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Catherine M. Barker correspondence, 1856-1876

34 items

This collection consists of the incoming correspondence of Catherine M. Barker of Guilford, Connecticut, who received letters from family members and acquaintances during the mid-19th century. Her sister Mary wrote of her search for work in New Haven, Connecticut, and other correspondents commented on their social lives in Connecticut and New York.

This collection consists of 34 incoming letters addressed to Catherine M. Barker of Guilford, Connecticut, who received correspondence from female family members and acquaintances during the mid-19th century. Her sister, Mary A. Barker, wrote the first 8 letters while seeking work in New Haven, Connecticut, between 1856 and 1863. She occasionally discussed her experiences as a laborer in a garment factory and provided news of her social life. She described the boarding house where she lived and a visit to a performance hall, where she saw a show by French acrobat Charles Blondin (March 23, 1861). At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mary mentioned the local scramble for news, and lamented that war seemed to be the sole topic of conversation.

The letters Catherine received after 1869 originated from multiple acquaintances, primarily female, who discussed their social lives in Connecticut and New York. Emma Scranton (later Leete) wrote 6 letters to Catherine, commenting on a visit to P. T. Barnum's circus (January 8, 1873), urging Catherine not to marry her beau, Edgar (undated), and offering updates on her social life. Other correspondents planned upcoming visits with Catherine, and one friend, Ruthie, described her shock upon hearing that a friend's wife had left him.


Charlotte Pettibone Winslow papers, 1834-1910 (majority within 1834-1851)

1 linear foot

This collection contains correspondence that Charlotte Henrietta Winslow (née Pettibone) received in the mid-1800s. She corresponded with several potential suitors in the latter half of the 1840s, including her future husband, Horace Winslow. Other correspondence includes personal letters she received from family and friends, as well as letters addressed to her sister-in-law, Philinda Winslow. Other items include poems and religious notes.

This collection (1 linear foot) contains over 500 letters related to Charlotte Henrietta Winslow (née Pettibone), as well as poetry, religious notes, and other items. In the mid-1800s, Charlotte Pettibone Winslow received letters from potential suitors, family members, and friends. The collection also contains letters written and received by her husband, Horace Winslow, as well as letters received by her sister-in-law, Philinda Winslow. Most of the correspondence concerns social life in New York City and Connecticut in the early 19th century.

The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence that Charlotte Pettibone Winslow received both before and after her marriage to Presbyterian and Congregational pastor Horace Winslow. She received 3 letters from Delia Bacon between 1844 and 1845 related to her desire to study under Bacon, as well as letters from friends and family members describing their social lives in New York City and in Connecticut towns such as Norfolk and Hartford. Many of the letters discuss courtship and marriage; multiple correspondents also mentioned their acquaintances' visits to Niagara Falls.

Charlotte Pettibone corresponded with several potential suitors in the mid- to late-1840s, and the collection contains many letters she received from suitors, as well as her responses, which include both original items and contemporary copies that Pettibone transcribed herself. Two letters are apologies to potential suitors with whom she did not wish to engage in correspondence and courtship (February 18, 1843 and January 1, 1848). The collection contains 3 letters that Sanford Horton wrote to Pettibone between 1845 and 1846, regarding the possibility of correspondence and the potential for mutual affections, as well as her responses. She also received 4 similar letters from William Long, to whom she responded 3 times. The letters between Pettibone and Long often relate to religious views and to Charlotte's religious studies; the final 2, written in December 1846, discuss the discontinuation of their correspondence.

Other suitors included Harvey Loomis (23 letters and 12 responses, 1847-1848); Nat B. Stevens (7 letters and 2 responses, 1846-1847); and J. H. W. Wing (2 letters and 6 responses, 1848). Horace Winslow wrote 3 letters to Charlotte during their courtship, and 13 during the first two years of their marriage, expressing his affections and providing news of his health and activities.

Charlotte Pettibone Winslow also received letters from her mother, Fanny Pettibone, who provided news from Norfolk, Connecticut, and from her extended family. Fanny Pettibone received several letters from Jeffrey O. Phelps between 1876 and 1877, most of which concern finances. Charlotte Pettibone Winslow received 4 letters from her niece, Molly P. Phelps, about her studies at Amherst College between 1838 and 1840. Winslow also wrote to her sister-in-law, Philinda Winslow, after 1850, and wrote to other friends and family members throughout the early 1800s.

Philinda Winslow received social letters from friends and family members, including 19 from her brother Horace. Friends, cousins, and other correspondents discussed social news; her most frequent correspondent, Corinna A. Fisher, wrote 50 letters between 1845 and 1853, most from Lansingburg, New York. On April 17, 1862, Corinna A. Shearer responded to news of Horace Winslow's appointment as chaplain to the 5th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment, and wrote of the sacrifice of lives for the preservation of the Union. Two other items relate to Horace Winslow's Civil War service, including a paper listing his name and regiment and an undated printed form for declaring "Arrears of Pay."

