The John Ball Family Papers consist of legal and financial records, correspondence, essays, ephemera, and diaries, largely but not entirely dated after John Ball moved to Michigan. The topically grouped material is arranged alphabetically. The legal and financial records contain certificates allowing John Ball to practice law in New York. A large portion of the correspondence is between John, his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Lucy, which consists mainly of family affairs and travel to Europe, especially Switzerland and France (1869-1894). Earlier letters cover family matters and Michigan social conditions (after 1836). A letter of 1 March 1883 describes travel conditions and Indians at Fort Vancouver and a letter of 29 November 1838 expresses John Ball’s anti-abolitionists sentiments. The diaries written by John Ball tell about a trip to Lansingburgh (New York), 1878, and a trip to New York and New Hampshire, 1883. Mary Ball’s diaries describe traveling abroad, 1872, and her daily life in 1874.
Copies of several books on Ball are in Clarke, as are the papers of Ball and McKee. McKee’s diary of his student years in Massachusetts and Vermont are in the Bentley Historical Library.
A portrait of John Ball is housed in the Clarke as well. The note on the back reads as follows: “John Ball. Portrait painted while he was a student at Dartmouth. Ball became one of Michigan’s most famous pioneers. He was the first to teach west of the Mississippi.” The portrait is in a small, oval frame.