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Mary W. Stewart papers


Mary W. Stewart papers
Stewart, Mary W.
Collection number:
0.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Mary W. Stewart was the postmistress of Oxford, Maryland, from 1877 to 1940. The collection consists of correspondence to and from Mary Stewart and her family, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia relating to her tenure as postmistress. It also includes a blueprint of Mary Stewart's home and post office in Oxford, Maryland.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Mary W. Stewart papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Alternate formats:

Series 3, Blueprint, is available at in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Mary Washington Matilda Stewart was born on November 19, 1857 in Oxford, Talbot County, Maryland. Her parents were Matilda and James Stewart. Known locally as "Mollie," she was appointed postmistress of Oxford in the spring of 1877 after the death of her father, who previously held the position of postmaster. Sometime after her confirmation, Mary Stewart built an addition on her home that served as the Oxford post office.

At the completion of her term in 1930, the Republican County Committee of Talbot County recommended that a Republican be appointed to the position of postmaster instead of Mary Stewart, resulting in a political controversy that lasted until President Hoover confirmed her reappointment in 1931. Senators Millard E. Tydings and Phillips Lee Goldsborough of Maryland were strong supporters of Stewart and spoke on her behalf to the U.S. Senate, helping to ensure her reappointment.

When Mary Stewart retired in 1940, she was the oldest postmistress in America and had the second longest continuous service record in the nation.

Mary W. Stewart never married; she died in 1946 at age 88.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Papers of Mary W. Stewart date from 1902 to 1941, with the bulk of the material dating between 1930 and 1932, and consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, official documents, memorabilia, fan mail, and newsletters relating to the life and career of Stewart, who was postmistress of Oxford, Talbot County, Maryland, from 1877 to 1940. It also includes a blueprint of the Oxford post office, which Mary Stewart built as an addition to her private home. Correspondents include William H. Boyce, T. Alan Goldsborough, Phillips Lee Goldsborough, Robert G. Houston, Howard W. Jackson, James M. Mead, George L. Radcliffe, Millard E. Tydings, and David J. Ward. The bulk of the collection relates to the controversy surrounding Stewart's reappointment as postmistress in 1931.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the papers of Mary W. Stewart from Charles Apfelbaum in April 1999.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Megan Smith and Jennie A. Levine, April 2006

Processing note:

The letters were placed in acid-free folders and stored in an acid-free box. Newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper and originals discarded. The blueprint was flattened and removed to a mapcase.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie A. Levine, April 2006.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized in four series:

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1902-1941 and undated (6 folders)

Series I consists primarily of correspondence to Mary W. Stewart. Topics discussed include daily life, membership in various organizations, and routine business correspondence. The bulk of the letters from 1935 are in response to a letter-writing campaign on behalf of Stewart's right to a pension, led by Stewart's cousin, Mrs. Thomas B. Stewart. Also included in this series is fan mail written to Mary Stewart by people impressed with her long record of service for the U. S. Postal Service. Only a few letters exist that were written by Stewart herself. Included with the correspondence are newsletters sent to Stewart and official documents, such as her civil service examination results.

Correspondents include William H. Boyce, T. Alan Goldsborough, Phillips Lee Goldsborough, Robert G. Houston, Howard W. Jackson, James M. Mead, George L. Radcliffe, Millard E. Tydings, and David J. Ward.

Arrangement is alphabetical by folder heading and chronological within each folder.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence, 1902-1929 series 1box 1folder 1
Correspondence, 1930 series 1box 1folder 2
Correspondence, 1931-1932 series 1box 1folder 3
Correspondence, 1934-1941 series 1box 1folder 4
Correspondence, undated series 1box 1folder 5
Correspondence -- Fan Mail, 1922-1940 and undated series 1box 1folder 6

Series 2: Newspaper Clippings, 1922-1940 (1 folder)

Series II consists of newspaper clippings documenting Mary W. Stewart's long career, primarily the fight for her reappointment as postmistress of Oxford, Maryland, in 1931. The entire nation took an interest in Stewart's plight, and the controversy surrounding her job was reported in newspapers around the country. The clippings include images of Mary Stewart, as well as cartoon images.

Arrangement is chronological.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Newspaper Clippings, 1922-1940 and undated series 2box 1folder 7

Series 3: Blueprint, undated (1 item)

Series III consists of one blueprint that shows the design of Mary W. Stewart's home and post office in Oxford, Maryland. It is entitled: "Cottage for Miss M. W. Stewart, Oxford, MD, First Floor Plan, E. R. Tucker, Archt., Balto. MD."

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Blueprint -- Online (Oversize), undated series 3box 1folder 1

Series 4: Memorabilia, 1939 and undated (2 items)

Series IV consists of Mary Stewart's name badge from the 39th annual convention of the National Association of Postmasters held in Washington, DC, October 10-12, 1939, and an invitation to Mary Stewart's birthday party given by the Ladies of Saint Paul's Church. These items have been transferred to the Memorabilia Collection, numbers 1867 and 1868.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Memorabilia, 1939 and undated series 4box 1folder 1
Invitation to a birthday party given by "The Ladies of St. Pauls Church" at the residence of Dr. J. A. Ross, Trappe. Includes a brown cloth bag attached with a red string., undated series 4box 1folder 1item 1867
Badge/Name Tag worn by Mary W. Stewart of Oxford, Maryland, at the 39th Annual Convention of the National Association of Postmasters, Washington, D.C, October 10-12, 1930 series 4box 1folder 1item 1868

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

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