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Minnie Gresham Machen notebook

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0172

Scope and Contents

The collection is formed by the holographic notebook of Minnie Gresham Machen. It is one bound volume with entries dated, 1874- 1904. Although the notebook covers a span of thirty years, there are relatively few entries for that amount of time. The writings in the notebook deal largely with religious subjects, but there are references to Sidney Lanier.

The notebook begins with a lengthy description of a charismatic, religious service led by a minister named as Father Taylor, serving at the Seamen's Church in Boston, 1852. Two sermons of Father Taylor are recounted. This account is in the handwriting of someone other than Machen. Persons attending the service identified themselves as Harvard Law School students, close friends, and Virginians. It is likely that these early pages of the notebook were written by Minnie Gresham Machen's husband, Arthur Webster Machen (1827-1915), a lawyer whose birthplace was Virginia.

Following the church narrative are Minnie Machen's writings that include a few religious meditations and a family remembrance. Machen noted that one essay, "The Art of Self Control," was later published in The Central Presbyterian. Of interest are Machen's thoughts about Sidney Lanier. She copied into her notebook an extract from a letter written to Lanier's biographer, Edwin Mims. Machen referred to Lanier's difficulties in the Reconstruction period and his later proposal to offer a lecture series on Shakespeare for women (eventually given, 1878-1879). Machen's final entry in 1904, is a reflection on the nobility of poetry.


  • Creation: 1874-1904


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Mary Jones "Minnie" Gresham Machen (1849-1931) was a writer of religious literature. She was the daughter of John J. Gresham and Mary Edgeworth Baxter Gresham and, most likely, was born in Virginia. She married Arthur Webster Machen (1827-1915) who was born at Walney, Fairfax County, Virginia. Minnie and Arthur Webster Machen resided in Baltimore city where Arthur practiced law.

Minnie Machen contributed articles to The Southern Presbyterian, The Central Presbyterian, and published The Bible in Browning in 1903. She was acquainted with Sidney Lanier and Mary Day Lanier, his wife. Machen attended a series of Shakespeare lectures presented by Lanier at the Peabody Institute, 1878-1879. When Edwin Mims was researching his biography of Sidney Lanier, he asked Machen to record her reminiscences. Her impressions were used in Mim's published biography, Sidney Lanier (1905).

Minnie Machen was the mother of Arthur Webster Machen (1877-1950), a Baltimore lawyer; John Gresham Machen (1881-1937), a Presbyterian minister and religious writer; and Thomas Gresham Machen (1886-1975), a Baltimore architect. The three men received their undergraduate degrees at The Johns Hopkins University.

Source: Library of Congress, "Gresham Family Biographies," "Lewis H. Machen family papers,", accessed December 4, 2023.


0.167 Cubic Feet (1 volume)

Language of Materials



Minnie Gresham Machen (1849-1931) was a writer of religious literature in Baltimore, MD. The collection consists of a volume with entries dated 1874-1904 with relatively few entries. The writings in the notebook deal largely with religious subjects, but there are references to Sidney Lanier.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was given to the University by Rose Bradley Purves Machen, wife of Arthur W. Machen. Jr.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in August 1991.

Liz Beckman revised the Abstract, Scope and Content note, Biographical note, and Immediate Source of Acquisition in this finding aid in December 2023 to bring them into compliance with Johns Hopkins' guidelines for inclusive and conscientious description (2023). The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.

Minnie Gresham Machen notebook
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA