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Blake-Colony collection, 1807-1872 (majority within 1807-1837, 1862-1865)

131 items

This collection is made up of correspondence related to Ira Blake of Chester, Vermont, and his descendants, and is divided into three main groups: letters between Ira Blake and Mary Seamans, his future wife; letters to Frances Blake, their daughter; and letters by Ormond and Oscar Colony, Frances's sons. The Blake letters relate to Ira and Mary's courtship and to news of their families in New England, and the Colony letters pertain to the brothers' experiences traveling to and living in Colorado during the Civil War.

This collection (131 items) is made up of correspondence related to Ira Blake of Chester, Vermont, and his descendants, and is divided into three main groups: letters between Ira Blake and Mary Seamans, his future wife (8 items); letters to Frances Blake, their daughter (30 items); and letters by Ormond and Oscar Colony, Frances's sons. The Blake letters primarily concern courtship and family news in New England, and the Colony letters pertain to the brothers' experiences traveling to and living in Colorado during the Civil War.

The Blake correspondence (38 items) relates to Ira Blake's immediate family. In 1807, during their courtship, Ira Blake and Mary Seamans exchanged 8 letters about their relationship and separation. The remaining 30 items are mostly letters to Frances Blake (later Colony) containing personal and family news, with the exception of one letter by [G.]S. Barstow to "Mr. Stutevant" relating to information about local deaths from 1859-1861 (December 30, 1864). The majority of the letters are from Mary Blake (later Mary Moore), Frances's mother, and Cyrus Blake, a friend who wrote of life in Roxbury and Boston, Massachusetts, and who provided a list of items he purchased for Frances, along with each item's cost (August 12, 1831).

The Colony correspondence (103 items) chiefly consists of letters that Ormond and Oscar Colony wrote to their family in Keene, New Hampshire, while living in Central City, Colorado, during the Civil War. Winslow J. Howard wrote the earliest letter to the twins' brother Lewis; he described the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico (May 16, 1859). Oscar and Ormond Colony wrote the remainder of the letters. Ormond departed from New Hampshire in the summer of 1862 and wrote several letters from Saint Joseph, Missouri, before embarking on an overland journey to Colorado. He traveled in covered wagons across the Great Plains, which he described in a lengthy composite letter composed after his arrival in Central City, Colorado (June 3, 1862). His first work in Colorado required occasional journeys in the mountains to survey potential routes for the Pacific Railroad. He wrote about his daily life in the town, mentioning its gold mines and describing the surrounding scenery.

Oscar joined Ormond in early December 1862, and the brothers continued to provide their family with updates on their everyday lives and local news, including at least one report of a trial (October 20, 1863). On December 25, 1862, Ormond drew a detailed picture of their home and shop, complete with sketches of their merchandise, which included stuffed mountain birds and fiddles. Oscar shared a related drawing of a covered wagon pulled by two mules, captioned "…our gilded chariot, and we are inside, but you can't see me" (October 16, 1863). The pair also took several trips throughout the surrounding area. On two occasions, they described the perils of cross-country railroad travel, which included fatal Indian attacks (December 6, 1864), causing Ormond to remark that he wanted the Indians "wiped out" (December 11, 1864). The twins also occasionally commented on the Civil War and contemporary politics. While in Missouri, Ormond mentioned a local military unit and the effects of martial law, and in Colorado they occasionally saw military recruiters and wrote about the public's view of the war. On January 8, 1864, Ormond shared his belief that future politics would be difficult because of problems posed by African Americans, Native Americans, and Mormons. In his final letters, written in or around 1865, he revealed his plans to return to New Hampshire following the closing of his business ventures in Colorado.

Undated material includes several letter fragments and drawings. Among the latter are a valentine and a poem; a surreal drawing depicting "A Dream;" a picture of a man driving a mule behind two men carrying long guns; and a drawing of the Pikes Peak Stage labeled "Mr. Aged Individual Candidate for Pikes Peak." Other items include a newspaper clipping regarding Howard & Colony's jewelry products and a printed advertisement for Winslow J. Howard's jewelry business in Santa Fe.


