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Chapman-Southerland Collection (MS409)

Identifier: MS409

Content Description

This Collection contains roughly 55 letters. It includes letters written by or to Helen Mary Chapman, Helen Pearson Chapman, Arthur Leigh Southerland, and Robert Mitchell Weir along with other family and business letters.


  • 1878-1916


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been assigned to the Alexandria Library. Portions of materials may retain implied copyright and others may be fair use due to age. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Alexandria Library. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Alexandria Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical / Historical

Arthur Leigh Southerland (1872-1950) was the son of a newspaper printer in La Plata, Maryland, who became a railroad telegrapher during the turn of the 20th century. Helen Mary Chapman (1870- ) was born in Virginia and grew up on George Mason's Gunston land near Hallowing Point, VA, raised by farmers Thomas Foster Chapman and Virginia Alexander of the Alexandria founder's family. The two married in 1900, had two sons, Arthur Leigh Southerland, Jr. (1906-1950) and Thomas Chapman Southerland (1901-1967) and lived in Arlington, Virginia within the bounds of Alexandria County.

Helen Pearson Chapman (1876-1951) was the daughter of Maryland Democratic congressman Andrew Grant Chapman and the granddaughter of Whig congressman John Grant Chapman. She grew up, like Arthur Southerland, in La Platt, Maryland but seems to have spent time at the Washington Home for Incurables, either as a patient or worker. Helen Pearson Chapman was first cousins with Helen Mary Chapman, and also corresponded with Arthur, prior to his relationship with her cousin.

Research discovered two Helen Pearson Chapmans living in the same area. The daughter of Andrew Grant Chapman married William J. Conlyn and died in 1951. The other married Frederick Steven Wynn and died in 1922. The conclusion that Helen Pearson Chapman Conlyn was the person referred to in the letters was based on other letters by family members mentioned.


.21 Linear Feet (1 box)

.23 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The letters are arranged by correspondents among the folders. Folder 1 holds letters written between Helen Mary Chapman and Robert Mitchell Weir. Folder 2 contains the letters between Arthur Leigh Southerland and Helen Pearson Chapman. Folder 3 contains the letters between Arthur and Helen Mary Chapman. Folder 4 contains miscellaneous letters between various family members. Folder 5 contains assorted letters, mostly to Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Southerland, from various outside sources. Within each folder, the letters are arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Charles and Trish Blanton, 2018

Chapman-Southerland Collection
Gregory Pierce
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Local History and Special Collections Branch, Alexandria Library Repository

717 Queen Street
Alexandria VA 22314 United States