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Atkinson and Smith family papers

Identifier: MS 2473


This collection consists of personal papers belonging to the Atkinson and Smith families as well as business papers related to the Baltimore Chemical Works, a firm operated from 1833-1851 by James E. Atkinson (d. 1851) and his brother-in-law, Robert Marsh Smith (1813-1893).


  • 1806-1943


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.


2.5 Linear Feet (6 boxes )

Language of Materials



The material is separated into subgroups containing the papers of individual family members. Within each subgroup, the material is arranged chronologically.

Matthew Smith Papers, 1809-1854

Matthew Smith (1779-1865) married Catharine Marsh in 1809. The couple had five children including Hannah Smith who married James E. Atkinson and Robert M. Smith who entered into a business partnership with his brother-in-law Atkinson. The Matthew Smith Papers include bills, receipts, account books, and incoming correspondence related to his occupation as a merchant. Several items relate to the sale of earthenware, china, and glass as well as numerous other merchandise. In addition there are a few personal letters written by either Matthew's wife Catharine or friends, some with reference to the Smith children.

Catharine Marsh Smith Papers, 1800-1837

Catharine Marsh (fl. 1806-1857) was the wife of Matthew Smith, a Baltimore merchant. Includes a personal account book in addition to correspondence concerning her husband or her sons' performances in school.

Thomas Marsh Smith Papers, 1819-1874

Thomas Marsh Smith (1810-1877) was the son of Matthew Smith and Catharine Marsh. Presumably he was a prosperous merchant and served as a Director of Johns Hopkins University The correspondence is mainly of a personal nature although one letter is directed to him in reference to his position at Johns Hopkins. Written by Baltimore architect J.C. Neilson, previously of Niernsee and Neilson, the letter deals with the construction of the Academy of Music. The remaining papers in this group include a travel journal and expense account for a trip through the western United States, a second account book, and two passports.

Mary M. Smith Papers, 1837-1883

Mary M. Smith (1823-1882) was the daughter of Matthew Smith and Catharine Marsh. Her papers are all personal in nature and include correspondence between family and friends, an autograph album, a passport, and estate papers.

Robert Marsh Smith Papers, 1826-1892

Robert M. Smith was the son of Matthew Smith and Catharine Marsh. In 1833, Smith formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, James E. Atkinson. The firm was called the Baltimore Chemical Works or more commonly, Smith & Atkinson. The company sold drugs, paints, and oils as well as more typical merchandise. After Atkonson's death in 1851, Smith continued operation of the firm with a new partner, Philip Chappell (1830-1875). After Chappell's death, Smith operated the firm alone for approximately two years before retiring. The papers in this section contain mostly personal items, i.e. correspondence, schoolbooks, travel journals, etc. Also included, however, are a few business related documents, namely, a letterbook of incoming business correspondence, receipts, cash books, and patent certificates.

Rebecca C. Smith Papers, 1855-1864

Rebecca C. Smith (nee Jones) (1815-1860) was the wife of Robert Marsh Smith. Her papers include personal correspondence relating to the death of her son in 1855, and estate papers dealing with transactions made after her death in 1860.

Matthew Smith Papers, 1856-1858

Includes report cards of Mathew Smith (1842-1883), son of Robert and Rebecca Smith.

Anthony Marsh Smith Papers, 1856-1858

Anthony M. Smith (fl. 1839-1906) was the son of Matthew Smith and Catharine Marsh. His papers represented here include personal correspondence between himself and his cousins, Harriet and Sarah Ives. In addition there are wills, receipts, and a letter-book reflecting Smith's various business transactions. Many references are made to land sales, stocks, bonds, and the purchase of farm machinery.

Elisha Smith/John Smith/Smith Family Papers

Miscellaneous items belonging to members of the Smith family. Either their relation to the Smiths was unclear or the actual documents are unmarked.

John O'Grady Allmand Papers, 1856-1929

John O'Grady Allmand was the brother of Elizabeth T. Allmand and hence the uncle of Eliza Blow Atkinson. Includes receipts, business papers, checkbooks, list of stocks and bonds, and incoming correspondence. Apparently Allmand was a merchant of general goods. Several of the letters allude to purchases of muslin, cloth, and spools of cotton.

James E. Atkinson Papers, 1848-1897

James E. Atkinson (d. 1851) married Hannah Smith (fl. 1839), daughter of Matthew Smith and Catharine Marsh. He entered a business partnership with his brother-in-law, Robert Marsh Smith in 1833 which lasted until the former's death in 1851. Papers included are account books and miscellaneous items related to the estate of James E. Atkinson.

Hannah A. Atkinson Papers, 1857-1871

Hannah A. Atkinson was the daughter of Matthew Smith and Catharine Marsh, and wife of James E. Atkinson. The documents in this section are comprised of personal correspondence, receipts, passport, and a travel journal which relates her trip to Europe with her brother Thomas and sister Mary Smith.

Matthew S. Atkinson Papers, 1859-1871

Contains two pieces of incoming correspondence belonging to Matthew S. Atkinson, the son of James E. Atkinson and Hannah Smith.

