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Maher Family Collection

Identifier: MSS-005

Scope and Contents

The Maher Family Collection is divided into four separate series: S1. Correspondence, S2. Autographs, S3. Photographs and Drawings, and S4. Miscellaneous. Because of the fragility and value of many of the items, the Correspondence and Autograph series are followed by an alphabetical listing of the materials that are stored in the locked cabinets in the vault. Therefore, the researcher should also consult this part of the finding aid when searching for a particular item. Also, three of the autographs are oversized and are listed in a section titled "Autographs/Oversized Cabinet, Drawer 1 at the end of this series.

The first series, S1. Correspondence, consists primarily of letters written to, or collected by, William H. Maher, between 1863 and 1906. These letters were either written to him personally or to his company, Maher & Grosh Cutlery Company. Two letters are addressed to Anne (Kelsey) Maher, William Maher's wife and Amy Grace Maher's mother. There are also letters written to Amy G. Maher, mostly solicited from literary figures in the 1890s. The letters are arranged alphabetically using the names of the recipients are subheadings. The original criterion for the preservation of these letters appears to have been the celebrity of the letter writers. William H. Maher, as president of the Young Men’s Club of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, in 1866, attempted to engage several prominent individuals as lecturers. Mostly negative, replies were written by Horace Greeley, P. T. Barnum, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Agassiz, and others. Later correspondence consists of acknowledgments from Ohio Congressmen and governors and from authors with whom Maher had contact as a reviewer for the Blade. Of note are two autographed poems: “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1889) and “Xmas Greeting” by James Whitcomb Riley (1896). In a letter to Maher & Grosh Cutlery Company, for a large order of knives, the writer Jack London announces his intention to use them as trade goods on a seven-year cruise around the world.

The series S2. Autographs, contains a collection of signed letters and autographs of Revolutionary and Colonial figures, United States Presidents, Civil War generals, and others. These are arranged alphabetically by the name of the signer. Probably the most significant is a letter from James Madison, then Secretary of State, to the American minister in France, Robert R. Livingston, in which Madison gives instructions for negotiations with the French. An autograph album contains signatures of Colonial New England ministers, including two bookplates of the 17th-century Rhode Island Baptist John Clarke, and of congressmen of the first half of the nineteenth century. Someone living in Maine may have assembled this album. S3. Photographs and Drawings, contains photographs of Amy G. Maher and of others. It also contains a pencil drawing of Miss Maher done in 1921. The Olive A. Colton Collection should be consulted for related material. The final series, S4. Miscellaneous, contains additional material on the life of Amy G. Maher. Of particular note is an executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointing Miss Maher to the Social Security Board. Here the researcher will also find a copy of a book by Amy G. Maher entitled Littlebrook. Since this collection is a highly selective group of letters, it is not possible to reconstruct the activities of William H. Maher or Amy G Maher in full. Researchers interested in the Independent Party, in Toledo banking, or in Progressivism, will find only a few items of interest.


  • 1757-1938

Conditions Governing Access

“Collection is open for research. Materials may be accessed by request at the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections on the fifth floor of the William S. Carlson Library on the main campus of the University of Toledo. Materials do not circulate.”

Conditions Governing Use

In most cases, the Canaday Center does not own the copyright and literary rights to items in its collections; it is the responsibility of the researcher to adhere to U.S. Copyright and Fair Use laws, including seeking permission from the copyright holder and payment of any royalty fees, in the reproduction and use of archival materials.

Providing copies or scans does not constitute a license to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form.

Biographical / Historical

William H. Maher 1846 - born in Thompsonville, Connecticut 1866 - president of Young Men’s Club, Windsor Locks, Conn. c.1867 - came to Toledo, worked as clerk 1870 - member of firm later known as C. Gerber & Co. 1874-75 - in Springfield, Mass., and South Dartmouth, Mass. 1877 - with Emil Grosh, established Maher & Grosh, a wholesale hardware and cutlery house in Toledo 1886 - an organizer of the Toledo Natural Gas Company 1888 - an organizer and vice-president of Union Savings Bank 1894 - co-founded the Independent Party 1913 - died in Toledo Anne (Kelsey) Maher c. 1840 - born in East River, Connecticut before 1872 - schoolteacher in Madison, Conn. 1872 - came to Toledo with husband William H. Maher 1919 - died in Toledo Amy Grace Maher 1883 - born in Toledo, Ohio 1906 - graduated from Smith College 1909 - delegate to White House Conference on Child Welfare 1911 - helped establish the first open-air school for tubercular children in Toledo 1916 - founded the Toledo Consumers’ League; president until 1937 1920 - chairman of Ohio Council on Women and Children in Industry; first chairman of Ohio League of Women Voters 1921 - first president of League of Women Voters of Toledo 1938 - appointed by President Roosevelt as technical adviser in the Social Security Board 1965 - died in Toledo


0.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Maher Family Collection, 1737-1938
Paul Gifford, December 1985; Marlo A. Kitchen, August 2002; last updated April, 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections Repository

2801 West Bancroft Street
William S. Carlson Library, Fifth Floor
Toledo Ohio 43606 United States