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Historical Research at Montpelier Mansion

Archives Content Summary

Montpelier’s mission states that we are a “…museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the mansion and its grounds from 1783 to the 1960’s with special emphasis on the Snowden Family occupation (1783-1831).”

Much of the archival collections focus on materials of interest to genealogists of not only the direct Montpelier branch of the Snowden family, but also the extended family such as the Warfields, Contees, and Reese/Johnson Lines. Within these collections, there is a wealth of information about the family and their activities through documents such as correspondence, account books, scrapbooks, photographs, and land record materials.

We also have architectural and ground drawings of Montpelier showing the architectural evolution of the structure itself as well as some of the changes regarding land development surrounding the mansion. It is important to note that new materials are being acquired all the time and will be added to the web page once they have been fully processed and a finding aid created.

Research Questions and Access Procedures

All questions about the archival collections held by Montpelier and access to those collections should be directed to either the main office at 301-377-7817 or the Collections Manager at 301-377-7836. Please note that all access to the collections is by appointment only. Please be prepared to explain the nature of your research and which of the collections are of interest to you.

Published Finding Aids

Montpelier Building and Grounds Drawings Collection
Acc. No. 2009.004.001 

This collection is a classic artificial collection composed of drawings generated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) or its contractors for building renovations, restorations projects, and garden and ground design projects including construction plans for roads and parking lots and planting plans for the grounds, especially gardens. Some of the drawings represent proposals for projects, but most are actually work plans for projects already completed. Researchers may find these drawings helpful in understanding the evolution of the property since 1961, when Commission took ownership of the property. This collection also contains two plat drawings showing the property owned by the Snowden family around 1800 and hand-drawn drawings of the Mansion by an architect around 1918. All of the drawings in this collection will offer researchers a window into the changes to the grounds and the buildings that have taking place over time at Montpelier Mansion Historic House Museum.      

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The Gordon Kirwan Collection
Acc. No. 2000.002.01
This collection consists of thirty-six letters dating from 1821 to 1835 written predominately by Anna Marie Snowden Hopkins (1794-1864) to her youngest sister, Rachel P. Snowden Tyson (1809-1889).
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The Helen Warfield Burgess Bebermeyer Seymour Archival Collection

Acc. No. 2003.001.01
Helen Warfield Burgess Bebermeyer Seymour (1920-2002) kept many of her mother’s papers [Amy Warfield Burgess (1887-1974)].  These papers included wonderful letters from her grandmother, Mary Thomas Snowden Warfield (1861-1932), her great-grandmother, Henrietta Stabler Snowden (1829-1907), her great Aunt Mary Thomas Warfield Snowden (1818-1902), and various friends and relations.  The correspondences, especially, offer the reader a wonderful insight into family life in the late 19th century.  There are five special groupings of note.   One is the manuscript diary kept by Mary Thomas Snowden (Warfield).  The second is her letters to her aunt, Mary Thomas Warfield Snowden, during her trip to Denver, Colorado in 1882.  The third is the series of letters by Henrietta Stabler Snowden to her daughter Mary Thomas Snowden (Warfield).  Fourth, is a diary by Mary Thomas Warfield Snowden written in 1858.  And fifth, are the three touching letters by Henrietta Stabler Snowden to her mother, Eliza Thomas Stabler (n.d.-n.d.) around the time of the death of her husband, Lt. Nicholas Snowden (1828-1862), at the battle at Harrisonburg, Virginia.  The collection also contains documents dealing with family weddings, deaths, genealogical materials, and notes on purchases as well as wonderful family photos and intriguing scrapbooks.  
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The Gladys B. Brigham Document Collection
Acc. No. 2003.002.
This collection contains a variety of family materials related directly the Snowden’s of Montpelier. Items found in the collection include correspondence, personal artifacts, account books, and land plats and deeds.
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Acc. No. 2004.002.01
This collection contains predominately land plats, indenture agreements and land deeds some of which relate directly to the Snowden’s of Montpelier, but not all. Other materials include a record of Thomas J. Snowden’s time at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in the 1830s as well as materials related to the Mansion dating from the early twentieth century.
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The Joseph S. Snowden, Pennsylvania Document Collection
Acc. No. 2005.001.01
This collection contains five documents that related to a mortgage history search that occurred in 1856 due to a land dispute related to Joseph S. Snowden of Pennsylvania. It is uncertain if Joseph S. Snowden is related to the Snowden’s of Montpelier.
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The Cameron Robinson, Snowden Family Document Collection
Acc. No. 2008.006.01
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The collection consists of seven items [a family bible once owned by Dr. DeWilton Snowden (1818-1879) and marriage, baptismal and confirmation records) relating to the branch of the Snowden family descendant from Mary Thomas Snowden the daughter of Dr. DeWilton Snowden.

