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Francis M. Shearer collection

Identifier: L313

Scope and Contents

This collection contains legal documents, personal papers, receipts, genealogical information and photographs from the Shearer, Marshall, and English families, ranging from 1829 to 1974. The legal documents include warranty deeds, quitclaim deeds, and an abstract of title for property John and William Marion Shearer obtained in Indianapolis and Marion County. Other documents include Michael Shearer's tax receipts, a copy of his 1829 land grant, and copies of the wills of John Shearer and William A. Shearer. There is an extensive collection of cabinet card and carte-de-visite photographs of the Shearer, English, and Marshall families taken by a variety of photographers from Indianapolis other Indiana communities (circa 1870-1890s).

The collection also contains a variety of publications and includes the medical book, The Physical Life of Woman: Advise to the Maiden, Wife, and Mother by Geo. H. Napheys, A.M. M.D.(1870); a 1909 Shortridge High School annual; artist Harrison Fisher's illustrated book, A Garden of Girls (1910); and a book about World War I, The Battery Book: A History of Battery 'A' 306 F.A. (1921). Other items of note are paper currency from the Bank of Indiana, Bank of Clifton, Northern Bank of Kentucky and the United States "fractional currency" circulated in the 1800s; the February 5, 1878 marriage certificate of William Marion Shearer and Maggie English; William Arthur Shearer's World War I identification card and photographs of him from the war; and Audrey Marshall Shearer's poetry.


  • 1829-1974, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Francis Mathews Shearer was a descendent of early 19th-century settlers of Marion County, Indiana. His great-great-grandparents, Michael (1775-1854) and Elizabeth Knabb (1792-1882) Shearer settled in Marion County in 1827. The family farm was located at what is now 21st and Ritter in Indianapolis. Their son, John (1825-1903) married Mary Ann Johnson (1833-1920) in 1855 and they had a son named William Marion (1856-1939). He married Margaret Ellen English (1855-1910) in 1878 and they had 3 sons, Charles English (1881-1925 ), John Edwin (1883-1940), and William Albert (1890-1973). William Albert married Audrey Marshall (1891-1968) in 1913 and they were the parents of Francis M. Shearer (1915-2003).


Information within collection.

"Ex-Exec at national, Shearer Dead at 83." Lafayette Journal and Courier, July 21, 1973.

"John E. Shearer Dies Unexpectedly." Indianapolis Star, March 30, 1940.

"William M. Shearer, 82, Lifelong Resident, Dies." Indianapolis Star, May 27, 1939.


2 Cubic Feet (3 manuscript boxes, 2 small oversize boxes, 1 medium oversize )

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Family documents, 1829-1973, undated

Series 2: Publications, 1870-1974

Series 3: Family bibles, 1806-1877

Series 4: Family photographs, circa 1878-1940, undated

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Frank Shearer in 1976/03.


No further additions are expected.

Related Archival Material

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

OH247: Francis (Frank) M. Shearer oral history

OBD014: William Albert Shearer form drawings

OBE015: William Albert Shearer architectural drawings

V250: William Shearer account book, 1876-1909

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2016/07/29 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid created 2016/07/29 by Laura Eliason.
Francis M. Shearer collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.