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Adalaide G. Shields Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Shields

Scope and Content of the Collection

Handwritten letters in poetic format, along with clippings and other memorabilia, with transcript of the letters at the end.

The annual New Years letters from Thomas J. Shields to his wife Adalaide G. Shields talk about his love and affection for his wife and family, and detail what's going on in their lives as well as world events, such as the Great Depression and World War II. Memorabilia includes newspaper clippings from Sydney Justin Harris and others, inspirational quotations, and a photograph and business card of Thomas J. Shields. There is also a letter from and clippings about Monsignor Patrick T. Brennan, who was killed in North Korea in 1959 while acting as a missionary there.

The transcript, entitled "New Year's Letters to Adalaide," includes a biographical introduction, annotations to some of the poems giving explanatory context, a transcription of William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis" (one of Thomas J. Shields's favorite poems), and a biography of Thomas C. Shields.


  • Creation: 1936-2010



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Adalaide G. Shields Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Adalaide G. Shields Papers 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.

Biography of Adalaide G. Shields and the Shields Family

Chicago family.

Adelaide Genevieve McElligott and Thomas James Shields were both born in 1907. They were married on Apr. 17, 1937. Before their marriage, Thomas J. Shields began to write an annual poem to Adalaide on New Year's Eve or New Year's day in the form of a letter, a practice he kept up until his death in 1949 from leukemia. Adalaide Shields kept these letters, along with clippings and other memorabilia, in a scrapbook entitled "My Memories."

According to their son, Thomas C. Shields (1941-), who transcribed the poems / letters and provided biographical context in his 2010 book (see folder 27), "The letters are addressed to 'Adalaide,' my Mom's name on their marriage license. Her birth record in Cook County, Illinois, lists her name as 'Adelaide.' According to my Mom, when she was in grade school, there was another girl in school who was unpopular and who also had the name Adelaide. My Mom changed the spelling of her own name to distinguish herself from the other girl. She kept that spelling into her adult life. My Dad 'thought it was terrible' because she had been named 'Adelaide' when she was born. After my Dad died, my Mom changed the spelling of her name back to 'Adelaide.'" Adelaide/Adalaide passed away in 1991.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Contents of a scrapbook, entitled "My Memories," compiled by Adalaide G. Shields. The material includes New Year's letters, in the form of poetry, written to Adalaide (name changed from Adelaide) by her husband Thomas J. Shields and miscellaneous clippings, which she kept with the letters in the scrapbook. The collection also includes an annotated publication by Thomas C. Shields, the son of Adalaide and Thomas J., which provides biographical information and notes explaining the context of the letters.


Materials arranged in original order of the scrapbook, with Thomas C. Shields's transcript at the end.

Collection Stack Location

1 38 1


Gift of Thomas C. Shields, 2015.

Processed by

Elizabeth McKinley, 2015.

Inventory of the Adalaide G. Shields Papers, 1936-2010
Alison Hinderliter
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