Rev. Alfred Rives Shands, III, papers, 1832-2021

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator: Shands, Rev. Alfred Rives, III, 1928-2021

Title: Rev. Alfred Rives Shands, III, papers, 1832-2021

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Collections Department.

Size of Collection: 4.5 cubic feet and 2 ovsz. folders

Location Number: Mss. A S528a

Biographical Note

Al Shands

Rev. Alfred Rives Shands, III (1928-2021), known most often as “Al,” was an Episcopal priest, film producer, author, art collector, and philanthropist who lived in Louisville, Kentucky.

Al was born in Washington, D.C., to Dr. Alfred Rives Shands, Jr. (1899-1981) and Elizabeth Sheffer Prewitt Shands, sometimes called “Polly” (1898-1993), whose family was from Winchester, Kentucky. In 1926, Dr. Shands and Elizabeth met and married in Baltimore, Maryland, where both were working at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he as an orthopedic surgeon and she as a graduate nurse. The couple moved to Durham, North Carolina, where Dr. Shands worked as an associate professor of surgery at Duke University School of Medicine and where Al lived for the first years of his life. The family later moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where Dr. Shands became the first director of the Alfred I. Du Pont Institute on the Nemours estate, which specialized in treating children with disabilities. He served as director from 1940 until his retirement in 1969, except for a four-year period when he served as a colonel and chief orthopedic consultant for the Air Force. Al grew up in the family’s house on the Nemours estate, now called the “Shands House.”

In 1946, Al graduated from Woodberry Forest School in Virginia. He received a BA in English literature from Princeton and a master’s in divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary, where he was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1955. Throughout his life, Al preached at churches in Washington D.C., Michigan, and Louisville. In 1967, he met and married Mary Norton Ballard in Washington, D.C. They moved to Mary’s hometown of Louisville in 1970 and remained active in the Louisville cultural and philanthropic communities until their deaths.

In 1969, Al started Alfred Shands Productions, Inc., a documentary production company. Until 1983 he produced approximately 35 films, one of which, “Whose Child is This?”, earned him a Peabody award. He published two books: The Liturgical Movement and the Local Church (1958), Border Crossings (2000), and Rounding the Circle (2013); he was also one of the creators of the revised Book of Common Prayer (1979), now universally used in the Episcopal Church. In 1982, Al founded St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, also known as “House Church,” which met in congregants’ homes as a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky. At the same time, he was the vicar of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Harbor Springs, Michigan, where he and Mary had a summer home.

Al and Mary made substantial contributions to cultural and charitable institutions throughout their lives. Al was a board member of the Speed Art Museum, sat on the advisory board of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, was a member of New York’s Whitney National Committee, and sat on the Museum of Modern Art’s International Council. He and Mary were serious art collectors. Their home, known as “Great Meadows,” was specially designed by Mary’s cousin, architect David Morton, to house their art collection. In 2010, Al received the Kentucky Governor Awards in the Arts Milner Award for outstanding philanthropic contributions to the arts. He left his art collection to the Speed Art Museum upon his death. He also left behind the Great Meadows Foundation, a grant-giving foundation that supports artists.

Mary Shands

Mary Ballard Norton Shands (1930-2009) was born in Louisville to Jane Lewis Morton (1908-1988), an acclaimed painter and philanthropist, and George Washington Norton, III (1902-1964), who founded the radio franchise WAVE in Louisville. In 1964, after Mary’s father and brother, George IV, died in the same year in separate car accidents, she and her mother took over the running of WAVE. It operated under the name Orion Broadcasting and had stations in cities other than Louisville as well; the franchise was sold in the late 1980s. Mary Shands had three children by her first marriage to Woodford H. Dulaney: Jane, Robin, and Margaret. She met and married Al Shands after her divorce from Dulaney.

Mary created Foxhollow, a health and wellness spa, which her daughter and granddaughter later converted into Foxhollow Farm. She also helped establish what is now the Kentucky Museum of Arts and Crafts (KMAC).


Scope and Content Note

A collection of papers related to the life, work, and family of Alfred Shands, III (1928-2021), an Episcopal priest, film producer, author, art collector, and philanthropist who lived in Louisville.

