Papers of Harrison H. Dodge
Scope and Contents
The Papers of Harrison H. Dodge is a small collection of material created and compiled by Dodge and/or his family. Types of records include correspondence, articles, family trees, news clippings, photographs, and several objects. Most of the items pertain to Dodge’s time as Superintendent at Mount Vernon, however there are some personal family letters, genealogy information, and items regarding his work on a Library of Congress committee. Some genealogical records, mostly fragments and scraps of paper, may date as early as the 1770s, however the bulk of material in the collection dates from the 1880s to the 1930s. The earliest dated item in the collection is a Dodge family bible, c. 1816.
- Dodge, Harrison Howell, 1852-1937 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research during scheduled appointments. Researchers must complete the Washington Library’s Special Collections and Archives Registration Form before access is provided. The library reserves the right to restrict access to certain items for preservation purposes.
Conditions Governing Use
Material can be reproduced for study or personal use upon written approval from the Chief Librarian and Archivist.
Biographical / Historical
Harrison Howell Dodge was born on March 31, 1852 in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Columbian College, now George Washington University, in 1871 and began working for Jay Cooke & Co., a Wall Street banking house. He returned to Washington, D.C. in 1873 and worked on indexing the Congressional Record, and later in banking and finance with Riggs & Co. In 1875 he married Elizabeth Knowlton and the couple eventually had six children. Dodge was appointed the Superintendent of Mount Vernon by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in 1885 and stayed in this position until his death in 1937.
His numerous contributions and accomplishments for the preservation and restoration of Mount Vernon’s Mansion and grounds cannot be overstated. During his tenure, the size of the property owned by the MVLA doubled in acreage. Fire prevention and preservation of the Mansion were a major concern and led him to write the article “Fire Protection of the Home of Washington,” and to oversee the installation of electric lighting to replace kerosene lamps. Dodge oversaw every detail of work and maintenance to the buildings and grounds, as well as the supervision of all employees. The restoration of the Houdon bust, the building of a sea wall to prevent erosion, and research for the redevelopment of Washington’s gardens all took place during his tenure as Superintendent. In his book, Mount Vernon, Its Owner and Its Story, Dodge relates many of his favorite stories of famous visitors to the estate, memories of Regents and Vice Regents, and his knowledge of the Washington family.
Dodge suffered from several illnesses in his later years and finally succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage while at work on May 1, 1937. He was taken to the hospital where he died. He had been the Superintendent of Mount Vernon for 52 years, the longest term yet for that position.
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Language of Materials
This collection has been divided by format into four series. There was no pre-existing original order for the papers, so this was done mainly to facilitate housing and storage of like material. The records are described in alphabetical order by folder title. The series are:
Series 1. Papers Series 2. Photographs Series 3. Books Series 4. Scrapbook, Objects
The original donation included 31 books relating to George Washington and Mount Vernon, as well as copies of the MVLA Annual Reports and Minutes of the Council. Most of these were incorporated into the library’s general collection and series of duplicate Annual Reports and Minutes.
- Papers of Harrison H. Dodge
- Rebecca Baird, Archivist
- September 2018
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script