Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Martha Barker Papers, 1866-1899

Finding aid created by
C. M. B., March 1998

Summary Information
Title: Martha Barker papers
Creator: Barker, Martha
Inclusive dates: 1866-1899
Extent: 58 items
This collection contains correspondence received by Martha Barker, concerning such topics as motherhood, women's education, and everyday household matters.
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:

1993. M-2917.14.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Martha Barker Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Martha Barker lived in Saratoga County, New York with her husband Henry, who worked in the mills. Many of the members of her family lived in Illinois and Minnesota. Most of her friends lived in the northeast, suggesting that Martha was born and raised in the east, but it is unclear when her family had moved west.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence received by Martha Barker, concerning such topics as motherhood, women's education, and everyday household matters. All but one of these letters in this collection are addressed to Martha, or Mart, as she is called by her family and friends. Several letters in this collection include items such as dress scraps, locks of hair, and pressed flowers.

The letters from Mart's many family members living in Illinois and Minnesota provide information about experiences of every-day female, and to a lesser extent, male settlers in these midwestern states. Over a period of more than thirty years, these people wrote about domestic matters such as sewing, quilting, and soap making. They wrote about economic topics, including the year's harvest, and dress making businesses. Other topics included marriage, holiday celebrations, education, and child rearing. For example, Mart's sister [Kate] wrote on May 24, 1873 about the difficulty of motherhood, "You want to know how I get along with four children I dont get along at all I am half crazy."

Of particular interest are letters from Mart's brother Milton, who wrote about the lives of his daughters. In a January 17, 1897 letter, he described the process that the women had undergone to become teachers. He discussed Normal Schools, Normal Boards for licensing, teacher salaries -- which ranged from $30.00 to $45.00 per month -- and teacher work conditions. He noted that the independence that his daughters had gained from this profession was pleasing to him.

Subject Terms

    • Child rearing.
    • Dressmakers.
    • Land settlement--Illinois.
    • Land settlement--Minnesota.
    • Women--Employment.
    • Women teachers--Minnesota.
    • Working class families.
    • Illinois--Description and travel.
    • Minnesota--Description and travel.
    • Saratoga County (N. Y.)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Martha Barker papers,  1866-1899 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data


    • Barker, Philinda
    • Davenport, Althia
    • Edgerly, Kate Sweet
    • Sweet, Jessie
    • Sweet, Milton
    • Worth, J. W.
    Partial Subject Index
    Nonsense literature
    • 1872 March 31
    Wit and humor
    • 1871 October 28
    • 1871 December 24
    Women teachers--Minnesota
    • 1897 January 17