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Woodward family manuscript collection

Identifier: MS 3177


The Woodward Family Manuscript Collection consists of publications, manuscripts, scrapbooks, and other materials related to the Woodward family’s involvement with thoroughbred horse racing.


  • 1899 - 2004
  • Majority of material found within 1929 - 1940


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.

Biographical / Historical

William Woodward Sr. (1876-1953) was the son of Sarah Abagail (née Rodman) Woodward (1840–1913) and William Woodward Jr. (1836–1889), who was one of the founders of the New York Cotton Exchange. The Woodwards were a prominent and wealthy Maryland family that dated back to colonial times.

William Woodward was educated at the Cutler School in New York City and subsequently attended Croton School in Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1898 and after receiving a Harvard Law School degree in 1901, he spent two years in London, England as secretary to Joseph H. Choate, Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Upon his return to New York City in 1903, Woodward was named vice president of Hanover National Bank in New York City by his uncle, James T. Woodward (1837-1910), who was then president of the bank. Following his uncle's death, Woodward became president of the bank in 1910 and served in that capacity until 1929. He met his future wife, Elsie Cryder (1882-1981) of the Cryder triplets, at Saratoga Springs in 1903 and they wed in 1904. They had one son and four daughters.

Woodward became interested in thoroughbred racing when he was eleven years old and his interest increased during his years at Harvard and while he was in London. In 1904 he and his uncle, who had acquired the historic Belair estate located in Prince George's County in 1898, decided to save the "thoroughbred blood of America." Woodward purchased his first broodmare in 1905 and had his first winner, Aile D'or, at Marlboro Racetrack in 1909. He inherited the Belair estate upon his uncle's death in 1910 and proceeded to create the Belair Stud and develop it into one of the dominant breeding and thoroughbred horse racing operations in the United States. Monday June 4, 1923 was the first time that Woodward's horses raced under the red polka dots silks of Belair Stud. Also in 1923, James E. Fitzsimmons took over the training of the Belair horses. Woodward and Fitzsimmons produced many prized thoroughbreds from the 1930s to 1950s, including the 1930 Triple Crown Winner Gallant Fox and the 1935 Triple Crown Winner Omaha.

Upon his father's death in 1953, William Woodward Jr. (1920-1955) inherited the Belair estate but his untimely death two years later in 1955 saw the end of Belair Stud. The Woodward family sold the Belair estate in 1957 to Levitt & Sons. The mansion, located at 12207 Tulip Grove Drive in Bowie, Maryland, is now owned by the City of Bowie and functions as a museum. In 2016, Woodward Sr. was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame as a Pillar of the Turf.


1.0 Linear Feet (9 scrapbooks and 1 box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mr. Thomas M. Bancroft, Jr. in June 2005.

Related Materials

PP 0305, Woodward family photograph collection, 1890-1968


Bancroft, Thomas M. The Red Polka Dots. Printers' Printers, Inc., 2003.

Scope and Contents

The Woodward Family Manuscript Collection contains various materials documenting the Woodward family and its involvement with the horse racing industry.

The collection is arranged into three series.

Series I: Scrapbooks

This series consists of 9 scrapbooks, organized chronologically and arranged alphabetically from A to I. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings about horseracing, racing results, photographs, receipts, correspondence, advertisements, postage stamps, postcards, programs, and other memorabilia

Series II: Papers

This series includes correspondence, William Woodward's memoirs, histories of Horseracing in America and England written by William Woodward, a guest book for Belair Mansion, and horseracing thoroughbred fact sheets.

Series III: Publications

This series consists of published materials about horseracing, the Woodward family, and the Belair estate.

Guide to the Woodward family manuscript collection
Nicole Wise and Damon Talbot
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-04-13: 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