The Shankland Museum and Library

Anne Shankland, UK

The Shankland Museum and Library is my very grand (and tongue-in-cheek) title for a small, but growing, collection of Shankland-related items which I am gradually amassing - in a humble set of plastic boxes!

Much of this material has been acquired via e-Bay, where I have been able to pick up (for very little money) a number of items relating in some way to the Shankland name. In most cases, the item is second-hand, such as the "Shankland Amusement Company" propelling pencil shown opposite. In other cases, though, the item concerned is brand-new and is produced to order. Up till now I have resisted the impulse to purchase such specially prepared items as "the Shankland clock" (see left), which is neither a genuine Shankland artefact of historical interest nor a potential source of information about Shanklands. (But - it's fun ...)

However, I have bought some items which are produced to-order. In particular, I have a number of print-outs of U.S. patent applications by individuals named Shankland, which offer a fascinating glimpse into the minds of the inventors submitting the patents. Two of these are concerned with the design of aircraft, specifically of a triplane, and were submitted in 1921 by a James L Shankland of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In contrast, a third patent application is for a horizontal arrow rest, enabling greater accuracy in archery, which was filed in 1965 by a Milford N Shankland of Kenosha, WI, who assigned half of the patent rights to John H Shankland, of Hinsdale, IL. A further patent application is by a Vern W Shankland, of Batavia, IL, this one being for a tie-down device for securing trucks, boats, trailers, etc. to prevent disturbance by high winds.

This last one is the only one of the three where I can identify the patent applicant and, as it were, assign him to a family group; he is a member of the "New York" branch of Shanklands (see "The Shanklands In America" also on this website.) The other two I cannot identify. If anyone can let me know the family to which these individuals belong, or indeed tell me more about any of these Shankland inventors, then I shall be delighted to learn it.


Another small item I have in my collection is much more identifiable, as it is the autograph of the outstanding sportsman, Bill Shankland, celebrated elsewhere on this website for, among other things, his Rugby career with Warrington Wolves. Looking as if it has been torn out of an autograph book, this scrap of paper bears the signatures of four celebrated golfers of the immediate post-WW2 period: Ken Bousfield, Dai Rees, Bill Shankland, and Charles Ward. The e-Bay listing for this item gave brief biographies of each of the players, the one for Bill Shankland describing him as "an accomplished swimmer, boxer and cricketer" and going on to describe his rugby career for Warrington, before describing his golf successes (and the fact that "from golfing exhibitions, Bill raised almost a million pounds for charity").


By far the largest part of the Shankland Museum and Library is its collection of books. We now have copies of all nine published books by Peter Shankland, a biography of whom (and a bibliography) are included on this website.

But there are many other Shankland books, by or about Shanklands, on an astonishingly wide range of topics. The Shankland Museum and Library has in it two seriously authoritative text-books, one of which, Modern Harbours, by Commander E.C. Shankland, R.N.R, published in Glasgow in 1926, is a surprisingly lively and interesting read. The other is in a very different vein, being Atomic and Nuclear Physics by Robert S Shankland, Ambrose Swasey Processor of Physics at Case Institute of Technology, published by Macmillan, New York. I can't claim to find this as interesting as the other books I have, largely because, regrettably, I don't understand too much of the subject matter.

A similar problem exists with another book I have, a small booklet which is clearly ex-library stock - in fact, apparently from the library of "Coleg Normal Bangor". It is one of a series called Cyfres y Dathlu, and is a biography of Thomas Shankland, of Bangor University, Wales, written by Mr. Merfyn Bassett, M.Sc. (This is of course the Thomas Shankland for whom the Shankland Library at Bangor is named.) And the reason why I can't read it is that - it's in Welsh!

No such difficulty exists with another book we have by a Welsh Shankland, called Rennie the Fox and written by Cuthbert H Shankland of Cardiff. There is no publication date but I would guess the book was published some time in the fifties or sixties. It is a charming story of a wild fox and his encounters with humans, both friends and foes, and of course with the hunt. The Author's foreword says, "This story is pure fiction. There is one true episode in it, and that is the merry dance a fox led the hounds of the Hambledon Hunt ... I acknowledge that I owe a great deal to the works of famous naturalists, in my efforts to obtain correct information".

Another Shankland who was clearly keenly interested in the natural world, in this case birds, was Frank N Shankland, of Ohio, who produced several slim volumes for children of notes on native American birds, with illustrations by Fern Bisel Peat. We have one of these books, called, simply, Birds, with eight lovely bird pictures, and eight matching pages of information on these birds written by Frank N Shankland. I believe that Frank N Shankland was the father of Robert S Shankland who wrote the Atomic Physics book. I confess that his book is much easier reading than that of his son!

