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Charles Fleetwood Hanna papers


Charles Fleetwood Hanna papers
Hanna, Charles Fleetwood
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:

Charles Fleetwood Hanna worked for the Customs Service in Baltimore, Maryland. His papers contain his unpublished autobiography, dating from 1913, correspondence and other writings, financial and legal documents, and photographs. Much of it is undated and handwritten in pencil. Some of the writings are on U.S. Treasury Department stationery. The correspondence covers many topics,including Hanna's rental property, retirement pensions for Civil Service employees, his life in Baltimore, and his requests to remain employed after reaching 80 years of age. The writings include notes on his family history, his own life and miscellaneous topics. The documents include copies of his will and leases for property he owned in Baltimore. Two professional photographs of unidentified men are dated 1900 and 1903.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Charles Fleetwood Hanna papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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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.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Charles Fleetwood Hanna was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 4, 1841. He was a son of William Hanna (1806-1891) and Caroline Small Hanna (1809-1845). His maternal grandfather was Jacob Small, mayor of Baltimore from 1826 to1831, who also built the Exchange Hotel at the northwest corner of Gay and Lombard streets that later became the Custom House. Hanna married Emma Maria Sanders (1843-1875) and they had four children, Wesley (b. 1865), Caroline (b. 1870), Leila (b. 1872), and Frank (b. 1874). After Emma's death, Hanna married Josephine Lulu Schoch (1845-1920). They had two children, William (b. 1881) and Florence (b. 1884).

Charles F. Hanna attended the Male Central High School in Baltimore, served in the Civil War, and attended the University of Maryland in Baltimore, where he studied law. In his early twenties, Hanna along with his brother and other friends joined the Masonic Order. From March 1864 through September 1870, Hanna worked for the Designated Depository of the United States in the Baltimore Customs House. In 1870 he began working for the Customs Service in Baltimore, where he remained until his retirement in 1922. For the last 25 years of his career he was the Cashier of Customs for the Port of Baltimore. Hanna died August 11, 1926. He was survived by all his children except Frank (who died in infancy), three grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.

During his lifetime Hanna was active in the Masons and in the National Civil Service Association. He was elected its Treasurer in 1899. Hanna also owned property in Baltimore that he leased to tenants for many years.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Papers of Charles Fleetwood Hanna span the years 1873 through 1925 with the bulk of the material dating between 1900 and 1925. The collection contains his unpublished autobiography, correspondence and other writings, financial and legal documents, and photographs. Much of it is undated and handwritten in pencil. Some of the writings are on U.S. Treasury Department stationery. The letters are assumed to be copies or drafts. The single largest piece of writing is the autobiography dating from 1913.

The correspondence covers many topics including Hanna's rental property, retirement pensions for Civil Service employees, his life in Baltimore, and his requests to remain employed after reaching 80 years of age. The writings include notes on his family history, his own life and miscellaneous topics. The documents include copies of his will and leases for property he owned in Baltimore. Two professional photographs of unidentified men are dated 1900 and 1903.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The papers were found in a box of miscellaneous Maryland manuscripts in 1990.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Terry Ann Sayler, May 2005

Processing note:

The collection was acquired with no discernible order. Subsequently it was divided into five series. The materials have been placed in acid-free folders in acid-free boxes. The photographs have been placed in Mylar sleeves.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie A. Levine, December 2005.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Autobiography, ca. 1913 (2 folders)

This series consists of the unpublished autobiography of Charles Fleetwood Hanna, in which Hanna reminisces primarily about his life in Baltimore. The autobiography is handwritten in black ink with pages numbered from 1 to 132 in red ink. Hanna's recollections begin in summer 1847 when he and his brother were sent to board with the family of Dr. Isaiah Balderston in Pikesville, Maryland, and end abruptly with a description of his step-mother, Ann Pannell Porter Hanna.

Throughout the autobiography, Hanna describes the people and places in and around Baltimore in a detailed narrative style. He details who lived on specific streets and farms, what was located nearby, who married whom, the offspring of those unions, the occupations of individuals and their relationships with him.

Among Hanna's concerns was the need for "intelligent, zealous, honest and reliable service" in the federal government. The "iniquitous spoils of patronage" appalled him. He recommended a school for high school graduates that would train young men for positions in the Civil Service and presented his plan to President Chester Arthur and Treasury Secretary Charles Folger. He was a member of the Republican Party. Hanna also comments on "Negroes" in the Civil Service.

William Hanna, Charles Hanna's father, organized the Union Reading Room during the Civil War, a place where Union soldiers could "meet each other and assist in fraternizing." The elder Hanna leased a farm to grow food for the patients of Newton University Hospital on Lexington Street.

Important subjects discussed in the autobiography include:

  • the introduction of the first steam fire engine in Baltimore (1856) and the attempt by the volunteer firemen to destroy it
  • development of the water system in the city of Baltimore from street pumps to hydrants in individual homes
  • Baltimore street watchmen (late 1850s) taking shelter in small wooden boxes, some called calabooses
  • Hanna's appearance as an expert witness in U.S. and Circuit court trials for counterfeit money and forged handwriting
  • a trip from Baltimore to Loudon County, Virginia about 1874 via steamboat and train with extensive descriptions of the life and times
  • employment of women in the U.S. Treasury in mid 1860s
  • Hanna's active participation in the Masonic order

The Notes directly relate to items mentioned in the Autobiography and may be drafts. They are undated.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Autobiography, 1913 series 1box 1folder 1
Notes, undated series 1box 1folder 2

Series 2: Correspondence, 1882-1925 and undated (4 folders)

Series II consists of correspondence to and from Charles F. Hanna. In the early letters dating between 1882 and 1888, Hanna revealed what would become a life-long complaint: that he worked long hours with little if any time off and was not much appreciated. In a March 22, 1883 letter to Mr. Guillemin, he wrote of his busy day working 9 to 5 at the office and 7 to 12 at home. "I have no idle moments, except my sleep, restoring nature." In 1884 Hanna applied for the position of General Appraiser of the Customs Service. He did not get the position and, in a letter to "My dear Captain", vented his frustration for not receiving much recognition for his twenty years of work. "One-fifth of a century of slowly revolving years, the flower of my life, spent in building for myself: nothing!"

