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Shapiro (L. Dennis) Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: L. Dennis Shapiro collection
    Identifier/Call Number: mssShapiro
    Physical Description: 27 Linear Feet (21 flat boxes, 1 oversize flat box, 1 half document box)
    Date (inclusive): 1776-2015
    Abstract: This collection contains over 500 items of original material primarily from U.S. presidents George Washington to Barack Obama, collected and assembled by electronics engineer, inventor, and philanthropist L. Dennis Shapiro (1933-2021). The bulk of presidential material is for John Quincy Adams, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Warren G. Harding. The collection also contains material for cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, presidential spouses, and a small number of items relating to explorers, British politicians, and royalty. Material is primarily correspondence; the collection also contains documents, ephemera, photographs, and engraved portraits.
    Language of Material: Materials are mostly in English, with a small number of items in French.

    Conditions Governing Access

    RESTRICTED. Available with curatorial approval. Requires extended retrieval and delivery time.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. L. Dennis Shapiro collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    On deposit from L. Dennis and Susan R. Shapiro, December 2019, September 2020, January 2021.
    Nine Adams family items from original deposits gift of Susan R. Shapiro, January 2022 (Box 1, Folders 1-8; Box 21, Folder 2).
    Addenda gift of Susan R. Shapiro, February 2022 (Box 20, Folders 21-23; Box 23, Folder 10).

    Biographical / Historical

    L. Dennis Shapiro (1933-2021) was an electronics engineer, inventor, philanthropist, and collector of historic manuscripts. He graduated from MIT in electrical engineering and served in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s. Shapiro founded the company Aritech, which was sold to ADT in 1975, and was chair for 28 years and CEO for 10 years of Lifeline Systems, later acquired by Royal Philips Electronics. Along with his wife Susan R. Shapiro, a retired partner at the law firm Ropes & Gray, LLP, he founded the Shapiro Center for American History & Culture at The Huntington in 2019. The Shapiro Center was created to advance scholarship, knowledge, and understanding of American history and culture—especially of the early Republic and of the nation's founders and leaders. It also promotes use of The Huntington's library collections in this field.
    Brief Biographical / Historical notes for the creators or subjects in the L. Dennis Shapiro collection appear in the container list in the first entry for each individual or topic.

    Scope and Contents

    The L. Dennis Shapiro collection contains over 500 items of original material primarily from U.S. presidents George Washington to Barack Obama from 1776 to 2015. The bulk of presidential material is for John Quincy Adams, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Warren G. Harding. There are also a number of items for John Adams, James Monroe, Franklin Pierce, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Harry S. Truman. The remaining presidents have fewer than five items each. In addition, the collection contains material for various cabinet members, especially Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin; Supreme Court justices; several presidential spouses including Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and Eleanor Roosevelt; and a small number of items relating to famous explorers, British politicians, and royalty. Also present are 40 items, mostly correspondence, pertaining to American statesman and financier Bernard M. Baruch.
    Material is primarily correspondence; the collection also contains documents, ephemera, photographs, and engraved portraits. Most items in this collection have brief Scope and Contents notes at the item level.
    Items relating to John Quincy Adams cover a large timespan and mostly concern domestic politics and foreign relations. Several letters were written from St. Petersburg while serving as minister to Russia; many letters were written during his tenures as president and congressman. Several items relate to horticulture.
    Franklin D. Roosevelt material contains correspondence with lawyer Basil O'Connor and others, and nearly 100 letters between Roosevelt and Charles Engelhard Sr., from 1934 to 1942, primarily regarding monetary policy, gold and silver prices, and foreign events. Also present are several items relating to power, dams, and rural electrification including letters to Frank B. McNinch, chairman of the Federal Power Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. In addition, Roosevelt material includes notes written by him and by Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins that discuss plans for social security.
    Much of the Warren G. Harding correspondence is with attorney and postmaster (James) French Crow of Marion, Ohio concerning Ohio activities and Harding's properties there. Also present are Harding estate documents and a souvenir photo album of his 1923 Alaska tour.
    The bulk of Albert Gallatin's correspondence is from his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury from 1801 to 1814; many of these items pertain to maritime matters.
    The collection also contains several items relating to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, particularly to the cases of Thomas Sims and Shadrach Minkins, both fugitives from slavery who were captured in Boston. The material documents efforts by U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts Charles Devens Jr. to recover expenses incurred during the extradition of Sims and during prosecutions against those who were charged with helping Minkins escape from jail. Items include correspondence and notes signed by both presidents Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce, and two abstracts of compensation for the guards involved with lists of names and amounts owed.

    Processing Information

    The L. Dennis Shapiro collection was processed by Melissa Haley 2020-2021 as part of the American Presidential Papers Project. This is an artificial collection assembled by the collector over time. Some small groupings of material acquired together were retained as groups for provenance purposes during processing. Materials were rehoused and framed items were removed from their frames.
    Items marked autograph indicate the item is in the handwriting of the author of the letter or document. A docket generally refers to an item's label created at the time for filing purposes. Franking indicates the presence of an authorized signature for mailing purposes.
    The number of pages for each item is noted in parentheses in item-level Scope and Contents notes.
    In August 2022, Melissa Haley processed the addenda (gift of February 2022).


    This collection is arranged alphabetically by individual or subject.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Presidents -- United States
    Presidents -- United States -- Correspondence
    Engravings (prints) -- United States
    Letters (correspondence) -- 18th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century
    Photographs -- United States -- 20th century
    Adams, John, 1735-1826
    Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848
    Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965
    Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849
    Harding, Warren G. (Warren Gamaliel), 1865-1923
    Monroe, James, 1758-1831
    Pierce, Franklin, 1804-1869
    Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
    Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919
    Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930
    Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
    United States. Fugitive slave law (1850)