Abbott family papers  1881-1922 (bulk 1912-1922)
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All Series Level Scope and Content Notes

The Abbott family papers consist primarily of the correspondence of aspiring vocalist Bessie Abbott, written to her parents and other family members in the early 20th century.

The Correspondence series makes up the bulk of the collection, and covers the years 1881-1922. The earliest letters in the collection originated from a variety of Abbott family members and acquaintances. Of particular interest is an item describing Bessie and Stanley's time in a tent city in Coronado, Mexico (June 19, 1907). After 1912, Bessie was the primary correspondent, and in her letters she discussed aspects her life during her late 20s. In the personal, richly detailed letters from 1912-1914, Bessie described her time in Brooklyn, New York, where she studied with a vocal coach. In 1913, she took a vacation to Washington, D. C. for the Wilson inauguration, and, while there, injured her hand and, as a result, initiated an unsuccessful insurance dispute. After her return to California in 1914, Bessie wrote more frequently about her health and, after a subsequent move to Hawaii, her continued professional success. Following her stint in Hawaii, Bessie's correspondence focused more heavily on business interests, and, in a late series of letters written in the early 1920s, she wrote about her travels throughout southeast Asia, including visits to the Philippines and to Saigon.

Other correspondents represented in the collection include Will Abbott, Bessie's brother; Stanley Howland, Bessie's husband; and Tracy and Linnie Abbott, Bessie's parents.

The Photographs and miscellaneous series includes the following three items:

  • A photograph of an unidentified man, taken by Eduard Glaubach in Greifswald, Germany, on March 10, 1880
  • A Christmas card, signed by Billy Warren
  • A program from a music recital in Honolulu, Hawaii