University of Delaware Library

Shipley, Walter Penn, b. 1860.

Walter Penn Shipley papers


Descriptive Summary

Identification: MSS 608

Creator: Shipley, Walter Penn, b. 1860.

Title: Walter Penn Shipley papers

Inclusive Dates: 1879–1951

Extent: .3 linear feet (1 box)

Abstract: 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.

Language: Materials entirely in English.


MSS 608, Walter Penn Shipley papers, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes


Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library / Newark, Delaware 19717-5267 / Phone: 302-831-2229 / Fax: 302-831-6003 / URL:


Gift of Perrie Carrow, 2009.


Processed and encoded by Natalie Baur, September 2009.

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 is required 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 inThe 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.

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.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names
Shipley, Walter Penn, b. 1860.
Shipley family.
Capablanca, José Raúl, 1888-1942.
Topical Terms
Chess players--United States--History--20th century--Sources.
Chess periodicals--United States--History--20th century--Sources.
Correspondence chess--United States--History--20th century--Sources.
Geographic Names
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Form/Genre Terms
Black-and-white photographs.
Magazines (periodicals)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Personal Contributors
Shipley, Walter Penn, b. 1860.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 248 Shipley family papers

  • I. Walter Penn Shipley family, friends, and business materials
  • II. Chess

Detailed Contents List

Series I. Walter Penn Shipley family, friends, and business materials , 1879-1951

Clippings , 1918-1951; no date   [Box 1 F1]

Newspaper clippings of wedding announcements for W. P. Shipley’s children and grandchildren. Obituaries of son James and a son-in-law.

Photos , 1918-1939; no date   [Box 1 F2]

Includes family photos of W. P. Shipley and unidentified family members.

Correspondence , 1881-1941; no date   [Box 1 F3]

Includes correspondence between family, friends, and business contacts.

Deeds , 1879, 1884   [Box 1 F4]

Thomas Shipley is Walter Penn Shipley's father.

Includes one deed from 1879 regarding Thomas Shipley and another of unknown relation from 1884.

Series II. Chess , 1907-1942; no date

Magazines , 1907-1942   [Box 1 F5]

Includes various chess magazines from British Chess Magazine, American Chess Bulletin, and The Chess Review. Issues of American Chess Bulletin from 1942 contain an obituary for Walter Penn Shipley and other mentions of his death. Earlier magazines include information on Shipley’s involvement within American and international chess circles.

Photos, clippings, and correspondence , no date; 1938   [Box 1 F6]

Photos of Walter Penn Shipley playing chess and posing with other chess players, most notably the Cuban chess champion Jose Raul Capablanca. Some photos also appear in the chess magazines in this collection. Newspaper clipping from The Evening Bulletin detailing a chess match between Capablanca and his 24 opponents, one of whom was Shipley. Also includes two chessboard cards with stamps and annotations which Shipley used to play chess through the mail.