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Walter Penn Shipley papers


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Walter Penn Shipley was born on June 20, 1860. He practiced law in Philadelphia during his entire professional life and resided in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Shipley had a lifelong interest in chess, competing at the amateur level and writing for many chess-related publications.

Walter Penn Shipley attended Haverford College prior to graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1883. He studied law with P. Pemberton Morris before being admitted to the bar in 1883. After working with his father for five years, he joined with Effingham B. Morris and George Vaux, Jr. to form the firm Morris, Shipley, and Vaux in 1888. Following the death of both his law partners, Walter Shipley continued his general law practice independently until his own retirement in 1927.

Shipley had a lifelong interest in chess. He wrote the chess column in

The Philadelphia Inquirer for 34 years, co- authored The History of Chess in Philadelphia , and won numerous city and state tournaments as an amateur player. In addition to his chess interests, Walter Penn Shipley was a director for the John C. Winston Company, a member of the Friends Meeting house at Green and Coulter streets, treasurer for the Germantown Preparative Meeting of Friends, and patron of the Home of Aged and Infirm Colored Persons.

Walter Shipley married Anne Emlen on October 17, 1879. They had three sons: Thomas Emlen Shipley (b. 1890); James Emlen Shipley (b. 1894); and Walter Penn Shipley, Jr. (b. 1897). On February 17, 1942, at the age of 81, Walter Penn Shipley died at his home in Germantown where he had lived most of his life.

“Walter P. Shipley, Expert on Chess”(obituary),New York Times, February 18, 1942, p. 19, section 3. Additional biographical information derived from the collection.

The materials in this collection relate to Walter Penn Shipley, a Philadelphia lawyer and amateur chess enthusiast active in the late 19th century until his death in 1942. The Walter Penn Shipley papers include materials relating to Shipley’s business acquaintances, friends, and family, as well as his chess activities.

Series I. includes materials relating to Shipley’s business acquaintances, friends, and family. Photographs include family portraits of Shipley, his children, and his grandchildren. Correspondence includes letters to friends about miscellaneous topics and letters of condolence from friends and business acquaintances to the Shipley family after the deaths of Walter Penn Shipley and Shipley’s son James Shipley. Newspaper clippings relating to family events such as marriages and deaths are also included. Also in this series are a deed relating to Walter Penn Shipley’s father, Thomas Shipley, and a deed with unknown relation to the Shipley family.

Series II. contains photographs, magazines, and correspondence relating to Shipley’s chess activities. Included in this area of the collection are issues of chess magazines dating from 1907-1942, the latter containing obituaries and memorials in honor of Shipley’s contributions to the game of chess. The collection includes two paper game boards used in correspondence chess, a form of long-distance chess of which Shipley was an enthusiast. Photographs include Shipley playing chess and posing with other chess players, most notably the Cuban chess champion José Raúl Capablanca.

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Gift of Perrie Carrow, 2009.

Processed and encoded by Natalie Baur, September 2009.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2009 September 24
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Clippings, 1918-1951; no date.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Newspaper clippings of wedding announcements for W. P. Shipley’s children and grandchildren. Obituaries of son James and a son-in-law.

Photos, 1918-1939; no date.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Includes family photos of W. P. Shipley and unidentified family members.

Correspondence, 1881-1941; no date.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence between family, friends, and business contacts.

Deeds, 1879, 1884.
Box 1 Folder F4
Scope and Contents

Includes one deed from 1879 regarding Thomas Shipley and another of unknown relation from 1884.

Magazines, 1907-1942.
Box 1 Folder F5
Scope and Contents

Includes various chess magazines from

British Chess Magazine , American Chess Bulletin , and The Chess Review . Issues of American Chess Bulletin from 1942 contain an obituary for Walter Penn Shipley and other mentions of his death. Earlier magazines include information on Shipley’s involvement within American and international chess circles.
Photos, clippings, and correspondence, no date; 1938.
Box 1 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Photos of Walter Penn Shipley playing chess and posing with other chess players, most notably the Cuban chess champion Jose Raul Capablanca. Some photos also appear in the chess magazines in this collection. Newspaper clipping from

The Evening Bulletin detailing a chess match between Capablanca and his 24 opponents, one of whom was Shipley. Also includes two chessboard cards with stamps and annotations which Shipley used to play chess through the mail.

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