The Carroll Papers

The Charles Carroll of Carrollton Papers project is preparing a six-volume, letter-press edition of the papers of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), a leader of the American Revolution in Maryland and only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. The editorial offices of the project are located at the Maryland Historical Society, which houses the most extensive collection of Carroll manuscripts in the world. The project’s published volumes make this wonderful collection accessible both to the general public and to serious scholars of the Revolutionary and Early National periods.

The first three volumes of Carroll’s papers, edited by Ronald Hoffman, Sally D. Mason, and Eleanor S. Darcy, entitled Dear Papa, Dear Charley: The Peregrinations of a Revolutionary Aristocrat, as Told by Charles Carroll of Carrollton and His Father, Charles Carroll of Annapolis, with Sundry Observations on Bastardy, Child-Rearing, Romance, Matrimony, Commerce, Tobacco, Slavery, and the Politics of Revolutionary America, were published by the University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in 2001. These volumes cover the years from 1749, with Carroll’s first known surviving letter written when he was a ten-year-old boy at school in Europe, until 1782, when both Carroll’s father, Charles Carroll of Annapolis and wife, Mary Darnall Carroll, died. These letters, primarily between "Charley" and his beloved "Papa," chronicle Carroll’s growth from a child, utterly dependent on his strong-willed, domineering father, through his adolescence, early manhood, marriage, fatherhood, and emergence as an important and respected political leader in Revolutionary Maryland.

The year preceding the release of Dear Papa, Dear Charley, Hoffman and Mason also published an accompanying monograph tracing the family’s story, beginning in sixteenth-century Ireland and continuing through the decades documented in first three published volumes of Carroll’s papers: Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland: A Carroll Saga, 1500-1782.

The volumes published to date have won widespread praise and recognition: Dear Papa, Dear Charley was awarded the prestigious American Historical Association’s 2006 Jameson prize- granted only once every five years- for outstanding achievement in the editing of historical texts. The Maryland Historical Society awarded its 2002 Book Prize jointly to Dear Papa and Princes. The latter also received the Southern Historical Association’s Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Award in 2000.

The Carroll Papers editorial staff is now working on the final three volumes, spanning the last fifty years of the Signer’s life, entitled A Patriarch in the Early Republic: Charles Carroll of Carrollton’s Papers, 1782-1832. Consisting primarily of the letters between Carroll and the succeeding two generations of his family, these volumes will include correspondence with his son, Charles Carroll of Homewood, daughters Mary Caton and Catharine Harper, sons-in-law Richard Caton and Robert Goodloe Harper, and many of his grandchildren.

The Maryland Historical Society provides the project with office space, internet access, and use of the Carroll manuscripts and the resources of the Society’s library collections. The project receives financial support from the Charles Carroll of Carrollton Foundation, a private entity created in 2003 by descendants of the Signer, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Project staff in the project’s Baltimore office (410-244-8738):
Mary Clement Jeske, editor and manager, email: mjeske@mdhs.org

Samuel T. Brainerd, associate editor, email: sbrainerd@mdhs.org

Editor-in-chief Ronald Hoffman and editor Sally D. Mason both have offices in Williamsburg, Va., where Dr. Hoffman is director of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.