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George Shiras III papers

Identifier: MSS-242

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence between Theodore Roosevelt and George Shiras III, on the conservation of wildlife, the Nature Faker Controversy between President Roosevelt and Rev. W.J. Long, the Roosevelt-Newett Libel Suit, Roosevelt's desire that Shiras write a book on Upper Peninsula wildlife, as well as correspondence relating to plans for Roosevelt Memorials and other miscellaneous letters. There are a number of handwritten personal letters from Mrs. Edith Kermit Roosevelt dating from 1928 to 1938. This collection also contains the contents of a letterbook, entitled "Correspondence between Theodore Roosevelt and George Shiras, 3rd with subjects in relations thereto. 1902-1919." This collection also contains drafts of a manuscript, entitled "Tentative Biographical Sketch of George Shiras 3rd" and a typewritten obituary for George Shiras 3rd. There is also a typewritten draft of a memoir written in first person identified as "Law, Lawmaking, and Politics."


  • 1896-1938
  • Majority of material found within 1902 - 1918


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the collection. Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the records of the George Shiras III papers must be obtained from the University Archivist. The University Archivist may be reached by phone at 906-227-1225, or e-mail, The University Archivist may also be reached in Room 126 of the Learning Resource Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI.


George Shiras III was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, on January 1, 1859, to George Shiras, Jr. and Lillie E. Kennedy Shiras, both of Pittsburgh. George 3rd enrolled in Cornell University in 1877, after a year at the Phillips Exeter Academy and received his A.B degree in 1881. That same year he entered Yale Law School and received his LL.B. degree in 1883. In 1885, he married Frances P. White of Marquette, Michigan, and they would have two children, a son and a daughter. After graduating from Law School he joined his father’s Pittsburgh law firm and assumed control of the business in 1892 after George Jr. was appointed to the U. S. Supreme Court. George 3rd continued to practice law as a senior member of the Shiras and Dickey law firm until his retirement from law practice in 1904.

He was elected a member of the Pennsylvania legislature in 1889 and served until 1890. Although one of the youngest members of the Legislature, Shiras held a number of leadership positions including an appointment as the only novice member of the Judiciary General Committee, Chairman of Federal Relations, Secretary of Geological Survey, and served as a member on the Committee of Banks. After leaving the Legislature in 1890, he announced his candidacy for Pennsylvania’s 29th Congressional District. Shiras was elected and served in the 58th Congress from 1903 to 1905, choosing not to run for re-election in 1904. Near the end of his Congressional term, Shiras prepared and introduced the Migratory Bird Bill which would gain him an advocate in President Theodore Roosevelt.

Shiras' personal connection to the environment started at a young age and this love of the wild outdoors would impact his future as a world-renowned faunal naturalist and amateur photographer. In the summer of 1870 at the age of 11, Shiras would make the first of many camping, fishing, and hunting trips to Marquette, Michigan. Around 1889, he began experimenting with cameras in order to capture images of wildlife live and in their natural habitats. Shiras is recognized as the father of wildlife photography and was the first to advocate hunting wildlife with a camera in both daytime and nighttime. His photographic inventions were patented in the U. S. and other countries, then dedicated to free use by the public, preventing commercial exploitation. He was a steady contributor to National Geographic Magazine sharing photographs and tales of his many field trips to various locations throughout the United States and Canada. During one of his trips in 1908-1909, he discovered a new species of moose on the Upper Yellowstone River that was named Alces Americana Shirasi in his honor. After reading a National Geographic Magazine article in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote a letter to Shiras suggesting that he write a book on his experiences that would also include the photographs he had taken. This letter, the first of many, was the beginning of a personal friendship between George Shiras III and Theodore Roosevelt that would endure until the death of President Roosevelt in 1919.

Shiras resided permanently in Marquette, Michigan, following the sudden death of his wife Frances in September 1938. He died on March 24, 1942, in Marquette, Michigan. George Shiras III is interred at Park Cemetery in Marquette, Michigan, where he shares a plot with his wife Frances and their son George Shiras IV.


1 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject and divided into five series consisting of sixteen folders. Wherever possible Original Order was maintained.

Series I. Manuscripts (2 folders). This series is arranged by subject. File one contains two typewritten drafts of 28 pages, entitled "Tentative Biographical Sketch of George Shiras, 3rd"; a printed article, entitled "Tentative Biography of George Shiras 3rd, as Prepared for Who's-Who, 1940-41"; a document, entitled "The First and Last Meeting with Theodore Roosevelt" and 3 loose pages highlighting various events in the political life of George Shiras 3rd. These documents are written in the third person and contain handwritten notes and edits. The second file contains a 12-page typewritten document highlighting the life of George Shiras 3rd, entitled "George Shiras, 3d, Dies Here; Noted Naturalist, Wildlife Photographer." Handwritten in the upper right hand corner is a note that says, "Obituary from Marquette Daily Mining Journal Date of Month ? 1942."

Series II. Publications (2 folders). This series is arranged by subject. These folders contain two printed documents, "29th Congressional District. SHIRAS, vs. GRAHAM (Stone's Legatee.): GEORGE SHIRAS 3d, Citizens' Candidate for Congress, 29th District. Election Nov. 4th, 1902" and "An American Plan for the Promotion and Maintenance of International Peace: Summary and Revision of an Address Before the Rotary Club of Marquette, Michigan, August 10, 1924 by George Shiras, 3rd, an Honorary Member of the Club."

Series III. Letterbook (7 folders). This series is maintained in original order and separated into multiple parts using natural divisions. The documents in these folders are written in the third person and contain correspondence and conference information on the conservation of wildlife, the Nature Faker Controversy, the Roosevelt-Newett Libel Suit, Theodore Roosevelt's desire that Shiras write a book on Upper Peninsula wildlife, planning information for Roosevelt Memorials, and two appendices containing magazine and newspaper articles, photographs, and other supporting materials.

Series IV. Memoirs (1 folder). This series is maintained in original order. This series contains an original and a duplicate of a typewritten memoir written in the first person. These memoirs are divided into sections/chapters that are written in first person on Shiras' preparatory school, college years, law school experiences, entering law practice, entering politics, and various events throughout his life. This series also contains photographs of Theodore Roosevelt during his stay in Marquette, Michigan, during the Roosevelt-Newett Libel Suit, and newspaper and magazine clippings.

Series V. Correspondence (4 folders). This series is arranged by subject and the documents within the folders are arranged chronologically. The correspondence consists of letters between George Shiras III and Theodore Roosevelt between 1902 and 1918 and letters to George Shiras III from Mrs. Edith Kermit Roosevelt between 1928 and 1938. Also included in this series is correspondence from various people in regards to politics and conservation of wildlife.

Custodial History

This collection was transferred to the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives from the University of Pittsburgh Archives in March of 2011.
George Shiras III papers
Glenda K. Ward
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives Repository

Harden Learning Resources Center 126
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette 49855 United States
906-227-1333 (Fax)


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