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Frances Wells Shaw papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-ShawF

Scope and Content of the Collection

Papers of the Shaw family of Chicago and Lake Forest, mainly of Frances Wells Shaw (1872-1937), wife of architect Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869-1926).

The bulk consists of material related to the frequent domestic and international travels of Frances Shaw during the first half of the twentieth century. Includes diaries, expense accounts, brochures, guides, maps, post cards, photographs, souvenir items, scraps and notes, business and personal cards, and other ephemera collected and saved by Shaw on her trips. Some of these materials are undated but have been labeled with approximate dates.

Also, correspondence between Frances Shaw and her daughter, as well as with other family members and acquaintances. In addition, miscellaneous materials include the diaries of Shaw’s brother-in-law, some school publications, and personal photographs. Included with the collection is a brochure, “Lake Forest was founded February 21, 1861”.


  • Creation: 1866-1976
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1925-1937



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Frances Wells Shaw papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Frances Wells Shaw papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Frances Wells Shaw

Wealthy Chicago and Lake Forest traveler, poet, and playwright.

Frances Wells Shaw was born in Chicago in 1872. Her mother died when she was an infant, so her father, Moses Wells, a successful shoe manufacturer, sent for a relative to care for her and her older sister. They grew up in a house on Michigan Avenue.

Frances Wells was educated at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. In 1893 she married Howard Van Doren Shaw, a long-time family friend and one of Chicago’s leading architects. He was later to design many homes in the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods of Chicago, as well as of Market Square in Lake Forest, where he and Frances Shaw raised a family with three daughters.

Frances Wells Shaw and Howard Van Doren Shaw traveled together in the United States and other countries around the world. After his death in 1926, she resumed her travels, alone, going even farther from home—to the Far East. She traveled by motor car, by bus, by railroad, on cruise ships, by freight packet (down the Mississippi River), and by donkey (up Mt. Aetna). Her adventurous and interesting travels made her a well known speaker on travel topics in Chicago clubs. Many of her verses were published in Poetry magazine. She was the author of several plays. She died in 1937.


4.4 Linear Feet (8 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Papers of Frances Wells Shaw of Chicago and Lake Forest, Illinois, wife of architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. Bulk consists of material related to the frequent domestic and international travels of Frances Shaw during the first half of the 20th century. Includes her diaries, travel materials and memorabilia, and photographs. Also includes correspondence to and from Frances Shaw and her daughters, plus the diaries of her brother-in-law, Charles T. Atkinson.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1866-1937
Box 1
Series 2: Miscellany (Personal), 1899-1976
Boxes 1-2
Series 3: Travel Diaries, with Notes, Receipts, and Ephemera, 1906-1936
Boxes 2-3
Series 4: Travel Guides, 1923-1937
Boxes 3-5
Series 5: Travel Brochures, 1910-1937
Boxes 5-7
Series 6: Postcards, 1917-1936
Box 7
Series 7: Photographs, approximately 1910-1937
Boxes 8-9

Collection Stack Location

1 31 2


Gift, Susan Moon, Frances Shaw, Edward M. Ryerson, and Nora Ryerson, March 20, 2009.

Separated Materials note

The following books have been removed from the collection and cataloged separately:

Athearn, C.R.: Boston in Seven Days, New York, Robert M. McBride & Company, 1926

Hayward, Walter Brownell: Bermuda Past and Present, New York, Dodd, Mead, 1910

Huxley, Julian: TVA: adventure in planning. Surrey, The Architectural Press, 1944

The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments translated out of the Original Tongues and with the Former Translations Diligently compared and revised. New York: American Bible Society, 1854. [Stamped on cover: MD Wells From his Brother ES Wells]

Kohlers, Friedrich: Franzosisch-Deutsches und Deutsch-Franzosisches Taschen-Wortenbuch, Leipzig, Verlag von Philipp Rectam, n.d.

Langenscheidt’s Miniatur Wortebuch: Deutsch Englisch, Berlin-Schoenburg, Langenscheidtsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1929

Laughlin, Clara E.: So You’re Going to England! Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1926

[Murray’s] Handbook for Travellers in India, Burma and Ceylon, London, John Murray, 1898

Piggott, Stuart: Some Ancient Cities of India. Bombay, Geoffrey Cumberledge for Oxford University Press, 1945

Sassoon, Siegfried, In Sicily (poem), London, Faber & Faber, n.d.

Symonds, John Addington: Sketches and Studies in Southern Europe, 2 vols.; Harper, 1880

U.G.O. Series: How to Get All You Want When Travelling in Italy, Philadelphia, David McKay, n.d.

Wershoven, F.J.: Dizionario Liliput: Italiano-IngleseNew York, M.Minkus Verlag, n.d.

Western Union Traveler’s Cable Code (booklet), Revised Edition, n.d.

The following maps have been removed from the collection and cataloged separately:

Berkshires, The Real Tour to. The Automobile Club of America, 1926

Bonn, Pharus-Plan. Urheber G.Schwartz, Eigentum Pharus-Verlag, n.d. [1930s]

Canada. Compiled for the National Geographic Magazine, 1936

[Chartres]. Imp. Guerin, Rouen. n.d. [1930s]

Dinkelsbuhl (Bavaria), Map of the Town of. After a drawing by G. Schwartz, copyright by Verekehrsausschutz, n.d. [1930s]

[Europe] Awaiting the Hour…War Stalks the Continent. From Chicago Sunday Tribune Graphic Section, November 29, 1936

Europe Showing Countries as Established by the Peace Conference at Paris. Copyright National Geographic Society, 1920

Indiana Road Map, Official. American Automobile Association, 1933

Ireland First Tourist Map, See. Issued by the Irish Tourist Association…Dublin, n.d. [ca. 1930]

Ireland. Rand McNally, 1896?

Java Touristmap. Issued by the Officieele Vereeniging voor Toeristen Verkeer, Batavia, TopografischeInrichting, 1923

Middle Java, TouristMap of. Officieele Veerniging voor Toeristenverkeer in Nederlandsch-Indie, 1930

Munchenerkunst. Eigentum des Jro-Verlags Munchen, n.d. [ca. 1930]

New England Hotel Association Tours, n.d. [1920s]

[New England states and Quebec] Rand McNally Official Highway Guide. Distributed by The Weldon Hotel, Greenfield, Massachusetts, n.d. [1920s]

New England The Vacation Land Tourist’s Map: Summer Resorts on the Coast, Lake, and Mountain Regions along the Boston & Maine Railroad, Boston & Maine Railroad, 1913

New York, Greater….In a single photograph. National Geographic Magazine, n.d. [1930s]

Newport, R.I. to Sandy Hook, N.J., Coastwise Cruising Guide. Issued by Standard Oil of New York, Copyright General Drafting Co., Inc., N.Y., n.d. [1930s]

Naples, Map of. Issued by Parker’s Hotel, n.d. [1920s]

Paris, Sightseers Map of. Copyright C.S. Hammond & Co, n.d. [1930s]

Peking, Map of. The American Express Company, n.d. [1930s]

[Southeast Asia] Kaart der Stoomvarlingen…K.P.M.II, Lithograph G. Kolff, n.d. [c.1933]

Tokyo, Tourist Map of. Japan Tourist Bureau. N.d. [ca. 1930]

Wisconsin, Chicago Tribune Automobile Road Map of. [On verso is: Rand McNally Junior Transcontinental Mileage Chart of the United States.] Rand McNally, 1930.

Processed by

Lenore Glanz, 2010.

Inventory of the Frances Wells Shaw papers, 1866-1976, bulk 1925-1937
Lenore Glanz
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States