Hibernian Society Papers 1816-1978, MS. 2029

Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History


Hibernian Society Papers, 1816-1978
Maryland Historical Society

(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)

Hibernian Society Papers, 1816-1978
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
Fax: 410.385.2105

Descriptive Summary


ms. 2029

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

Harriot Weiskittel

October 1978


The papers of the Hibernian Society of Baltimore, MS. 2029, span the years 1816 - 1978.

The bulk of the papers were donated by the Society in 1974 with later additions in 1975 and 1978. It is expected that additional papers will be received as and when they are no longer required by the Society. (whose current address is 4015 E. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Md. 21224).

At present (1978) the material occupies 18 boxes plus one over-sized volume.


The Hibernian Society of Baltimore was organized in 1803 and incorporated in 1818 to do all such...as shall be necessary, for the purpose of affording charitable assistance and advice to such emigrants from, or natives of Ireland arriving at, or residing in any part of the State of Maryland, as may be in want and deemed worthy.

The Society meets annually on St. Patrick's Day, and holds regularly scheduled meetings throughout the year. The St. Patrick's Day meeting has evolved into a lavish Anniversary Dinner to which are invited state, local and national political figures.

In 1823 John Oliver, a former President of the Society, died and bequeathed $20,000 to the Society for the purpose of establishing a free school in Baltimore... for the education of poor children of both sexes, one at least of whose parents must be Irish... And should it ever happen that said school should not have sufficient number of scholars of Irish parentage as aforesaid, it is my wish that it should be fitted with poor children... and no distinction is ever to be made in the school as to the religious tenets of those that may apply for admission. In 1824 the Oliver Hibernian Free School opened and in 1827 the school moved into its new building on North Street, which it occupied until 1904 when the property was sold. The advent of the public school and the development of parochial schools caused a decline in the number of pupils and in 1893 day classes were suspended. The school then became a Free Night School at which the rudimentary branches were taught as well as skills such as book-keeping and stenography.

In 1937 the Society changed its educational policy and began a scheme of awarding scholarships to local students to attend colleges in the Baltimore area. This Scholarship Program continues to the present. The Society's major fund-raising activity for this program is its Annual Deluxe Luncheon usually held in November or December.


The history of the Hibernian Society of Baltimore is amply documented in the wide variety of papers preserved in this collection. These include minute books, financial ledgers, membership lists, correspondence, invoices and receipts as well as extensive material pertaining to the annual luncheons and banquets held by the Society, a historical scrapbook and a box of papers relative to a court case brought by the Society in 1895.

The papers have been grouped by type of document and chronologically ordered but the sections are not mutually exclusive. Information on membership may be found among the financial records, some minutes are located in the papers relating to the annual banquets etc. The correspondence section suffers particularly in this regard. Virtually all of the material in Boxes 11-14 could be apportioned to the other sections but its chronological sequence should make it possible for readers to easily locate the papers they are seeking. In Box 16 there is some overlap between dates as the files are left in the order in which they were created by various officers of the Society.

The collections contains the Society's two original minute books, the first of which predates the incorporation of the Society. in 1944 the officers of the Society ordered transcribed these first two minute books and a carbon copy of this transcription has also been deposited (Box 2). This transcript is an enormously useful tool for quickly scanning the official records of the first 109 years of the Society's history.

Numerous financial records have been preserved in Boxes 4,5 and 6. The material has been left in its original ordering as deposited by the

Society and thus there is some overlap between envelopes, ledgers and folders. The correspondence file for 1904 (Box 11) contains a letter from Stuart Kearney, Treasurer of the Society, reporting that an old cash book and some vouchers had been destroyed in the great fire. His letter continues with the reassurance that he had begun a new cash book and had copied all data of importance pertaining to the working of the School. It is not clear whether this new cash book has been preserved as none of the items in Boxes 4-6 entirely corresponds with his description and dating.

Boxes 8-10 contain material pertaining to the Society's Annual Anniversary Dinners and Luncheons. Both of these are large affairs requiring much organization and paperwork on the part of the Society's members. Box 8 contains memorabilia (programs, menus etc.) relating to the Annual Banquets 1902-74 as well as numerous momentoes of similar commemorative dinners held by fraternal societies in Baltimore and elsewhere.

The scrapbook (Box 18) and early correspondence files (Boxes 11-14) contain many replies to invitations extended to state, local and national government officials to these affairs. The scrapbook also contains many press clippings re the Society's meetings and extensive accounts of speeches, toasts etc. at its Annual Banquets.

In 1895 the Hibernian Society filed suit against the Lake Roland Elevated Railway Co. for damages to the Oliver Hibernian Free School Building on North Street by the erection of a stone abutment for the railway. The City Court awarded the Society $5,000. This verdict was appealed by the Lake Roland Co. and the case was taken to the Maryland Court of Appeals in April 1896. Papers relative to this episode in the Society's history may be found in Box 17.

Container List



Minute book for March 1816-June 1854. From other end of book, record of collections by the Treasurer c.1816-29, alphabetical list of members, 1829.

BOX 19

Minute book for October 1854-March 1925.


1013 pp. transcript (carbon copy) of minutes as recorded in two volumes itemized above. This transcription was authorized in 1944.


Minute book for January 1957-September 1969. Includes selected records - Treasurers Reports, correspondence, committee reports - which supplement the minutes.

