Robert C. Fraim was born in 1830 at Brandywine Hundred in Delaware. His early career as a school teacher at Sharpley School House in Brandywine Hundred was interrupted by the Civil War, in which he served as First Sergeant in Company D of the Fifth Delaware Regiment. Following the war, he was appointed Registrar of Wills for New Castle County and was admitted to the New Castle County Bar. The bulk of his career was spent as an attorney in Wilmington. Fraim also served on the Wilmington Board of Education. In addition to his professional activities, Fraim wrote poetry and articles for Philadelphia and Wilmington newspapers, typically publishing under the pseudonyms "Lex," "Robin Hood," and "Isaker Thompson." He died in Wilmington in 1903.
Biographical information derived from the collection.
In 1873, Robert C. Fraim began to collect his poems and articles in a quarto volume, which he titled "Poetical Writings." The majority of the writings are in holograph copies, though the volume includes several pasted-in newspaper clippings. The volume covers work from 1873 through 1901.
A number of Fraim's poems are occasional pieces. "Welcome to the Chief" commemorates the visit of President Ulysses S. Grant to Wilmington in February 1873. It was sung for Grant, to music composed by Professor J. N. Clemmer, at the Wilmington Opera House. "Death of President [James A.] Garfield" was printed in the Delaware Republican and later, according to Fraim's note, was published as a pamphlet by Charles Bliss, and "several thousand copies thereof were sold . . . in different cities and towns in the U.S." Other poems are political, concerned with national and local election campaigns in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Fraim was a Republican and supported Grant against Horace C. Greeley in 1872, and the unsuccessful campaign of James G. Blaine against Grover Cleveland in 1882. Fraim includes annotations to many of the poems, documenting the place and date of their original publication, as well as commenting on the circumstances or events that led to their composition.
In addition to poetry, the collection includes a manuscript "Family History" of the Fraim family, and newspaper clippings of the obituary notices for both Fraim and his wife, Eliza, among other items. There is also an estate inventory.