The collection also contains a letter written to Timothy Stanley from a woman's rights convention held in Connecicut in 1854, in which the author claimed that women possessed superior qualities to men, advocated that women retain their surnames after marriage, and discussed women's civil rights.

Additional materials include a colored picture of a flower, miscellaneous fragments and notes, and a document respecting Charlotte Pettibone's performance at Miss Hillyer's School. The collection also contains 12 poems and poetic fragments, 13 sets of notes on sermons and Bible verses, a receipt, a printed letter that Horace Winslow addressed "For the Freedmen," a program for the Fourth Annual New England Conference of Christian Workers, and an advertisement for religious tracts.


Collins family papers, 1825-1863

0.5 linear feet

The Collins family papers consist of personal correspondence between several members of the Collins family of New Haven, Connecticut, and Westfield, Massachusetts, in the early to mid-1800s. Correspondence between Cynthia Painter Collins and her husband Simeon reflects his career as a bookseller in Boston and Philadelphia, and letters between a range of friends and family members document life in New England during the antebellum era. Reverend Sylvester Graham wrote one letter offering medical advice to Cynthia Painter Collins.

The Collins family papers (197 items) consist of personal correspondence between several members of the Collins family of New Haven, Connecticut, and Westfield, Massachusetts, in the early to mid-1800s. Much of the collection is comprised of the correspondence of Cynthia Painter Collins, primarily written between herself, her husband Simeon, and several of her children between 1829 and 1855; other early correspondence includes several letters to her brother, Alexis Painter. Many of the letters concentrate on family and social news. For example, Cynthia Collins wrote one letter to her mother proudly declaring her religious beliefs (December 12, 1829), and Simeon Collins frequently reported on his experiences selling books in Boston and Philadelphia. While in Boston, he became acquainted with Reverend Sylvester Graham (1794-1851). Collins occasionally attended Graham's lectures, sold Graham's books, and solicited medical advice for Cynthia, which Graham provided in a letter dated March 24, 1837. Simeon mentioned other aspects of the Grahamite movement and his bookselling career. In one letter, he described a visit to 2 Philadelphia schools for African Americans (December 23, 1840).

Other correspondence from this period includes several letters from Cynthia Collins to Alexis Painter, as well as a series of letters she exchanged with her son David. In her letters to David, she voiced her concerns about her son Thomas, who contemplated moving west to seek gold in California and wished for his brother to join him (December 12, 1848). David's letters contain occasional reports on his business affairs.

Much of the later correspondence (1856-1863) is comprised of incoming letters to Anna Maria Collins, Cynthia and Simeon's daughter, from acquaintances updating her on their families and social lives in New England. Though most of these letters pre-date the Civil War, Anna's friend Libbie wrote in June 1863 to report the arrest of a boarder for desertion.


David Holmes papers, 1845-1856

25 letters

In 1845, John Manning of Lebanon, Conn., brought charges against Dr. David Holmes for medical malpractice. This collection contains letters concerning the trial, which was held by the First Ecclesiastical Church of Lebanon.

The David Holmes papers contain 10 letters written by Holmes to church members, primarily Nichols and Wetmore in Lebanon, and 2 letters written by his wife, Betsy Holmes, to Nichols and Calhoun, pastors at the Lebanon church. Nine letters were written by Nichols to Holmes regarding his trial by the church committee. The collection also includes two letters were written by Manning, the instigator of the case, and one letter by written by the church committee to Holmes. The bulk of the correspondence is concentrated in 1845-1847.

There are two main areas of interest in the Holmes papers. First, the letters between Holmes and members of the church illustrate church discipline and the relationship of the church with its members. An individual brought initial charges against Holmes to the church for justice. The church had the authority to charge and try individuals. Nichols tells Holmes that he can appeal the outcome of his case to the New London county council. The prominence of the church in public and private life is apparent in this collection.

The second area of interest in the collection relates to medical practice. The charges against Holmes are finally revealed as malpractice. The malpractice charges are sustained by the church, but no disciplinary action resulted other than suspension. "I think it much cheaper and easier to live down suspicion and prejudice than to quarrel about the matter" Holmes wrote to Wetmore. Holmes wrote a compelling article about pharmacists who dispense medicine carelessly in his newsletter dated nine years after the case with the church was settled: "Most druggists have fallen into the foolish and dangerous practice of preparing different qualities of the same medicine to suit the taste of their customers, the consequence is that no reliance can be placed in their preparations."

While this collection is small, the case against Holmes is fully documented, providing information about church discipline and medical practice in the 1840s.


