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Reynolds-McBride family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Reynolds-McBride

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Reynolds Family series contains letters between the members of the Reynolds family in Manchester, England, and their relatives in Chicago. Letters from Mary Reynolds (neé O'Toole) to her son, Laurence, in Chicago were dictated to her daughter Mary Ann or son William, and portray the mental and social struggles of an Irish immigrant family attempting to build a life and succeed economically in often harsh conditions. William and Mary Ann Reynolds also maintained a correspondence with the Laurence Reynolds family, particularly with James W. and William P. with whom William developed close relationships. Also included are letters and postcards sent home by James W. Reynolds while visiting Manchester in 1894, and also when he was handling the estate of William Reynolds in 1934, estate papers of William Reynolds, and a few letters from O'Toole family members who settled in the White Oak Springs, Wisconsin.

The Anita McBride materials pertain primarily to her writing and include correspondence with publishers, drafts of short stories, two issues of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in which she published stories, and the manuscript for "Chicago Cop" an unpublished "as-told-to" memoir of retired police detective Ed Carmody. Also contains few letters from Lawrence J. McBride to Anita prior to their marriage, and diaries kept from 1972 to 1999 which detail Anita McBride's return to school, her daily life with family and friends, and her struggles as a writer.


  • Creation: 1866-2000



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Reynolds-McBride family papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Reynolds-McBride fmily ppers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of the Reynolds Family

Irish family who emigrated to Manchester, England, and whose descendants settled in the Chicago area.

Patrick Reynolds was a native of Mohill, County Leitrim, Ireland. He married Mary O'Toole in 1830 and they had nine children, six of whom survived into adulthood, Laurence, John, Peter, Mary Ann, Patrick, and William. Patrick Reynolds died in 1849 at age 39 in the midst of the Great Famine. Within months of his death, his wife Mary emigrated with the children to Manchester, England, where there was a significant Irish immigrant population. The family subsisted at first, but each of the children eventually found work in various industrial fields, and the family's financial situation slowly improved. In 1873, the youngest son, William, who had been working as a dyeworker, started his own dyeworking and dry cleaning business. His mother Mary, sister Mary Ann, and brother Patrick all worked in the shop, and by 1878, Reynolds Dyers and Drycleaners was a successful enterprise which had expanded to several more locations in the Manchester area. Mary Ann, Patrick, and William lived with and supported their mother throughout their lives (none married or had children). Mary Reynolds died in 1895.

Meanwhile around 1860, Mary Reynolds' son Laurence emigrated to the United States. He married Mary Ann Kavanagh, another Irish immigrant, and they settled in the South Side of Chicago in 1865. Laurence Reynolds was employed for a time at the Chicago and Rock Island Rail Road shops, but was periodically out of work, and the Manchester Reynolds's often provided financial support for his growing family. Laurence and Mary had six children, James W., Mary E., Thomas, John, Joseph, and William P. Laurence Reynolds died in 1898, and it is unclear how the family was supported financially after this point. In 1894 son James was sent to Manchester to learn some solid business skills from his successful uncle, William Reynolds. James Reynolds eventually became in accountant and went back to Manchester to settle William Reynolds' estate after his death in 1934. The estate and businesses were liquidated as William Reynolds had no direct heirs.

Anita McBride was the daughter of Laurence and Mary Ann Reynolds's youngest son William P. Reynolds and his wife, Jane. McBride was born in 1920, grew up in Chicago, and married Lawrence J. McBride around 1945. They made their home in Orland Park, Illinois. She raised five children, and returned to school in the 1970s to become a therapist. She worked briefly in social work and then in the 1980s turned to writing short stories in the crime genre. She published two stories in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 1984 and 1987. At some point in the 1990s she met retired Chicago police detective Ed Carmody who was involved in the controversial 1969 raid on the home of Black Panther Fred Hampton. For several years the two worked on an "as-told-to" type memoir of Carmody called "Chicago Cop" but were unable to find a publisher. In 1999, with Anita's help, her son, the historian Lawrence W. McBride, published a collection of the Reynolds family letters under the Irish Narratives series on Cork University Press. Anita McBride passed away in 2001.


4.5 Linear Feet (11 boxes)


Correspondence of the Reynolds family who emigrated from Ireland to Manchester, England in 1849, and their descendants who settled in the Chicago area. Collection contains significant material of one of these descendants, Anita McBride, who was an aspiring writer. Her materials include drafts of short stories, papers pertaining to an unpublished "as-told-to" memoir of retired police detective Ed Carmody called "Chicago Cop," and diaries spanning 1972 to 1999.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Reynolds Family, 1866-1987
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Anita McBride Materials, 1943-2000
Boxes 3-11

Collection Stack Location

1 31 7


Gift, Lawrence W. McBride, 2003.

Processed by

Lisa Janssen, 2010.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Reynolds-McBride family papers, 1866-2000
Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States