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Charles Wallace Collins papers

 Collection 0022-MDHC

Charles Wallace Collins (1879-1964) was a lawyer, writer, and librarian. During a long career in Washington, D.C., his positions included director of the Economic Section of the Legislative Reference Service at the Library of Congress, Librarian of the Supreme Court, General Counsel for the Bureau of the Budget, and Deputy Comptroller of the Currency. In addition, he was an authority on banking law and in his private law practice he served as counsel to many of the leading financial institutions and bank holding companies in the United States. His relationship with the Bank of America was particularly significant. Following his retirement in 1927, Collins devoted himself to restoring and renovating his home, an eighteenth-century estate known as "Harmony Hall," and other properties he owned in Prince George's County, MD. He also wrote several books and pamphlets expressing his views supporting "states' rights" and segregation. Collins's wife, Sue Spencer Collins (1895-1983) shared his interest in historic preservation, and enjoyed researching her family's genealogy. She was active in organizations such as the Colonial Dames and Daughters of the Confederacy, as well as social organizations such as the Washington Club. Her other interests included flower arrangement, fashion, and cooking. The Papers of Charles Wallace Collins consist of correspondence, clippings, essays, articles, pamphlets, and other publications generated or collected by Collins and his wife, Sue Spencer Collins. Areas of emphasis include the restoration of Harmony Hall and the daily maintenance of the farm, Collins' consulting relationships with banks, and his views on segregation and civil rights. Sue Spencer Collins' papers deal with domesticity; social activities; family; and her own genealogical research.


  • 1915-1972
  • Majority of material found within 1925-1970

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.


13.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The papers of Charles Wallace Collins cover the years 1915 to 1972 and consist of correspondence, clippings, essays, articles, pamphlets, and other publications collected by Collins and his wife, Sue Spencer Collins. Areas of emphasis include the restoration of Harmony Hall and the daily maintenance of the farm, his consulting relationships with a variety of banks nationwide during the 1930s, and his views on segregation and civil rights. Correspondents include the Giannini family that owned the Bank of America; regional banks, such as the First National Bank of Atlanta and the South Carolina National Bank; editors at publishing houses such as Little, Brown & Co.; antique dealers; and agricultural suppliers. Sue Spencer Collins's papers deal with domesticity; social activities, including a variety of women's groups such as The Washington Club; and her own genealogical research.


Charles Wallace Collins was born April 4, 1879, in Gallion, Hale County, Alabama, to Robert Wood Collins and Ann Bates (Allen) Collins. He graduated from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1899 with a B.S. in Agriculture and then spent two years reading law privately in Birmingham. He was admitted to the Alabama bar in 1901. He earned an M.A. in Archaeology from the University of Chicago in 1909 and briefly studied economics at Harvard from 1910 to 1911. He married Sue Steele Spencer in Gallion on July 12, 1933. Mrs. Collins was born August 13, 1895, to William Micajah Spencer and Bertha Gracey Steele.

Collins's professional activities included a private law practice and a number of positions in the Federal government. He directed the Economic Section of the Legislative Reference Service at the Library of Congress between 1918 and 1920, and in addition served as legal advisor to the select committees of the U.S. Senate and House from 1919 to 1920. From 1920 to 1921 he was Librarian of the Supreme Court and also Law Librarian for the U.S. Congress. He served as General Counsel for the Bureau of the Budget from 1921 to 1923, General Counsel in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency from 1923 to 1925, and Deputy Comptroller of the Currency from 1923 to 1927.

After 1927, Collins left the government to concentrate on his private law practice, his writing, and his consulting activities. He officially retired in 1947 but continued his relationship with several clients almost until his death. As an authority on banking law, Collins served as counsel to many leading American financial institutions and bank holding companies, of which the most prominent was the Bank of America. He also served as special counsel for the American Bankers Association in 1933.

Throughout his life, Collins devoted considerable time to writing. He authored books and articles on branch and rural banking, budget theory and practice, constitutional law, and states's rights. From 1920 to 1923, he served as a contributing editor to the Commercial and Financial Chronicle. His book Whither Solid South? a pro-segregation treatise published in 1947, rallied the Dixiecrat Party in the presidential election of 1948. Other significant works included "Plan for the National Budget System" (House Document No. 1006, 1918), Rural Banking Reform (1931), a pamphlet titled "The South Must Not Surrender" (1948), and The Race Integration Cases (1954).

For many years Collins's principal special interest was Harmony Hall, his home near Broad Creek in southern Prince George's County, Maryland. John Lane built the house sometime around 1723 for Mr. William Tyler. At that time, the estate was known as Battersea; the name Harmony Hall did not come into use until 1792, when brothers John and Walter Dulaney Addison lived there with their wives. The quartet had such a happy experience that they called the place Harmony Hall. The name found its way into legal records by 1850.

Charles Wallace Collins died at Harmony Hall on December 14, 1964, at the age of eighty-five. He left the house to the National Park Service, with the condition that his widow be permitted to live out her life there. It is unclear how long Sue Spencer Collins remained in Maryland after her husband's death. She died in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 28, 1983, at the age of eighty-seven.


The collection has been arranged into seven series:

Series 1
Professional Papers
Series 2
Series 3
Series 4
Series 5
Sue Spencer Collins
Series 6
Maps, Drawings, and Blueprints
Series 7

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The National Park Service donated the collection to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1985.

Related Material

The University of Maryland Libraries holds the following book relating to Harmony Hall:

  1. Sonderman, Robert. Archeology at Harmony Hall : exploring the late seventeenth-century frontier of Maryland, Washington, D.C. : Regional Archeology Program, National Park Service, National Capital Region, 1993. Call Number: UMCP HBK Maryland Room, National Trust Library Folio, F189.O97 A73 1993

Processing Information

When received from the National Park Service, the Collins papers were in poor condition and in complete disorder. The collection was gamma-irradiated to kill insects, mold, and bacteria that had accumulated while the papers were stored in an outbuilding at Harmony Hall. In 1987, documents relating to Harmony Hall were separated, placed in acid-free folders, and re-boxed in acid-free boxes. In 2002, the remainder of the collection was placed in acid-free folders. Metal fasteners were removed and replaced with plastic clips. The collection was separated into series first by document creator/recipient (Charles Wallace Collins or Sue Spencer Collins), then by the function for which the documents were used. Where accurate original folder headings existed, they were retained, and original folder divisions were also preserved. Photographs were separated, as were oversized items. Clippings relating to Charles Wallace Collins's career were photocopied on to acid-free paper and then discarded; other clippings were interleaved with acid-free paper.

Guide to the Charles Wallace Collins papers
Processed by Sarah Heim.
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.

Revision Statements

  • 2006-05: Reprocessed by Steven Bookman.
  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Jennie A. Levine.
  • 2017-06-05: Finding aid checked and verified following ArchivesSpace migration by Nancy Harrison Gage.
  • 2018-02-25: Finding aid reviewed and minor edits made by Caitlin Rizzo.
  • 2024-02-01: Kate Campbell re-inventoried Series 6 and updated the container information. Liz Caringola added these revisions to the online finding aid.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

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