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Albin Kendall Putnam papers, 1821-1850

69 items

The Albin K. Putnam papers contain the scattered correspondence of an Episcopal priest and his family in New England.

The Albin K. Putnam papers contain the scattered correspondence of an Episcopal priest, documenting a life from its early setbacks in obtaining an education to its early termination in a lingering death. The collection is composed of three main sections. First are letters written by friends and relatives of Dorothy Abbott Putnam, 1821-1830 (29 August 1821-30 March 1830; 10 October [n.d.]), principally on religious topics. Second are letters by Albin K. Putnam from the time of his entry into Dartmouth College in 1834 to his death in 1847 (27 September 1834-3 January 1849). These detail Putnam's years as a student and priest, his illness and death, and his wife's difficult adjustment to widowhood. Interspersed are a few other letters not specifically relating to Albin and Fanny but which provide a more rounded picture of the Putnam family as a whole.

The third series of letters (6 August 1849-5 June 1850) document an intriguing chronicle of an old-age romance, in which William Spaulding, Dorothy Putnam's newly widowed brother-in-law, recalls how forty years earlier, he had wooed Dorothy before marrying her sister. This culminates in a second proposal of marriage, and a second refusal.


Blanche and Lena Smith papers, 1870-1931 (majority within 1905-1906)

1.5 linear feet

The Blanche and Lena Smith letters consist of the correspondence of the Smith sisters as young women living in the Western United States including their time spent at a sanitorium in Colorado Springs.

Although most of this correspondence relates to Lena and Blanche Smith, the earlier letters include six excellent courtship letters from their mother to their father, while she was still in Connecticut and he was in Chicago. There are a handful of letters from Fannie's sister Jennie and other relations, and from Horace's Aunt C. Manning Watson, and her daughter Elizabeth. Most of the letters are from Blanche's friends and Lena's boyfriend Will Brown; there are also a significant number from the sisters, written from Colorado Springs, back home to their parents. In addition to over 500 letters, there is a large amount of ephemera, including school papers, sketches, unidentified photographs, invitations, and some items relating to tuberculosis.

Miss Fannie had a wonderfully forthright writing style. She informed Horace, "I do not want to deceive you, and I tell you frankly, that we are poor but respectable, and that we work for what we have" (1876 April 16). Fannie had learned dressmaking, and was prepared to support herself if necessary. Although she liked to tease Horace, she also seemed to write straight from her heart. For instance, she reflected on the continuing impact of her father's death: "I thought I shed as many tears as I could when he died, but I have found I was mistaken for there are times when I miss him as much if not more than at first. And if he had lived I don't think I should have ever have left home seeing I was the youngest and the only one left, and he was lame and thought so much of his home, and of having me stay there" (1876 May 3).

Both Horace and Fannie's complaints about their health foreshadowed their daughter's tuberculosis. Horace had "weak lungs," and when they were courting, Fannie informed Horace that "I think sometimes I am troubled by Catarrh, but not as bad as I was before I went West, the climate helped me I think for I did not doctor for it any. I am so afraid it will lead to Consumption if not taken care of at first I was frightened about myself once but it was more imagination than anything else" (1876 May 17).

For her part, Blanche maintained a fairly straightforward, patient view of her illness, which was often tinged with humor. She described her doctor in San Francisco as "just like all the other doctors in Calif. thump you a little, ask you a string of questions just for show, & charge you $10.00" (1904 December 2). Once she was in Colorado, she wrote her parents. "You know I don't want to keep any thing from you, but I do hate to fill up a letter with my aches & pains. I can stand it better than being punched twice a day" (1904 December 30).

She kept true to her word about not wanting to keep anything from her parents. She wrote frankly about the Ranch -- "The only thing I think is wrong about the place is their emptying all the old slop right out on the ground about 20 ft. from my tent..." -- and her inner workings: "I eat all I possibly can & have quite a time keeping my bowels in order. I drink 6 glasses of milk & take 6 raw eggs a day" (1905 January 5, January 20).

Both sisters also kept their parents well-informed about each other's good and bad behavior. Lena often got frustrated with her needy sister, and after working all day, did not always want to sit with her, or devote her time to writing letters home or to her boyfriend back in Friend, Will Brown. Blanche complained about feeling lonely, and that Lena was spending too much time with various men. One man "always turns up just at the right time. If Will Brown knew half she was doing I think he would make sure of her inside of a month. Some of her actions surprise me, and that's saying a good deal" (1906 January 15). In her last letter to her father, marked "Private," Blanche was still sharply voicing her concern about her sister's behavior (1906 March 9).