Folders 1-19 contain correspondence. The collection includes some early correspondence by various members of Shands’s family, especially his mother’s side, the Prewitt family. Nineteenth and early 20th-century correspondents include Collin Prewitt, Hickman Prewitt, Julia H. Prewitt, David Prewitt, and others (folders 1-2). Other correspondence includes letters written to or from Al’s mother Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands, his father Dr. Alfred R. Shands, Jr., his cousin Martha Breckinridge, and family friend Jessica Ball Du Pont, with whom Al regularly corresponded. Most of the correspondence from the 1940s to 1990s is to or from Al while he was studying at Princeton and the Episcopal Theological Seminary, and later while he was starting out as a minister. Correspondence from the early 2000s on includes letters written to or from Al and Mary or just Mary, much of them concerning art collecting, Great Meadows, or Foxhollow.

Folders 20-105 contain Shands’s writings. These include sermons he delivered at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Louisville, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Chapel in Washington, D.C., St. Francis in the Fields in Harrods Creek, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and others (folders 20-61). There are also copies of eulogies, wedding homilies, ordination homilies, documentary scripts, lectures, articles, book reviews, speeches, and book manuscripts (folders 62-105). Most of these writings concern matters of theology and religion, but others are about Shands’s interest in history or art collecting.

Folders 106-123 contain material concerning Shands’s professional and philanthropic pursuits. These include awards and honors he received, his participation in cultural institutions, his art collection, the establishment of Great Meadows, and details about his charitable contributions.

Folders 124-136 contain personal material about Shands as well as material from his childhood, including schoolwork and early writings and drawings. Folders 134-136 include newspaper clippings and magazine articles profiling Shands and Mary.

Folders 137-164 contain material related to Shands’s family. These include his wife Mary Norton Shands (folders 137-138), his mother Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands (folders 139-145), his father Dr. Alfred Shands, Jr. (folders 146-151), his grandfather Aurelius R. Shands (folder 152), his mother-in-law Jane Morton Norton (folder 153), his mother’s cousin Elizabeth Prewitt Taylor (folder 154), and Jessie Ball Du Pont, a friend of the family (folder 155).

Oversized folder 165 contains awards and honors for Dr. Alfred Shands, Jr. Oversized folder 166 contains a diploma for Shands from Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, a 1967 issue of The Cathedral Age, in which Al published an article, a family tree workbook containing genealogical information about the Prewitts and other families, and a document dated 1854 titled “Fayette County, Kentucky, Herd Book containing the pedigrees of stock belonging to J. H. Sheffer.”

Relates to Alfred R. Shands, Jr. Photo Collection [023PC3]


Folder List

Box 1


Folder 1: Correspondence, 1857-1908 and undated

Folder 2: Correspondence, 1920-1929

Folder 3: Correspondence, 1930-1938

Folder 4: Correspondence, 1941-1950

Folder 5: Correspondence, 1951-1955

Folder 6: Correspondence, 1957-1969

Folder 7: Correspondence, 1981-1998

Folder 8: Correspondence, 2000-2002

Folder 9: Correspondence, 2003

Folder 10: Correspondence, 2004-2005

Folder 11: Correspondence, 2006

Folder 12: Correspondence, 2007

Folder 13: Correspondence, 2009

Folder 14: Correspondence, 2010-2013

Folder 15: Correspondence, 2015-2018

Folder 16: Correspondence, 2019

Folder 17: Correspondence, 2020-2021

Folder 18: Correspondence, undated

Folder 19: Correspondence and other material concerning world travel, 1986-2019



Folder 20: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 1977-1983

Folder 21: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 1984-1989

Folder 22: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, ca. 1980-1989

Folder 23: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 1990-1991

Folder 24: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 1992-1993

Folder 25: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 1994-1995

Folder 26: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 1996-1997

Folder 27: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 1999

Folder 28: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2000-2001

Folder 29: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2002-2003

Folder 30: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2004-2005

Folder 31: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2006-2007

Folder 32: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2008

Folder 33: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2009

Folder 34: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2010

Folder 35: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2011

Folder 36: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church newsletters/sermons, 2012-2015 and undated


Box 2

Writings, continued

Folder 37: St. Augustine’s Episcopal Chapel (Washington, D.C.) newsletters/sermons, 1963-1989

Folder 38: St. Francis in the Fields (Harrods Creek, Ky.) newsletters/sermons, 1982 and undated

