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Walter Penn Shipley papers

Identifier: MSS 0608

Scope and Content Note

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.


  • Creation: 1879-1951


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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,

Biographical Note

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.


.3 linear foot (1 box)


This collection contains materials related to Walter Penn Shipley, a Philadelphia lawyer and well-known amateur chess enthusiast of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Materials include photographs, magazines and newspaper articles of Shipley’s chess activities as well as photographs, correspondence, and newspaper clippings relating to Walter Penn Shipley, his family, and his friends.


Gift of Perrie Carrow, 2009.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0248 Shipley family papers

Shelving Summary

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes


Processed and encoded by Natalie Baur, September 2009.

Finding aid for Walter Penn Shipley papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2009 September 24
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA