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Ritchie-Harrison Papers

Identifier: 01/Mss. 65 R51

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Papers, 1807-1938, but mainly 1830-1870, of the Ritchie and Harrison families. Includes letters, documents and a diary of members of the family of Thomas Ritchie, his wife Isabella (Foushee) Ritchie and ten of their twelve children of Richmond, Va., "Brandon," Prince George County, Va. and Washington, D.C.

There are letters, 1847-1848, of Dr. Robert Ruffin Ritchie in Mexico and letters, 1849-1860, of George Ritchie while serving in the United States Navy. Many prominent nineteenth century Virginians are mentioned in the letters. Some concern the actress Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt Ritchie and others reflect conditions during the Civil War.

The collection also includes professional papers of Thomas Ritchie, chiefly letters, 1845-1851, written to him as editor of the Union, the official organ of the Democratic Party. Topics covered include the slavery issue; the annexation of Texas; military and political aspects of the Mexican War; internal improvements; the Wilmot Proviso; the Compromise of 1850; Oregon; and the presidential elections of 1844-1848. The mechanics of publishing a newspaper and Ritchie's problems as Congressional printer are also reflected.

Folders 1-312 are a part of Southern Women and their Families in the 19th Century Papers and Diaries Series C Reels 8 and 9 in Swem Library’s microforms area, call number HQ1438 .V5 S68.


  • Creation: 1807-1938
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1830-1870


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical Information:

Thomas Ritchie was born in Tappahannock, Essex County, Va. on 5 November 1778. He unsuccessfully studied law and medicine, then read politics and economics. After his health failed, he set up a bookstore in Richmond. Under sponsorship of Spncer Roane and Thomas Jefferson, Ritchie began publishing the Richmond Enquirer in 1804 which he continued for forty-one years. From 1845 until 1851, he edited the Washington Union, an organ of the Polk administration. He died 3 July 1854. Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki:


6.50 Linear Feet

Arrangement of Materials:

The collection is divided into two series: series I are the family papers of the Ritchie and Harrison families; and series II are the professional papers of Thomas Ritchie while editor of the Washington Union.

Physical Characteristics or Technical Requirements:

When available, microfilm, photocopies, digital surrogates, or other reproductions must be used in place of original documents.

Acquisition Information:


Related Materials:

Additional Thomas Ritchie Papers are in the Library of Congress.

Physical Description

856 items

Guide to the Ritchie-Harrison Papers
Finding Aid Authors: Special Collections Staff.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository