Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Evarts Kent Family Papers, 1790-1928

Finding aid created by
Catalina Oyler, March 2004, and Meg Hixon, July 2012

Summary Information
Title: Evarts Kent family papers
Creator: Kent family
Inclusive dates: 1790-1928
Bulk dates: 1867-1904
Extent: 4.25 linear feet
Abstract:
This collection is made up of letters written and received by Reverend Evarts Kent and members of his family throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kent and his family corresponded with friends and family members in several states, including Vermont, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Georgia, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Most letters concern family news, education, religion, travel, family relationships, and similar personal subjects. The collection also includes printed invitations, programs, and 23 photographs.
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:

2004. M-4328, M-4345.1.

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:

Evarts Kent Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Documents
  • Series III: Photographs

The Correspondence series is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Biography

Evarts Bradford Kent was born in Benson, Vermont, on March 12, 1843, the son of Mary Abby Clark and Congregational minister Cephas Henry Kent. He had at least three siblings: Frances, William, and Abby. Kent attended the Castleton Seminary before entering Middlebury College in 1861. In 1864, he interrupted his collegiate studies to enlist with Company A of the 6th Vermont Infantry Regiment, with which he served until his discharge in February 1865. He then returned to Middlebury College, and graduated later that year.

After spending a year as a schoolteacher in Illinois, Kent studied divinity at the Auburn Theological Seminary (1866-1867) and Andover Theological Seminary (1867-1869). He received his divinity degree in 1869 and was ordained in 1871. Kent served as pastor for many Congregational churches throughout his career, which included positions in the following cities: Sterling, Massachusetts (1869-1870 and 1912-1915); Billerica, Massachusetts (1870-1871); Michigan City, Indiana (1871-1880); Chicago, Illinois (1880-1881); Atlanta, Georgia (1881-1889); Eldora, Iowa (1889-1898); Victor, Iowa (1898-1901); Dunlap, Iowa (1901-1905); Enosburg, Vermont (1905-1909); and Benson, Vermont (1909-1912). He married Helen M. Beckwith of Alstead, New Hampshire, on August 22, 1872, and they had four children: Ernest Beckwith, Grace Helen, Willys Peck, and Sterling Evarts. Ernest attended Iowa College (now Grinnell College) in Grinnell, Iowa, and Willys became a musician.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of letters written and received by Reverend Evarts Kent and members of his family throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kent and his family corresponded with friends and family members in several states, including Vermont, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Georgia, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Most letters concern family news, education, religion, travel, family relationships, and similar personal subjects. The collection also includes 2 documents and 23 photographs; printed invitations and programs are interspersed among the letters.

The Correspondence series comprises most of the collection, and contains approximately 4 linear feet of letters, which are primarily the incoming personal correspondence of Evarts Kent, his wife, and their children. The earliest items are Civil War-era letters between unidentified family members. The bulk of the collection begins around 1867, when Evarts Kent began to receive letters from his family and friends, who provided local news from Ripton, Vermont, and often commented on his recent marriage to Helen Beckwith. As Kent's father, Cephas, was a Congregational minister, the Kent family frequently discussed religious topics. In the early and mid-1880s, Michael E. Strieby and Joseph E. Roy of the American Missionary Association also corresponded with Kent.

After the mid-1870s, the correspondence is primarily between Evarts and Helen Kent and their children, Ernest, Grace, and Willys, who exchanged letters with their parents and each other from their childhood into their early adult lives. Ernest discussed his educational experiences, including his time at Iowa College,his experiences in preparatory school and as a young adult and at Iowa College, and occasionally composed letters to his father in Latin. The Kent siblings sometimes included sketches or more refined drawings within their letters. Their letters reveal details about their relationships with each other, their personal lives, and their religious beliefs. Later items from the World War I era often concern Willys's wife, who signed herself "Roxi," and the couple's experiences while spending their summers at Camp Arcadia in Belgrade, Maine. A relative named "Jupe" also wrote Evarts Kent an extensive series of letters throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including a group of 20th-century letters about travel in the Black Mountains of North Carolina.

The Documents series is made up of a 2-page document containing several sets of church minutes compiled in Benson, Vermont, between March 1790 and September 1792, and a partially printed receipt for a payment made to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in 1870.

The Photographs series holds 23 photographs, primarily snapshots, of unidentified individuals. Though most are portraits, 2 depict a woman riding a bicycle and one is a self portrait of a woman, "taken by herself in front of a looking glass." The photographs include one cyanotype.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • American Missionary Association.
    • Atlanta (Ga.)
    • Belgrade (Me.)
    • Benson (Vt.)
    • Black Mountains (N.C.)
    • Chicago (Ill.)
    • Congregational churches--Clergy.
    • Congregationalists--United States.
    • Education--United States--History--19th century.
    • Grinnell (Iowa)
    • Iowa College (Grinnell, Iowa)
    • Ripton (Vt.)
    • Sterling (Mass.)
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Bicycles.
    Contributors:
    • Kent, Abby.
    • Kent, Cephas Henry.
    • Kent, Ernest Beckwith.
    • Kent, Evarts, b. 1843.
    • Kent, Frances.
    • Kent, Grace Helen.
    • Kent, Mary Abby Clark.
    • Kent, Sterling Evarts.
    • Kent, William P.
    • Kent, Willys Peck, d. 1957.
    • Roy, J. E. (Joseph Edwin), 1827-1908.
    • Strieby, Michael E. (Michael Epaphras), 1815-1899.
    Genre Terms:
    • Cyanotypes (photographic prints)
    • Invitations.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Photographs.
    • Programs (documents)
    • Snapshots.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
     
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-19
     August 13, 1860-December 23, 1879
    Box   2 Folders   1-12
     January 28, 1880-July 7, 1889
    Box   3 Folders   1-21
     July 8, 1889-November 28, 1892
    Box   4 Folders   1-21
     January 7, 1893-November 4, 1895
    Box   5 Folders   1-20
     November 6, 1895-June 3, 1898
    Box   6 Folders   1-18
     June 6, 1898-December 28, 1899
    Box   7 Folders   1-17
     January 13, 1900-November 12, 1902
    Box   8 Folders   1-20
     November 13, 1902-January 1, 1928, and  undated
    Box   9 Folders   1-4
     Undated
     
    Documents [series]
    Box   9 Folder   5
     March 1790-September 5, 1792;  June 15, 1870
     
    Photographs [series]
    Box   9 Folder   6
     Undated
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Bibliography

    Wiley, Edgar J. Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont and of Others Who Have Received Degrees, 1800-1915. Middlebury, Vermont: Middlebury College, 1917.