Blanche may well have been jealous of the attentions paid to her sister, and of the men who took up Lena's free time. Her reports, however, were probably not exaggerated. One letter in the collection, from "Sam," to Lena, includes this startling bit: "I do love you Lena today as much as any time we were together and I do hope all will go well as we had planned. Do you still hope the same?" (1904 May 24).

Will Brown began writing to Lena in 1902, and after reading his prolific letters it is easier to sympathize with the errant Lena. Will was constantly traveling on business, and would write Lena tedious descriptions of where he was, what he was doing, and what his prospects for the future were. The fact that all of his plans for getting ahead in business fell through, year after year, probably did not enhance Lena's reading experience. In June of 1905 she evidently berated Will for his writing style, but although he admitted "I have felt that my letters to you were not what they should be," he excused himself by saying he thought Blanche would probably be reading the letters too, so he did not want to get too personal (1905 June 22). Lena even confided in her father about Will, telling him, "I'm afraid I feel more each day that I'm getting out of the notion of marrying anyway -- that I'd rather take care of myself again," indicating that caring for Blanche was taking its toll on her sister (1906 February 9).

Will never did get very romantic, and his overall tone was more one of defeat. Even a turn as a successful hotelier in Loveland, Colorado, was brought to a screeching halt by an appendectomy, which left Will in terrible debt and unable to work for several months. He released Lena from her engagement, and although she was entertaining a very familiar correspondence with Billy Taylor, whom she had met in Colorado, and complaining again about Will's letters and the long delay in their plans, Lena did eventually marry Will Brown (1907 November 9, 1908 July 5).

Blanche corresponded with friends she had made at various stages in her life. Lulu Hall, Carrie Roehl, and the Browns were all people she had met while living in Friend. Her California friends included Babe Sinclair, Miss Rich, Isis Gasaway, Freda Wisner, and Charles Putnam, a boy she had probably gone with in San Francisco. Charles seems rather immature, and Blanche evidently found him too "spoony" and got tired of him writing about how much he loved her (1905 April 17). Charles thought she was only discouraging him because of her sickness, and relied on that old but effective trick, jealousy, to warm her up again. After nonchalantly describing various events he had attended as the escort of "Miss C.," Charles apparently began hearing from Blanche more regularly.

Isis and Freda both got married while Blanche was in Colorado. Isis still lived with her family, which she found a bit disconcerting. She confided in Blanche, "as it is, it just kind of seems like Sherm just came here to stay with all of us. Don't tell anybody but the only time it really seems like I'm married is when I go to bed with Sherm" (1906 February 17).

After she moved into the cottage in Colorado Springs, Blanche received a few letters from Fred Davis and Bob Ferris, two "lungers" she had met at the ranch. Fred, who had moved on to the Adam Memorial Home in Denver, wrote, "I am so tired of these institutions. I long -- oh how I long for a home with a little h where I can put my feet on the parlor furniture and hoist the curtains above see-level and go to the pantry and detach choice bits from the cold turkey left from dinner and -- oh just holler" (1906 January 23).

In the last few months of her life, Blanche met and began going to see Mrs. Carpenter, a Christian Scientist who changed the way Blanche thought about her illness. "It isn't our body that's sick, its the thought," she informed her parents (1906 January 26). Lena thought the influence of Christian Science might do Blanche some good, for Mrs. Carpenter "told Bee that fear was one of her greatest troubles -- that because she had this trouble she was scared all the time for fear she wouldn't get well" (1906 February 9). Putting her faith in God as a healer freed Blanche from her fear. In her last letter to her "Popsie" before her death, even as her limbs were swelling up "large & hard," Blanche wrote: "Christian Science is wonderful and O, so much good is done by it. I feel such a decided change going on, all over my body & I know its God's healing power. He is healing me every day papa & I want you to know it. Think it & declare it every day for your thots will do me so much good" (1906 March 9). Within three weeks, Blanche had died.


Charles Machin memoir, 1807-1820

142 pages

The Charles Machin memoir - in narrative form - documents the personal, financial, and business-related trials of an early 19th century trader of a variety of goods, including cotton, slaves, and mahogany.

The Charles Machin memoir was written in an engaging, literary style, its strength lying in its ability to put the reader into the mind of an early 19th-century trans-Atlantic merchant. It is possible that Machin embellished the truth to make for better reading.

