. Citizens Military Training Camps, 1940 (also Constitution Week)

    1. The Argentia American materials, 1941

    1. Financial clippings, etc., 1927-1932 (including some loose material) [see oversize]

Series 2 – Writings of B. Frank Watson

    1. A History of the Nebraska Bank Guaranty Law, 1933; Also, two papers about trade relations and one essay entitled “We Armed Germany,” presumably written by Watson

Series 4 – Newspaper clippings

    1. Biographical information, pre-war Europe, legal cases

Series 5 – Miscellany

    1. Interview with B. Frank Watson about prominent residents of Lincoln, Nebraska, circa, 1915; Financial and Legal case notes

    1. Reports and Writings of others

    1. Programs, Pamphlets, Music

    1. Teletype Report of Daily War News, May 5, 1945; certificates, itineraries

    1. Lincoln High School Reunion and Centennial material, 1971


Subject headings:

Banks and banking — Nebraska

Economic conditions — Europe

Lawyers — Nebraska

Watson, Benjamin Franklin, 1899-1993

World War, 1939-1945


AIF                      12-12-1979

Revised TMM      07-10-2019