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Frick family papers

Identifier: MS 2703


The Frick family papers includes papers of socially prominent Baltimore and Washington, D.C. families, primarily from the mid-nineteenth to the early-twentieth century. The three main families are the Fricks, Poultneys, and Turnbulls, but scattered items from related Sloan, Carroll, Denison, Brown, Ramsay, and Spense families are here as well. The papers include correspondence, genealogies, accounts, land papers, diaries, travel diaries, and recipe books.


  • 1747-1960


Conditions Governing Access

The 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.


4.17 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Language of Materials


Related Materials

PP57, Frick family photograph collection, 1860-1883

Scope and Contents

The collection is arranged alphabetically by originator (see attached container list), beginning with the association for the Relief of Southerners Report Book, 1866, kept by Fannie Frick (1840-1889). It details the efforts of Baltimore society women - along with male "auxilary managers" - to raise funds to provide material for the post-war South, primarily through a fair held at the Maryland Institute Hall.

Correspondence, diaries and travel journals, however, compose the bulk of the collection. Anne Elizabeth Swan Frick (1819-1880) sent numerous letters home to her children as she traveled throughout Europe. Anne "Nannie" Turnbull Frick's (1857-1933) incoming correspondence, 1878-1932, deals with the death of her aunt, Jane "Jeannie" Turnbull (1841-1912) and the disposition of her estate in Washington, D.C. as arranged with their brother William T. Frick (1855-) and the National Savings and Trust Co. of Washington. Outgoing correspondence, 1873-1889 from Charles Frick (1862-1901) includes letters to his family of boarding school life in Concord, New Hampshire; later letters discuss ground rents and property improvements.

More extensive are the letters and diaries of Elizabeth Power Frick (born circa 1860). Authors and subjects of incoming letters include her brother Charles in Connelsville, Pennsylvania on (railroad) construction and its dangers; George A. Lucas in Paris on artists and a miniature portrait commissioned by EPF; 1902 illustrated letters from her aunt Elizabeth Ann Frick (1810-1857) on her Bavarian travels; 1909 letter from Maryland portrait painter Harper Pennington (circa 1855-1920) asking for a good laundress; 1912-1913 letters concerning the estate of her aunt Jane Turnbull; and letters dated 1917-1919 from a Russian emigre in London detailing the "horrible times" in her native country, and on American participation in World War I. Less informative are her travel diaries, which give short descriptions of sites in Monte Carlo, Paris, and the Vatican (1910); Scotland and northern England (1914); and Spain, Italy, and France (undated).

Frank Frick's (1828-) correspondence and accounts, 1875-1889, concern business with C. Morton Stewart and his property on Park Avenue. His wife, Fannie (1840-1889) was the daughter of a German immigrant merchant, Gustav Lurman.

George P. Frick's (1825-1885) early correspondence includes a letter from George A. Lucas on life at West Point; one from Edmund Rogers on a satiric song in the American Whig about GPF's father; and a letter to Reverdy Johnson in Heidelberg (1843). Later correspondence concerns family members and financial accounts. An 1847-1855 account book lists his living expenses; numerous receipts show payment for ground rent, mortgages, life insurance, stocks and taxes. Estate papers, 1885-1890, deal with Park Avenue and Bolton Hill properties; business papers 1969-1879 concern his dry goods commissions firm; and 1872-1885 patents illustrate streetcar improvements. His 1864-1865 travel diary of Mexico is illustrated with sketches of French and Mexican troops, and includes talk of home, religion and dreams.

The account book, 1818-1837, for John Frick's (1736-1818) estate includes accounts for the estates of John Frick, C. Valotte, George Smith and John Shrine. It also lists business interests including those of the firm Frick and Smith.

Incoming correspondence, 1864-1903, of Katherine Turnbull Frick (circa 1830-1893) relates news of friends, fashions and morals from such as Harper Pennington ("I live in rage") and sculptor William Rinehart in Rome. Outgoing correspondence includes letters of deed of estate in case of her death; receipts and legal papers concern real estate. Her 1871 travel diary describes a trip to Germany, and a 1872 diary tells of family and social activities in Baltimore.

Leslie Frick gained fame as an opera performer and manager. Her contribution is an essay, "An Historic Fan," which describes a Spanish prisoner of war living with her ancestors in Annapolis following war with Spain.

Mary Lindsay Frick (1821-1882) has incoming correspondence from her mother and her brother James on family, social events, and a vacation to Upper New York State. A record of her 1866-1881 accounts with George P. Frick documents her living expenses.

Her mother, Mary Sloan Frick (1796-1866; a daughter of merchant James Sloan), also discusses family events; one letter from Boston details concern on the sectional crisis and suggests solutions. Diaries from 1857-1858 and 1860 reveal her thoughts on motherhood, widowhood, death, her daughter's childbirth, and her son Charles' death. Her scrap-book continues her mourning for his death as well as the death of her husband William, son, daughter, and son-in-law. This includes notes from her son-in-law, Dr. William Power, on his own funeral arrangements.

