Finding Aids | St. Mary's College of Maryland Archives

John Hanson Briscoe papers

Table of Contents

Summary Information
Biographical History
Scope and Contents
Administrative Information
Related Materials
Collection Inventory

Summary Information

St. Mary's College of Maryland Archives
John Hanson Briscoe papers
circa 1974 -- 1983
0.4 Linear feet 1 box
Judge John Hanson Briscoe was a Maryland politician and lawyer who served in the Maryland House of Delegates (1962-1979) and as the Circuit Court judge of St. Mary's County (1986-2002); his papers include speeches that he gave between circa 1974 and 1983.

Preferred Citation

[item description], MSS 025 Judge John Hanson Briscoe, Box [number] Folder [number], St. Mary's College of Maryland Archives.

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Biographical History

Judge John Hanson Briscoe (1934-2014) was a Maryland politician and lawyer known for serving as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates (1962-1979); Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates (1973-1979); and Circuit Court judge of St. Mary's County (1986-2002).

Born on April 10, 1934 in Leonardtown, Maryland, to John Henry Thomas Briscoe, an attorney, and Hilda Maddox Briscoe, a former nurse, Briscoe graduated from St. Mary's Academy in 1952; received his AB from Mount St. Mary's University in 1956; and LLB from the University of Baltimore in 1960. He passed his Maryland Bar examination in 1960 and practiced law in St. Mary's County for several years.

Briscoe was voted into the Maryland House of Delegates in 1962; he later served as Speaker of the House from 1973 until 1979. During his tenure, Briscoe was a member or chair of numerous committees, including the Chesapeake Bay and Tributaries committee; Environmental Matters committee, Legislative Policy committee; the Natural Resources committee; and the Ways and Means committee. In addition to supporting civil rights, environmental, property tax, and abortion legislation, Briscoe was also involved in the preservation or establishment of numerous parks (e.g. Point Lookout).

Briscoe retired from the Maryland House of Delegates in 1979. After several years of practicing law in Lexington Park, Maryland, and serving as a registered lobbyist in Annapolis, Maryland, Briscoe was appointed as St. Mary's Circuit Court judge in 1986. He held that position until his retirement in 2002.

In addition to his professional positions, Briscoe was the president of several organizations, including Historic Sotterley Plantation and Historic St. Mary's Commission. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Center for Civic Education; the Advisory Board of the Chesapeake Bay Field Lab; and the Board of Review for the Department of Natural Resources. Briscoe was also a member of several organizations, including the Maryland State Bar Association; St. Mary's County Bar Association; and the Maryland Heritage Commission.

Briscoe was married twice, first to Sylvia Weiss and--after their divorce--to Bonnie Sue Brandt in (circa 1985). He had five children.

Briscoe passed away in Hollywood, Maryland, on January 1, 2014.


“Briscoe,” St. Mary’s County Library, accessed September 12, 2018,

Frederick N. Rasmussen, “Judge John Hanson Briscoe, House Speaker,” The Baltimore Sun, January 6, 2014,

“John Hanson Briscoe (1934-2014),”, accessed September 12, 2018,

Megan McDonough, “John Hanson Briscoe, Former Speaker of the Maryland House and Circuit Court Judge, Dies,” Washington Post, January 6, 2014,

Samuel Baldwin, “The John Hanson Briscoe Historical Project,” Baldwin, Briscoe, and Steinmetz, accessed September 12, 2018,

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Scope and Contents

The Judge John Hanson Briscoe papers contain speeches given by Judge Briscoe; publications; correspondence; one article; and one list. The materials are dated from circa 1974 to 1983.

One significant organization in this collection is the Maryland General Assembly.

Significant topics in this collection include the state of Maryland’s budget, economic policies, and overall economy; property taxes; and legislative process.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

St. Mary's College of Maryland Archives

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open without restriction.


Further accruals from the family are expected.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

First set of papers (speech files), donated by the family of Judge Briscoe, August, 2018.

Processing Information

Steven Gentry, Archives Technician, processed the "Speeches" series under the direction of Kent Randell, College Archivist, in Fall 2018. Order was imposed by the Archives Technician.

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Related Materials

Separated Materials note

Two folders of material about Sotterly Plantation were separated from this collection and added to MSS049, "Historic Sotterly papers," as MSS049's "Subject Files" series.

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Collection Inventory

Speeches circa 1974 -- 1983   0.4 Linear feet 1 box

Scope and Contents

This series contains speeches given by Judge Briscoe; publications; correspondence; one article; and one list. The materials are dated from circa 1974 to 1983.

