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Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe was born to John H. B. Latrobe, a well-known lawyer from
Baltimore and Virginia Charlotte Claiborne on October 14, 1833 in Baltimore, Maryland.
He was the grandson of the famous architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Ferdinand received
his education in public schools in Baltimore and at St. James College, an Episcopal
private school founded in 1842, in Washington County, Maryland. At twenty-five, Latrobe,
became counsel for the B&O Railroad. Two years later, he was admitted to the Maryland
bar and married Louisa Sherlock Swann, the daughter of Thomas Swann and their son,
Thomas Swann Latrobe, was born in 1863. Latrobe's first wife died in 1865 and Latrobe
married Ellen Primrose in 1880. They had three children: Charlotte Virginia born in
1881, Ellen Virginia born in 1883, and Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe, Jr., born in 1889.
Latrobe's first son from his earlier marriage died in 1894. In 1868 Latrobe was elected
to the Maryland House of Delegates and was Chairmen of the Ways and Means Committee.
He authored the Act of 1868 which reorganized eleven regiments of the Maryland Militia.
After serving for several years in the Maryland House, Latrobe was elected Mayor of
Baltimore for the first time in 1875. Over the next twenty years, Ferdinand Latrobe
served as Mayor of Baltimore seven times. Latrobe served on the board of Maryland
State Aid and Board of Charities, the Board of Park Commissioners, and was a member
of several arts and music organizations in Baltimore. Latrobe was an avid hunter and
spent much of his leisure time at The Crimea, the country estate of Thomas DeKay Winans.
Latrobe was also an enthusiastic breeder of Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.
Organized into three series: Series I. Papers and Documents, 1844-1911. Series II.
Journals and Diaries, 1888-1922. Series III. B&O Railroad Documents, 1856-1857.
Series I. Papers and Documents
Series II. Journals and Diaries
Series III. B&O Railroad Documents
The collection of Ferdinand Latrobe contains papers, letters, documents, diaries,
and account books. The earliest document is an essay written by Latrobe in 1833 and
the latest is a diary he kept up until his death in 1911. The bulk of the collection
covers the later quarter of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.
The content ranges from political letters to personal diaries. There is also a substantial
amount of documents relating to the B & O Railroad Company. The collection is arranged
into three series. Series One contains papers and documents. Series Two contains diaries
and journals. Series Three contains documents relating to the B&O Railroad Company.
Series I: Papers and Documents
Series One contains the personal papers of Latrobe including essays, correspondence,
legal documents, memorabilia, press clippings, and speeches. There are ten subseries
in Series One and approximately 300 pages of documents. Some of the correspondence
includes prominent Baltimorean figures. There are letters from Enoch Pratt, Joshua
Van Sant, Baltimore mayor from 1871-1875, and Ira Ramsen, President of Johns Hopkins
University form 1901-1913. There is a telegram from Vice President of the B & O Railroad,
John King, Jr. to Mayor Latrobe in 1877 sent during the Camden Station railroad riot.
There are many letters from Baltimore citizens in the subseries "Letters of Congratulations"
and "Political" correspondence. Of special interest in Series One are letters from
Chun Shen Yin, dating from 1878 to 1879, which Latrobe labeled as from the "Chinese
Delegation." It is unclear how Latrobe met the men from the Chinese delegation but
it is clear that they kept up a correspondence while the Chinese legation was in America.
There are six letters from Chun Shen Yin, one from 1878 and the rest from September
and October of 1879. The letters have been transcribed by the processor and are available;
some of the words in the letters are illegible and if using the transcription it would
be wise to check against the originals. The Baltimore Sun ran an article about the
two men from the Chinese legation in September of 1879 which is referenced in one
of the letters. An electronic copy of this article is available in the "Cross References"
In the "Personal Miscellaneous" section is a Civil War document which we know very
little about. This document is the only one of its kind within the collection. There
are no other papers relating to the Civil War. The document is three pages. The paper
is what appears to be albumen paper or a paper photograph. Henry Pollock, the photographer
was familiar with both types of photography and practiced them at his studio in Baltimore.
