J. Alexis Shriver Papers, 1790-1945, MS 963

J. Alexis Shriver Papers, 1790-1945

Maryland Historical Society


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

J. Alexis Shriver Papers, 1790-1945
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

Register of the J. Alexis Shriver Papers, 1790-1945

MS 963

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674


William G. Le Furgy


Biographical Note

James Alexis Shriver was born in 1872. A Baltimore resident during his early years, Shriver moved to near Joppa in Harford County after graduating from Cornell in the early 1890's. Born of a wealthy and well-known Maryland family, he invested money and assumed the Presidency of the Baltimore and Bel Air Telephone Company in the late 1890's. After selling the firm to the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, Shriver became involved with the Bel Air Electric Company and still later with the Baltimore and Bel Air Railroad Company. This last venture was essentially a streetcar line that connected Cockeysville, Timonium and Towson about 1910 to 1923. It apparently was not very successful, and folded in 1923 with public preference for a new bus service.

Just after the turn of the century, Shriver became very active in the Harford County Historical Society. He initiated an extensive membership drive to create interest and revenue for the organization, and was somewhat successful. His goal was to gather enough funds for a separate building, allowing the Society to leave the Bel Air Court House. From within the Society, Shriver launched an ambitious program to draw attention to what he felt historically important. He authored a compendious history of George Washington's 127 trips through Maryland, replete with trivia concerning taverns visited and roads traveled. In a similar fashion, Shriver wrote a work entitled Lafayette in Harford County which related accounts of the famous Frenchman's activities in the area named.

Shriver was not one to just write about his ideas concerning history; he wanted to make them highly visible by means of display and festivities. He caused a number of cast iron road markers to be raised along the highways and byways of the state. Most were concerning with Washington's well-documented journeys, and all

were unveiled with as much ceremony as could be gotten from the situation. Going several steps further, Shriver evinced his penchant for orgainizing and administrating by means of heavy involvement with a number of state and local committees aimed at public celebration of historic events. He was heavily involved with the Lafayette Sesqui-Centennial of 1931, the George Washington Bicentennial of 1932, The Ark and The Dove Day festivities of 1933, and the Maryland Tercentennary of 1933-1934. Of this latter organization, Shriver was General Director for about four months before he resigned under pressure from the Executive Committee.

In his waning years, Shriver devoted his time mostly to placement of road markers and writing short articles for local papers. He died at his residence, Olney, at age 79 on February 6, 1951 survived by his wife, Harriet Van Bibber Shriver.


Scope and Content

The J. Alexis Shriver collection contains varied material, as Shriver was a collector of papers as well as a writer and addressee. There is a body of documents, mostly official records, concerning the Baltimore Methodist-Episcopal Church. This material covers the years 1807 to 1846, although the bulk fits in between 1820 to 1830. It is a valuable source for understanding the working of the Baltimore Methodist-Episcopal Church Government and its activities in early 19th century. Lengthy lists of marriages and baptisms performed by M.E. ministers are included as well.

This collection also includes a group of apparently unrelated papers, ca. 1800 to 1880. Accounts, bills, receipts, letters, and legal papers are all evident. Lack of visible correlation between items hampers the research potential of this material. Smaller, more related groups of 19th century papers in this collection are the Israel papers (1840 to 1870). There are a number of accounts, bills and receipts belonging to Beale (1759-1830), Robert, and Fielder Israel, Baltimore conveyancers dealing with transfer of real estate. Another group are the Hollings-worth Papers (1809-1828). Relating to Thomas and Nathaniel Hollingsworth, this small body of material contains bills, receipts and some correspondence. There is a group of five letters connected with John, Thomas, and Andrew Shriver gathered together as the Shriver Family Papers (1775-1873). The content is mostly personal.

The papers relating to J. Alexis Shriver directly are quite numerous as well as rather unified. Included are correspondence and business records relating to his involvement with the Harford County Historical Society, of which Shriver was Secretary-Treasurer and prime mover for over 30 years. The years 1908 to 1914 are best represented in this case.

