He was a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and a major benefactor of its Department of Paleontology, which in 1916 began a long partnership with him. He established its Frick Laboratory. He also made many expeditions to the American West, and his efforts helped to shape an understanding of the evolution of North American camels. Frick, by employing many field workers, accumulated over 200,000 fossil mammals, which later were donated to the Museum.
Childs Frick was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the son of the coke and steel magnate Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) and Adelaide Howard Childs. He grew up at the family's Pittsburgh estate, Clayton, although the family later moved in 1905 to New York City. He developed his lifelong love for animals playing in the wooded grounds and steep hills behind Clayton, later dedicated as Frick Park. He attended Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh and graduated from Princeton University in 1905.
Childs married Frances Shoemaker Dixon (1892–1958) of Baltimore, Maryland in 1913. The couple had four children: Adelaide, Frances, Martha Howard (Marsi), and Henry Clay II. For a wedding gift Childs' father purchased a Georgian mansion in Roslyn, New York on land that originally belonged to the poet William Cullen Bryant. The couple lived at the estate, dubbed "Clayton" after his childhood home, for more than 50 years.
Henry Clay Frick famously played favorites with his two surviving children, Childs and Helen Clay Frick (1888–1984). After the reading of their father's will, which favored Helen, the two siblings were estranged the rest of their lives.
Childs Frick died of a heart attack at age 81 in Roslyn. He is interred alongside his wife and parents in the Frick family plot at Pittsburgh's Homewood Cemetery.
- Sanger, Martha Frick Symington (1998). Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait. New York: Abbeville Press. ISBN 0-7892-0500-9.
- Sanger, Martha Frick Symington (2007). Helen Clay Frick: Bittersweet Heiress. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-4341-9.
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