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Shivell Family, Jane Reece Collection

Identifier: MS-437

Scope and Contents

The collection contains both documents and photographs. Articles about Paul Shivell note his contributions to poetry, and a 1916 letter to Shivell from poet Robert Frost congratulated him on his 1915 book, mentioning two poems specifically for merit.

Photographs in the collection are primarily the work of noted Dayton photographer Jane Reece. A friend of the Shivell family, portraits and other studies follow the Shivell family through several decades, containing both formal portraits of Paul Shivell, silhouettes of Paul and Gertrude Shivell, and several portraits of their youngest daughter, Virginia Shivell, at variety of ages. There are also two glass plate negatives, as well as an original print of Reece’s photograph of Matilda Dunbar, mother of local Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Also included are reference prints of other photographs of the Shivells from MS-151, the Jane Reece Collection.


  • Creation: 1911-1944


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biography of Paul Shivell

Paul Shivell was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on September 25, 1874, the son of Edwin and Effie (Iddings) Shivell. His family came to the Dayton area where Paul attended school in both Springfield and Dayton before entering Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He returned from school to Dayton after just one year because of the death of his mother, eventually owning and operating Pleasant Hill farm and his own Stillwater Press. He married Gertrude Wolf in 1897, and they had three children: Arthur (1898-1989), Edith (1900-1906), and Virginia (1908-1965). Shivell and his wife were both quite active in the social and cultural activities of Dayton.

As Larry Sizer noted, Paul Shivell is “the other poet from Dayton named Paul” ( Like Paul Laurence Dunbar, Shivell worked briefly at the Chicago World’s Fair as a guide. Shivell spent time in San Antonio, Texas, with his mother who was recuperating from tuberculosis; spent time out west working as a cowboy; and eventually ended up in New York City, before settling into writing as a full-time career, publishing many of his works through his own Stillwater Press.

Around 1965, Paul Shivell relocated to California, where he passed away near Los Angeles on October 11, 1968.


1 linear feet (1 half-size document case and 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



This collection highlights the work and family of Dayton poet, Paul Shivell. An accomplished poet published in the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, Shivell was recognized for his pastoral poems which were published in several books and collections. Included in the collection are several original portraits by noted Dayton photographer Jane Reece, who was a close family friend of the Shivells and who took portraits of them throughout several decades. Other documents note the Shivells’ activities in Dayton society and the arts. Of special interest is the 1916 letter to Shivell from Robert Frost, complimenting him on his recent publication, and a print of one of Jane Reece’s photographs of Matilda Dunbar, mother of Paul Laurence Dunbar.


This collection is arranged into one series.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The collection contains glass plate negatives which are fragile and require special handling.

Custodial History

After leaving the Shivell family, these materials passed into the possession of Marie Nellie (Bretz) Markle, 1916-1968, a lifelong Daytonian who was an active musician and music teacher. Marie was also interested in poetry, and through this interest she became acquainted with the Dayton poet Paul Shivell and his family, whom she visited during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Marie assisted Paul and his son Arthur with packing up belongings selected for transport Paul’s move to California about 1965. Some items not wanted were given to Marie in thanks for her assistance, and those items are now included in this collection. Following Marie’s death in 1968, the materials passed into the possession of her son, Herbert Van Markle, who initiated the donation in 2010.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Herbert Van Markle in four accessions from 2010-2012.

Related Materials

MS-151: Jane Reece Photographs

MS-185: Richard Fullerton, Jane Reece Collection

MS-193: Jane Reece, Schwarz Collection

SC-74: Jane Reece Studio Collection

Related Materials

The following published books of poetry by Paul Shivell are available in the Special Collections and Archives reading room collection:

Poems and Fragments (2012 Reprint. Originally published: Springfield, Ohio: Hosterman, 1896). PS3537.H92 P6 2012z Favorite Selections from Published Poems (Dayton, Ohio, 1973) PS3537.H92 A17 Selections from Published Poems (Dayton, Ohio: J.J. Scruby, 1944) PS3537.H92 A6 1944 Stillwater Pastorals and Other Poems, with a prefatory note by Bliss Perry (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915) PS3537.H92 S6 1915 Stillwater Valley Pastorals (Pleasant Hill, Ohio: J. L. Rector, 1908) PS3537.H92 S67 Ashes of Roses (Dayton, Ohio: United Brethren Publishing House, 1898) PS3537.H92 A7 1898

Roz Young, a well-known columnist for the Dayton Daily News, wrote a column about Shivell that appeared in the paper on July 19, 2003; a copy of that article is available online through

Separated Materials

Several large photographic prints and the Dunbar Society certificate are located is Oversize Location 88 File 10. Books of poetry written by Paul Shivell are listed in the library catalog and available in the Archives reading room.

Processing Information

Finding aid written by Lynda Phillips Kachurek, 2012. Revised by Lisa Rickey, May 2016.

Guide to the Shivell Family, Jane Reece Collection (MS-437)
Lynda Phillips Kachurek
2016 May 26
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2016 May 26: Custodial history added by Lisa Rickey, May 2016.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA