Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Curtis Family Papers, 1850-1883

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, July 1996

Summary Information
Title: Curtis family papers
Creator: Curtis family
Inclusive dates: 1850-1883
Extent: 58 items
Abstract:
The Curtis family papers are comprised of 58 letters written between Maine ship's captain Joseph Russell Curtis and his wife, Louisa. The letters map out the confines of a close relationship, maintained despite the lengthy periods of great separation.

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: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1982. M-2025.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Curtis family papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Between the 1850s and 1870s, Joseph Russell Curtis (d. 1873) of Yarmouth, Maine, was a ship's captain, enduring the long absences imposed by life on the deep seas. His wife, Louisa J. Curtis (b. August 17, 1821) and children Oceana H. (b. 1845) and William (b. December 16, 1856), remained at home in Yarmouth, providing Joseph with a vital, if sporadic link to news of home. During her husband's absences, Louisa busied herself in various ways, firstly, in taking care of her children, but also joining a sewing society and keeping tabs on local news occupied her time as well.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Curtis family papers are comprised of 58 letters written between Maine ship's captain, Joseph Russell Curtis and his wife, Louisa. The letters map out the confines of a close relationship, maintained despite the lengthy periods of great separation. Though Louisa's writing is labored, her letters reveal the hardships she encountered through separation. Joseph's letters are more concerned with matters in Maine than they are with describing the many ports of call he visited. His polished, literary style stands in stark contrast with the phonetic spelling and poor grammar of his wife.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Family--Maine.
    • Home economics.
    • Husband and wife--Maine.
    • Parent and child--Maine.
    • Ship captains--Maine.
    • Shipping--Maine.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   1  
    Curtis family papers,  1850 November 4-1883 November 26 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    African Americans--Alabama
    • 18
    Alabama--Description and travel
    • 18
    Catholic Church
    • 6
    Cholera
    • 13
    Christianity
    • 18
    Death
    • 31, 44, 45
    Detroit (Vessel)
    • 33
    Dogs
    • 49
    Education
    • 29
    Estates (Law)--Maine
    • 53
    Family--Maine
    • passim
    Fatherhood
    • 17
    Fathers and daughters
    • 19, 20, 23
    Fathers and sons
    • 32, 39
    Guano
    • 32
    Home economics
    • 23, 34, 35, 41, 44
    Husband and wife--Maine
    • passim
    Illegitimacy
    • 9
    Maine
    • 5
    Motherhood
    • 2
    Parent and child--Maine
    • 2, 10, 13, 17, 19, 20, 23, 29, 32, 39
    Phonetic spelling
    • See letters of Louisa Curtis
    Poetry
    • 57
    Pregnancy
    • 8
    Race relations--Alabama
    • 18
    Separation anxiety
    • 3, 4
    Ship captains--Maine
    • passim
    Shipping--Maine
    • 14, 28, 33, 52
    Shipwrecks
    • 11, 46
    Storms
    • 6
    Stoves
    • 11
    Temperance
    • 32
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
    • 19, 20
    Vacations
    • 10
    Westminster Abbey
    • 27
    Yarmouth (Maine)--Description and travel
    • 43
    Zebra (Vessel)
    • 11