The first page is a cover letter. It reads: "This is the replicate paper signed at
the Appomattox CH the two others being retained by Lt. Genl. Grant and Genl. Lee.
John Gibbon, Maj. Genl. (Vols) Baltimore Md May 10th 1865." At the bottom of the page
is signed "Pollock, Photo., Balto." The second and third pages are the actual photo
paper/albumen print of the document, the Articles of Agreement relating to the Surrender
of the Army of Northern Virginia. The document is in two pages, the first page ending
with the third article and the phrase, "allowed to accompany the officers to be…"
The third page begins with "turned over at the end of the trip." The document appears
to have all of the signatures as on the original. The original document is at the
National Archives website: by searching in ARC for the term "Surrender of the Army
of Northern Virginia." Subseries Nine is the largest subseries within Series I: Papers
and Documents and contains typed, hand-written, and rough draft copies of speeches
that Latrobe gave over the course of his career in politics. This subseries is split
in two sub-subseries due to the size of the speeches. Speeches written on longer paper
are arranged together to better conserve space. As the speeches were not in any particular
order when they arrived, they have been arranged according to their size and subject.
Subseries Ten contains printed speeches and is arranged chronologically.
Series II: Journals and Diaries
Series Two is divided into two subseries: 1. Diaries and 2. Account/Memo Books. The
diaries and account books of Ferdinand C. Latrobe span decades. Latrobe kept a diary
for every year dating from 1888 to 1911 the year of his death. The 1911 diary ends
abruptly on January 11, two days before his death. One diary is by an unknown writer
and is dated 1922. The diaries reference many important events in Latrobe's life and
career. They are not explicit in detail concerning political opinions or events neither
are they revealing when it comes to Latrobe's personal life. Latrobe documented the
weather daily and each entry begins with a description of the weather for the day.
Many entries are concerned with Latrobe's hunting activity and visits. There are two
places which Latrobe mentions very often, Crimea and the Island. Crimea was Thomas
Dekay Winans country home in West Baltimore in Leakin Park. The Island may refer to
the Carroll Island Gun Club, which Latrobe was a member of.
The account books date from the mid 1860s and go to 1905. The 1900 Maryland Congressional
List book contains printed lists of Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, pasted
into the book. Some names are underlined in red ink. This book also contains addresses,
notes, and two calling cards: Jacob Knipp and Joseph Pearson Farley, a retired Civil
War General. The1893-1894 notebook contains memos, notes to self, accounts, expenses,
addresses, and daily appointments. It also contains two sketches/cartoons of men holding
whips. The 1889 notebook contains an entry for "Prohibiting all vehicles from standing
on Lombard Street, Charles, Hanover, Lexington Market." The notebooks from the 1860s
contain a section on Maryland population growth contains figures dating from 18th
century and projected into 20th century, including slave and free black population
Series III: B&O Railroad Documents
Series Three contains documents relating to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company.
The first subseries contains one letter from John H.B. Latrobe. It is labeled "Letter
of PE Thomas, after the decision in MD Court of Appeals regards the RR Company" and
is dated, January 5, 1830. It is not known who labeled the letter. The bulk of this
series contains documents pertaining to a dispute between railroad locomotive engineers,
Ross Winans and the B&O Railroad, master machinist, Henry Tyson from 1856-1857. This
subseries contains pamphlet documents, correspondence, rough drafts, and copies. It
is arranged by similar subject, paper, and corresponding numbering on pages when applicable.
It is unclear how Latrobe came to have these documents. Latrobe was counsel for the
B&O RR, beginning in 1858, and may have inherited the papers with the position or
he may have been given the papers by his father who also served as counsel for the
B&O RR. The dispute between Ross Winans and Henry Tyson is well-documented in The
story of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 1827-1927, by Edward Hungerford, published
in 1928. The majority of the documents may be drafts of statements issued to Latrobe
by Ross Winans or to whoever was the legal counsel for the B&O at the time. These
documents describe a pamphlet written by Tyson which alleges that the camel back engines
caused accidents in which a few men were killed. It seems that the pamphlet alleged
that the engines and cars were unsafe and a new design should be implemented. The
dispute is generally recognized to have led to Ross Winans giving up his career in
railroad locomotive engineering, as he closed his shop shortly afterwards. These documents
could be of great interest to historians of the railroad industry.
