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Mary Shaw Collection

 Collection — Container: MS 2863
Call Number: MS 2863

Scope and Contents

This collection contains 204 items, the majority of which are letters addressed to Mary Shaw, actress and suffragette, during the years 1882 to 1908. These letters focus mainly on planning professional and personal social engagements. News surrounding the theater community is also discussed. Letters from her business partner George Fawcett (1860-1939), outline his plans for their jointly owned theater company and its finances. In addition, there are 18 written letters by Shaw to her sister, Helen Strong. Among the subjects Shaw writes about are travel, women’s rights, and her career. Also included are manuscripts of plays, poems, playbills, newspaper clippings, and photographs.


  • 1899-1914
  • Majority of material found in -


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Shaw (1854-1914), was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 25, 1854, and grew up in the South End. She debuted on stage 1878 at the age of 24. Shaw appeared in several plays, among them A Drop of Poison in 1890 and Pudd’n-head Wilson, but it was her controversial roles in Henrik Ibsen’s Ghost and Hedda Gabler, and George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession that gained her notoriety. From 1883-1887, Shaw was a member of Madame Helena Modjeska company where she appeared in many Shakespeare plays. She also performed in many female suffragette plays. In addition to her efforts on stage, she also contributed to the American Suffragist movement and was active in both the Professional Women’s League and the Actors’ Equity Association. Mary Shaw died in New York City at the age of 60.


204.00 Items

Language of Materials



Arranged into four series:

Series 1 Correspondence

Series 2 Manuscripts

Series 4 Photographs

Series 4 Miscellaneous Material

Source of Acquisition


Processing Information

Finding aid written by Rare Books and Manuscripts staff.

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.
Mary Shaw Collection
Rare Books and Manuscripts Department staff. Updated by Jill Rupp, 2014.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2014-05: Updated by Jill Rupp, May  2014.

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

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Boston MA 02116 United States