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Mullanphy-Clemens Family Manuscript Collection [DOC MSS 31]

Identifier: DOC MSS 31

Scope and Contents

The Mullanphy-Clemens Family Manuscript Collection provides a snapshot of early socioeconomic conditions in the St. Louis area as it passed from French and Spanish rule to American dominion in the first decades of the nineteenth century. The collection also serves as a window onto the world of several generations of prominent St. Louisans as they grew up with the city to attain secure positions of prestige if not always of continued unbounded wealth. The collection contains items dating from 1767 to 1928, with the bulk of the material covering the period from 1820 to 1900. Most of the material consists of legal documents--abstracts, certificates, court decisions, deeds, leases, mortgages, powers of attorney, petitions, etc.--dealing with property that formed part of the John Mullanphy estate. The Surveys Series, which contains plats and surveys of various lands pursuant to sales and claims, lawsuits, and the like, is closely allied to that of Legal Documents.

The Reports Series includes information on the disposition of the Mullanphy estate, while the Publications Series contains pamphlets related to various lawsuits over land claims in which Mullanphy may have had some interest.

The Correspondence Series, second largest in extent, includes family and business letters. Here is correspondence between James Clemens Jr. and his cousin Mary Jane Riddle, for whom he attempts to gain restitution from a husband who deserted her after looting her of her fortune; Jeremiah W. Clemens on his trip to the Middle East and Bryan M. Clemens on life on the Texas frontier and in California; Catherine Clemens Cates Frost on tensions between herself, her husband, and her son; and many accounts by Clemens children of their experiences at boarding schools in the United States and abroad. The Diaries Series offers details of the daily life and travels both at home and abroad of Helen I. Clemens and Jeremiah W. Clemens. A sizable collection of ephemera includes many pieces of memorabilia picked up by these two on their European trips. The Financial Records Series contains account books and loose documents that reveal, among other things, the daily household expenses of Helen I. Clemens, her income from rental property, and her expenditures while on her European tour. Also here are accounts, bills, receipts, promissory notes, etc. related to the personal and professional lives of James Clemens Jr., James Wolfe Clemens, and John Mullanphy.

Quite a few documents relate to the medical career of James Wolfe Clemens, thus affording insight into early medical thought and practice. The Essays Series contains his thesis for the degree of doctor of medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, while the Lectures and Lecture Notes Series consist of notes for talks Clemens either heard as a student or delivered as a professor. The Reports Series includes Clemens' assessment of conditions in Ward 11 of Sisters' Hospital in St. Louis along with his recommendations for improvements, as well as his study of a bloodstained vest supposed to have been worn by a murderer. One of the scrapbooks in the Scrapbooks Series contains clippings related to Clemens' tenure as City Health Officer.


  • 1767-1928


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Please contact the Saint Louis University Archives for details.


7.10 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection is organized into 18 series:  1. Architectural Plans; 2. Church Records; 3. Clippings; 4. Correspondence; 5. Diaries; 6. Drawing Books; 7. Ephemera; 8. Essays; 9. Financial Records; 10. Lectures; 11. Lecture Notes; 12. Legal Documents; 13. Notes; 14. Photographs; 15. Publications; 16. Reports; 17. Scrapbooks; 18. Surveys

Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mary C. Clemens

Physical Description

2,079 items other_unmapped

Other Descriptive Information

This material includes all of that previously housed in the Mary C. Clemens Collection. It was received at the Saint Louis University Library from Mary C. Clemens probably around 1929, indexed in the Manuscript Card File, and its contents listed in a typed register. In 1990 the collection was formally accessioned to the Saint Louis University Archives.

Mary Cornelia Clemens was a great-granddaughter of early St. Louis businessman and philanthropist John Mullanphy. Her mother Helen Isabella Clemens was a daughter of Mullanphy's daughter Elizabeth Mullanphy and her husband James Clemens Jr. Mary Clemens's father, James Wolfe Clemens, was himself a cousin of his wife. Mary Clemens preserved many papers pertaining to the holdings and disposition of the estate of John Mullanphy, which apparently came to her through her grandfather James Clemens Jr. 's administration of the Mullanphy property brought to him by his wife. Mary Clemens also kept a sizable group of documents left by her father James Wolfe Clemens, a practicing physician, City Health Officer for St. Louis, and teacher at the St. Louis Medical College during the late 1860s and 1870s. She preserved, too, much material related to her Clemens aunts, uncles, and cousins, who lived lives of privilege in St. Louis, Europe, and California during the last half of the nineteenth century.

The Mullanphy-Clemens Family Manuscript Collection thus offers a picture of socioeconomic conditions in the St. Louis area at the turn of the nineteenth century as it moved from French and Spanish to American rule. It also chronicles the social, business, religious, and domestic activities of prominent St. Louisans over three generations.

Mullanphy-Clemens Family Manuscript Collection [DOC MSS 31]DOC MSS 31
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Repository Details

Part of the Saint Louis University Archives Repository

Pius XII Memorial Library
3650 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis Missouri 63108 United States