The most complete documentation in the collection is that to do with Shriver's extensive dealings with various public historical celebrations such as the Lafayette Sesqui-Centennial, the Ark and the Dove Day, the George Washington Bicentennial, and the Maryland Tercentennary. He actively corresponded with hundreds of persons in connection with these activities, and the letters that exist here are highly informative. They concern just about every element of the administration and programs of these events. Materials other than the correspondence in this area are less useful, as they seem incomplete. After Shriver's resignation in January of 1934 as General Director of the Maryland Tercentennary Commission, there is little material of any kind, presumable because the pace of his public life slackened after this point.

Shriver's involvement in other areas is documented to a lesser extent in this collection. His connections with the Baltimore and Bel Air Telephone Company, as well as the Baltimore and Bel Air Electric Company, are represented only marginally. His dealings with electric railroad companies (1910-1923) are covered in a separate collection (MS. 847) and partially explain the gap in documentation during this time period.

The remaining materials included in the collection deal with non-professional activities. Shriver's concern for upgrading Bel Air Road in the early 1900's is, for example, evident. Also obvious is his interest in local history, as witnessed by a number of tracts concerned with subjects of a historical nature. Included is the draft of his book, Lafayette in Harford County (1931).

Several small groupings of diverse items can be found in this collection. There is a note book of his filled with copies of correspondence of Otho Scott, a 19th Century Bel Air lawyer. Cornell alumni documents dating from the mid-1890's and

items associated with the inventor-cleric William A. Crawford-Frost are also part of the J. Alexis Shriver papers. Items connected with the Harford County Boat Club (1904-1941) are present in greater quantity. These varied articles, although they shed light on some aspects of Shriver and his times, are limited in number and have but limited research value.

As mentioned earlier, the most informative element in the collection, overall, is the extensive correspondence of Shriver. Letters sent by Shriver are arranged chronologically by month; letters received are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the sender's last name. Predictably, the period best represented is that from January 1931 to January 1934, the height of Shriver's celebrations involvement.



The papers of J. Alexis Shriver (b.1872-d.1951) are contained in 17 boxes and number approximately 3,000 items. Shriver was a business administrator, public celebrations organizer, local history buff, and collector of manuscripts. The latter three aspects of his life are represented best in this collection, which spans the years 1790 to 1945.

Donation of the collection came from Shriver himself in June of 1949. It is unclear where or how he acquired the 18th and 19th century materials in the collection.


Container List


1 - 8

Methodist-Episcopalian Church of Baltimore Records, 1817-1855


arranged chronologically

Material relating to conferences of the stockholders of the Asbury Seminary, subscriptions to finance a Seminary of learning, poor relief of the M.E. congregation; Meeting of the Stewards of Baltimore City Station, letters to superintendents of the M.E. Church of the U.S. from the Stewards of the M.E. Church of Baltimore, memos relating to the Union Society (was opposed to government of M.E. Church), Church rules, annual reports of the Male Free School of Baltimore, Asbury Sunday School Society of Baltimore and McKendrean Sabbath School Society materials, imprints calling for more contributions to Church, Church drawings.

Names frequently appearing: George Earnest, Fielder Israel, Alexander Yearly, James Brundage, George Boxley, John Patterson, Thomas Armstrong, Abner Neal, Owen Dorsey, Richard H. Battee, Thomas Kelso, John Harrod.




9 - 10

Methodist-Episcopalian Church Records, Marriages, 1807-1839


arranged chronologically

Marriages performed by M.E. Ministers Daniel McJilton, Isaac Cook, Dr. Roberts and Joseph Shane, all presumably occurred in Baltimore.





Methodist-Episcopalian Church Records, Baptisms, 1821-1846


arranged chronologically

Baptisms performed in Baltimore by M.E. ministers George C.M. Roberts, Daniel McJilton and Isaac Cook.




12 - 18

Miscellaneous 19th Century Papers, ca. 1800-1880


no arrangement.

Accounts, bills, receipes, letters and legal papers of [UNK] Schultz, Isaac Burneston, John A. Marmaduke, John L. Brown, William P. Stump, Joseph Townsend, Aquila Nelson, William Paca, George Chauncy, Cornelius Cole, James H. Cox, John Martin, James Wyland, George R. Rittenhouse, Otho Kregel, James Kirby, John Stockhan vs. The Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad co., Matthew Newkirk, George Van Gelder, Thomas W. Ayres, Howard Whitaker, Richard Kenley, John F. Wheeler, Joshua Rutledge, James Taylor, Henry Dorsey, James Renslaw, The Cottman Family, Catherine Reynolds, David Deckman, McConkey Bros., Isaac Bicknell, Franklin Anderson, Benedict W. Hall, Josias H. Hall, Timothy Kern, Clement Bussey and others.






Israel Papers, 1840-1870


no arrangement

Accounts, bills and receipts of Beale, Robert and Fielder Israel.





Hollingsworth Papers, 1809-1826


no arrangement

Accounts, bill, receipts and some correspondence of Thomas and Nathaniel Hollingsworth.





Shriver Family Papers, 1775-1873


no arrangement

Five letters concerned with business and personal affairs of John, Thomas, and Andrew Shriver.





Geological Papers, E. Morimer, April 28, 1888


no arrangement.

Includes handwritten Sketch of the Green Serpentine Quarry by Mr. E. Mortimer read before the Harford Historical Society by Mr. F.W. Galbrath.





Typed Account of Isaac Van Bibber's Diary, no date


arranged by pagination

Biographical note by J. Alexis Shriver, 33 typed papers of diary by Isaac Van Bibber.





Lapidum and its Surroundings, by Albert P. Silver, 1888.


arranged by pagination.

Typed account of the area around Lapidum in Harford Co., Maryland. Focuses on the early (17th, 18th centuries) history and relates stories and anecdotes.




25 - 27

J. Alexis Shriver, Maryland Tercentenary Celebration, 1933-34.


no arrangement

Program suggestions, ceremonial activities, The Ark and the Dove Day celebration activities (1933), Tercentenary Commission list of expenses, copies of radio speeches given to commemorate sailing of the Ark and the Dove by Governor Albert Ritchie, President Roosevelt, Sir Timothy Eden, and J. Alexis Shriver, minutes of the Executive Committee of the Commission, draft of statement concerning J.A. Shriver and the Commission's activities.




28 - 31

J. Alexis Shriver, Maryland George Washington Birth Bicentennial Celebration, 1931-1932


no arrangement.

Lists of organizations and their representatives at the committee meetings; lists of Kent, Cecil, Frederick, and Prince George's County members of local commission for the bicentennial celebration, accounts of ceremonies performed, list of Maryland cities and towns from which we have had no response, report of State Commission, list of places visited by George Washington in Maryland, 1748-1798.





J. Alexis Shriver, Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, 1932


no arrangement

Description and aim of Society, legal agreement for building and land purchased by the Society, membership roster, bills for markers, list of Board of Directors.




33 - 34

J. Alexis Shriver, Lafayette Sesqui-Centennial Celebration, 1931


no arrangement

Newspaper clippings, description of celebration, invitations to activities, program of activities, note on organization of affair.





J. Alexis Shriver, Hannah Rennolds Tax Assessments, 1909-1913


no arrangement

Tax assessment bills on property owned by Hannah Rennold.




36 - 37

J. Alexis Shriver, Bel Air Road Improvements, 1905-1910


no arrangement

Petitions to make Bel Air Road a State road, list of heads of families and census of population near Bradshaw Fork Road and Little Gunpowder, statements favoring road improvements, Baltimore and Yorktown Turnpike Co. expenses, 1905-1906.





J. Alexis Shriver, Electric Railroad Companies, 1910-1923


no arrangement

Certificate of incorporation of the Baltimore and Harford Railroad Co., report of the Baltimore and Bel Air Electric Railway, Public Service Commission schedule of rates and fares for motor buses 1923.






J. Alexis Shriver, History of Webster Christian Church no date


arranged by pagination

Longhand account of Church in Lapidum, Harford Co., Maryland.




40 - 44

J. Alexis Shriver, Draft of Lafayette in Harford County, 1931


arranged by pagination

Accounts of Lafayette's activities in Harford County, Maryland, primarily during the Revolutionary War. Personal anecdotes and concerns of Lafayette.





J. Alexis Shriver, Miscellaneous Pamphlets, ca. 1930


no arrangement

Play programs, greeting cards, advertisements, catalogs, and leaflets.





J. Alexis Shriver, Telephone Operation in Harford County, 1898-1928


no arrangement

Contracts for phone service by The Baltimore and Bel Air Telephone Company -- J. Alexis Shriver, President, draft of The Telephone in Harford County, Maryland, a historical sketch.