English in origin, Machin lived and traded in Savannah, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia, Jamaica, Havana, and England, moving easily among the port cities, raising capital and stores for trading voyages that inevitably went sour. Through his adventures, Machin emerges as a likable, but not always reputable man who beat and threatened the lives of his debtors and was willing to engage in smuggling cotton and slaves. At the same time, he was constantly surprised by the unethical behavior of his partners and their willingness to hurt others in the name of profit. Machin was repeatedly caught up in the machinations of other, more ruthless merchants.

The memoir provides insight into the financial wrangling, legal and extralegal, of merchants and entrepreneurs. The networks of friendships and false-friendships, the schemes to raise money, and the ideas about profit and risk are all important in situating the mind of the early American merchant. In some ways, Machin was the proverbial man without a country who either easily switched identities or whose identity changed with the context: an Englishman, a some-time resident of Savannah, and a trader in any port or enterprise that promised a good return.

Machin's memoir also includes some excellent descriptions of life in the several ports and countries he visited, most notably of Havana and other locations in Cuba, but also of Jamaica, Cartagena, and the far interior of Georgia and South Carolina.


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.

Jewett-Lee family papers, 1850-1900 (majority within 1850-1853)

30 items

The Jewett-Lee collection centers around Azubah Miller Jewett and her daughter Mary (Mollie) Jewett Lee, early settlers to the Saginaw Valley of Michigan.

Most of the Jewett-Lee collection centers around Azubah Miller Jewett and her daughter Mary (Mollie) Jewett Lee. Three letters from Azubah to her daughter were written in the 1850s; they contain family news and information about friends. Azubah wrote her reminiscences in 1888, about a year before she died, describing her early days in Michigan. The other letters are primarily to and from Mollie Jewett, and include a courtship correspondence with her future husband, Newton Lee. Most of these letters were written while she was away from Saginaw City visiting her father's family in New York in the summer and fall of 1853. The collection also includes three speeches, two for delivery on holidays to the people of Saginaw (1858 and 1861) and one addressed to a literary society. There are a couple newspapers and newspaper clippings as well.

The most important document in the Jewett-Lee collection is the reminiscences of Azubah Jewett. She wrote this manuscript upon the request of her brother Judge Albert Miller of Bay City, who asked her to record some of her memories of pioneer life. The document begins:

"Very many things have occorred in the fifty-seven years that I have been in Michigan that would be worthy of note but I hardly feel competant for the task; Suffice it to say that the present inhabitants would think it quite impossible to endure the privations and sacrifices that a few of the first have pass'd through; and in almost every instance without a word of complaint."

Azubah Jewett went on to outline her experiences as one of the first pioneers of the Saginaw Valley. She saw the first settlers arrive and establish industries, including lumbering. She witnessed the first steam boats in the area, the first roads and street cars, and the population explosion that occurred as the next wave of settlers arrived in the Saginaw Valley. The eighty-three year old closed her account with these words, "My bodily health is good, and unless this article indicates contrary, my mental faculties are unimpared, and I enjoy life as much at present as at any period on my existence." She died one year later.

There is a short series of courtship letters between Dr. Newton D. Lee and Molly Jewett while she was in New York. Lee fantasized a future life together: "when I would get tired of the office, I could go to you & be always greeted with a lovely smile & a sweet kiss, then you would sit down beside me and put both your hands in mine & lean your head upon my bosom as your support in this life, then look up in my face & talk to me. . ." (1853 August 7). These winning words won Molly's heart, and the two were married in November.

One letter stands apart from the main collection because it was written by a woman named Delia, who had no connection to the Jewett family except that she knew and possibly courted Dr. Lee before his marriage to Mollie. Delia's words provide insight into the social risks and responsibilities that women had to face when contemplating engaging in a courtship. Lee had apparently visited and written her, and expressed an interest in pursuing his suit. Delia's letter diplomatically expressed a certain amount of skepticism about the sincerity of Dr. Lee's gestures. While she would accept a sincere offer, she would not risk the injury and humiliation that might come from accepting an insincere offer: "It is still more gratifying to meet a worthy friend, prove him such and then feel that I share his thoughts and friendship, but as frankly confess, that a mere avowal of such a friendship is no convincing evidence to me that it exists" (1850 February 7).

The most chilling letter in the collection is from Mollie's friend Louisa. The tear-stained letter reported that a mutual friend of theirs had died of consumption. Susan Harris had been part of their group of six girls all the same age. Lousia, keeping vigil at Susan's bed side when she passed, wrote "I scarcely left that lifeless form until it was returned to mother earth helped to robe her for burial and dressed her hair for the last time which for so many weeks had been my care fearing to trust anyone else" (1853 October 16).

