Mary E. W. Risteau Collection 1845-1978, MS. 2456

Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N T P Q R S T U V W X-Z

Mary E. W. Risteau Collection, 1845-1978
Maryland Historical Society
 
 

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

Mary E. W. Risteau Collection, 1845-1978
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
410.685.3750
Fax: 410.385.2105
library@mdhs.org
www.mdhs.org



Descriptive Summary

REGISTER OF THE MARY E.W. RISTEAU COLLECTION

MS.2456

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

Janice E. Ruth

April 1980

 


Biographical Sketch

Mary Eliza Watters Risteau, daughter of William McGlocken and Mary Elizabeth (Amoss) Risteau, was born in Towson on April 24, 1890. She graduated from Towson High School in 1907 and completed a special advanced course of study in Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University in 1917. In 1938, Risteau received her L.L.B. Degree from the University of Baltimore.

Risteau began a teaching career (1908-1917) upon her graduation from high school and taught at both Parkville Elementary and Gilford Elementary Schools. In 1917, she assumed management of a farm located on the family estate in Sharon, Maryland.

In 1921, Risteau became the first woman elected to the Maryland House of Delegates and served in the 1922, 1924, 1931, and 1933 sessions. She served on the Committee on Education, Committee on Agriculture, Library Committee, and the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries Committee. She was instrumental in the passage of the Administration Bill granting women the right to serve in high public offices and the passage of the Cooperative Association Law. Her interest in education led to her support of school bond issues, the Equalization Fund Program Act, and the establishment of the State Teachers College at Salisbury. She fought for the Prohibition Bill and the Race Track Bill on the grounds that morals cannot be controlled by the legislature. In 1922, Gov. Albert Rithchie appointed Risteau to the State Board of Education, the first woman to hold the position. She was re-appointed in 1924 and served 16 years up through 1938 without pay.

Her work in the House of Delegates led to her election to the State Senate in 1935. Once again she was the first woman to occupy the position. She served from 1935-1937 and held memberships on the Federal Relations Committee, the Temperance Committee, and the Finance Committee. Furthermore, she was the Chairman for the Committee of Agriculture and Labor, and the Vice-Chairman for the Education Committee. She sponsored bills to further women's rights and to organize a conservation of soil resources among other things.

In 1938, Risteau was appointed by the judges of the Third Judicial Circuit as clerk of the Circuit Court for Harford County. She filled that office for a year and in 1939, Gov. Herbert O'Connor appointed her Administrator of Loans.

In 1951 she was elected to the House of Delegates for the fourth time in her life. Serving a term of four years, Risteau was a member of the Ways and Means Committee, the Committee on Education, and the Agricultural Committee.

Throughout her life, Mary E. W. Risteau was involved in a number of political and social organizations which furthered the public interest. A listing of her activities would include membership on the Maryland Tercentenary Committee, the National and the Maryland Orders of Women Legislators, the Maryland Women's Legislative Group, and the Harford County Federation of Rural Women's Clubs among others.

Mary E.W. Risteau died on July 24, 1978 at the age of 88.

 


Scope and COntent

Collection consists of the personal and political papers of Mary E.W. Risteau, the first woman elected to the Maryland House of Delegates (1921) and the State Senate (1935). The papers span the years 1845-1978 with the majority falling between 1900-1955. The documents not only reflect the active political career of Risteau but provide information on her own personal life and that of her family as well. The collection can roughly be separated into personal and political categories with the former represented in the first twelve boxes and the latter in the next nine.

Boxes 1 and 2 consist of correspondence, papers, and genealogical notes of the Risteau and Watters families, primarily of Mary Eliza Amoss Risteau (1850-1935), J. Howard Watters (1823-1906), and Martha Watters (d.1881). The correspondence of Mary Eliza Amoss Risteau contain over 75 letters from her daughter Mary, many written when the latter took a trip West in 1915.

Box 3 contains the personal correspondence of Mary E.W. Risteau. Arranged by date (1907-1978), the bulk of these letters fall within four main subject categories: congratulatory messages concerning her political victories; sympathy cards and letters in respect to her mother's death; correspondence with several male friends serving in World War One and World War Two.; and simply letters from friends and relatives written over the years.

Boxes 4 and 5 are/family account books and receipts of James Amoss (1843-1866; 1873-1879), J. Howard Watters (1878-1885) 1892-1893), and the Mary E.W. Risteau family (1888-1966). In addition, there is an account book of money raised by Miss Risteau's pupils for a portrait of Cecilius Calvert to be presented to the State House (1917).

Box 6 contains desk diaries and appointment books (1912-1950) kept by Mary E. W. Risteau. Some of the volumes are more detailed while others simply record the date and time of appointments.

Boxes 7 through 9 contain the law school notes of Mary E. W. Risteau, taken when she attended the University of Baltimore Law School (1935-1938). The material is arranged alphabetically by the title of the course.

