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Leon Washington Condol papers

 Collection 0077-MDHC

The Leon Washington Condol papers consist of photographs, family documents, and news clippings that document the family’s history as African American people in the United States from 1809 until 1972. Also included in the collection, and of particular interest, is a rare, autographed copy of Sketches Old and New (1875), a collection of Mark Twain stories. One of the sketches in the volume is said to be based on the life of Leon Condol's great-grandmother, a woman who endured enslavement, family separation and reunion, and who eventually worked for Mark Twain at Quarry Farm in Elmira, NY. Much of the Condol papers, in fact, centers on the family's history of being enslaved in Maryland and Virginia, a period before Leon Washington Condol's birth in 1887. There is, however, some information on Condol's life with his family in upstate New York, New York City, and Washington, D.C.


  • 1809-1972

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


1.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Leon Washington Condol papers are composed of family photographs and materials associated with a rare Mark Twain collection of sketches.

Condol's heritage is the focus of the collection, and the collection documents the family’s history as African American people in the United States from 1809 until 1972. With few exceptions, the materials he has collected and donated center around his family's early history as enslaved people in Maryland and Virginia and their gradual migration north in the nineteenth century. Apart from Condol and his wife, Virginia, the materials highlight the story of his great-grandmother, Mary Ann Cord.

"Auntie" Cord's life story as an enslaved person, her separation from her children, surprising reunion with her youngest son, and eventual employment with the Samuel L. Clemens family was captured by Clemens in his sketch entitled "A True Story. Related Word For Word As I Heard It." A rare copy of the collection of sketches, entitled Sketches Old and New (1875), autographed by the author, was handed down through the family and is included in the collection.


Leon Washington Condol, an African American man, was born on January 6, 1887, the son of William Henry and Louise Washington Condol in Elmira, New York. The oldest of two sons, Condol grew up in Elmira. He later worked in New York City for a representative of a French cloth manufacturing firm (possibly Victor Galaup Inc.). He joined the Navy in 1913, serving throughout the First World War as a cook. During 1917 and 1918, Condol served on the U.S.S. Agamemnon and the U.S.S. Wilhelmina, naval transport ships that carried thousands of troops from New York to France. In 1914, Condol married Marie Erienne Stent, a dressmaker from Charleston, SC, with whom he had two children, Louise (1915-1998) and Willfred (1917-1920). After his divorce from Stent, Condol was employed again in New York City between 1924 and 1927, this time as a valet, cook and general houseman to Robert Angles. Around 1930, he worked as a servant in the home of Henry Ufford, a stockbroker living in Montclair, NJ. Condol moved to Washington, D.C. in the early 1930s and married Virginia Lewis Callaway, a graduate of Howard University and great niece of the Banks family from Baltimore, on October 31, 1931. In Washington, D.C., he was employed by the Freedman's Hospital as chief storekeeper from the time of his marriage to his retirement, while Virginia Callaway Condol worked as a public school teacher. The Condols moved to Elmira, NY, around 1953 and remained there through the 1960s. Leon W. Condol died October 22, 1986, while living in a retirement home in Olney, MD.


This collection is organized as six series:

Series 1
Family Documents
Series 2
Newspaper clippings
Series 3
Photographic Material
Series 4
Series 5
Oral Histories
Series 6

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Leon Washington Condol papers were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by Mr. and Mrs. Leon Condol in February 1986, after they were made aware of the University's interest in the material through solicitations carried out by Professors Emory Evans and J. Kirkpatrick Flack of the History Department. Dr. Flack donated additional materials in 2001.

Processing Information

The order of the collection was maintained as much as possible as received from Mr. Condol in 1986. All duplicates and materials not directly related to the collection were discarded. Photographs were separated and the remaining material sorted according to type and organized. The collection originally contained a copy of the Centennial issue of the Elmira Star- Gazette and Advertiser, from which relevant articles were clipped. A leather letter case, and picture frames for some of the photographs were discarded. All materials were placed in acid-free folders and labeled, reboxed and the guide was written. The volume of Twain's Sketches was removed from the collection and transferred to the Marylandia and Rare Books Department.

Guide to the Leon Washington Condol papers
Processed by Betsy Parkin.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742