Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Beatty Family Papers, 1831-1886

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2009

Summary Information
Title: Beatty family papers
Creator: Beatty family
Inclusive dates: 1831-1886
Extent: 207 items (0.5 linear feet)
The Beatty family papers consist of correspondence and diaries that document a Pennsylvanian family's activities from May 20, 1831, to June 1, 1886. Included is a set of diaries from Mary Assheton Beatty, a short diary from her son, Joseph Henry Beatty, and letters addressed to Joseph Henry concerning the family and his activities in business and service in the Civil War.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1980. M-1898.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Beatty Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is organized chronologically.


Joseph Henry Beatty (b. 1840) was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, to John Beatty (b. 1800), a prosperous farmer, and his wife, Mary Assheton Henry Beatty. He had five siblings: brother Reading (b.1834), and sisters Emily, Susan Assheton, and Francis H. (Fanny). After receiving a boarding school education at Tuscarora Academy, and while still in his teens, Joseph Henry agreed to supervise the operation of oil wells in Franklin, Pennsylvania, for George F. Curwen, husband to his sister Emily. In the Civil War, Beatty served with the Union Army Commissary Department for two years. He then attended Burnham's American Business College in Hudson, New York, for a short period. After another fling with oil drilling in 1865, Beatty purchased a farm in North Vineland, N.J., where he became a fruit farmer. Joseph Henry married Olive McConnely Kerns in North Vineland, New Jersey, in 1863.

Francis H. "Fanny" Beatty, Joseph's sister, married Robert F. Holmes in November 1861. Robert had recently enlisted in the 104th regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Co. A. on September 6, 1861. By 1862 he was a Captain.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Beatty papers date from May 20, 1831, to June 1, 1886, with the bulk falling between February 2, 1855, and November 18, 1878. The papers touch on subjects such as the Tuscarora Academy, Steubenville Female Seminary, child rearing, homemaking, everyday life, education, and religion.

The correspondence is almost exclusively addressed to Joseph Henry Beatty (J. Henry or Henry) though a few are addressed to his parents and to his brother Reading. Joseph Henry received letters from his brother-in-law George Curwen, and letters to and from various family members relating news, giving advice, and asking questions about his schooling, his work in oil well management, his service in the Civil War, and farming. The letters also give substantial information about Joseph Henry's sister, Fanny, and her husband, Robert Holmes. A letter from George F.Curwen to J. Henry Beatty, January 12, 1861, contains a rough sketch of the layout of a plot of land [Bucks or Montgomery County?].

The diaries series consists of two sets of diaries: one written by J. Henry's mother, Mary A. Beatty, dated 1850-1854, and a 16-page diary written by J. Henry Beatty in 1855 while in boarding school. Mary's diaries detail the family's daily life as well as their experiences with education, marriage, childbirth, employment, and travel.

The miscellaneous items include several pages from The Press, a Philadelphia newspaper, regarding the oil industry in Northern Pennsylvania, a Calling card for Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Wiegand, and empty envelopes.

Subject Terms

    • Education.
    • Farm life--Pennsylvania--History--19th century.
    • Farm life--New Jersey--History.
    • Oil industry workers--Pennsylvania.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Beatty, Joseph Henry, b. 1840.
    • Beatty, Mary Assheton Henry.
    Genre Terms:
    • Calling cards.
    • Diaries.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Sketches.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Diaries [series]
    Mary Assheton diaries
     January 4-June 7, 1850
     June 19-September 22, 1851
     March 9, 1852-July 16, 1852
     July 23, 1853-September 16, 1854
    Joseph Henry diary,  February 1855-June 10, 1855
    Box   1 Folders   2-12
    Correspondence,  1831-1886 [series]
    Box   1 Folders   13-14
    Newspaper clippings, calling card, and empty envelopes [series]