Boxes 10 through 12 are scrapbooks dating from 1907-1939. The majority are loosely arranged with various clippings left unattached in the back of the books.

Boxes 13 through 16 comprise the political correspondence (1909-1978) of Miss Risteau. These include incoming letters as well as a small number of copies of outgoing correspondence. The bulk of the letters fall within the period of 1921-1955 when she served in either the Maryland House of Delegates or the State Senate, as well as numerous commissions and boards. Many of the letters were written by individual constituents or interest groups (i.e. businesses, labor organizations, etc.) requesting that she support or oppose particular bills.

Boxes 17 through 19 are political papers divided and arranged by series descriptions, i.e. bills, minutes, reports, speeches, etc.

Box 20 contains the papers of the Jarrettsville Woman's Club, of which Mary E. W. Risteau was a member.

Box 21 contains simply miscellaneous papers whose identity or relation to other papers is unknown. Undoubtedly, some of the papers in Box 21 are speaking notes used when addressing the floor in the legislative sessions or when giving speeches for various organizations.

 


Container List

BOX 1

GENEALOGY AND FAMILY PAPERS, 1806-1976

A. Family Papers

William Watters - excerpts from book, 1806

[ca.15 items]

J. Howard Watters - n.d.

[2 items]

Mary F. Watters - two poems, 1848-1849; math notebook, n.d.

Mary Eliz. Amoss Risteau - autograph album, 1850

- school papers, 1866

- Birthday Greeting Book, 1874

John Howard Risteau - school reports, 1910

[2items]

Mary E.W. Risteau - citations, proclamations, 1907-1976

[7 items]

- high school papers, 1907

[3 items]

- receipe books, n.d.

- address book, n.d.

B. Genealogy

typewritten copies of wills, deeds, 1786-1842

genealogical correspondence, n.d.

[4 items]

genealogical notes, n.d.

[75 items]

Mary E.W. Risteau biographical information, n.d.

BOX 2

FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE, 1845-1930

J. Howard Watters - incoming letters, 1845-1883

[10 items]

Martha Watters - incoming letters, 1873-1888

[17 items]

Mary Watters - incoming letters, 1902

[1 item]

Risteau [Misses] - incoming letter, 1859

[1 item]

William Risteau - incoming letters, 1893

[1 item]

Mary Eliz. Amoss Risteau - incoming letters, 1884-1934

[ca.150 items]

misc. family letters, 1889; 1905

[3 items]

BOX 3

MARY E.W. RISTEAU PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1907-1978

Mary E.W. Risteau - incoming letters and some copies of outgoing corr.

[375 items]

BOX 4

ACCOUNT BOOKS/RECEIPTS

J. Howard Watters receipts, 1878-1885

[ca.45 items]

J. Howard Watters checkbook, 1892-1893

Risteau Family receipts, 1888-1966

[ca.110 items]

Risteau Family daybook, 1921

Risteau Family account book, 1929

BOX 5

ACCOUNT BOOKS

[James Amoss] Family Account Book, 1843-1866; 1873-1879

Mary E.W. Risteau - Calvert Portrait Account Book, [1917]

Mary E.W. Risteau - Teachers' Association Account Book, 1923

BOX 6

DIARIES/APPOINTMENT BOOKS

Mary E.W. Risteau desk diaries, 1912-1950

[10 vols.]

BOXES 7-9

LAW SCHOOL NOTES

Mary E.W. Risteau law school notes, 1935-1938 - arranged alphabetically by the title of the course with A thru E in BOX 7; F thru R in BOX 8; and S thru Z and misc. notes in BOX 9

BOXES 10-12

SCRAPBOOKS

Mary E.W. Risteau scrapbooks, 1907-1939 [10 vols.] contain many loose clippings as well as those attached and arranged; boxed according to date as listed below

Box 10

1939

Md. Legislature and Inauguration of Gov. Herbert O'Connor

1937

Md. Legislature

1936

Democratic National Convention

1934

Md. Tercentenary Commission

Box 11

1931

Md. Legislature

1924

House of Delegates

1922

House of Delegates

1922

United Democratic Women's Club of Maryland

Box 12

1917-1922

Misc. scrapbook including clippings and farm accounts

1907

High School scrapbook

BOX 13

MARY E.W. RISTEAU POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1909-1930

Mary E.W. Risteau incoming political corr. including letters, telegrams, etc.

[350 items]

BOX 14

MARY E.W. RISTEAU POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1931-1935

same as Box 13

[400 items]

BOX 15

MARY E.W. RISTEAU POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1935-1939

same as Box 13

[525 items]

BOX 16

MARY E.W. RISTEAU POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1940-1978; n.d.

same as Box 13

[475 items]

BOX 17

LEGISLATIVE BILLS, LAWS, AMENDMENTS, 1922-1955

House of Delegates Bills, 1922-1955

State Senate Bills, 1935-1937

Miscellaneous Laws, n.d.

