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Charles Mason Remey papers

Identifier: MS-0375

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Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 154 bound volumes, spanning 1836-1940, all written and arranged by architect, lecturer, and author, Charles Mason Remey. In the volumes are personal reminiscences, clippings, photographs, memorabilia, biographical accounts of Mason and Remey family members, and a historical record of the Baha'i faith. The volumes are in the form of carbon typescript and are designated "Copy 18." The bulk of the collection is formed by 119 volumes (1903-1940) of Remey's personal diaries, entitled "Reminiscences and Letters." Here are copies of letters, photographs, architectural studies, genealogy, travel accounts, and clippings. The diaries offer a full account of his personal life and his devotion to the Baha'i faith that were often inseparable. His pilgrimages to sacred places began in 1909 when he traveled to Israel, Persia [Iran], and Syria. Photographs complement the narration and capture the spirit of his travels. Remey's writings include a comprehensive history of the Baha'i Movement (Volumes 65-79) and are closely related to his published volumes. Of interest too are the more personal records of his daily life in Washington, D.C. during the 1930s. Remey's family background and private income afforded him a particular position in Washington society, a position defined by the standards of the period. He recorded a description of his house and furnishings at 2440 Massachusetts Avenue, his daily entertainments, and social interactions with friends. Photographs, clippings from society pages of the period, calling cards, notes, and other memorabilia attached in the diaries are further examples of custom and social life in Washington during the 1930s. The last of the reminiscences (volume 117-119) describe his brief, tragic marriage to Gertrude Heim Klemm Mason. The collection also includes Remey's biographies of his mother, father, and maternal grandfather. The biographies are similar in form and binding to the "Reminiscences and Letters." The pages are carbon typescript and along with Remey's narrative are photographs, clippings, facsimiles of documents, and genealogical data. There are 12 volumes of "The Life and Letters of Charles Mason, Chief Justice of Iowa." The biography begins in 1836 with a journey west via the Erie Canal and Great Lakes to Iowa, recording Mason's life in Burlington, Iowa and Washington, D.C. The diaries provide a running commentary on the political, economical and social life of the the last half of the nineteenth century. Transcripts of Mason's temperance addresses are included. There are 12 volumes of "Life and Letters of Mary Josephine Mason Remey." The biography includes a description of her childhood in Iowa, her experiences during the Civil War, her life in Portsmouth Va., and Washington D.C. Much of the narrative is in the form of letters written and received from her father, husband, and her son, Charles Mason Remey. There are 10 volumes of "Life and Letters of Rear Admiral George Collier Remey." The biography contains records of his travels and naval service including activities in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection, and Boxer Rebellion in China.. A related collection of Remey Family papers is held at the Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, 4 East University Parkway, Baltimore, MD 21218. In the Archives is a bound volume of letters from Bishop Pinckney (Bishop of D.C. 1870s) written to Josephine Mason Remey. The volume has the original letters and Remey's typed transcripts.


  • Creation: 1836-1940
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1903-1940


Conditions Governing Access

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

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

Charles Mason Remey was an architect, author, and a religious leader of the Baha'i faith. He was born in Burlington, Iowa, May 15, 1874, the son of Rear Admiral George Collier and Mary Josephine Mason Remey. Remey's mother was the daughter of Charles Mason, a former chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court.

Remey was trained as an architect, having studied at Cornell University (1893-1896) and the Ecole des Arts in Paris (1896-1903). He combined a career in architecture with his interest in the Baha'i faith. During his lifetime, Remey made a special study of oriental architecture, and he was appointed to design Baha'i temples at Mt. Carmel, Israel: Teheran, Iran; Kampala, Africa; and Sidney, Australia. Remey traveled widely to lecture in the interests of the Baha'i Movement, and he was the author of many published volumes on the history and beliefs of the Baha'is.

During the 1930s, Remey lived in Washington, D.C. where he enjoyed an active social life and devoted much of his time to his writings. As a young man, Remey began recording events and observations in a series of diaries and memoirs, a practice that he continued with dedication for most of his life. He compiled separate biographical records of his mother, Mary Josephine Mason Remey (1845-1938); his father, George Collier Remey (1848-1928); and his grandfather, Charles Mason (1804- 1882). Remey's diaries numbered over one hundred volumes and included both personal information and research that formed the basis of many of his published works on the Baha'i faith.

Around 1940, Remey arranged to have copies of his personal diaries and family histories bound and reproduced and to have the copies deposited in various libraries in the United States and Europe. He specified that his memoirs were to be sealed until 1995.

Charles Mason Remey died in 1974. His last years were lived in Florence, Italy.


13.75 Cubic Feet (11 record center cartons)

Language of Materials



Charles Mason Remey was an architect, author, and a religious leader of the Baha'i faith. He was born in Burlington, Iowa, May 15, 1874. The collection consists of 154 bound volumes, spanning 1836-1940. In the volumes are personal reminiscences, clippings, photographs, memorabilia, biographical accounts of Mason and Remey family members, and a historical record of the Baha'i faith.


The collection was given to the University by Charles Mason Remey in 1940. At that time, Remey's personal diaries were restricted. They were opened for research in 1995.

Related Materials

It is known that Remey produced numerous copies of these same volumes and duplicates are included in the collections of the New York Public Library, the University of PA, Stanford University, Yale University, and Cornell. The originals may be filed in the Iowa State Historical Department, Des Moines, Iowa.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in June 1995.

Charles Mason Remey papers
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