47 - 53

J. Alexis Shriver, Harford County Historical Society, 1909-1931


no arrangement

Bills and receipts concerning finding building materials, iron markers, insurance, photographs, freight and hauling charges, donation lists of books and periodicals, notes on operation and administration, collection of membership dues, documents relating to the construction of a permanent building, list of Society members, index to local historical subjects, furniture inventories.




54 - 55

J. Alexis Shriver, Miscellany 1892-1944


no arrangement

Deaths. John Archer of Md. -- biographical sketch, Shriver family notes, Cornell alumni material (1890's).





J. Alexis Shriver, Handwritten copies of Otho Scott Correspondence, ca. 1820-1835, no date


arranged by pagination

Copies of numerous letters to and from Otho Scott concerning his legal practice located in Bel Air, Harford County.





57 - 58

J. Alexis Shriver, Assorted Photographs, ca. 1900-1945


no arrangement

Various gatherings and celebrations; historical buildings and sites, pictures of maps, road markers, portraits, post cards.





J. Alexis Shriver, Ledger 1922


arranged by pagination

Seven pages of financial accounts, July-August 1922




60 - 62

J. Alexis Shriver, Harford Boat Club, 1904-1943


no arrangement

Newspaper clippings, invitations to social events, notices of stockholder meetings, membership dues collection, auction notices.





J. Alexis Shriver, Newspaper Clippings, 1920-1940


no arrangement

Newspaper articles concerned with Shriver's activities such as road markers and various celebrations of a historical basis.





J. Alexis Shriver, Pamphlets Concerning George Washington, 1932


no arrangement

Two pamphlets connected with the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration, 1932.





William A. Crawford-Frost, Imprints 1929-1938


no arrangement.

Printed material associated with Rev. Crawford-Frost, Rector of St. Mary's Protestant Episcopal Church in Emmorton, Harford County. Includes invention descriptions, printed correspondence to U.S. Patent Office, Parish papers of St. Mary's Church.




66 - 86

J. Alexis Shriver, Correspondence Sent 1907-September 1931


arranged chronologically by month

Material from 1907 to 1930 is connected almost exclusively with the Harfoed County Historical Society. Relates to road markers, membership dues and expansion, collection, development and use. Includes letters sent by H.S. O'Neill, Librarian of Society and N. N. Nock, Treasurer. Material from 1931 deals more with celebrations, especially May 1931 Lafayette Sesqui-Centennial activities. Addresses include: Governor Albert Ritchie, Charles A. Lindberg, John L. Pershing, Representative Sol Bloom, N.N. Nock, Col. Robert Bowie Owens, George W. Hensel, Mrs. Edward Shoemaker, Arthur Hale, Robert Bruce, Ernest C. Pollard and numerous others.





87 - 117

J. Alexis Shriver, Correspondence Sent, November 1931-1944


arranged chronologically by month

Letters nearly all pertain to the organization and administration of historical public celebrations. These were the George Washington Birth Bicentennial, The Ark and the Dove Day festivities (1933), and the Maryland Tercentenary (1933-1934). Addressees included: Governor Albert Ritchie, DeCourcy W. Thom, George Sadtler Robertson, Paul E. Titsworth, C.C. Magruder, Raphael Semmes, Clinton Uhl, Clifford Walker, Albert D. Hutzler, Edward D. Martin, and numerous others.




BOXES 6 - 7

118 - 161

J. Alexis Shriver, Correspondence Received


arranged alphabetically by first letter of last name.

Material relates to the Harford County Historical Society (especially pre-1930) and various historical celebrations such as the Lafayette Sesqui-Centennial (1931), the George Washington Birth Bicentennial (1931-32), The Ark and The Dove Day festivities (1933), and the Maryland Tercentenary (1933-1934). Includes invitiations to speakers and requests for information as well as administrative and organizational messages. Senders were: Governor Albert Ritchie, John J. Pershing, George Sadtler Robertson, Representative Sol Bloom, N.N. Nock, C.C. Magruder, Col. Robert Bowie Owens, George W. Hensel, Clifford Walker, Robert Bruce, Ernest C. Pollard, Edward D. Martin, Mrs. Edward Shoemaker, Clinton Uhl, Raphael Semmes, Theleka Fundenberg, and numerous others.






