The papers of Baron Robert Silvercruys consist of letters, manuscripts, pamphlets and clippings mainly concerning the careers of Frantz Silvercruys (1859 - 1936), President of the Court of Cassation of Belgium and created Baron Silvercruys in 1929, and of his son, Robert Silvercruys (1893 - 1971), who was a Belgian Ambassador to the United States (1946 - 1959). The papers comprise 3.5 linear feet of materials, arranged in 56 folders in 7 boxes. The papers are divided into two series, one series focusing on the career of Frantz Silvercruys and the other on that of Robert Silvercruys.
Frantz Silvercruys was highly respected in Belgium for his jurisprudence. His field of special interest was that of patronages, or guardianships, of children and paroled criminals. In 1882 Silvercruys was accepted into the Barreau de Bruxelles, the equivalent to a bar association in the U.S. He soon became a substitute Prosecutor of the King in the city of Mons, in 1888, and was responsible for the creation of a system of guardianship of children and of paroled criminals in that city. In 1892 he wrote a small book on the subject of patronage, which is contained in the collection (Box 4, folder 34). By 1903 he had served as the substitute to the Attorney General in Liége, a main seat of justice in Belgium, and as a member of the Royal Commission of Patronages. He was at that point named Conseiller, or Justice, to the Court of Appeals in Liége, and a bound set of notes from this period in Silvercruys' hand is in the collection (Box 1, folder 9). In 1910 Frantz Silvercruys was named Conseiller to the Court of Cassation of Belgium, the equivalent to a Supreme Court Justice in the U.S.
The first part of the Frantz Silvercruys series consists of correspondence to Silvercruys from various Belgian notables, including Edmond Picard, the famous poet; Julien Lejeune, the Belgian Minister of Justice; and from William Howard Taft and Oliver Wendell Holmes, both U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Most of these letters praise Silvercruys for his work as a judge and as an author in the field of the philosophy of law. The second part of the series is a collection of bound notes, letters, clippings and pamphlets received or written by Silvercruys. One volume contains letters and ephemera relating to his elevation to Baron in 1925; another similar volume has memorabilia from his retirement from the Court of Cassation in 1934. Both of these contain letters and notes from famous Belgian dignitaries. There are also two copies of a typed manuscript of a booklet by Silvercruys about his trip to the U.S. in 1925. Among his activities on this trip was a visit the U.S. Supreme Court, where he met William Howard Taft and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and a meeting with Herbert Hoover, future president of the United States. These bound volumes are arranged in alphabetical order according to title.
The series containing materials on Robert Silvercruys cover his careers as poet and as diplomat. The first sixteen folders contain correspondence and clippings from and about people notable in literary and diplomatic circles in Belgium, France and the U.S. Robert Silvercruys' career as a poet preceded that of the diplomat. He began writing poetry when he was a young man, publishing a group of poems in 1911, entitled Notations, at the age of 18. Two years later he published another set of poems in a volume called L'Ironique Tendresse. Many of the letters he received during this period are letters of praise from friends and colleagues regarding these books. Among these are letters from Edmond Picard, Thomas Braun, François Mauriac, Marcel Thiry, Robert Vallery-Radot (editor of Les Cahiers), Lucien Christophe and Albert Mockel. Many of these letters also include mention of a later collection of poems, Suite Nocturne, published in 1926. Other letters in the collection are related to Silvercruys' political career, from such names as Thomas J. Watson, Jr., and his brother, Arthur K. Watson; Charlotte Kellogg, wife of Vernon Kellogg; Leon Orlowski; and Pierre Wigny, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The second part of the series contains bound sets of notes pamhplets, letters and clippings regarding both of the Baron's careers again. The majority of materials surrounding his diplomatic career are from the period of his ambassadorship to the U.S. from Belgium (1946 - 1959), including two scrapbooks of memorabilia from two dinners given in honor of his retirement in 1959, which had such notable guests as Thomas J. Watson,Jr., Allen W. Dulles, Mamie Eisenhower, Walter H. Annenberg, Isaac H. Clothier, Jr. and Mildred Bliss. The signatures of many of these appear in a guest book, including signatures for John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, who were unable to attend personally. Other volumes contain notes and pamphlets on various subjects from the Belgian involvement in the founding of New York, to Silvercruys' notes while he was a professor of French at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1917, to a handwritten copy of Éphémèrides Parfois Intimes in the hand of its author, Léon Kochnitzky. Among the most fascinating of these is a volume entitled Tercentenaire Huguenot Wallon de New York, 1624 - 1924, which contains letters and ephemera related to a tercentennial celebration of the first European settlement of New York by the Walloons, or French-speaking, Dutch Protestants. The set contains numerous letters to the then Belgian Ambassador to the U.S., Baron de Cartier de Marchienne. Another interesting folder contains pamphlets from the Second World War, such as the Report by the Supreme Allied Commander on the Operations in Southern France, signed by the author, General Maitland Wilson.
The collection itself belonged to Robert Silvercruys. It would be of interest to any scholar of Belgian history, culture, politics, law or foreign relations. Frantz Silvercruys was a member of the Court of Casssation of Belgium from 1910 to 1934. Many of his notes and much biographical information are contained in the collection. Robert Silvercruys, if not a well-known poet himself, was a part of the Belgian literary circles, and he has a considerable amount of correspondence from other members of that group. His career as a diplomat also found him in well-known company, and his contributions to Belgian American relations during the period after the Second World War were considerable.