The Stiles family papers are made up of 3,480 letters, one diary, several financial documents, a photograph, a poem, and printed items related to sisters Ellen E. and Alice M. Stiles of Southbury, Connecticut, in the later 19th and early 20th century. The correspondence is primarily the incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Stiles sisters, their family, and friends. The largest groups of letters are communications with Sarah J. Whiting ("Jennie") of New Haven; educator Mary J. Robinson ("Robie") of Minnesota, California, and elsewhere; and teacher Rose M. Kinney of Oberlin, Ohio, the Tillotson Institute in Austin, Texas, and other locations.
The Stiles family papers are made up of 3,480 letters, one diary, several financial documents, a photograph, a poem, and printed items revolving around sisters Ellen E. and Alice M. Stiles of Southbury, Connecticut, in the later 19th and early 20th century.
The correspondence is primarily incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Stiles sisters, their family, and friends. In the early 1850s, Ellen ("Nellie") E. Stiles, received letters her from friend Emma Gilbert ("Emmie" or "Em," daughter of a Methodist Minister), Lottie R. Pierce, cousins, and others while Ellen attended school at Southbury, Connecticut, and lived in New Haven. In 1856, Emmie began her schooling at Music Vale Seminary in Salem, Massachusetts, and by 1857, lived in Ridgefield where her family kept boarders and had a class of five music scholars.
Alice ("Allie") Stiles sent her father letters while she attended E. A. Roberti's school in New Haven. Nellie and Allie corresponded regularly throughout their lives, whenever apart. In the 1860s, Ellen wrote lengthy letters, with remarks on boys, flirtation, peers' relationships, copperheads, dresses, clothing, fashion, everyday life, household activities, family, interpersonal relationships, church attendance, sicknesses, deaths, and news on health and medical conditions of family and friends. When Ellen became ill in 1874, she traveled to Castile, New York, and remained at the Castile Sanitarium/Castile Water-Cure from 1875 to 1876. Letters from this period include several from Dr. Cordelia Greene, director of the institution.
Their most regular and prolific correspondent was Sarah J. Whiting "Jennie," who spent her life in New Haven, Connecticut. Alice received letters from her friend Mary J. Robinson ("Robie" or "Robbie"), a teacher with ties to the American Missionary Association. Robie spent much of her time in Lake City and Marshall, Minnesota. She worked as a teacher and private tutor. From 1882 to 1884, she taught at Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; in 1886 she wrote from the Daytona Institute for Young Women in Daytona, Florida; from 1888 to 1889 she lived in Ormand, Florida; and in the 1890s she lived in Monrovia, California, and taught at the Occidental College in Los Angeles.
Beginning in the mid 1870s, Alice and Ellen received letters from educator Rose M. Kinney of Oberlin, Ohio. Rose's letters include correspondence from the later 1880s, when she taught at the Tillotson Institute, Austin, Texas.
The sisters received letters from their cousin H. S. Osborne in San Francisco, 1863-69 and 1884-87, and cousin Annie of East Oakland, California. H. S. Osborne's April 23, 1865, letter includes a description of San Francisco's response to news of the death of Abraham Lincoln. Other correspondents included Cordelia Sterling of Stratford, Connecticut; Mary A. Babbitt of Ansonia, Connecticut; cousin A. E. Wright; Emily A. Mitchell of Brooklyn, New York; Annie E. Stockwell at South Britain, Connecticut; Walter J. Webb; Annie M. Upton of Salem, Massachusetts; members of the Gilbert family at Nichols Farms; and William H. Sage of New Haven.
The papers include a pre-printed pocket diary of Ellen E. Stiles, covering the year of 1856, in which she recorded visits of family and friends, church attendance, letters sent and received, parties, and other aspects of her daily life. A book or reading list is tucked into the back of the volume.
S. J. "Jennie" Whiting kept a memory album between 1848 and 1858, containing autographs, poetry, sentiments, pre-printed illustrations, and original watercolor illustrations of flowers by F. L. Norton.
The collection concludes with a poem by Harriet Lavina Wheeler, beginning "Within a house not far from town..." (undated); two folders of receipts and other financial miscellany of Alice and Ellen Stiles; three newspaper clippings; one oval photograph portrait of Jennie Whiting, and three printed items.