MSS 2004-01; This collection was donated by Mary Jane Arnold, as a gift from her late
husband, in the summer and fall of 2004. Eminent Baltimore historian Jospeh Arnold
collected many items on Baltimore history. The papers of Ferdinand C. Latrobe were
of a larger collection which included books and other manuscripts.
Maryland State Archives SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (Biographical Series) Ferdinand C. Latrobe
file, MSA SC 3520-1698, 2/11/11/21.
This collection was processed under the supervision of Marcia Peri by Angelica Marini.
The processing and organizing of the collection began in January 2007 and was completed
in May 2007. When processing began, the only visible organization was that the papers
were separate from diaries and journals. The diaries and journals were ordered
chronologically. Papers and other documents were arranged by type and then by subject,
alphabetical if applicable. Most of the correspondence was labeled personally by
Ferdinand Latrobe, with subject headings and the collection retains those labels.
Railroad documents that had no specific mention of Ferdinand Latrobe were arranged
a separate series and arranged as well as could be, as most are fragments of papers
concerning a dispute in the 1850s. The finding aid was reformatted in 2008. Series
Speeches was digitized by the Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage program in 2010.
II. Journals and Diaries, was rehoused into envelopes in Spring 2014.
Describing Archives: a Content Standard (DACS)
Archives Processing Manual: Description
(2015): The processing manual used in Special Collections for all descriptive platforms,
Finding aid available.
Finding Aid: http://library.umbc.edu/speccoll/findingaids/coll004.php
Reproductions allowed for research purposes. UMBC is the copyright owner; permission
reproduce is required.
Latrobe, Ferdinand Claiborne, 1833-1911
Latrobe, John H. B. (John Hazlehurst Boneval), 1803-1891
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company
Pratt, Enoch, 1808-1896
Vansant, Joshua, 1803-1884
Winans, Ross, 1796-1877
Baltimore (Md.) -- Politics and government
Maryland -- Politics and government
Latrobe, Ferdinand Claiborne, 1833-1911 -- Archives
Extent: 5 boxes (3 linear feet)
Extent: 10 folders
Arranged alphabetically by subject, except individual letters which are arranged
chronologically. Most subject headings are according to Mr. Latrobe’s own categorization.
Extent: 15 items
This sub-series was digitized in 2010 by the Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage
Digital files available
Date: circa 1860-1988; bulk 1880-1911
Extent: 3.5 boxes (2 linear feet)
This series is arranged in chronological order.
Extent: 50 documents (.25 linear feet)
The bulk of this series contains documents pertaining to a dispute between railroad
locomotive engineers, Ross Winans and Henry Tyson. This subseries contains pamphlet
documents, rough drafts, and copies. It is arranged by similar subject, paper, and
corresponding numbering on pages when applicable. This set of documents is not arranged
alphabetically by material. The papers of the dispute all seem to be by Ross Winans
promoting his side of the argument over the best locomotive engines to build and use
by the B & O Railroad.
Extent: 6 folders
This subseries is arranged by page number, and by material size and color.
"A Letter from Ross Winans to the President and Board of Directors of the Baltimore
and Ohio Rail Road Co." 1857, UMBC, Special Collections: Howard HE 2791 B33 W56 1857.
Hall, Clayton. Baltimore Its History and Its People. Volume I- History. New York and
Chicago: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1912.
Semmes, John E. John H.B. Latrobe and His Times, 1803-1891. Baltimore, MD: The Norman
Remington Co., 1917.
Hungerford, Edward. The Story of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, 1827-1927. New York
and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1928.
Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Baltimore City and County. Reprint, Baltimore, MD: Regional
Publishing Company, 1971.
Beirne, Francis F. The Amiable Baltimoreans. Hatboro, PA: Tradition Press, A Division
of Folklore Associates, INC., 1968.