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Fitzhugh-Tyson papers

Identifier: MS 3241


The collection consists of letters, a memoir, and newspaper clippings related to two prominent Maryland families, the Fitzhughs and Tysons. Of note are materials related to the Shelter for Orphans of Colored Soldiers and Friendless Colored Children as well as the Shelter for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons. Isabella Tyson (1823-1903) was involved with both of these Baltimore, Maryland charitable organizations.


  • 1817-1944
  • Majority of material found in 1835-1891


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

The Fitzhughs and Tysons were prominent Maryland families, related by marriage to each other and to many other well-known Maryland families. The Tysons were noted abolitionists, while the Fitzhughs were Southern sympathizers.

Henry Maynadier Fitzhugh (1815-1900)

Henry Maynadier Fitzhugh (1815-1900) was born at "Windsor" in Baltimore County, Maryland. He was the son of Daniel Dulany and Margaret Maynadier Fitzhugh and a descendant of Dr. Henry Maynadier, who extracted a ball from Lafayette’s leg at the Battle of Brandywine during the Revolutionary War. In 1843 he married Anne George and they had eight children. After the dealth of his first wife, Fitzhugh married Lucy Tyson (1833-1910), a daughter of Nathan Tyson and Martha Ellicott, in 1872. The couple had one son, Henry Maynadier Fitzhugh (1875-1935). Fitzhugh wrote a memoir on the history of Maryland's Dulaney Valley in 1878 for the Baltimore County Union entitled “Notes on Dulany’s Valley, MD. by an Exile.” A typed copy of this memoir is included in the collection.

Nathan Tyson (1787-1867)

Son of the philanthropist, Elisha Tyson (1750-1824), Nathan Tyson (1787-1867) was a merchant, miller, and the First President of the Baltimore Corn and Flour Exchange, which became the Chamber of Commerce. In 1815 he married Martha Ellicott and material related to their 50th Wedding Anniversary party (1865) is included in the collection. Their daughter Lucy Tyson (1833-1910) married Henry Maynadier Fitzhugh (1815-1900) in 1872.

Martha Ellicott Tyson (1795-1873)

Martha Ellicott Tyson (1795-1873) was born and raised in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland which her grandfather, Andrew Ellicott, and his brothers had founded. In 1815 she married Nathan Tyson, a prominent Baltimore Quaker, and they raised twelve children, ten of whom achieved maturity. She was an elder of the Baltimore Quaker Meeting; an anti-slavery and women’s rights advocate; an author of two biographies of Benjamin Banneker; and a co-founder of Swarthmore College. She also wrote a book about the origins of Ellicott City. She was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988.

Isabella Tyson (1823-1903)

Isabella Tyson (1823-1903) was a daughter of Nathan and Martha Ellicott Tyson. She was well known for her philanthropic and charitable work and was involved with both the Shelter for Orphans of Colored Soldiers and Friendless Colored Children as well as the Shelter for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons.

Shelter for Orphans of Colored Soldiers and Friendless Colored Children

This charitable institution was founded in 1867 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Shelter was originally located on Fayette Street near Front but after several years, since the building was small and inconvenient for the increasing numbers requesting admission, it moved to 196 West Biddle Street. Operational funding came largely from the African American community and the Sharp Street, Orchard Street, and Bethel Methodist Episcopal churches donated Sunday offerings. Isabella Tyson served as treasurer.

Shelter for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons

Located at 515 and 517 West Biddle Street, this charitable organization was founded in 1881. It initially began with a bequest from Arabella Fisher and after her death donations from her nephew Richard K. Fisher as well as James S. Norris, William H. Baldwin, and James Carey Coale provided the $10,000 needed to open the shelter. The entrance fee was $100 and residents were cared for until their deaths. Isabella Tyson was president.


0.8 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of C. John Sullivan, April 2021.

Scope and Contents

The Fitzhugh-Tyson papers consists of three series: Series I. Fitzhugh family papers; Series II. Tyson family papers; and Series III. Rev. Dr. James Morss papers.

Series I contains materials related to members of the Fitzhugh family. The correspondence is comprised (1835, 1837) primarily of letters from Henry Maynadier Fitzhugh (1815-1900) to his parents, Daniel Dulany Fitzhugh and Margaret Maynadier Fitzhugh, during his time as a Maryland representative to the House of Delegates. There are also letters written by Kate Mason Rowland from 1891 to 1895 to her cousin Henry Maynadier Fitzhugh discussing a Mason relative as well as invitations to various events (including one at the White House in 1912) addressed to Henry Maynadier Fitzhugh (1875-1935).

Also in this series are the writings of Henry Maynadier Fitzhugh (1815-1900), which include an 1868 pamphlet entitled "Cash and Credit" and "Notes on Dulany's Valley, MD. by an Exile" written in 1878 for the Baltimore County Union. This 57 page memoir of life in Baltimore County's Dulaney Valley mentions various residents during the early 1800s, social customs, attire, politics, road and bridge building, the captain of the first Baltimore Clipper, and farming techniques such as liming, mechanical threshers, reapers, and cider-making.

The mixed materials mainly contain newspaper clippings and ephemera related to Fitzhugh genealogy.

Series II consists of materials belonging to Nathan Tyson (1787-1867), his wife Martha Tyson (1795-1873, and their daughter Isabella Tyson (1823-1903). There is correspondence from friends and relatives accepting or declining the invitation to celebrate the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Nathan and Martha Tyson as well as items related to Isabella Tyson's work with two charitable institutions. Isabella was treasurer for the Shelter for Orphans of Colored Soldiers and Friendless Colored Children and included in this series is her account book, dated 1870 to 1882, for the building fund as well as household facilities. There is also a notebook belonging to Isabella that is related to the Shelter for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons. Dated 1882 to 1891 it contains short biographies of approximately 68 residents of the shelter listing information such as date of entry and who paid entrance fee, birth date, death date, burial site, and name of enslaver if not born free.

Series III contains the correspondence of Rev. Dr. James Morss (1779-1842), a distant relative of the Fitzhugh family.

Guide to the Fitzhugh-Tyson papers
In Progress
Judith Hallfrisch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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