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Collection of Richard Cutts Shannon Materials

Identifier: CAMS SHANNON-1

Scope and Contents

The Richard Cutts Shannon collection contains materials by and about Richard Cutts Shannon, Colby Class of 1862. Of note are many diaries Shannon kept throughout his life between 1862-1920, including his time as an aide-de-camp in the Civil War, a prisoner in Libby Prison, his voyage to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, his service as Secretary of the U.S. Legation in Brazil, as a U.S. Congressman, and an account of his tour around the world. This collection also contains photographs, artifacts (Shannon's riding gloves and saddlebag from the Civil War era), Shannon's accounts of college life prior to the Civil War and also of his time in military service, as well as a typescript by Colby College President Arthur Roberts at a special memorial service commemorating Shannon's life, held in 1921.


  • January 1862 - September 1920


Language of Materials

English, French, Spanish

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials to be used on site during regular Special Collections hours or by appointment. Photocopying or scanning may be possible at discretion of staff for nominal fee. Materials may be protected by copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Richard Cutts Shannon, Colby 1862, had a rich and interesting life. He served in the Civil War, traveled to Brazil and China, attended law school at age 44, served in the diplomatic core, and was a congressman from New York's 13th District. His war experiences and later life were recorded in a series of diaries, as well as summarized in unpublished reminiscences written in 1920.

Shortly after President Champlin closed the college in the ensuing excitement after the news of the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861, Shannon enlisted in Company "H" of the 5th Maine Regiment , Volunteer Infantry. He was made an aide-de-camp for General Slocum in March 1862, and was taken prisoner at Chancellorsville in May 1863. Shannon spent 18 days in Libby Prison in Richmond and recorded his diary entries on blank leaves of a book that he purchased while a prisoner. He was honorably discharged in 1866 and received the brevets of Major and Lieutenant Colonel in 1867.

Shannon funded the Shannon Physical Laboratory building on the old campus and was a generous donor to the Centennial Fund. He received an honorary degree from Colby in 1892. His diaries and papers were donated to the college by his nephew Richard C. Shannon, a member of Colby 's Class of 1899.


5.5 Linear Feet


The collection comprises diaries, correspondence, printed materials, photographs, artifacts, and clippings about Richard Cutts Shannon (Colby College Class of 1862), who served in the Civil War in the 5th Maine volunteer infantry regiment and as an aide-de-camp to General Slocum. Shannon was also appointed as a secretary to the US legation in Brazil; a diplomatic minister to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica; and was also a lawyer in New York, having received a degree in law from Columbia University.


Materials arranged in 8 series: Manuscripts, Correspondence, Photographs, Personal Documents, Biographical Materials, Printed Materials, Clippings, and Artifacts.

Physical Location

Located in Colbiana Sequence Box 41; Colbiana Oversized; Shannon Shelf, Chapman Room (diaries only); artifacts in Stack 4.

Custodial History

Materials acquired via gift from Richard Cutts Shannon II, Colby Class of 1899 (Shannon's nephew).

Finding Aid to the Collection of Richard Cutts Shannon Materials
Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Colby College Archives Repository

Special Collections & Archives (SC&A), located in Miller Library, is the college’s repository for historically and culturally -significant materials, including the college archives. Our fabulous materials range in date from the 12th to the 21st centuries and represent a wide range of formats. We fully support Colby’s academic program and innovative pedagogies through aspirational collection development, faculty and student engagement, teaching and exhibition.