Stan Hunter Mapping Project Collection
Accession 2011.012.01
This collection consists of the materials used by Stan Hunter in generating a map called, “A Timeless Map of the Episcopal Churches and Snowden Residences in the Upper Patuxent Region.”   The materials include portions of several different maps including “Vansville,” “Laurel 10 th District,” “Guildford,” and several others plus citations talking about Snowden family members traveling between different Snowden properties. All of the materials come from either the Howard County Historical Society or the Prince George’s County Historical Society. Most items have been annotated by Mr. Hunter.
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Susan R. Buswell Archival Collection
Accession 2014.001.02-.04
This collection consists of materials primarily related to the years when the David and Susan Buswell lived at Montpelier as its caretakers (1961-1964) as well as to Ms. Buswell’s involvement with the Friends of Montpelier. Contents include the initial correspondence to Christine Long Willcox to inquire about serving as caretakers of Montpelier as well as a list of repairs needed on the house and related correspondence; various articles about Montpelier or the renovation work being done at Montpelier, David Buswell’s History of Montpelier; and a 30th anniversary program for the Friends of Montpelier celebration. In addition, this collection contains a bound scrapbook once owned by Breckenridge Long that displays telegrams related to the negotiations taking place at Palace of Versailles during the worldwide peace negotiations of 1919.

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Shirley Baltz Research Collection on Breckinridge Long and Montpelier
Accession 2015.001.01
Shirley Baltz, on behalf of Montpelier Mansion, gathered this information from the Library of Congress around 1978.  The primary source for her research was the "Breckinridge Long Papers" held at the Library of Congress (see Related Materials) and many of the documents have box locations indicated as to where the item can be found in that collection.  Breckinridge Long (1881-1958) and his wife, Christine, owned Montpelier from 1928 to 1959.  The collection consists of diary entries, letters, bills, newspapers and magazine articles, biographies, and book excerpts.  This collection is useful for understanding Breckinridge and Christine Long's life, in addition to their impact on Montpelier (1927-1959). 
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Promotional Montpelier and Our Town Laurel Image Collection
Accession 2015.003.01 

This collection is composed of various slide collections located at Montpelier Mansion and grouped together as an artificial collection based upon a medium. They are believed to date from the late 1960s to the 1990s, encompassing the early years of the Mansion’s administration by the Maryland-National Capital Park Planning Commission and the later founding and supporting activities of the Friends of Montpelier. Most of the items are slides taken from three Kodak slide projector carousels, where they existed for a number of years. Each of the carousels appears to have been compiled to form distinct groups of objects.
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The Friends of Montpelier History Collection
Accession 2007.006.01-.07

The Friends of Montpelier History Collection began in 2007 when members of the Friends of Montpelier, starting with Nancy Thiessen, contacted me about donating materials related to their experiences during their time with the Friends of Montpelier. At that time, it was determined that it would be best to organize the materials by donor rather than by material type or some other organizational grouping. Thus, the collection now consists of a variety of materials that reflect activities of each particular donor whether they focused on genealogical research, serving as the group’s president, creating the replica kitchen or doing educational programming. 

Some of the other materials in this collection include Friends of Montpelier newsletters, meeting minutes, committee records, event brochures, and newspaper and magazine articles about the Friends activities or about Montpelier. The collection also contains several scrapbooks and photographs related to the history of the Friend of Montpelier or research activities taken on by its members. Some of the research materials within this collection provide important insights into the history of not only Montpelier but also the history of Maryland and the Snowden family.  The primary intent of this collection is to document the activities of the Friends of Montpelier and their many contributions in making Montpelier Mansion what it is today.  

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The William Grover Cook Research Materials Collection
Accession 2010.001.01
3 cu. ft.

Scope and Content Note
In 1971, William Grover Cook set out on a quest to better understand the family of his grandmother [Violetta Virginia (Snowden) Hiett].  Five years later he collated his research into a book entitled Montpelier and the Snowden Family, first published in 1976 and in continual publication, with revisions, ever since. This archival collection encompasses the materials he gathered during those five years of research.

Items found in this collection include photocopies and notes taken from noted genealogical reference books, newspaper and journal articles about the history of the Snowden family and their homes, correspondences with family members, copies of wills and estate inventories found at the Maryland State Archives and other repositories, copies of correspondences of certain family members, marriage records, legal records, church and cemetery records, numerous resources related to the family’s land holdings include land plat drawings drawn by Mr. Cook himself, and photography.  This collection is a treasure trove of information about the greater Snowden family in America that goes well beyond the scope of the book he finally wrote.    

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