Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Catherine M. Barker Correspondence, 1856-1876

Finding aid created by
Christa Lemelin, September 2006, and Meg Hixon, November 2011

Summary Information
Title: Catherine M. Barker correspondence
Creator: Barker, Catherine M., b. 1844
Inclusive dates: 1856-1876
Extent: 34 items
This collection consists of the incoming correspondence of Catherine M. Barker of Guilford, Connecticut, who received letters from family members and acquaintances during the mid-19th century. Her sister Mary wrote of her search for work in New Haven, Connecticut, and other correspondents commented on their social lives in Connecticut and New York.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1991. M-2662e.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


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:

Catherine M. Barker Correspondence, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


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


Catherine M. Barker ("Katie") of Guilford, Connecticut, was born in 1844, the daughter of Samuel and Mary Barker, and lived with her family on their farm throughout much of her adult life. She had several siblings, including Charles, Samuel, and Mary. Mary moved to New Haven, Connecticut, in the late 1850s to seek work in a garment factory.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of 34 incoming letters addressed to Catherine M. Barker of Guilford, Connecticut, who received correspondence from female family members and acquaintances during the mid-19th century. Her sister, Mary A. Barker, wrote the first 8 letters while seeking work in New Haven, Connecticut, between 1856 and 1863. She occasionally discussed her experiences as a laborer in a garment factory and provided news of her social life. She described the boarding house where she lived and a visit to a performance hall, where she saw a show by French acrobat Charles Blondin (March 23, 1861). At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mary mentioned the local scramble for news, and lamented that war seemed to be the sole topic of conversation.

The letters Catherine received after 1869 originated from multiple acquaintances, primarily female, who discussed their social lives in Connecticut and New York. Emma Scranton (later Leete) wrote 6 letters to Catherine, commenting on a visit to P. T. Barnum's circus (January 8, 1873), urging Catherine not to marry her beau, Edgar (undated), and offering updates on her social life. Other correspondents planned upcoming visits with Catherine, and one friend, Ruthie, described her shock upon hearing that a friend's wife had left him.

Subject Terms

    • Connecticut--Social life and customs.
    • New Haven (Conn.)
    • New York (State)--Social life and customs.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Social aspects.
    • United States--Social life and customs--1865-1918.
    • Women--Employment--Connecticut.
    • Women--United States.
    • Barker, Mary A.
    • Doughty, Marie.
    • Gallup, Joseph C.
    • Leete, Emma Scranton.
    • Ritter, Kate.
    • Seymour, Henry A.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   8, Small Collections  
    Catherine M. Barker correspondence [series]
    Folders   23-25  
     December 16, 1856-February 20, 1876, and  undated