Marr-McGee: Family History papers, 1914-1994

By Amber L. Moore, Project Archivist, Amistad Research Center

 “Working for Freedom: Documenting Civil Rights Organizations” is a collaborative project between Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, and The Robert W. Woodruff Library of Atlanta University Center to uncover and make available previously hidden collections documenting the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta and New Orleans. The project is administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Each organization regularly contributes blog posts about their progress.

For more information about the collection described in this post, please contact the Amistad Research Center, reference [at] amistadresearchcenter [dot] org

The Family History papers of the Marr-McGee Family papers contain both original and secondary materials documenting the genealogy of the African American and Caucasian branches of the Marr family of Virginia and New England, as well as, the McGee family. Warren Marr II, the unofficial family historian, thoroughly researched his paternal and maternal familial lines in attempts to shed light on his diverse background.  Marr’s great-great grandparents were John Quincy Marr, the first Confederate casualty of the Civil War and Eliza Nickens, his Cherokee mistress.

Above:  Undated image of John Quincy Marr.  Click to enlarge. Above:  Undated image of Eliza Nickens.  Click to enlarge.

In 1967, Warren published a volume titled, Genealogy of the Marr Family in the United States, registered it with the Library and Congress, and then circulated it throughout the Marr family.  Before Marr published his volume, many family members had known nothing about their genealogy.  The materials include a copy of Warren’s volume on the Marr family genealogy and family tree, as well as biographical information of family members.  Of particular note is Marr’s, The Marr Family: What Do We Know? (November 1987) which gives a brief summary of the genealogy of the Marr family of Virginia and New England.

Above:  Marr House, Warrenton, Virginia. Erected 1830. One of the show places of Warrenton.  Home of Captain John Quincy Marr.  Click to enlarge

Also included is Marr’s book, The McGee Family: Mid-1800 to 1994 which contains his recollections of old family history, data sheets from family members in 1986, and reprints of published biographical articles about the McGee family.  Family members were asked to complete biographical data sheets which asked for their names, their parent’s names, birthplace, educational background, employment experience, and organizational membership and honors.  The data sheets for nearly fifty McGee relatives are included in the materials. 

Above:  McGee Family before 1915. (Top, left to right) Charles, Ruth, Lewis, Antoinette, Grace. (Bottom) Charles Armstead, Gay Ruth, Richard.  Click to enlarge.

A full run of The Mars Exchange (1978-1985), a family newsletter started by Nancy Miller, is available and its purpose was to gather and distribute all Marrs family material (including all spellings of the surname).  The notes and clippings contain wedding announcements, samples of the tartans of Scottish clans, and sketches of the House of Mar [sic] Coat of Arms.  A brief outline of the McGee Family History secured from Gay Ruth Ankrum McGee (maternal grandmother) is also included, as well as, Warren Marr’s handwritten notes.

Of particular note are the papers and records of various Marr-McGee family members.  These materials include funeral programs, sermons, obituaries, the original marriage license (1915) of Marr’s parents, a handwritten autobiography of Warren Q. Marr, Sr., a copy of Warren Q. Marr, III’s manuscript, Dedicated to Women with Love (1982), among other items.  The Marr-McGee Family Papers are currently being processed as part of the Amistad Research Center’s Hidden Collections project funded by the Council of Library and Information Resources. The papers largely document the lives and careers of Warren Marr, II, his wife Carmel, and his sister Grace Marr Nugent.

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