Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Mary Young Papers, 1864-1905

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, February 2012

Summary Information
Title: Mary Young papers
Creator: Young, Mary Clap Blake, 1831-1901
Inclusive dates: 1864-1905
Bulk dates: 1895-1901
Extent: 0.25 linear feet
This collection contains letters that Mary C. Young of Cambridge and Waltham, Massachusetts, received from her brother and sister-in-law, Gorham and Mary Blake, who lived in Georgia and in Oakland, California. Gorham Blake wrote of his mining interests in California and Georgia, and later described his life in Oakland. After his death, his widow frequently corresponded with Young, about her late husband's life and her own health. The collection also includes 6 portraits of Blake family members.
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:

1995. M-3148.6, M-3153.6.

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:

Mary Young Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Photographs

The Correspondence series is arranged chronologically.


Mary Clap Blake was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in January 1831, the daughter of James Blake and Polly Clap. She had two brothers, James Barnard Blake (1827-1870) and Gorham Blake (1829-1897). In 1859, Mary married Edward James Young (b. 1829), who graduated from Harvard College in 1848, attended Harvard Divinity School from 1850 to 1852, and studied at the German Universities of Göttingen and Halle between 1852 and 1856. After returning to the United States, Young preached at Channing Church in Newton, Massachusetts, a position he held until 1869, when he became a professor of Hebrew and Biblical literature at Harvard. In 1880, they moved to Waltham, Massachusetts, where Edward was pastor of the First Parish Church. Mary and Edward had at least four children: Edward B., Edith, Herbert, and Charles. Mary Blake Young died on October 21, 1901, and Edward James Young died in 1906.

Gorham Blake, Mary's brother, was born on May 26, 1829, and became a superintendent of iron mines in Vermont in 1851. The following year, he moved to California. He continued to work in the mining industry until 1855, when he opened an assaying business with John Agrell in Sacramento; the company became Blake & Co. later that year. In the late 1860s, Blake lived in Georgia, where he had mining interests. He earned a medical degree around 1877 and married Mary A. Gordon in Fulton, Georgia, on May 9, 1885, though they later moved to California. Gorham Blake died in Oakland, California, California, on December 17, 1897.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 50 letters that Mary C. Young of Cambridge and Waltham, Massachusetts, received from her brother and sister-in-law, Gorham and Mary Blake, who lived in Georgia and in Oakland, California. The collection also includes 6 cartes-de-visite of Blake family members.

The Correspondence series comprises the bulk of the collection. In his first letter (6 pages), Gorham Blake described his recent journey to the Dardanelles Mine in Placer County, California, which took him across the Great Plains and the deserts of Nevada (August 16, 1864). Two letters he wrote from the Loudsville Camp in White County, Georgia, mention his local mining interests, the weather, and a recent earthquake (September 6, 1886, and January 5, 1887). Having received a medical degree around 1877, he occasionally offered medical advice. The bulk of Blake's correspondence is dated between 1895 and 1897, as he described his life in San Francisco and Oakland, California. He commented on political issues such as the Southern economy and the nation's upper class, and discussed his mining interests in Georgia and California. Some of his letters address religion and spiritualism, and toward the end of his life he focused more prominently on his life and on news of his extended family. His last letter fragment is postmarked April 6, 1897.

Mary Young's cousin wrote a condolence letter about Gorham's death on December 17, 1897, and enclosed a handwritten invitation to the funeral and a lengthy printed pamphlet on Masonic funeral rites. Gorham's widow Mary composed most of the remaining correspondence, discussing her husband's life and death as well as her finances, which were affected by her ownership of at least one mine in Georgia. Her final letter is dated January 4, 1901.

Charles Husband, an employee of the Alameda County Treasurer's Office and a friend of the Blakes, wrote 3 letters, including descriptions of Gorham Blake's ailing health (December 14, 1897) and funeral (December 27, 1897). M. Louise Warren wrote one letter to Edward J. Young, about her desire to purchase a statuette of "Wesley" (November 25, 1905).

The collection's 6 Photographs , all cartes-de-visite, show the following members of the Blake family:

  • Mary C. Blake (1862)
  • Gorham Blake (May 15, 1866, and two undated)
  • Frank Blake (undated)
  • James Blake (undated)
Subject Terms

    • Death.
    • Freemasonry--Rituals.
    • Freemasons.
    • Great Plains--Description and travel.
    • Mines and mineral resources--California.
    • Mines and mineral resources--Georgia.
    • Oakland (Calif.)
    • San Francisco (Calif.)
    • Southern States.
    • White County (Ga.)
    • Widows--United States.
    • Women--Finance, Personal.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Blake, Frank.
    • Blake, Gorham, 1829-1897.
    • Blake, James.
    • Young, Mary Clap Blake, 1831-1901.
    • Blake, Gorham, 1829-1897.
    • Blake, Mary A. Gordon.
    • Husband, Charles.
    • Warren, M. Louise.
    • Young, Edward J. (Edward James), 1829-1906.
    Genre Terms:
    • Cartes-de-visite.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-8
     August 16, 1864-November 25, 1905
    Photographs [series]
    Box   1 Folder   9
     1862-May 15, 1866, and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data

    American Unitarian Association. Unitarian Year Book. Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1904.

    Fenn, William W. "Edward James Young (1829-1906)." Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 58.17 (September 1923): 614-616.

    Kagin, Donald H. Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States. New York: Arco Publishing, 1981.

    Lowell, Delmar R. The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells in America from 1639 to 1899. Rutland, Vermont: The Tuttle Company, Printers, 1899.