Department of Medicine and Surgery (University of Michigan) theses, 1851-1878

57 microfilms (1449 theses)

Theses written by University of Michigan Medical School students; subjects concern the theory and treatment of specific diseases, as well as the psychology of medicine, attitudes toward women and child rearing, the social standing of the physician, and medical practices during the mid-nineteenth century.

William Allinson journal, 1802-1814

276 pages

The Allinson journal documents Allinson's thoughts on his spirituality and marriage as well as events within the New Jersey Quaker Church, including meetings with Native Americans.

William Allinson's journal spans more than a decade of his adult life, and includes mature reflections on both personal and spiritual matters. Closely written and very dense at over 270 pages long, the journal is an emotional and spiritual barometer of a man driven by as many disappointments as joys in his family circle, and even greater disappointments in his own soul. Allinson apparently intended to keep the journal to provide a marker of his spiritual development and as a means of contemplating his growth. Over the course of twelve years he struggled with whether his life could be worthy of recording, and whether a record of his spiritual progress could ever prove useful. Ultimately, he concluded that one day his diary would most likely to be consigned to the fire.

Seldom discussing worldly matters such as politics or the economy, Allinson examines instead a range of subjects of personal and religious interest from witnessing the crescentic shadows cast by plants during a total solar eclipse to witnessing a group of rowdy boys at meeting. Devout and deeply involved in the Society of Friends, he regularly recorded news of the Burlington Meeting and other meetings he attended as minister, elder, and visitor, as well as news of his family and local community, including disciplinary actions, laodiceanism, weddings, and committee meetings. Throughout, he displays a quintessentially Quaker understanding of the World, of conflict and its resolution, reflecting a deeply held and emotionally powerful attachment to the Society, his family, and community. Allinson was a contemporary and friend of important Quaker figures such as Jesse Kersey, George Dillwyn, Martha Routh, Ann Mifflin, Isaac Bonsall, and Elias Hicks, who appear throughout the journal.

The central point of interest in Allinson's journal, however, is a complex and finely detailed struggle with both sexual and spiritual self-discipline. At times, he indulges in the painful ruminations of a middle aged man on his seemingly eternal bachelorhood, posing a series of Quaker queries to himself: "What am I waiting for?" he asked: "Answer. For an Evidence in my own Mind that it will be right to make an Effort to change my condition, & for some satisfactory degree of Light that such procedure is approbated by Him" (1807 April 4). During the twelve years covered in the journal, Allinson found little peace within himself on spiritual issues. He never married, and did his best to deflect the pains of seeing his brothers seemingly stray from the Quaker path.

Allinson's involvement in Indian affairs stands out for note among other important issues appearing in the journal. As a member of the Committee of Indian Affairs of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (and despite doubting his own preparedness for such a role), Allinson was involved in the procurement of over 500 acres of land in August, 1808, on behalf of the Cattaraugus Indians, and he visited them in September and October, 1809. Of greater interest was his visit with the famed Stockbridge Indian "intercultural broker," Hendrick Aupaumut, while he was imprisoned for debt. Allinson discovered Aupaumut to be "pleasant & conversable" (1805 March 10), even while in prison. After paying Aupaumut's debts and having him released, Allinson bought him a new suit of clothes (in which, he noted approvingly, Aupaumut "prefer[ed] utility to shew"; 1805 March 11). Allinson discusses two stories told to him by Aupaumut, one concerning an "Embassy" that Aupaumut and other Indians had made to western Indians -- probably Stockbridge -- "with design to renew the League of Friendship & promote their acceptance of the Christian Religion -- Improvemt in Civilization &c." The Indians accepted Aupaumut's ministry, and gave him three ears of corn to return with, to have them planted and tended "by their choisest & best young women." Aupaumut also discussed the visions and conversion experiences of two Indians, one Shawnee, the other Seneca.