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Alice and Ellen Stiles correspondence

Identifier: C-46

Scope and Contents

Collection contains approximately 175 handwritten letters, totaling about 960 pages, many with original, used envelopes. The collection is in very good condition, clean, and mostly legible. About three-quarters of the letters were written by female friends and relatives living in various Connecticut towns, another quarter were written by male friends and female friends living in other states. The bulk of the archive dates from the late l870’s, 80’s and 90’s. There are several letters from women who have taken teaching positions in both black and white schools and colleges of the time; many of these were, and are, church-affiliated. Many letters relate every day activities and news of comings and goings, visits and health problems, births and deaths. Many of the letters detail farm activities, chickens and eggs, vegetable gardens and preserving of fruits and vegetables, numbers of cans prepared, and cows put out to grass.


  • Creation: 1852-1915


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

Ellen E. Stiles was born August 9, 1836 in Southbury, CT and died May 26, 1914, in Southbury, CT. Rev. O. J. Munson (Series V) was among the ministers who officiated at her funeral. Alice Maria Stiles was born April 2, 1846 and died on 13 August, 1920, in Southbury, CT. Both sisters are buried in White Oak Cemetery, Southbury, CT. Their parents were Henry B. Stiles and Frances (Patty) C. Seeley, both born in Southbury. There was a third sister, Jennette, or perhaps Mary Jennette, born in 1833 or 1834, who married James Garnsey Curtiss in1860. Mary Jennette died in 1893. The couple had seven children. One of these, Mrs. Annie Summers of Woodbury, CT, was the informant for the death certificate of Alice Stiles. Alice left two nieces, two nephews and five great nephews and nieces, but was the last of her family (Stiles). Her obituary discloses that she was a devoted Methodist, joining the church at the age of 13.

Alice is the major correspondent in the collection. There are in fact very few letters written by Ellen (Nellie). Friends of the sisters became teachers in the post-Civil War period (Series VIII). Rose M. Kinney taught at Tillotson Collegiate & Normal Institute, Austin, TX, which opened in 1881. It became Huston-Tillotson in l952. It is today a largely black institution but has no racial policy. It is church-affiliated: United Methodist, United Church of Christ, also United Negro College Fund. The school is non-profit.

Lizzie Stevenson writes from Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. The College was formed in 1865 as a private four year institution. It was founded as a school for the children of former slaves. The first building had been a Baptist Academy and was bought for $23,000 with 20 acres. In l869 the first charter for Talladega College was issued by a Probate Judge. The first Baccalaureate was l895, and the enrollment in 2006 is 642 students.

A letter from M. J. Robinson (Robbie) in 1878 finds her teaching at Straight University in New Orleans, LA. She writes that it has been the best year of her life. Straight University was founded in 1869, later became Straight College. Union Normal School, established in the same year was later named New Orleans University. Dillard University succeeded both, and was chartered in 1930. Straight University began as elementary level, later secondary, then collegiate and professional levels. It is a historically black school, related to United Methodist Church. In 1884 M. J. Robinson is teaching at Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Coe College today has 1300 students in a four year program.


1 Box (1 box, 24 folders. Approximately 175 letters, totaling about 960 pages, many with original envelopes.)

Language of Materials



Arranged by recipient in chronological order and organized into 10 series: 1. To Ellen Stiles & Alice Stiles from S.J. Whiting (Jennie). 2. To S.J. Whiting from Alice & Ellen Stiles. 3. To Alice Stiles from H.S. & 'Allie' Osborn. 4. To Alice Stiles from A.E. Stockwell (Annie). 5. To Alice Stiles from H.S. & J.D. Munson. 6. To Alice Stiles from Mary J. Robinson (Robbie). 7. To Alice Stiles from R.S. Bronson. 8. To Alice & Ellen Stiles from women teachers. 9. To Alice & Ellen Stiles from various senders. 10. To Alice, Ellen & unidentified from various senders, documents.

Processing Information

These letters were purchased from Carmen D. Valentino, 2956 Richmond Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, l9l34 on March 15, 2004 by Andrew Wentink, Head of Special Collections at Middlebury College Library, Middlebury College. When received from the dealer, the material was arranged according to Original Provenance List (see below). There are approximately 175 letters totaling about 960 pages. Most of the postmarks on envelopes, where they are included, are not wholly legible, and many letters carry no date or dateline. The best and most rational arrangement has been made in these cases, and letters often have been identified by handwriting alone, as they bore no signature or dateline.

Original provenance:

Folder #1 Various letters to EES from various senders 1853-1885 (mostly SJW) Folder #2 Letters to AMS & EES 1869-1886

Folder #3 Letters to SJW/AMS l873-1886

Folder #4 Letters to AMS/ MJR l876-1893

Folder #5 Letters to AMS & EES from various writers 1888-1899, mostly from “Annie” (A. C. Stockwell) to AMS.

Folder #6 Letters to AMS from Rose, 1886

Folder #7 Postal card to Alice, letter AMS from Mother, letter AMS/ “My own Dear Mamma Whiting” 1852, 1877

Folder #8 Letters to AMS from S.J.Whiting 1871-1887

Folder #9 Letters from EES to SJW and to Mrs. Whiting 1873-1886

Folder #10 Letters to AMS from MJR and Mary A Bronson 1875-1890

Folder #11 Letters to AMS from various senders l870-1893

Folder #12 Letters to AMS from the Munsons 1895-1898

Folder #13 Misc. letters to AMS and EES 1903-1915

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States