The three public address manuscripts are of unclear authorship. One is a Fourth of July speech that makes indirect but sustained references to the conflict between the North and the South, and the second is an address to citizens who have answered the call to defend the Union flag. The last is an address to the ladies and gentlemen of a literary society on the occasion of the last of the society's meetings.


John Sundwall Papers, 1921-1944

5 linear feet

Public health physician and director of the Division of Hygiene, Public Health, and Physical Education at the University of Michigan, 1921-1941, papers include correspondence, administrative reports and studies, working files, minutes of meetings attended, manuscripts of writings, and photographs.

John Sundwall was an important figure in public health education, and his papers reflect his broad interests in this area. As a University of Michigan administrator and educator and as an involved member of various professional groups, Sundwall was a thoughtful leader in discussions pertaining to the kind of education and course offerings individuals in various public health positions should receive. More an educator and administrator than a researcher, Sundwall was a responsible and dedicated thinker in the development of public health as a respected profession.

The John Sundwall papers, covering the years 1921 to 1944, consist mainly of records maintained by Sundwall in his capacity as director of the University of Michigan Division of Hygiene and Public Health. There are no papers prior to his coming to Michigan in 1921 and only scattered papers after 1941 when the School of Public Health was established.

The Sundwall collection consists of correspondence, administrative reports and studies, working files, minutes of meetings attended, manuscripts of writings, and photographs.

The collection has been grouped into the following series: Biographical/background information, Correspondence, University of Michigan Division of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Michigan Topical, Organizations, Topical file, Writings, and Photographs.


Science and Medicine collection, 1702-1897

Approximately 150 items (0.5 linear feet)

The Science and Medicine collection consists of miscellaneous items that document various aspects of science and medicine in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Science and Medicine collection contains miscellaneous items that document various aspects of science and medicine in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fields covered include anatomy, astrology, astronomy, botany, dentistry, geography, medicine, paleontology, physics, and physiology.

Discussed are:
  • Agriculture, plants, and seeds
  • Communication and travel
  • Collecting specimens for natural history museums
  • Epidemics (influenza, cholera, yellow fever)
  • Higher education and honorary degrees
  • Inoculations
  • Land surveying
  • Mathematics and navigation
  • Medical techniques and treatments for diseases, wounds, and afflictions
  • Medicinal recipes
  • Mental health
  • Quackery
  • Scientific and medical texts and lectures
  • Technological developments and experiments in machinery, and architectural projects
  • Venereal diseases
Below are some highlights from the collection:
  • April 19, 1788: Description of riot set off by alleged body snatching by medical students in New York
  • August 31, 1792: Order for an inoculation
  • June 30, 1796: Request to Charles Wilson Peale from members of a Paris museum to exchange specimens, including mastodon and opossums
  • January 15, 1826: Thomas Nuttall to a bookseller named Mr. Brown concerning 10 boxes of natural history specimens he is sending from Oahu, Hawaii
  • August 7, 1832: Account of the course and spread of Cholera in Albany, and fears that southern slaves will suffer the most from Cholera
  • September 13, 1833: Description of bright flashing lights appearing in the sky
  • August 24, 1835: Recommendation of a physician of the 'new school' of medicine who does not utilize bleeding, blistering, or calomelization (mercury cure)
  • December 15, 1840: Description of eye surgery performed on a patient at the Medical College of Geneva, New York
  • January 12, 1842: Discussion of constructing a microscope to view bacillaria
  • May 8, 1844: Astrological reading that predicts the recipient will marry a man from the north with light brown hair
  • September 19, 1848: Rules and customs of telegraphing
  • [1895]: Request for a list of names of locals with eye problems on letterhead for Narcissa Waterman, Eye Doctress

Section of Thoracic Surgery (University of Michigan) records, 1927-1960

20 linear feet

A division of the Department of Surgery of the University of Michigan Hospital, established the nation's first residency training program in thoracic surgery in 1928; documents development of the program at Michigan and advances in surgical procedures, includes correspondence, operation notes, case studies, and photographs and negatives of patients and surgical procedures.

The records of the Section of Thoracic Surgery document the growth and development of thoracic surgery at the University of Michigan from its origins as a clinic to its emergence as a specialized section within the Department of Surgery. The records, covering the period from 1927 to 1960, are comprised of correspondence, operation notes, case studies, and photographs and negatives of patients and surgical procedures. Together, these materials richly illustrate the development of thoracic surgery techniques during the 1930s and 1940s.