Topics and organizations addressed in this series include the Maryland General Assembly as well as the state of Maryland’s budget, economic policies, and overall economy; property taxes; and legislative process.

Significant topics of each speech are listed alongside that speech's. For example, the speech in folder 18 of this series is untitled, but addresses two major topics: 1.) Maryland property tax and 2.) Maryland property tax relief.

Box Folder

Article entitled "Legislative Improvement - An Eternal Quest; Historical Perspective". General Assembly of Maryland; Legislative Council of Maryland; Department of Legislative Reference. 1974 December 4 

1 1

The Pressure Points of the Political Process. Legislative diplomacy. circa 1975 -- 1983 

1 2

Untitled speech. John Hanson; United States Constitution; United States history. circa 1975 -- 1983 

1 3

Untitled speech. Maryland Toleration Act; Religious toleration; Religious organizations in Maryland; Battle of the Severn; Maryland history. circa 1975 -- 1983 

1 4

Untitled speech to the Sheriff's Association. Gun violence in America; Gun culture in America; Indeterminate sentencing. circa 1975 -- 1983 

1 5

America's Goal - Justice Through Law. Social justice; Lawyers; Watergate Affair, 1972-1974. 1975 April 22 

1 6

MICA Speech, correspondence, and agenda. Maryland Improvement Contractors Association (MICA); Lobbying. 1975 September 3 -- 1975 October 2 

1 7

Equal Rights Amendment. Equal Rights Amendment. 1975 September 11 

1 8

Untitled speech to a graduating class. United States education. circa 1976 - 1983 

1 9

National Association of Retired Federal Employees. Property tax. 1977 March 19 

1 10

Untitled Speech to Crossland High School. 20th century United States history; United States education. 1977 June 13 

1 11

Virginia Association of Electric Cooperatives. Nuclear energy; Electric energy; Jimmy Carter. 1977 July 26 

1 12

The Role of the House of Delegates in the Maryland Legislative Process. Maryland General Assembly; Maryland Constitution; Legislation. 1977 September 28 

1 13

Remarks by John Hanson Briscoe Before Maryland Farm Bureau Dinner, Montgomery County. Farming in Maryland; Land Preservation bill. 1977 November 22 

1 14

The Energy Dilemma - A Challenge to Maryland. Patuxent River; Energy consumption; Pollution; Collaboration between politicians and scientists; Aisle Conference. 1977 December 2 

1 15

Proposition 13. Proposition 13 (California); Referendum. circa 1978 

1 16

Speeches list. circa 1978 

1 17

Untitled speech. Maryland property tax; Maryland property tax relief. circa 1978 

1 18

Untitled speech. Political community. circa 1978 -- 1979 

1 19

Important Issues In/Before the 1978 Maryland General Assembly. Maryland property tax relief; Maryland state government budget. circa 1978 January 

1 20

Issues Behind the Issues in 1978 - Policy Issues Behind the Issues. Maryland economy; Maryland economic policies. 1978 February 1 

1 21

Admiral's Prayer Breakfast. Jesus Christ; Friendship. 1978 February 13 

1 22

The 1978 General Assembly Session. Maryland property tax relief; Maryland state government budget; Maryland laws. 1978 April 26 

1 23

Message to the College. Charles County Community College; Competition in sports and academics. 1978 April 28 

1 24

Second District Volunteer Fire Department. Study and teaching of fire prevention in Maryland; Maryland volunteer fire departments. 1978 May 14 

1 25

Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture. State government involvement in Maryland farms; Maryland agriculture. 1978 June 21 

1 26

Law Related Education Program Welcoming Remarks, St. Mary's College. Living law; Judge-made law. 1978 June 26 

1 27

Citizen Advisors Appreciation Night; Mechanicsville Fire House. Civic improvement; Local government. 1978 June 29 

1 28

The Future of State and County Relationships, Maryland Association of Counties Convention Hall. Areawide planning capability; Jurisdicational equity; Expenditure equalization; Umbrella Multijurisdictional Organization (UMJO); Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR). 1978 July 7 

1 29

"State Legislature" issues. 1978 September -- October 

1 30

Increasing Opportunities for Women in State and Local Government. History of women in American government; Glass ceiling (employment discrimination). 1978 September 7 

1 31

Environmental Legislation in Maryland. Maryland environmental legislation. 1978 October 11 

1 32

Great Mills High School letter. 1979 October 5 

1 33

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