Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Keen Family Letters, 1859-1867

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, July 2012

Summary Information
Title: Keen family letters
Creator: Keen, William, 1839-1878
Inclusive dates: 1859-1867
Bulk dates: 1862-1867
Extent: 74 items
Abstract:
This collection is made up of 74 letters and letter fragments that Sarah Augusta Keen and her family wrote to her brother William between 1859 and 1867. The letters are about their lives in Acushnet, Massachusetts, after William moved to San Francisco, California, in early 1862, and their views on the Civil War. Sarah A. Keen, William's most frequent correspondent, discussed her experiences as a schoolteacher in Lakeville, Massachusetts.

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:

1998. M-3439.8.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Keen family letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items and fragments placed at the end.


Biography

Leonard Keen and Sarah Davis lived in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, in the mid-19th century, and later moved to Acushnet, where they lived during the Civil War. They had at least nine children: James F., Susan E., William Augustus (1839-1878), Sarah Augusta, Lydia Ann (1843-1862), Leonard, Jr., Amelia F., Charles F., and Mary E. William Augustus Keen moved to San Francisco, California, in the spring of 1862, and remained there for several years, though he later returned to Massachusetts. Sarah Augusta Keen worked as a schoolteacher in Lakeville, Massachusetts, throughout the Civil War, and married Albert F. White in 1865.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 74 letters and letter fragments that Sarah Augusta Keen and her family wrote to her brother William between 1859 and 1867. The letters are about their lives in Acushnet, Massachusetts, after William moved to San Francisco, California, in early 1862, and their views on the Civil War.

Sarah Augusta Keen wrote letters to her brother William every few weeks between June 1862 and February 1866, routinely providing updates about friends and family members in and around Acushnet, Massachusetts. In her first letters, she reflected upon the death of their sister Lydia, and in later letters she continued to report on the health, marriages, and deaths of family members and local residents. Sarah occasionally commented on her experiences as a schoolteacher in Lakeville, Massachusetts, and shared her intention to quit teaching after her marriage in 1865. Some of her letters directly concern the progress of the Civil War and its effects on the local community, and regard such topics as the privateer Alabama ; a deserter who had returned home to marry; a wounded soldier who intended to return to the army and to reenlist if necessary; an acquaintance who refused to enlist even after being promised a captaincy; drafted men; and subsequent draft riots in the larger cities. After the war, she urged William to return to Massachusetts.

William also received letters from his brothers Charles and Leonard, his sister Amelia, and his parents, Leonard and Sarah. They wrote about similar topics, including their educations, and inquired about William's health in California.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Acushnet (Mass.)
    • Bereavement.
    • Draft--United States.
    • Massachusetts--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Massachusetts--Social life and customs.
    • San Francisco (Calif.)
    • Soldiers--Massachusetts.
    • Women teachers--United States.
    Contributors:
    • Keen, Amelia.
    • Keen, Charles F.
    • Keen, Leonard L.
    • Keen, Leonard L., Jr.
    • Keen, Sarah Davis.
    • White, Sarah Augusta Keen.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   30, Small Collections  
    Keen family letters [series]:
    Folders   3-9  
      October 13, 1859-March 7, 1867, and  undated