Helen Clay Frick was an American philanthropist and art collector. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the third child of the coke and steel magnate Henry Clay Frick and his wife, Adelaide Howard Childs. Two of her siblings did not reach adulthood, and her father played favorites with his two surviving children, Childs Frick and Helen. After the reading of their father's will, which favored Helen, the brother and sister were estranged for the rest of their lives. Nonetheless, Helen developed as a strong, independent and spirited young woman. She was equally interested in art history and philanthropy, making a catalogue of her father's art collection as a young woman, a collection which became the Frick Collection in New York.
Her interest in the history of art resulted in her establishing the Frick Art Reference Library, which was originally housed in the bowling alley of the Frick family mansion in New York City at 1 East 70th Street. In 1924, a separate two and one-half story building was constructed at 6 East 71st Street to house the library, which was replaced in 1935 by the present thirteen story building at 10 East 71st Street.