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J. Harry Shannon, The Rambler

Using the pen name “The Rambler,” J. Harry Shannon wrote hundreds of columns about the forgotten local history of Maryland, Virginia, and DC for the Washington Evening Star from 1912 to 1928. The J. Harry Shannon “Rambler” collection at the DC History Center includes approximately 1800 glass plate negatives of the people, churches, mills, monuments, and other locations featured in his columns.

Shannon and his wife Ellen lived at 4200 42nd Street, NW, which was built in 1925. According to his Washington Star obituary, Shannon suffered from a nervous collapse in 1922 and struggled with health issues thereafter. He had only recently built his new home with the intention of taking life easy in his declining years when he died at the age of 58 in 1928.

Shannon was born in Baltimore, MD, and raised in Anacostia. His columns and photos are an incredible resource for local historians, including Judith Beck Helm, who cited his column about the Murdock Mill ruins in her book, Tenleytown, DC: Country Village into City Neighborhood.

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