Folder 39: Sermons, 1959-1984

Folder 40: Sermons, 1985-1986

Folder 41: Sermons, 1987

Folder 42: Sermons, 1988-1990

Folder 43: Sermons, 1991

Folder 44: Sermons, 1992

Folder 45: Sermons, 1993

Folder 46: Sermons, 1994

Folder 47: Sermons, 1995

Folder 48: Sermons, 1996

Folder 49: Sermons, 1997

Folder 50: Sermons, 1998

Folder 51: Sermons, 1999

Folder 52: Sermons, 2000-2001

Folder 53: Sermons, 2002-2003

Folder 54: Sermons, 2004

Folder 55: Sermons, 2006-2016

Folder 56: Good Friday sermons, undated

Folder 57: Sermons, undated, 1 of 5

Folder 58: Sermons, undated, 2 of 5

Folder 59: Sermons, undated, 3 of 5

Folder 60: Sermons, undated, 4 of 5

Folder 61: Sermons, undated, 5 of 5

Folder 62: Eulogies, 1993-2008

Folder 63: Eulogies, 2009-2019

Folder 64: Eulogies, undated


Box 3

Writings, continued

Folder 65: Wedding homilies and other material, 1990-2019 and undated

Folder 66: Ordination homilies and other material, 1987-2008 and undated

Folder 67: Sermons by others, 1976-1998

Folder 68: Writings in response to 9/11 attacks, 2001

Folder 69: “Appalachian Script” draft, undated

Folder 70: “Bread of the World” manuscript draft 1, undated

Folder 71: “Bread of the World” manuscript draft 2, undated

Folder 72: “First 30 Years of the Alfred I. Du Pont Institute” manuscript, undated

Folder 73: “Louisville 1977-1983” manuscript, undated

Folder 74: “Outside In: Letters to the Church” manuscript, undated

Folder 75: “Whatever Happened to the Liturgical Movement?” draft, undated

Folder 76: “Baroque” drafts, undated

Folder 77: “Contemporary Worship” drafts, undated

Folder 78: “Cranmer” drafts, undated

Folder 79: “Eastern” drafts, undated

Folder 80: “Fixed Place and Ceremonial West and Basilica” drafts, undated

Folder 81: “Jewish” drafts, undated

Folder 82: “Liturgy Sacred and Secular” drafts, undated

Folder 83: “Medieval” drafts, undated

Folder 84: “Post-Constantinian Offices and Church Year History and Time,” undated

Folder 85: “Reformation Continent” drafts, undated

Folder 86: “Renewal of Parish Worship” drafts, undated

Folder 87: “Rite and Baptistry First Century” drafts, undated

Folder 88: “Rite, Drama, and Symbol” drafts, undated

Folder 89: “Sacrifice” drafts, undated

Folder 90: “Worship in the 20th Century parts 1-4” drafts, undated

Folder 91: “First Century and Jewish, Agape Synaxis” drafts, undated

Folder 92: “Second and Third Century (Houte)” drafts, undated

Folder 93: “17th Century” drafts, undated

Folder 94: “19th Century” drafts, undated

Folder 95: Lectures, undated

Folder 96: Lectures and miscellaneous publications drafts, undated, 1 of 2

Folder 97: Lectures and miscellaneous publications drafts, undated, 2 of 2

Folder 98: Tower Hill School commencement speech and other material, 1941-1991

Folder 99: Louisville in the 1930s documentary scripts, undated

Folder 100: Book Reviews, 1997-2012 and undated

Folder 101: Art collecting/art museums writings/lectures, 2013 and undated

Folder 102: Publications on art, 1987 and undated

Folder 103: Publications on religion, 1968-2010

Folder 104: Rounding the Circle book, 2013

Folder 105: Border Crossing promotional/publication material, 2000-2001


Professional/Philanthropic Material

Folder 106: Alfred Shands Productions documentary list, 1980

Folder 107: Peabody Awards material, 1979

Folder 108: Governor’s Awards in the Arts material, 2010


Box 4

Professional/Philanthropic Material, continued

Folder 109: Book forwards, acceptance speeches, material written in Shands’s honor, undated

Folder 110: Art collecting/Shands collection material, 1989 and undated

Folder 111: Great Meadows exhibits and architect David Morton material, 2002-2013 and undated

Folder 112: Shands charitable contributions, 2017-2019

Folder 113: International Council of the Museum of Modern Art material, 1990-2019

Folder 114: International Council of the Museum of Modern Art member lists, 2006-2018

Folder 115: Peggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board meetings and other material, 2016-2021

Folder 116: International Council of Museums membership material, 2008-2019

Folder 117: Metropolitan Museum of Art membership material, 2017-2020

Folder 118: Donation of dresses to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2010

Folder 119: Nemours correspondence and fundraising committee material, 2009-2010

Folder 120: Nemours historical material, writings, etc., 1926-2010 and undated

Folder 121: Foxhollow material, 2002 and undated

Folder 122: Charles M. and Joan R. Taylor Foundation grant-giving/financial material, 1997-2016