United States Bicentennial Commission, George Washington's Birth, 1931-1932


Shriver's correspondence with officials of the U.S. Commission re details of Washington's trips through Maryland.





Maryland Bicentennial Commission, George Washington's Birth, 1831-1933


Minutes, correspondence, memoranda, reports. Includes papers relating to the Committee on County Celebrations, Routes and Houses, chaired by Shriver.





County Celebration, Maryland Bicentennial Commission, 1931-1933


Reports of activities, lists of members of county committees, narrative accounts of Washington's visits to the various counties.





Committee on County Celebrations, Routes and Houses, Maryland Bicentennial Commission, 1933


Draft of report prepared by Shriver for the Maryland Commission. Includes copy of pamphlet prepared by Cumberland Bicentennial Committee.





Bicentennial Commission, Publicity, 1931-1938


Correspondence and drafts of articles prepared for publication in local newspapers and journals. Requests for information regarding places mentioned by Washington in his letters or diaries. Copies of publications.





Clifford Walker, 1931-1933


Correspondence with Clifford Walker firm re manufacture of markers commemorating places visited by Washington during his travels in Maryland.





Misc. printed material re Washington Bicentennial.





169 - 171

General enquiries and correspondence, 1931-1932


Three folders of correspondence conducted by Shriver with individuals around the state in his attempt to trace all the places reputed to have been visited by Washington. Many letters are in response to requests for information which Shriver inserted in various local newspapers and journals. Includes drafts of historical monographs sent to Shriver for his information.





Distribution of map Routes travelled by George Washington in Maryland prepared by Shriver for the Bicentennial, 1931-1932


Lists of recipients, correspondence re maps damaged in the post.





Comments on maps from appreciative recipients, 1932.




174 - 177

Requests for maps, 1932.





Routes travelled by George Washington in Maryland Copy of map.




BOX 10


State Road Commission, 1933-1942


Correspondence re erection of Historical Markers throughout Maryland. Drafts of wording for specific markers. Includes correspondence re Shriver's application for pension from State Roads Commission.





Manufacturers of Markers, 1933-1936


Correspondence and estimates from various firms, specifications for markers.




181 - 182

Carlisle Foundry Company, 1936-1941


Two folders of correspondence and invoices with the Carlisle Foundry Co., Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which had the contract for the markers.





Suggestions of sites for markers, 1936-1937


Numerous lists of historical sites for which markers could be made




184 - 185

Destruction of Markers, 1936-1937


Two folders of correspondence and newsclippings re destruction of markers, either through vandalism or negligent driving.





Printed material re Road Marker program.




BOX 11

187- 191

General enquiries and correspondence arranged chronologically by year, 1934-1938. Contains enquiries, letters and offers of information on Maryland history sent to Shriver. Correspondence touches upon many relatively unknown facts and facets of Maryland history.





`Lafayette in Harford County', 1931-1934


Correspondence re publication and distribution of Shriver's monograph on occasion of Lafayette's Sesqui-centennial. See also Box 3





Harford County Fair, 1936


Photographs, poster, narrative for children's pageant.





Kent County Historical Society, 1940-1941


Correspondence re formation of Society.




BOX 12

One box of ms. notes, typescript drafts, excerpts collected and written by Shriver for his work on the George Washington Bicentennial Commission. Includes chronologies of Washington's visits to Maryland, narrative descriptions by Shriver, excerpts taken from Washington's diaries, short pieces written by Shriver for publication in the local press, lengthy (159 pp) typescript account.




BOXES 13 - 16

Approximately 500 deeds, indentures and mortgages related to land purchase and sale. Most deal with the Baltimore area, although some are concerned with Harford County as well. Dates range from around 1790 to about 1860. There is no arrangement of the materials.




BOX 17

Thirty-five items, ca. 1825-1860, including Fielder Israel pocket ledger, pocket daybook of commissioners Soloman Ettings, Charles Howard, James Hooper (1853-1855), Robert Israel pocket ledger, assorted check books, Beale Israel ledger, G. Burniston pocket daybook, Methodist-Episcopalian Church ledger, detailing proceeds toward a church building and a Fielder Israel receipt book, 1827. No arrangement of the materials.