Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Orville E. Watson Letters, 1878-1885

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, April 2012

Summary Information
Title: Orville E. Watson letters
Creator: Watson, Eliza J.
Inclusive dates: 1878-1885
Bulk dates: 1878-1882
Extent: 24 items
Abstract:
This collection contains 22 letters that Orville E. Watson wrote to his mother while attending Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, between 1878 and 1882, as well as 2 letters he wrote after graduating. He discussed his coursework and his social life, which included membership in a fraternity.
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:

2000. M-4102.2.

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:

Orville E. Watson Letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.


Biography

Orville Ernest Watson was born in Westfield Center, Ohio, on December 1, 1857, the son of Joseph Watson, a physician, and his wife Eliza (or Ella) Jane Mills. Orville's three siblings were Clarence, Minnie, and Jessie. The Watson family moved to Cardington, Ohio, before 1870, and Orville Watson graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1882. After working as a businessman in Cardington, he entered Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, as a theology student in 1889. Following his graduation in 1892, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he was assistant rector for Trinity Episcopal Church. He eventually returned to Gambier, Ohio, where he died on May 17, 1951.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 22 letters that Orville E. Watson wrote to his mother while attending Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, between 1878 and 1882, as well as 2 letters he wrote after graduating. He discussed his coursework and his social life, which included membership in a fraternity.

Watson generally wrote every month or two between April 5, 1878, and July 8, 1882, with a few longer gaps between letters. He mentioned some of his courses, lectures, and examinations, and commented on faculty-student relations. Watson wrote most frequently about his social activities and those of other university students, occasionally focusing on relations between the junior and senior classes. As a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, he discussed Greek life and houses' recruitment efforts, as well as his experiences after briefly leaving his own fraternity. During his later years in school, Watson also participated in a literary society. Though much of his social life revolved around fellow students, he interacted with other Delaware residents, including an older woman named Sadie West, the subject of a humorous anecdote and sketch in his letter of March 5, 1882. He also described his search for lodgings (September 18, 1881), his landlady, "Mrs. Carlisle" (September-December 1881), and the floor plans of his room and the apartment he later shared with a fraternity brother (September 18, 1881, and January 14, 1882). Watson and his friends sometimes traveled outside of Delaware, taking a hunting trip (May 6, 1882) and visiting a haunted house (December 14, 1879). Though most of Watson's letters are lighthearted and humorous in tone, he wrote 2 more serious letters around the time of his graduation about the possibility of joining the United States Army Signal Corps and corps members' daily routine (June 17, 1882, and July 8, 1882). He wrote his final 2 letters from Cardington, Ohio, on December 25, 1884, and June 16, 1885, providing his mother with family news. His brother Clarence, who occasionally visited Delaware, contributed to 2 of the letters.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Cardington (Ohio)--Social life and customs.
    • Delaware (Ohio)--Social life and customs.
    • Education, Higher--United States--History.
    • Greek letter societies.
    • Haunted houses--Ohio.
    • Ohio Wesleyan University.
    • Phi Kappa Psi.
    • United States. Army. Signal Corps.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Cartoons and caricatures.
    • Floor plans.
    Contributors:
    • Watson, Clarence.
    • Watson, Orville Ernest, 1857-1951.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   6, Small Collections  
    Orville E. Watson letters [series]
    Folders   12-13  
     April 5, 1878-June 16, 1885
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Bibliography

    Fifty Years of History of the Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio. 1844-1894. Edward Thomson Nelson, ed. Cleveland: The Cleveland Printing and Publishing Co., 1895.