Folder 123: Abbey at Gethsemani material, 1989-1993


Al Shands Personal Material

Folder 124: Personal documents and information, 1988-2021 and undated

Folder 125: Camp Mount Mitchell (Burnsville, N.C.) material, 1934-1935

Folder 126: Woodberry Forest School report cards and announcements, 1943-1945

Folder 127: Shands childhood drawings and writing exercises, undated

Folder 128: Shands schoolwork, 1935-1956 and undated

Folder 129: Shands early writings, 1948-1949

Folder 130: Shands early manuscript, undated

Folder 131: Shands Princeton senior thesis, 1950

Folder 132: Shands notebook, undated

Folder 133: Shands ordination certificate, 1955

Folder 134: Shands religious and documentary work clippings, 1954-2014 and undated

Folder 135: Shands collection/Great Meadows clippings/magazine articles, 1984-2017 and undated

Folder 136: Al and Mary Norton Shands various events clippings, 1967-2014


Family Material

Folder 137: Mary Norton Shands honors, 1994-2006

Folder 138: Mary Norton Shands Foxhollow clippings, 1994-2001

Folder 139: Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands material, 1924-1993 and undated

Folder 140: Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands notebook, 1924-1954

Folder 141: Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands diary/event calendar, 1934

Folder 142: Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands composition notebooks, 1933-1942 and undated

Folder 143: Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands notebook and loose pages, ca. 1991

Folder 144: Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands recipe books, undated, 1 of 2

Folder 145: Elizabeth “Polly” Sheffer Prewitt Shands recipe books, undated, 2 of 2


Box 5

Family Material, continued

Folder 146: Dr. Alfred Shands, Jr., correspondence concerning awards and honors, 1946-1969 and undated

Folder 147: Dr. Alfred Shands, Jr., awards and honors, 1913-1964

Folder 148: Dr. Alfred Shands, Jr., awards and honors, 1965-1972 and undated

Folder 149: Dr. Alfred Shands, Jr., clippings and pamphlets, 1926-1981 and undated

Folder 150: Dr. Alfred Shands, Jr., toast given at Al and Mary Shands’s wedding, 1967

Folder 151: Trip itinerary for “Dr. and Mrs. Alfred R. Shands, Jr., Mrs. Alfred I Du Pont” and others, 1951

Folder 152: Aurelius R. Shands material, 1895-1929

Folder 153: Jane Morton Norton biographical material, 1974-1989

Folder 154: Elizabeth Prewitt Taylor biography by Charles Taylor and other biographical material, 1960-1988

Folder 155: Jessie Ball Du Pont material, 1970

Folder 156: Estill family tree by Charles Taylor, undated

Folder 157: William Horner (1793-1853) genealogical material, diary transcript, and portrait information, 1955-2000

Folder 158: William Welsh family material, undated

Folder 159: Early family financial/business material, 1832-1865

Folder 160: Miscellaneous genealogical material, 1890-2000 and undated

Folder 161: Speed family picnic material, 1981

Folder 162: Church histories and programs, undated

Folder 163: Quotes, prayers, inspirational messages, undated

Folder 164: Miscellaneous material, undated


Oversized Folders

Folder 165: Dr. Alfred Shands, Jr., oversized awards and honors, 1912-1972 and undated

Folder 166: Miscellaneous oversized material, 1854-1967


Subject Headings

Alfred I. Du Pont Institute.

Alfred Shands Productions, Inc.

Art – Private Collections.

Art Patronage.

Camp Mount Mitchell (Burnsville, N.C.)

Children – Hospitals – Delaware – Wilmington.

COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-

Documentary films – Production and direction.

Du Pont, Jessie Ball, 1884-1970.

Episcopal Church.


Foxhollow (Louisville, Ky.)

Great Meadows (Louisville, Ky.)

Norton, Jane Morton, 1908-1988.

Prewitt family.

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.

Shands family.

Shands, Alfred Rives, Jr., 1899-1981.

Shands, Aurelius Rives, 1860-1941.

Shands, Elizabeth Sheffer Prewitt, 1898-1993.

Shands, Mary Norton, 1930-2009.

Sheffer family.

St. Augustine’s Episcopal Chapel (Washington, D.C.)

St. Clement’s Episcopal Church (Louisville, Ky.)

St. Francis in the Fields (Harrods Creek, Ky.)

St. John’s Episcopal Church (Harbor Springs, Mich.)

Taylor, Elizabeth Prewitt, 1899-1960.


Tower Hill School (Wilmington, Del.)


Woodberry Forest School (Woodberry, Va.)