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Elder Family Papers

Identifier: GTM-800826

Scope and Contents

The papers of the Maryland Elder family, descendents of William Elder (1707-1775) who migrated to Frederick County from St. Mary's County in 1734.

The materials are organized alphabetically by correspondent and document various aspects of nineteenth century American Catholicism. The earliest material concerns the education of Francis Elder and Matilda Winchester at Mt. St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Academy in Emmittsburg, Maryland, respectively. Included are student accounts for Francis Elder at Mt. St. Mary's (1820-21); a letter from his brother William Henry Elder (later Archbishop of Cincinnati) while a student at the college (1832); and correspondence from Matilda and Benjamin L. Winchester concerning "exhibitions" held at both schools in 1845. Also included is correspondence written to Francis and Matilda Elder from William Henry Elder, Thomas S. Byrne, Martin John Spalding, and John M. Odin, members of the expanding Catholic episcopal hierarchy in the West.

Several items are of particular interest in reference to Southern history. Letters from Generals Pierre Beauregard and Richard Taylor concern requests made by Matilda Elder in connection with Maryland's contribution to the Southern Relief Fair, organized throughout the Southern states in 1866 to alleviate the burden of debts incurred during the Civil War. The papers also include a letter from Matilda's brother, Judge Benjamin F. Winchester, describing in some detail his career as a circuit judge in Louisiana in 1881. Finally, two pieces of printed ephemera are included in the papers: a notice of the Liberty Fire Company of Baltimore (1831) and an oath of allegiance to the US, signed by Matilda Elder in New Orleans (1864).


  • 1794-1906, 1947

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical Note

In 1734 William Elder (1707-1775) settled on St. Mary's Mount, near Emmittsburg, where his home "Pleasant Level" became a center of 1ocal Catholic activity throughout the eighteenth century. The papers primarily consist of correspondence to Francis William Elder (1807-1889) and his wife Matilda Winchester Elder (1828-1902). Francis Elder, a Baltimore merchant, was the great-grandson of William Elder and son of Basil Elder (1773-1869). Matilda Winchester Elder was the daughter of Benjamin L. Winchester (1790-1852) and the sister of Benjamin F. Winchester, both circuit court judges in Louisiana.


0.2 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Metadata Rights Declarations


Gifts of Sister Barbara Cooper, R.S.C.J., 1980 and 2002.

Related Materials

Bp. William Henry Elder's Civil War diary (1862-1865), part of the Woodstock College Archives, is available online here.

Elder Family Papers
Margaret H. McAleer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2024: 2002 accessions added to collection by Aleksandra Kinlen

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057