Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Archives related to: Garrett, John Work, 1872-1942

titleJohn Work Garrett papers: 1895-1942
repositoryJohns Hopkins University
collection titleCollection consists largely of correspondence and professional papers of American banker and diplomat, John Work Garrett. Included are items from Garrett's foreign service in Venezuela, Argentina, the Netherlands, and Italy. Other materials relate to political events, locally and internationally (1920-1940).

Also in the collection is extensive personal correspondence of Garrett and his wife, Alice, that describes personal friendships, travels, entertainments, and cultural interests. A small group of personal items includes financial records and materials related to relief for victims of the war in Europe, 1940-1945.

Historical information:

The following information was taken from John Work Garrett and His Library at Evergreen House, privately printed in Baltimore, MD, 1944: John Work Garrett, banker and diplomat, was born in 1872, the descendent of a prominent Baltimore family.

His great grandfather, Robert Garrett (1783-1857) had emigrated from Ireland and, after moving to Baltimore in 1820, founded the Robert Garrett & Sons business house. His grandfather, the original John Work Garrett (1820-1884), was President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and played an important role in the financial development of Baltimore.

His father, Thomas Harrison Garrett (1850-1888) ran the family business, and was an avid collector of books, coins, prints and Oriental rugs until his death in 1888 at the age of 38. Throughout his childhood, John Work Garrett lived in Baltimore at either Montibello (his grandfather's country home), or Evergreen, where his family had lived since 1876. Early on, he developed a passion for languages, books, and the arts, and became fascinated by ornithology and natural history. He also enjoyed outdoor activities and athletics.

Following his father's death, his mother, Alice Dickinson Whitridge Garrett, took him and his two brothers, Horatio and Robert, on a tour of Europe and the Near East. They traveled for nearly two years, and it was during this period that John Work Garrett began to develop the deep understanding of different peoples and cultures that was so influential in his later diplomatic career. Entering Princeton University in 1891, John Work Garrett was active in the Triangle Club, Glee Club and Mandolin Club. He was also a member of the Whig society and managed several sport teams. He graduated in 1895 with a B.S. degree.

Following graduation he was a member of the Princeton Geological Expedition to the Yellowstone Valley in which he served as the expedition's ornithologist. He spent the next four years traveling primarily in the western United States, while managing a cattle ranch in New Mexico. In addition to the cattle ranch, Garrett and some of his friends from Princeton founded the Hoadley, Turnbull and Company insurance firm in Phoenix, Arizona. Upon returning to Baltimore, Garrett was a member of the 1899 Johns Hopkins Medical School Mission to the Philippines. Later, he traveled through India, Java and the Far East.

Although a member of the Robert Garrett & Sons firm since 1896, John Work Garrett did not play an active role in the family business. He did however run the firm's banking connection until 1934. In 1901, John Work Garrett received his first appointment in the Diplomatic Service as Secretary to the American Legation at The Hague. This began a 32-year career in the Foreign Service during which John Work Garrett served in numerous important posts and Commissions.

The following is a brief synopsis of his career: Secretary, American Legation at the Hague, 1901-1903; Secretary, Netherlands and Luxembourg, 1903-1905; Second Secretary, American Embassy in Berlin, 1905-1908; First Secretary, American Embassy in Rome, 1908-1911; Envoy to Venezuela, December 15,1910 - November 1911; Envoy to Argentina, 1911-1914; Special Agent, Department of State, to assist American Ambassador in Paris, August 6, 1914- August 23, 1917; Special Agent in charge of German and Austro-Hungarian Civilian Prisoners of War, 1914-1917; Representative at Bordeaux, September 3 - December 9, 1914; Envoy to the Netherlands and Luxembourg, August 23, 1917 - August 1919; Chairman, Berne Commission on Prisoners of War, (Treaty signed November 11, 1918); Secretary-General, Conference on Limitation of Armaments, 1921-1922.

Garrett returned to Baltimore where he was interested in domestic politics. After an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination to the United States Senate in 1922, he retired to private life at Evergreen until President Herbert Hoover selected him to be Ambassador to Italy in 1929. Following his retirement from the Diplomatic Service in 1933, John Work Garrett returned to Baltimore and his estate at Evergreen.

Together with his wife Alice Warder Garrett, whom he had married in 1908, John Work Garrett made Evergreen a center of musical and intellectual gatherings. During this period, Garrett devoted his time to broadening his collections, especially his extensive library. John Work Garrett died in Baltimore in 1942.

Cite as:
[Name of folder or item], [Date], [Box number], [Folder number], John Work Garrett Papers, MS.GAR.019, The Evergreen Foundation (on deposit at the Johns Hopkins University).

extent40.0 Cubic feet 12 document boxes, 25 record center boxes, 5 half record center boxes, 3 oversized document boxes, 2 photo shoe boxes
formatsCorrespondence Personal papers Financial Records
accessPermission to access this collection must be requested in writing from the Sheridan Libraries' Special Collections Research Center and the Evergreen Foundation. This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact archives@lists.johnshopkins.edu for more information.
record linkhttp://old.library.jhu.edu/collections/specialcollections/manuscripts/msregisters/ms.gar.019-finding-aid.pdf
record sourcehttp://catalog.library.jhu.edu
finding aidUnpublished register available in the repository. Also available electronically.
acquisition informationThe papers of the owner of Evergreen House are part of the manuscript collections of The John Work Garrett Library at Evergreen.
updated05/12/2022 11:09:45
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