Hatch-Hutchinson papers, 1862-1865

37 items

The collection consists of letters written by friends and family members to Leroy Hutchinson, a young man who has left his home in Connecticut to take a position at the Eastern Hotel in New York State.

The collection consists of 37 letters written to Leroy Hutchinson by his family and friends in Liberty Hill and Hartford, Connecticut.

Nineteen of the letters were written to Leroy by his mother, Lydia B. Hatch. In her letters to her son, Lydia is concerned with the state of his clothes and his morals, urging him to resist the temptations of alcohol and bad company while working at the Eastern Hotel. She teases him about getting body lice from the “fast girls” (December 24, 1865). In the same letter, Lydia reveals a glimpse of her own domestic life: “Your father is in the closet eating hominy & milk, & I can’t write much more for I am so hungry, I want some too -- he has acted like sin all day, has kicked me every time I came near him…”

The Hatch-Hutchinson papers contain a single unlabeled photograph of a woman, cropped into an oval shape, enclosed in a December 23, 1862 letter by Leroy's grandmother.


Talcott family papers, 1823-1951 (majority within 1823-1908)

312 items

The papers of the Talcott family of Vernon, Connecticut, and Rockville, Connecticut, are comprised largely of correspondence among various extended family members and friends. Two Talcott women, Martha and Sarah, attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.

The collection consists of 312 items:

217 letters, largely to and from the Talcott family;

69 school essays, mostly written by Martha and Sarah Talcott at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary;

2 engravings, of John B. Talcott.

24 miscellaneous items, including the Last Will and Testament of Amelia Talcott, items relating to the family business, and a detailed biographical sketch of John Talcott and his descendants.

Although much of the correspondence concerns the domestic life of the extended Talcott family, twenty-seven of the letters relate to the Talcott women’s education, and the lives and careers of fellow students. Martha Goodrich Robbins (later Talcott) received some level of schooling in the 1820s. In a letter of September 18, 1823, her brother Chauncey gives his view of the subject: "When you are down on your hands and knees, dressed in old tow cloth, weeding onions, it will be of but little service to you to know what are the fashions in New York, or how many parts of speech there are, or whether the earth is round or flat as a toad. It will not make the weeds come up any faster." In spite of this, two of Martha’s daughters attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.

One undated letter fragment, from a Mt. Holyoke instructor, Grace Stanton, to Sarah Talcott, describes in detail the reaction of a new student (Sarah Talcott) upon arrival at Mt. Holyoke -- how homesickness and the strangeness of her surroundings were soon transformed into affection and then love for the beautiful landscape, dedicated teachers and schoolmates. A letter (unsigned, dated May 1862) updates the class on current happenings in the lives of several of the women who graduated from Mt. Holyoke, some of whom were actively teaching, others who had married and were raising families, and several who were ill or taking care of ailing family members.

Another letter provides a description of a school mistress as imagined by Mt. Holyoke graduate Mary Perry, and reveals something of the bond that unites these women: "We, who are set apart from the rest of Eve's daughters as the 'Eddicators' of Papa's hopefuls and Mama's darlings. Who are neither married, nor given in marriage, whose black alpaca dresses always bear about a sprinkle of chalk dust -- whose second finger on the right bears the indelible ink stain, whose voices are always pitched on the sharps and minor keys, as being more euphonious to the sensitive ear -- weep for us...every step, motion and breath bespeaks her profession, stern, stiff, staid, prim & precise schoolmistress. This is a picture of our sisterhood, myself included, if the Fates so decree. I whisper amen, and Echo brings back the same word." (June 7, 1870, Lizzie L. to Mattie)

Religion was a strong influence at Mt. Holyoke and often appeared in the letters of its graduates. Mary Mclean wrote to Sarah Talcott, that "there are many who have learned 'the better way' within those hallowed walls, and have gone out from there with hearts devoted to the service of Christ, and vast, vast is the influence they are now exerting in this world of ours." (November 26, 1852) Another Mt. Holyoke classmate, deterred by ill health from pursuing a teaching career, resigned herself to passive endurance: "I doubt not, however, that I have a lesson to learn that could be learned in no other way; may God grant to be my instructor in this matter." (Mary Fitch to Sarah Talcott, December 21, 1858) Two undated letters refer to a prayer association, of which Martha Talcott is a member, formed of mothers and children in search of divine protection in the face of the ever-present threat of serious illness and early death.

The school essays reveal the thoughts of intelligent mid-nineteenth century young women on subjects of historic, religious, moral, and scientific interest, as well as descriptions of contemporary events. Many are mature reflections, written by Martha and Sarah Talcott in their late teens and twenties.

Only scattered references mention the family business, the Civil War, or other political or economic issues of the period. Domestic matters carry the day: family visits, illness and death, poultry reports, and the making of molasses candy (Martha Talcott school essay, March 3, 1866), to mention a few.