We have another father / son relationship in another book I have acquired: this one is The Golfer's Stroke-Saving Handbook, by Craig Shankland, Dale Shankland, Dom Lupo, and Roy Benjamin. The two Shankland authors, Craig and Dale, are two of the sons of Bill Shankland, whose autograph I showed above, and in fact this book is itself autographed by Craig with an inscription to "Stu". Whoever Stu was, I am indebted to him for the book (purchased, like many others, from e-Bay) as the autograph plus book represent a doubly worthwhile acquisition for the Shankland Museum and Library.

In contrast to the sporting activities of Bill, Craig and Dale, we have a more literary taste in the work of Hugh Shankland, whose translations of Italian literature are represented in our collection by The Prettiest Love Letters in the World: Letters between Lucrezia Borgia and Pietro Bembo 1503 to 1519, which also contains a lengthy introduction by Hugh Shankland. To quote from the dustjacket, "'The prettiest love letters in the world', as Byron called them, record a brief but intense love affair, and subsequent friendship, between an ambitious poet of high Venetian background and a young political bride whose father, as Pope, wielded absolute power." It certainly gives a very different picture of Lucrezia Borgia from the one commonly held.


Some of the books in the Shankland Library do not appear to have any immediate connection with Shanklands. For instance, there is one rather plain-looking book called Full Harvest, by Charlotte Prentiss Browning, which does not have any apparent Shankland references - until one reads the list of Chapters, where the second one is entitled "The Shanklands come to Cooperstown".
Charlotte Prentiss was the great-granddaughter of Robert Shankland, the founder of the New York line of Shanklands; her parents were John Prentiss and Urilla Shankland. Her book of reminiscences was written in 1932 when she was 95 years old, so it ranges over almost a full century, from the 1930s right back to the 1830s, and even earlier when she recounts the family stories she heard as a child.

A similar book in scope, if not in style, is another autobiography called Some memories of a long life, 1854 - 1911, by Malvina Shanklin Harlan. Malvina Shanklin was the wife of John Marshall Harlan, the first Supreme Court Justice, who served on the Court from 1877 until 1911. Malvina was born in 1839 and died in 1916; the dates in the subtitle of Some Memories are for the year she met John (1854), and the year he died (1911). The memoir is full of anecdotes and insights about the Harlan family; politics in Indiana, Kentucky, and Washington D.C. in the pre- and post- Civil War period; religion; and, of course, the Supreme Court.

In total contrast to the foregoing, one of my more recent acquisitions comes back to the Welsh Shanklands and to love of nature (and is one of the very few books in my Shankland collection that I've bought new). This is The Practical Guide to Buying and Running a Smallholding in Wales, by Liz Shankland - published just this year. To quote the book cover itself, "Liz Shankland is a 'townie' who grew up in Merthyr Tydfil in the heavily industrialized south Wales valleys and had no prior knowledge of agriculture before taking on her first smallholding eight years ago. She has reared a wide range of livestock, and has recently ventured into breeding pedigree Tamworth pigs and competing at agricultural shows". What I personally found most interesting - as an Englishwoman - was the section on "Wales for incomers": why and how Wales is different from England.

Finally, I have to confess to ownership of two books of the kind that I always advise other people not to buy. These are the "Your name" books produced by various organisations that purport to tell you all about your name and your family history since the year dot. Generally they consist of several sections of general social history which may or may not relate to the name in question, plus a very few customised pages of specific data relating to the name.

In about 1991 or early 1992 we subscribed to The World Book of Shanklands published by Halbert's Family Heritage, an American organisation with a local address in Berkshire, England. This has the usual sections of general text on surname origins, migrations, coats of arms, and genealogy, plus a surprisingly comprehensive list of names and addresses of Shanklands worldwide. Amazingly enough, this did actually justify its purchase several years later, when I was able to use an address given in its directory to reunite a Shankland correspondent with her foster-mother with whom she had lost contact over the years. The joy this gave both people was ample recompense for the cost of the book!

The other book is one that I bought very recently, on impulse, and largely in order to find out for myself what other people might be reading! It is The Shankland name in history, published by Ancestry in association with For a price of about ten pounds, this also I think justified its purchase, since it is in fact quite a nice book, interspersing pages on social history with Ancestry's interesting statistics about the Shankland name and the people who bear it. Some of these facts are a bit questionable; for instance, it shows Breconshire as having the highest Shankland population in Wales, which surprised me a bit; I have not yet had the opportunity to check whether my own database bears this out. But it is a pretty, coffee-table-type book which I'm happy to leaf through from time to time.

Modest contents

So there you have it - the modest contents of our Shankland Museum and Library. I am still on the lookout for accessions, for anything that illustrates or informs on matters to do with the various Shankland family lines. I have a permanent search with e-Bay for Shankland memorabilia, and although our resources don't stretch too far we have been able, as you can see, to collect some worthwhile items for not much outlay.

But we still need information on the various Shanklands that are represented by these holdings. So if you have any family details on any of the people I have mentioned, please do contact us (the link is at the bottom of every page), and let us know about it. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Anne Shankland, January 2009