PUBLIC "Helen West Stewart Ridgely Papers, 1868-1919, MS. 715

Helen West Stewart Ridgely Papers, 1868-1919

Maryland Historical Society


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Helen West Stewart Ridgely Papers, 1868-1919
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. 715

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674


Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the incoming letters of Helen West [Stewart] Ridgely (1854-1929). She was the wife of John Ridgely (1851-1938). The letters are largely from her immediate family and reveal much about the life of a Baltimore society matron in the late nineteenth century. The letters are especially revealing about [UNK] practices.

The bulk of the papers are letters (ca. 500 items) she received from the year of her marriage (1873) until 1901 although the papers span the years 1868-1919. The letters are arranged chronologically with undated material arranged by the name of the writer.


Helen West Stewart Ridgely Papers


Ridgely's incoming letters are largely from her immediate family. Her most frequent correspondents were her mother Josephine [Moulton] Stewart and her grandmother Leonice [Sampson] Moulton (1811-1897). Their letters (1874-1890s) abound in advice to Helen on raising her children properly.

Helen Ridgely was frequently away from her husband John, traveling for pleasure or her health, and the collection has many letters from John to his wife. These letters discuss his activities at Hampton in her absence.

Other correspondents during the early years of her marriage were her girlhood friends Sophie Tyson, Annie Perot, Elizabeth H. Williams, and Mary [Steel] Ralston who lived in Scotland. Helen's brother David Stewart wrote often while he was a student at Princeton University (1874-1878). Other relatives writing to Helen were her sister Leonice [Stewart] Shaw in Baltimore and their uncle John Ordonaux, a lawyer in New York.

Helen Ridgely's correspondence in the late 1880s and 1890s contains many letters from her children, especially Helen S. Ridgely and Margaret H. [Ridgely] Leidy while they were traveling. There are also several letters (1887) about the education of her daughter Leonice.

Ridgely received letters from her husband's cousins Henry (1850-1927) and Julian LeRoy White (1853-1923). Henry was with the U.S. Diplomatic Service in England, Italy, and France, and most of his letters (1880s) were written while he was with the U.S. Embassy in London. Julian White also spent most of his life abroad, and his letters (1878-1899) discuss his life in France. The White's mother Eliza (Didy) [Ridgely] White Buckler (1828-1894) also lived in France and frequently wrote to Helen about her activities.

Although most of Helen's letters deal with her family, there are some letters concerning her outside interests. There are a group of letters (1880-1883, ca. 50 items) from a M. Reinhardt. These are all in German and appear to deal with German lessons.

In 1894 Helen Ridgely published The Old Brick Churches of Maryland. There are letters (1893) from a J.W. Palmer discussing this book.

Helen Ridgely was active in the Maryland Society of the Colonial Dames of America, and there are about 50 letters (n.d.) from the Society's historian Annie L. Sioussat concerning Ridgely's research on graveyards in Maryland done for the Society.

Ridgely also corresponded with Baltimore author Sarah E. Bennett. These letters discuss Bennett's own work as well as Ridgely's.


Container List

Box 1

Helen W. [Stewart] Ridgely Incoming Letters





Box 2

Helen W. [Stewart] Ridgely Incoming Letters





Box 3

Helen W. [Stewart] Ridgely Incoming Letters





Box 4

Helen W. [Stewart] Ridgely Incoming Letters





Box 5

Helen W. [Stewart] Ridgely Incoming Letters





Helen W. [Stewart] Ridgely Incoming Letters




Sarah E. Bennett




Florence Mackubin




Elizabeth H. Morrison




Leonice S. Moulton




Annie Perot




M. Reinhardt




Eliza Ridgely




Helen S. Ridgely




John Ridgely




Julian Ridgely




Leonice Ridgely




Margaret Ridgely




Margaretta S. Ridgely




Stewart Ridgely





Box 6

Helen W. [Stewart] Ridgely Incoming Letters




Helen S. Shaw




Leonice Shaw




Annie L. Sioussat




David Stewart




Josephine M. Stewart




Sophie Tyson




Henry White




Julian White




Sarah (?)










1892, 1893




The Acorn

February, 1862




United Women of Maryland Broadside





Printed material





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