Eliza Blow Atkinson Papers, 1878-1925

Eliza Blow Atkinson (d. 1931) was the daughter of Judge George Blow and Elizabeth T. Allmand. She married Matthew Smith Atkinson, the son of James E. Atkinson and Hannah Smith. Mrs. Eliza Atkinson lived in Baltimore for over 40 years as a resident of Green Spring Valley. She was very interested in charity work and served as the President of the Home for the Incurables. Her papers include calling cards, invitations, recipe books and loose recipes, travel journals, articles, and short stories. In 1910, Mrs. Atkinson visited among other places, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, and England. One of the travel journals relates this trip while a second one records her trip to China and Japan in 1924.

Lisa Blow Atkinson Papers, 1897-1922

Lisa Blow Atkinson (1886-1974), daughter of Eliza Blow and Matthew Smith Atkinson, worked for The Baltimore Sun in the 1920s as its society editor. The papers in the collection include travel journals, correspondence, and copies of articles. Primarily the articles concern her travels to China and Japan in 1924. In addition to her newspaper work, Miss Atkinson owned and operated a summer shop in Bar Harbor and later Northeast Harbor in Maine. The shop sold antiques, porcelain, silk, and European and Far Eastern goods.

Matthew S. Atkinson, Jr. Papers, 1891-1909

Matthew S. Atkinson, Jr. (1881-1948) was the son of Matthew Smith Atkinson and Eliza Blow Atkinson. The papers included in the collection primarily relate to Matthew's childhood, eg. schoolbooks, baseball score cards, etc. In addition, however, there is a wine list of 1909 enumerating specific bottles of madeira purchased by the Atkinson family.

Matthew S. Atkinson III Papers, 1943

Matthew S. Atkinson III is the son of Matthew S. Atkinson, Jr. and is the donor of the Smith and Atkinson papers. The small number of letters, papers, etc. within this subgroup all relate to a wine sale held at the Walters Art Gallery in 1943. Apparently some of the wine sold was of a similar type as that owned by the Atkinson family.

Smith and Atkinson Papers, 1837-1873

The firm of Smith and Atkinson, as stated earlier, was formed by Robert Marsh Smith and James E. Atkinson in 1833. For a more detailed discussion of the business see the notes under the Robert Marsh Smith papers. The documents within this subgroup consists of incoming correspondence, bills, receipts, account books, inventories, and lists of balances.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Matthew S. Atkinson III in 1979.

Related Materials

MS 0756, Smith and Atkinson record books, 1833-1907

MS 0792, Smith and Atkinson business papers, 1837-1891

PP 0076, Atkinson collection, 1868-1906

Separated Materials

The following items were removed from the collection and sent to either the Prints and Photographs Divison or the Library Collection:

Lisa Blow Atkinson photo albums [2 vols.] - Lisa Blow Atkinson traveled extensively and these photo albums reflect her trips throughout the United States and abroad. Presumably the one album is comprised of photos taken on her 1910 trip to Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, England, and several other foreign countries.

Lisa Blow Atkinson printed ephemera [5 items] - business cards advertising her shop in Bar Harbor, Maine

Smith family photographs, unidentified [17 items]

John O'Grady Allmand printed ephemera [18 items]

Atkinson Family printed ephemera [4 items]

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of personal papers belonging to the Atkinson and Smith families as well as business papers related to the Baltimore Chemical Works, a firm operated from 1833-1851 by James E. Atkinson (d. 1851) and his brother-in-law, Robert Marsh Smith (1813-1893). The company was involved in the wholesale trade of drugs, paints, and oils as well as other merchandise. After Atkinson's death in 1851, Smith continued the operation of the firm with a new partner, Philip S. Chappell (1830-1875).

The business papers in the collection primarily consist of incoming correspondence (1837-1866) and several account books, including inventories (1851, 1856), lists of balances (1850, 1856), expense accounts (1870s), and checkbooks (1860). The bulk of the collection, however, is comprised of family papers, namely correspondence, diaries, travel accounts, passports, school books, expense accounts, bills, receipts, and estate papers.

The individuals represented from the Atkinson family are: James E. Atkinson (d. 1851), his wife Hannah Smith Atkinson, their son Matthew Smith Atkinson (d. 1906), their daughter-in-law Eliza Blow (d. 1931), and their grandchildren, Lisa Blow Atkinson (1886-1974), Allmand Blow Atkinson, and Matthew Smith Atkinson Jr. (1881-1948).

Included from the Smith family are the papers of Matthew Smith (1779-1865) and his wife Catharine Marsh (fl. 1806-1857) as well as their children Hannah Smith Atkinson (fl. 1839), Thomas Marsh Smith (1810-1877), Anthony Marsh Smith (fl. 1839-1906), Mary Marsh Smith (1823-1882), and Robert Marsh Smith (1813-1893). In addition, there are several items related to Robert's wife Rebecca C. Jones (1815-1860) and their son, Matthew Smith (1842-1883).

Guide to the Atkinson and Smith family papers
Under Revision
Janice E. Ruth
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • 2020-02-21: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Sandra Glascock

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States