The Franklin A. Coffman papers contain letters, autobiographical materials, paternal and maternal family genealogies, legal documents, literary works, awards and honors, printed materials, photographs, scrapbooks and photograph albums, and artifacts.
Personal correspondence is mainly amongst family members though there is a letter from J. Edgar Hoover regarding a poem Coffman published. Business correspondence is sparse. Coffman received a bound volume of congratulatory letters upon his retirement. The letters provide the best account of Coffman's work with the United States Department of Agriculture within the collection. Many describe interactions with Coffman during field work and visits to experiment stations across the country. There is no official governmental correspondence in the collection documenting Coffman's work.
Coffman handwrote autobiographical accounts of his life during his later years. These accounts are mainly of his childhood, college days and work in the Philippines. The accounts covering the years Coffman spent in the Philippines are extensive. They provide many details and impressions about the native people. The accounts also cover his travels to other Asian countries while based in the Philippines.
Coffman spent years gathering genealogical information from relatives and researching his ancestors. He traced his father's Coffman ancestors back to 1737 and his mother's Bayle ancestors back to 1796. There are notes, different versions of family trees, and extensive narrative written by Coffman describing the lives of his ancestors.
Legal documents are sparse.
Coffman was a prolific poet. There are clippings of poetry published in the Washington Post. Some poems were published without his name. Others have his initials, F.A.C., including two series of poems compiled in notebooks. There are also unpublished poems.
There are certificates for scholarly and service awards and honors, and the registration certificate for the Marion Oat. There are not certificates for all the awards and honors listed on Coffman's resume.
There are just a few United States Department of Agriculture's bulletins and farmer's Bulletins that Coffman authored or co-authored. The vast majority of Coffman's published research is not part of the collection.
One of Coffman's hobbies was photography. There are hundreds of photographs documenting his personal and professional lives. Subjects are wide-ranging. Coffman signed some of his photographs, mainly what he referred to as the "salon prints." There are photographs taken by others including professional portraits and candid photographs of Coffman at various ages. Many photographs are undated and unidentified.
There are seven scrapbooks containing photographs and memorabilia. 1) Photographs and memorabilia document a 10 day automobile trip to eastern cities and New England that Coffman took with his wife and daughter in 1936. Expenses totaled $110.96. 2) "The Farm" album contains photographs of family members, neighbors, friends, crops, farmhouse interiors and exteriors, Rocky Ford School, and Rocky Ford dam and mill. The album is dated 1913 and some photographs are identified. There are also approximately 56 photographs of Manhattan and Kansas State Agricultural College. The subjects are the campus, buildings, classmates, lake recreation, train depot, street car, and a railroad bridge. Some photos are identified and dated 1914. 3) This photo album with narrative is titled "The Many Faces of F.A.C." and is written by "A Couple of Norths and Shanghai Louis Kao." It was compiled in 1962 and contains photographs of Coffman in various locations. 4) The album has photographs of Coffman's family and ancestors (earliest date 1884), Sunday school class, the First Baptist Church in 1902, Kansas State Agricultural College, and Manhattan. There is extensive Kansas State Agricultural College memorabilia including a cadet corps certificate, 1908 fall term schedule, invitations, commencement programs, band programs, banquet programs, clippings and a baseball ticket. The album also has correspondence and drawings. The album has memorabilia from Coffman's transit back to the United States on the Shino Maru including menus and passenger list. There are photographs of the transit and memorabilia from a Hong Kong visit en route. There are photographs of Kansas State Agricultural College, Oklahoma A&M and Akron, Colorado. 1916. 5) The Philippines album contains photographs of Coffman's trip across the western United States to board the S.S. Manchuria for transit to the Philippines. Coffman photographed the Golden Gate Park, the Panama Pacific International Exhibition grounds, onboard ship recreation, Honolulu, Tokyo, Nagasaki, the Philippines' countryside, Filipinos' daily activities, Philippine experiment stations, cultural activities, villages, Coffman's office and co-workers, YMCA sports, Viscayia (German naval ship), Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe, Yamaa, Yokahoma, the voyage back to the United States on the Shino Maru (not to be confused with the Shinyo Maru), Honolulu experiment station, Universal Film City, and the San Diego Exposition. 1914-1916. 6) The photographs and memorabilia in this album are compiled in honor of Coffman's brother, Will, who died in 1920. It contains drawings, report cards, class schedule and photographs of Kansas State Agricultural College, Manhattan, University of Kansas, and Will's travels. Loose commencement programs from Kansas State Agricultural College, 1913-1915, are with the album. 7) The album contains photographs from Coffman's days in Akron and his travels to Amarillo, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Arlington, New York, Philadelphia and Mount Vernon from 1919-1922. There is memorabilia from Washington, D.C., New York including a Metropolitan Opera House program and a Hippodrome souvenir book, Coffman's wedding and showers, and a program from the American Society of Agronomy 1922 meeting. Morrill, Kansas, Twin Oaks, Estes Park, county fairs, and Manhattan are also subjects of photographs. Alta Johnson's School Girl Days: A Memory Book from Washington County High School, 1914, is boxed with the scrapbooks.
The most notable artifacts are four cameras, presumably used by Coffman: Univex Model A, 1933; No. 1-A Kodak Junior Model A, 1914; No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie, circa 1915-1916; Kodak Six-16 camera and leather case, circa 1932-1936.
Series 1: Biographical, 1910-1977
Series 2: Correspondence, 1914-1980
Series 3: Genealogy, undated
Series 4: Legal Documents, 1919-1977
Series 5: Literary Works, 1933-1973
Series 6: Awards and Honors, 1912-1965
Series 7: Printed Materials, 1918-1972
Series 8: Photographs, 1915-1975
Series 9: Scrapbooks and Albums, 1896-1962
Series 10: Oversize, 1919-1941
Series 11: Artifacts, undated, 1914-1936