Because patient names appear throughout the record group as well as in the photographs and negatives, patient privacy is a major concern and researchers must comply with the access restrictions described elsewhere in this finding aid.


Stinchfield family papers, 1837-1999

6.25 linear feet

The Stinchfield family papers contain the correspondence, business records, financial and legal documents, photographs, and genealogical papers of the Stinchfield family, founders of a successful lumber business in Michigan in the mid-19th century. The collection also includes materials related to social and family events in Grosse Pointe and Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, through the mid-20th century.

The Stinchfield family papers consist of the correspondence, business records, financial and legal documents, photographs, and genealogical papers of Jacob W. Stinchfield, his wife Maria Hammond Stinchfield, and their descendants. The collection's correspondence and documents are organized by generation, reflecting their original order. The earliest items in the collection (Generation I series) include real estate transactions involving Jacob Stinchfield of Lincoln, Maine, dating from 1837. Beginning in the 1860s, after the family’s move to Michigan, the records include correspondence, accounts, and other financial records relating to the lumber business, begun by Jacob and continued by his son Charles Stinchfield. The materials provide information respecting the management of men in lumber camps, logging in winter weather conditions, methods of transportation, the challenges of rafting logs downriver, and other lumber business operations in volatile market conditions. Jacob and Charles Stinchfield’s partner, and frequent correspondent, was David Whitney, Jr., a wealthy Detroit businessman.

The Stinchfields expanded their company to include railroads (to facilitate their logging operations) and mineral mines. Many documents in the Generation II series, including manuscript and printed maps, concern land development in Michigan, where the family owned a farm in Bloomfield Hills, and in the West, especially Wyoming. The family traveled extensively and corresponded about their experiences in Europe, Asia, and the western United States. The Civil War is represented with small but significant holdings -- among them, a September 21, 1864, note written and signed by President Abraham Lincoln, requesting a fair hearing for a furlough (probably for George Stinchfield), and a February 14, 1863, letter from Vice President Hannibal Hamlin to Jacob W. Stinchfield, assuring him that George McClellan would not be ordered back to the command of the army.

The collection's twentieth-century materials (Generation III and Generation IV series) consist largely of the personal correspondence of Jacob Stinchfield’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The life of Charles Stinchfield, Jr., is well documented, from his schooling at St. John’s Military Institute in Manlius, N.Y., and a brief time at Cornell University, through his roles in the family business, his marriage, and the raising of his three children. Interactions between Charles Stinchfield, Jr., and his father, Charles Stinchfield, a demanding and energetic businessman, are also well represented in the collection. The materials reveal relationships between family members and their servants, and spiritualists' attempts to contact Charles Stinchfield III, who died of appendicitis in 1933 at the age of 15. Later papers provide descriptions of the social life of a wealthy family in the early and mid-20th century, at their residence in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and at their country home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

The Genealogy series, compiled largely by Diane Stinchfield Klingenstein, contains extensive background research on family members, copies of Ira and George Stinchfield’s Civil War records, transcriptions of letters written by Charles Stinchfield on a journey west in 1871 (not otherwise represented in the collection), and a typewritten draft of Diane Klingenstein’s family history, "One bough from a branch of the tree: a Stinchfield variation."

In addition to materials organized by generation, the collection includes photographs, scrapbooks, pastels, realia, and books. Many of the photographs are individual and group portraits (both studio and candid) from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The images include many exterior views of the land and buildings of the family’s country home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Stonycroft Farm, ca. 1910), and of the Stinchfield residence in Grosse Pointe, Michigan (ca. 1940s). Early 20th-century lumber camps and railroads in Oregon and mining camps in Nevada are represented in photographs and photograph albums. The collection contains photos from trips to Japan (ca. 1907), the American West, and Europe. The collection's scrapbooks include newspaper clippings, invitations, and photographs, mainly concerning the life of Diane Klingenstein in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, during the 1930s and 1940s.

The Stinchfield family papers contain three pastel portraits of unknown subjects. The Realia series includes a bone ring likely made by George Stinchfield when he was a prisoner on Belle Isle, Virginia; a ring bearing Ira Stinchfield's name and regiment, in case he died during the Civil War; hospital identification and five baby pins for Diane W. Stinchfield (1925); a variety of additional Stinchfield family jewelry; and several wooden, crotched rafting pins, apparently from Saginaw, Michigan.

The Books series includes a copy of The Pictorial Bible, given to Charles and Mary from Father Fish, June 12, 1879, and a selection of 9 additional publications, which are cataloged individually. A comprehensive list of these books may be found by searching the University's online catalog for "Klingenstein."