Shriver Family Papers, 1774-1894, MS 2085.2

Shriver Family Papers, 1774-1894
MS 2085.2

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


Descriptive Summary 

Shriver Family Papers, 1774-1894

MS. 2085.2

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

BOX 1,

1774-1847. An agreement between Jacob Welch and John Shultz about Baltimore Town property, 1774. Rest of the items in this box relate to the careers of James, Joseph, and Samuel S. Shriver, 1817-47. Copies of letters regarding the marriage of James Shriver and Elizabeth Miller, mostly the fatherly advice of Andrew Shriver and John Miller, 1819. Copies of two letters, 1817 and 1819, from James Shriver concerning his surveying work on the National Road. Letter of James Shriver requests James Renshaw to aid his appointment as one of the three commissioners of Pennsylvania to make surveys on the subject of internal improvements, 1824. Letterbook of James Shriver, May 24, 1824 to January 30, 1826, while chief of the survey brigade for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in western Pennsylvania; consists mostly of letters to the Board of Internal Improvements and long summaries of the work, meterological reisters, sketches, and calculations. A volume of incoming letters from the Board of Internal Improvements to James Shriver, June 24 - September 26, 1824. Several letters asking James Shriver's opinion regarding Thomas P. Ray of Morgantown as a candidate to the Board of Public Works of Virginia, 1826 with notes of his work in Indiana including pencil sketches of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Two letters of Joseph Shriver to C. Gratiot about his work on the National Road, 1829. A long letter from Joseph Shriver discussing the possible routes of the National Road from Vandalia to St. Louis, Missouri, 1830. A manuscript by Thomas and Joseph Shriver, Report Upon the Reconnaissance of a Route for a Railway between Baltimore and Port Deposit, 1832. A series of letters from William A. Renshaw to his cousin Samuel S. Shriver, 1841, 1844-47, about his educational experiences at Pennsylvania College and the Theological Seminary in Gettysburg; the letter of December 31, 1844 is a long description of his recent conversion experience.


BOX 2,

1862-1894. Family letters related to Samuel S. Shriver and George M. Shriver. A Sketch of the Ancestry and History of the Rev. John McClusky D.D., a c. 1880 manuscript by Samuel S. Shriver. A series of letters between George M. Shriver of Baltimore and Wight and Rich of New York (Importers of Table Delicacies and Specialties) mostly discussing the company's complaints that Shriver was not performing his jobs well, 1885-86. A series of letters of George M. Shriver to his wife discussing his trips for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company to inspect their property in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri, 1891-92.

Professionalism and Civil Engineering in Early America: The Vicissitudes of James Shriver's Career, 1815-1826


THE WAR OF 1812, AND THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO IT, SPAWNED THE AMERIcan transportation revolution. The reasons for its appearance were bound up with nationalism, expanding population, growing capital, and the demonstrated value of roads, canals, and railroads for defense purposes, economic stimulation, and the opening of the West.1 This revolution in the young country, despite its breadth and the energy of its proponents, was not a smooth, effortless transition. It had its contemporary critics as evidenced in the numerous constitutional questions and political harangues aired in the halls of the United States Congress.2 The revolution caught the nation unprepared. Prior to the second war with England there were few professional civil engineers in America to design and implement internal improvement projects.

Daniel Hovey Calhoun has examined the paradoxical problem of the professionalism of and the need for American civil engineers.3 Calhoun's book views the whole of civil engineering, and his treatment of individual engineers is generally restricted to those reaching the top levels of the profession, such as Benjamin Henry Latrobe and Benjamin Wright. The purpose of this essay is to examine the dilemma of the struggling professional civil engineer through the career of one pioneering practitioner, James Shriver. Civil engineering did not fully develop into a profession until the mid-nineteenth century, long after Shriver's death in 1826. Shriver's career clearly portrays a man who increasingly strived and hoped for advancing his status as a practicing civil engineer. To the degree that any professionalism existed in the early 1820s, James Shriver believed he had achieved it. The existence of many of Shriver's personal papers, the time of his career, and his connection with two of the most important projects — the National Road and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal — make him a subject worthy of study.

James Shriver's birth in 1794 coincided with the beginning boom of internal improvement projects, especially in Maryland, where his family moved in 1797. For more than a generation after the end of the Revolution, Maryland was a leader in internal improvement projects. Beginning with the Potomac Canal project encouraged by George Washington in the 1780s, Maryland's in-

Mr. Cox is City Archivist and Records Management Officer of Baltimore.


VOL. 74, NO. 1, MARCH 1978