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Mary W. Stewart papers

 Collection 0289-MDHC

Mary W. Stewart was the postmistress of Oxford, Maryland, from 1877 to 1940. The collection consists of correspondence to and from Mary Stewart and her family, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia relating to her tenure as postmistress. It also includes a blueprint of Mary Stewart's home and post office in Oxford, Maryland.


  • 1902-1941
  • Majority of material found within 1932-1940

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.


0.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Mary W. Stewart papers date from 1902 to 1941, with the bulk of the material dating between 1930 and 1932, and consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, official documents, memorabilia, fan mail, and newsletters relating to the life and career of Stewart, who was postmistress of Oxford, Talbot County, Maryland, from 1877 to 1940. It also includes a blueprint of the Oxford post office, which Mary Stewart built as an addition to her private home. Correspondents include William H. Boyce, T. Alan Goldsborough, Phillips Lee Goldsborough, Robert G. Houston, Howard W. Jackson, James M. Mead, George L. Radcliffe, Millard E. Tydings, and David J. Ward. The bulk of the collection relates to the controversy surrounding Stewart's reappointment as postmistress in 1931.


Mary Washington Matilda Stewart was born on November 19, 1857 in Oxford, Talbot County, Maryland. Her parents were Matilda and James Stewart. Known locally as "Mollie," she was appointed postmistress of Oxford in the spring of 1877 after the death of her father, who previously held the position of postmaster. Sometime after her confirmation, Mary Stewart built an addition on her home that served as the Oxford post office.

At the completion of her term in 1930, the Republican County Committee of Talbot County recommended that a Republican be appointed to the position of postmaster instead of Mary Stewart, resulting in a political controversy that lasted until President Hoover confirmed her reappointment in 1931. Senators Millard E. Tydings and Phillips Lee Goldsborough of Maryland were strong supporters of Stewart and spoke on her behalf to the U.S. Senate, helping to ensure her reappointment.

When Mary Stewart retired in 1940, she was the oldest postmistress in America and had the second longest continuous service record in the nation.

Mary W. Stewart never married; she died in 1946 at age 88.


The collection is organized in four series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence
  2. Series 2: Newspaper Clippings
  3. Series 3: Blueprint
  4. Series 4: Memorabilia

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Mary W. Stewart papers from Charles Apfelbaum in April 1999.

Existence and Location of Copies

Series 3, Blueprint, is available at in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.

Processing Information

The letters were placed in acid-free folders and stored in an acid-free box. Newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper and originals discarded. The blueprint was flattened and removed to a mapcase.

Guide to the Mary W. Stewart papers
Processed by Megan Smith and Jennie A. Levine, April 2006
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