General Assembly of Md. - Rules and Roster, 1924; 1937; 1951

Public Service Commission Orders, 1930-1931

MINUTES OF MEETINGS, 1924-1942

County Democratic Delegations, 1924

Harford County Campaign Commission, 1928

Maryland State Grange, 1919; 1925

National Order of Women Legislators, 1942

State Board of Education, 1922-1938

CONFERENCE PROGRAMS, REPORTS, ETC.

Miscellaneous Conferences, 1923; 1936

State Board of Education, 1925-1933

State Small Loan Supervisors, 1937-1939; 1941-1942

BOX 18

REPORTS, 1921-1955

Agriculture

Democratic Women's Club

Department of Education

Administration/Supervision

Budget/Finance

Individual Schools

Misc. Papers

Progress Reports

Racial Characteristics Studies

Special Programs

State Normal School

Income Tax Commission

Maryland Relief Administration

Miscellaneous Reports

State Small Loan Supervisors

Ways and Means Committee

BOX 19

SPEECHES, NEWSLETTERS, 1923-1953

Newsletters- schools, business organizations, political groups, 1923-1953

Informational flyers, n.d.

Speeches, n.d.

BOX 20

JARRETTSVILLE WOMAN'S CLUB, 1922-1935, n.d.

Minutes, 1922-1925, 1926-1933

Correspondence, 1923-1935

Misc. Papers, n.d.

GIRL SCOUTS TROOP NO.1 FOREST HILL, MD.

Attendence-Account-Minute Book, 1916

BOX 21

MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS, n.d.

Speaking notes presumably used when speaking to the floor of House and Senate, n.d.

Misc. papers

OVERSIZE:

DIPLOMAS, CITATIONS, APPOINTMENTS

William M. Risteau, Jr. law school diploma, 1909

William M. Risteau, Jr. certificate of admission to bar, 1910

Mary E.W. Risteau high school diploma, 1907

Mary E.W. Risteau appointment to State Bd. of Education, 1923

Mary E.W. Risteau certificate of Md. Tercentenary Comm., 1921

Mary E.W. Risteau law school diploma, 1938

Mary E.W. Risteau appointment to Admin. of Loan Laws, 1938

Mary E.W. Risteau appointment to Commissioner of Loans, 1939

Mary E.W. Risteau certificate of merit from Balto. City, 1943

Mary E.W. Risteau citation from Md. State Teachers Association, 1961

Oversize:

Talbot [UNK] [UNK] Risteau's Security, 1747

SUBJECT HEADINGS -- CARD CATALOG

Agriculture, 1845-1978

Amoss, James - (fl. 1843-1866)

Associated Brewers of Maryland

Automobile Club of Maryland

Board of Education - Maryland

Bull, Laura Amoss (fl. 1978)

Byrd, Harry Clifton (1889-1970)

Circuit Court - Harford Co., Maryland

Coad, J. Allan (1884-1963)

Cook, Albert S. (1873-1952)

Coopstown, Maryland

Democratic National Congressional Committee

DeSchef, Charles (fl. 1944-1945)

Education

Farms and Farming

Gambling

General Assembly of Maryland

Harford County, Maryland

Harford County Farm Bureau

Harford County Federation of Rural Women's Clubs

Harford County Pamona Grange

Henry, John (fl. 1945)

House of Delegates - Maryland, 1921-1955

Law School - University of Baltimore, 1935-1938

Laws and legislation - 20th century

Legislators - Maryland

Maryland Farm Bureau Federation

Maryland House of Delegates - 1921-1955

Maryland League of Women Voters

Maryland Order of Women Legislators

Maryland Society for the Prevention of Blindness

Maryland State Senate - 20th century

Maryland Tercentenary Commission

Maryland Women's Democratic Association

National Order of Women Legislators

Peyton, Elizabeth (fl. 1900-1930)

Prohibition

Retail Grocers and Meat Dealers Association

Retail Liquor Dealers Association

Risteau, John Howard (fl. 1910)

Risteau, Mary Eliza Amoss (1850-1935)

Risteau, William (fl. 1893)

Ritchie, Albert C. (Gov.) - (1876-1936)

Sharon, Maryland - 20th century

State Senate - 1935-1937

State Teachers College

Strett, Grasow E. (fl. 1917-1919)

Tall, Lida Lee (d. 1942)

Taxation - sales

Teachers and teaching

Tydings, Millard E. (Gov.) - (1890-1961)

University of Baltimore - Law School, 1935-1938

University of Maryland

Watters, J. Howard (1823-1906)

Watters, Martha (d.1881)

Watters, Mary F. (fl. 1848-1902)

Watters, William (fl. 1806)

Women's Constitutional League

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