Hanna was proud of being born on July 4, his "natal day." He often mentioned it in his correspondence. In a letter dated August 19, 1913, he described the circumstances. His maternal grandfather often brought his large family together for reunions. In 1841 Hanna's parents and siblings who lived in New Orleans traveled to Baltimore for one of these gatherings. The family stayed at the home of one of his mother's cousins, near the intersection of Howard and Franklin streets in Baltimore. "I was ushered into this mundane sphere at 9 o'clock in the morning" on July 4, 1841. The family apparently never returned to New Orleans to live as Hanna wrote that he lived in Baltimore his entire life.

Before his retirement in 1922 Hanna was already active in the U. S. Civil Service Retirement Association. In several letters from 1910 through 1915, he indicated his desire to raise the interest in Civil Service employment and provide adequate compensation for such work. In 1910, Hanna served as President of the Baltimore branch of the association.

The correspondence to Hanna includes copies of letters of recommendation written for him for positions in the Customs Service.

Materials are separated into two groups: From and To Charles Hanna. Arrangement is chronological within each group.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
From Charles F. Hanna, 1882-1888 series 2box 1folder 3
From Charles F. Hanna, 1905, 1907-1908, 1910-1925 series 2box 1folder 4
From Charles F. Hanna, undated series 2box 1folder 5
To Charles F. Hanna, 1864, 1873, 1883, 1890, 1900, 1916, 1919, 1922 series 2box 1folder 6

Series 3: Writings, 1914-1924 and undated (9 folders)

This series contains Hanna's writings on Baltimore, civil service employment and compensation, genealogy notes and other miscellaneous topics.

The Baltimore materials contain references to buildings, the condition of the streets and the cost of real estate. He noted that the city was known as a "great southern gathering place and a convention city." Much of the civil service materials are incomplete sets of numbered pages. Hanna wrote frequently about his wish that "talented" and "educated ladies and gentlemen" be trained for employment in the civil service. He argued for adequate compensation and generous pensions to attract and retain valuable workers. He listed names and dates of service of men who left the Customs Service for non-government work at much higher salaries.

Hanna believed he descended from Oliver Cromwell through his maternal grandmother, a Fleetwood. His research included drawing the monument on the grave of his great grandfather, Jacob Small. He also traced his Hanna ancestors and their descendants.

Several of the miscellaneous writings dated between 1914 and 1924 are concerned with his interest in civil service employment and pensions. Others include poems and discourses on manufacturing, taxation, chicken feed, Easter, the Missouri Compromise, and American history.

The four groups in this series: Baltimore, Civil Service, Genealogy, and Miscellaneous, are arranged alphabetically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Baltimore, undated series 3box 1folder 7
Civil Service, undated series 3box 1folder 8
Genealogy, undated series 3box 1folder 9
Miscellaneous, 1914, 1917-1918 series 3box 1folder 10
Miscellaneous, 1919, 1921, 1924 series 3box 1folder 11
Miscellaneous, undated series 3box 1folder 12
Miscellaneous, undated series 3box 1folder 13
Miscellaneous, undated series 3box 1folder 14

Series 4: Financial and Legal Documents, 1905-1922 and undated (4 folders)

This series contains documents relating to the Association of Retired Federal Employees, Hanna's finances, property he owned and maintained, and his will. The Federal Employees materials include a postcard describing the Association of Retired Federal Employees, House of Representatives Bill 6433 dated May 21, 1921, and the Constitution and By-Laws of the Association of Retired Federal Employees, revised in 1922. Hanna's financial records dating between 1905 and 1920 include summaries of his finances; a copy of a "deed of conveyance" between himself and his wife and his son, William, for a portion of the Broad Creek Farm; a copy of a "chattel mortgage" between William Hooper Hanna and Vachel B. Bennett for brickworks; and Hanna's 1919 income tax return. The lease agreements deal with Baltimore property Hanna owned and rented on East Pleasant Street and on East Baltimore Street. There are four drafts of Hanna's will and notes he may have made related to it.

The four groups in this series: Federal Employment, Financial Records, Leases, and Will of Charles F. Hanna. Materials in each group are arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Federal Employment, 1921-1922 and undated series 4box 1folder 15
Financial Records, 1905, 1907-1909, 1911, 1918-1920 and undated series 4box 1folder 16
Leases, 1905, 1906, 1908-1910, 1916, 1920 series 4box 1folder 17
Will of Charles F. Hanna, undated series 4box 1folder 18

Series 5: Photographs, 1900, 1903 (2 items)

This series consists of two photographs of unidentified men. Handwritten on the verso of the studio portrait is "March 1900 Baltimore." The second of a man seated at a desk in an office is stamped "W C Branch Jacksonville, Florida Oct 1903" on verso.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Related Material

The University of Maryland Libraries also hold the Charles S. Burns. Like Charles Fleetwood Hanna, Charles S. Burns worked at the Baltimore Customs House.

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

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.