Pond Family Papers: 1841-1939
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All Series Level Scope and Content Notes

The Pond Family papers consist primarily of correspondence and other materials of architects, Irving Kane (1857-1939) and Allen Bartlit Pond (1858-1929) documenting family matters, European travels, their involvement in the civic and social life of Chicago, and professional activities. The collection has been divided into four subgroups: Allen B. Pond papers; Irving Kane Pond papers; papers of other family members and miscellaneous; and visual materials.

Correspondence comprises the bulk of both the Allen and Irving Pond subgroups. This correspondence consists almost exclusively of exchanges between the brothers when they were separated because of travel, and with their parents and sister. There is little correspondence with clients, professional associates, or others outside of the family. The letters, however, are often detailed and revealing of the thoughts and activities of the Pond brothers. In addition to the usual descriptions of landscapes and social events when traveling abroad, their letters contain many comparisons of European and American trends in architecture, housing, the development of cities. To their family and with each other, the brothers also wrote of their non-professional interests: Chicago politics, social settlements in the city, humanitarian causes, and their involvement with various literary groups. Of note in the Allen Pond papers are letters containing references to Jane Addams and her work at Hull House. There are also accounts they received from family about Jane Addams and her talks when visiting Ann Arbor. Letters concerning Jane Addams are dated Sept. 1896; Jan. 1898; Sept. 18, 1898; Jan. 22,1900; Mar. 1901; May 28,1901; June 15,1901; undated 1901; Apr. 21,1902; July 7,1902; Aug. 18,1902; Feb. 16, 1903; Jan. 12,1904; Jan. 23,1905; Feb. 1905; May 29,1907; Mar. 1908; and Apr. 1908.

Their sister, Mary Louise and their mother, Mary Barlow (Allen) Pond wrote weekly of family affairs and the social and cultural events of Ann Arbor. Both comment extensively on the ideas and activities of many of the leading intellectual and literary figures of the day - William James, John Dewey, Kipling, Wharton and Shaw - as well as on their daily interactions with Angells, Cooleys and other prominent Ann Arbor families. Unfortunately, there are few surviving letters from Allen and Irving to the family in Ann Arbor. Much of the information in the collection about their work is therefore by indirect reference only.

The Allen Bartlit Pond subgroup is divided into Biographical Material, Correspondence and Writings. The correspondence is primarily with is brother Irving and other family members. The writings include some poetry and articles and essays on architecture and a variety of social issues. While in Europe, Allen Pond conducted several studies of European settlement houses from which he prepared a number of the articles and essays. These writings are included in the folder Notes and Manuscripts re: Settlement Houses.

The Irving Kane Pond subgroup is comprised of three series: Biographical materials, Correspondence and Writings and Miscellaneous.

The Biographical materials series contains one folder of personal and family information and one reel of microfilm of a draft manuscript autobiography probably written in the 1920s. The manuscript of about 300 pages provides information about Pond's youth in Ann Arbor; his experiences at the University of Michigan, including scoring the first touchdown for the varsity football team in 1879; and information about various architectural projects and social causes in which he and his brother were involved.

Although Irving Pond was involved with settlement houses and reforms, his interests carried him more deeply into the artistic and literary circles of Chicago. A more prolific writer than Allen, he contributed regularly to the Chicago Literary Club, published several books. He often lectured on art and architecture, and he documented his travels and his career with numerous sketches and watercolors. Irving never lost his childhood fascination with the circus, and in 1937 he published his book Big Top Rhythms on this subject. He was himself an accomplished gymnast, and he saw gymnastics as an art equal to any of the more traditional forms of artistic expression. This series includes most of his extant writings.

The subgroup titled Other Family members and Miscellaneous contains correspondence and other material by Elihu and Louise Pond and a short history of the architectural firm of Pond & Pond and a listing of the major works by the Pond brothers.

Included in the family papers is a small amount of the correspondence and writing of Elihu B. Pond, father of Allen and Irving. A journalist by profession, his letters offer many observations and opinions on politics, economics and the affairs of the University of Michigan. The 1896 Presidential campaign and the issue of Free Silver were discussed in particular depth and the letters often contain specific comment on the implications of current events for Chicago business and politics.

Elihu served as warden of the Jackson State Prison from 1883 to 1885, and on the Ann Arbor Board of Education for many years. He discussed the problems encountered in these activities in his editorials for the Michigan Argus and the American Peloponnesus. His journals from 1864, 1865, 1867 and 1898 offer explicit accounts of the weather, but little of substance concerning his work or his times.

The Visual Materials subgroup contains photographs, sketches, watercolors, and architectural drawings of Irving Kane Pond, his brother Allen Bartlit Pond, and their architectural firm, Pond & Pond. It includes materials relating to architectural commissions, especially in Chicago and Chicago suburbs and at the University of Michigan; also travel sketches and paintings of Irving Kane Pond from Italy and California. The photographs, including some daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, are images of buildings designed by the Pond brothers, individual and family photos, photos of the family of Lorado Taft and drawings of collaborations between Pond and Taft.