The family "patriarch," William Frick (1790-1855), was born in Baltimore and educated at the Moravian College in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. He studied law in the office of General Winder and was also a published poet, state senator, Collector of the Port of Baltimore, city court judge, and an associate judge of the Court of Appeals. In 1851 he was elected as the first judge of Superior Court of Baltimore City. His papers, unfortunately, are not fully representative of his career. They include: lectures on Free Masons; an 1818-1836 account book of his fees as a lawyer; his will and estate papers, 1854-1883; and an opinion he delivered at a murder trial. Two scrapbooks circa 1820 and 1855-1865 contain anecdotes, household hints, reminiscences, and poems. His translation of "Dr. Gall's System of Skull and Brain Doctrine" describes a theory on intellectual and personality development.

His grandson, William Turnbull Frick (born 1855), contributes letters, 1868-1869, largely from his father, his brother Charles, and his grandmother while William is away at school. His letters home begin while he is at boarding school in 1868 and continue through his 1872 school year in Switzerland.

Papers from the Poultney family are much less complete, consisting largely of recipes and poems. The domestic life of Susan Carroll Poultney is shown in her three recipe and pattern books that give instruction for a dressing saque, worsted shoes, and crocheted items, circa 1850, 1852, and 1888. Her husband Thomas was a prolific poet who wrote under the name "Rabbi Ben Tomi." Four manuscript volumes of his poetry and prose, 1864-1886, are included in this collection.

The relation of the Spense family of Washington to the rest of the collection is unknown, but they do contribute some interesting letters. One to Keith Spence from Stephen Decatur, 1864, describes a battle against the Turks at Tripoli. Letters, 1825, to Keith's son Robert from Charles Stewart and "D.T." (Charles Stewart's wife?) concern Stewart's courtmartial trial and Robert's efforts to influence it. Several naval commissions, 1801-1815, are located in "oversize."

Jane ("Jeannie") Graham Turnbull (1841-1912), also of a prominent Washington family, received numerous invitations to the White House and and embassies for receptions and dances, 1870-1912. She also was an officer for the Louise Home in New York City, serving as president at the time of her death.

The last significant correspondence is that of Jane's brother, William Ramsay Turnbull III, also of Washington, D.C. His mother, Jane Graham Turnbull (1806-1883) wrote him numerous undated letters circa 1847-1860 on her husband's military career; money shortages; vacations; and hopes of a North-South compromise and her sentiments for either side. Letters from his father, William (born 1800), apparently an army engineer who fought in the Mexican War, describes action he was involved in and comments on Santa Anna's leadership. 1850-1863 correspondence from WRT's brother, Charles (1833-1885) expresses Charles' hope of entering West Point through contacts with General Scott and President Fillmore; problems at school; his course of study and life at West Point, 1854; and the transfer of family remains to a family lot, 1858. After 1858 he also writes of Washington politics; Know-Nothings and American Party "outrages" in Baltimore and camp life at Fort Gratiot. He also discusses harsh feelings from Northerners while in 1861 Boston - he is pro-Union yet finds many of their opinions "wicked." Baltimore, he notes, hated Massachusetts soldiers in particular. Charles has many opinions about the course of war while in 1862 St. Louis - he supports McClellan, for example, but thinks Meigs "A damned fool." He is also critical of the dangers of train travel.

William's sister Jane wrote often between 1891 and 1896, expressing sorrow on the death of WRT's wife; and tells of an interview with President Grant and his wife ("they say she has great influence") on proceedings against "Jim," who may have been a brother (A letter from "Jim" to Jane G. Turnbull describes Civil War camp life near Falmouth, Virginia in January, 1863).

Outgoing correspondence is scattered. WRT mentions poor relations in Baltimore (1850); Washington gossip (1851-1852); work on a Louisville canal and Susquehanna bridge (1852); and his work - probably as a surveyor - in Oswego, New York and Washington, D.C.


Extensive land papers are available for the Frick family, William Turnbull Frick, Dr. George P. Frick, Katherine T. Frick, and Matthew Brown. The Frick family papers primarily concern sales, mortgages, and the lease of their Baltimore and Charles Street property in Baltimore City from 1805 to 1886. Also included is material on their land in the Bolton Hill area of Baltimore; a list of leaseholds c. 1880s; an account book 1885-1888 and 1897 that lists family properties; deeds and a lease for property at Park Ave. and McMechen Street; land plats are here and in oversize. Accounts, receipts, correspondence, and insurance papers concern a Baltimore Street warehouse 1876-1886, particularly after a fire. Frick family land bought at, built on, and leased out in Bolton Street, Park Avenue, and other Bolton Hill locations is detailed in the Frick land papers of George P., 1875-1887; Katherine T., 1886-1888; and William T., 1883.

Peter Frick's land papers, 1763-1812, begin with a request to Baltimore Town Commissioners to build a warehouse in 1763. Further papers deal with the sale and mortgage of a Gay Street property in Baltimore.

Land papers of Matthew Brown, 1747-1823, involve land at "The Hope," "New Bremen," and "Brooke Garden" in Frederick County, Maryland.

Genealogical notes and charts on the Carroll, Denison, Frick, Poultney, Ramsay, Sloan, and Wilson families complete the Frick Family Papers.

Guide to the Frick family papers
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Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-17: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

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