Folder containing Minutes September 1970-January 1973.

14 pp. transcript (carbon copy) of selected items from the minutes documenting the establishment of the Oliver Hibernian Free School in 1824 and reporting the results of its first three years.

Notebook containing drafts and fair copies by the Secretary (A.J. Ryan) of minutes and letters, 1898-99.



Ledger, labelled Treasurers Book 1852-1944, containing record of expenditure and income and inter alia much information relating to the membership of the Society.

Volume containing report of committee established in 1892 to examine the investments of John Oliver's bequest to the Society. A report was not agreed but Michael J. Mullin asked in 1903 that the report be placed amongst the Society's official papers in order that the labor expended should not be lost. The volume also includes financial records 1826-92.

One folder of official documents and papers relative to the sale of the school property on North Street and the purchase of new property, 1904.

Notebook labelled Oliver Hibernian Free School Society and containing a record of investments as compiled in 1925.

Small black ledger containing summary of financial records, 1936-62.


2 cash books containing a record of accounts 1935-64. Many pages have been removed from these books and may be found amongst the 1944-46 records in Box 6.

One envelope of financial records. Envelope is inscribed Hibernian Society - Bills and Receipts. 1964-66 per John O. Montgomery, Treasurer.


One folder of misc. financial records, 1935-38.

6 large envelopes containing records pertaining to the finances of the Society c. 1944-46. The contents have been left in the original order in which they were received from the Society and thus there is a great deal of overlap between envelopes. All contain invoices and receipts, records of banquet and luncheon expenses, membership dues etc.



Membership cards, c. 1923-35, with notation of dues.

Folder containing lists of members, c. 1923-61, 1973.

Folder containing numerous applications for membership, c. 1938-43, 1965-73.

One folder of correspondence relating to membership, c. 1945.

One folder of correspondence relating to membership, 1969-70.

One folder of correspondence relating to membership, 1971-73.



Ledger containing minutes of the General Banquet Committee and of the Executive Committee, 1902-12. Includes lists of various standing committees appointed by the Society 1902-12.

One folder of momentoes (Programs, menus, response cards) of Annual Anniversary Dinners held by the Society on St. Patrick's Day 1902-44, 1952. The set is not complete.

One folder of papers re 1953 Annual Banquet: seating plan, guest list, receipts and invoices, notice announcing special Mass at St. Patrick's Church. 1953 was the 150th Anniversary of the Society.

One folder of momentoes of Annual Banquets held 1962-74.

One folder of momentoes of commemorative banquets held by other societies, various dates 1912-56. Includes the Hibernian Societies of Savannah and Charleston, the Charitable Irish Society Boston, and the St. Andrew's Society and St. George's Society Baltimore.

Numerous hard-bound copies of programs, menus etc. of banquets held by the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, New York City, 1900-43.


These luncheons, held annually usually in November or December, are the major fund-raising activity for the Society's Scholarship Program. The folders include invoices and receipts, correspondence, menus, lists of guests, publicity items in the press, invitations, record of tickets dispersed, lists of expenses etc.



(1 folder)


(1 folder)


(7 folders)


(1 folder)


(1 folder)


(4 folders)

BOX 10


(3 folders)


(3 folders)


(2 folders)


These are folders of correspondence of a very disporate nature, arranged chronologically. They include material pertinent and supplementary to the other sections of the collection i.e. financial reports and notices, membership papers and correspondence, lists of officers and committees, acceptances/regrets for annual banquets, minutes, memorial resolutions, committee reports, fraternal greetings exchanged between societies, invoices and receipts. Included are numerous letters from distinguished national, local, and state politicians and governmental officials replying to the Society's invitations to the annual luncheons and anniversary dinners.

BOX 11

n.d. and 1843-1907

(10 folders)

Letter book October 12,1900-October 1, 1909, containing copies of letters sent by secretary, F.G. Walsh. Letters are indexed at front of book.

BOX 12

1910 - 1925

(26 folders)

BOX 13

1926 - 1932

(7 folders)

BOX 14

1933 - 1945

(7 folders)

BOX 15

1954 - 1965

(8 folders)

BOX 16

1967 - 1978

(4 folders, with some overlap in dates.)


BOX 17

Transcript of proceedings in the City Court before Judge Phelps and a jury, November 18-25, 1895. In seven parts:

November 18, pp. 1-32

November 19, pp. 33-161

November 20, pp. 162-252

November 20, pp. 253-304

November 21, pp. 305-422

November 22, pp. 423-556

November 25, pp. 557-559.

Most of the volumes are indexed by the court-reporter and several are annotated, presumably by a member of the Society.

Motion for a new trial, filed by the Lake Roland Elevated Railway Co., December 1895, with letter from Nelson Perin, President of City and Suburban Railway Co., offering to buy the School for $15,000 if defendent's motion for a new trial is granted.

Brief for appellant in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, April Term 1896. Brief is heavily annotated.

Numerous pages of notes, presumably in preparation for appeal and new trial.

Copy of Petitions, Letters etc. relating to Bills pending before the General Assembly of Maryland as put forth by the Lake Roland Elevated Railway Co.


BOX 18

Scrapbook, c. 1890-1945, containing lists of officers, numerous press clippings reporting meetings and anniversary dinners of the Society with lengthy descriptions of speeches, toasts etc. Includes some replies to invitations to the anniversary dinners as well as menus, programs etc.