The Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers consist of 20.5 linear feet of manuscripts, 66 cased photographs, 3 linear feet of paper photographs, 8 cubic feet of photographic slides, and 7 cubic feet of realia, arranged into 13 series. For more detail, see scope and content notes, below.
The Correspondence series (Boxes 1-10) contains all the collection’s letters, postcards, and telegrams (with the exception of official military correspondence, financial correspondence, and genealogy correspondence, which are under "Topical Files," "Financial Correspondence," and "Genealogical Correspondence," respectively). Correspondence spans the years 1827-1989 and makes up around one quarter of the collection. It is subdivided by family into the "Townshend Subseries" and "Dodge Subseries," and arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end. The series contains correspondence to and from prominent Ohio politicians, such as Salmon P. Chase; who wrote 34 letters to Townshend; William Medill; Rutherford B. Hayes; and notable agricultural educators, including James Sullivant and John Klippart. Correspondence among family members is also voluminous, and documents a wide variety of issues during the mid-19th to early-20th centuries, including social and family life, courtship, women’s work and viewpoints, travel, and attitudes toward education. For an index of correspondents, see "Additional Descriptive Data."
The Joel Townshend papers series (Box 10) brings together documents by and related to Norton Townshend’s father, Joel Townshend (1780-1864). It includes a few religious writings, as well as financial and legal documents that shed light on the family’s life in Northamptonshire, England, and Ohio. Most items date from 1810 to 1830, with the exception of a biography of Townshend written in the 1930s or 1940s by his great-grandson, H. Percy Boynton.
The Norton S. Townshend papers series (Boxes 10-26) is the largest series in the collection and contains diaries, published and unpublished writings, printed materials, clippings, broadsides, biographical materials, and other items relating to nearly every facet of Townshend’s adult life. These materials document Townshend’s political involvement, particularly in local and national antislavery, in agricultural movements, and in the U.S. House of Representatives. The series also includes papers about his educational career, family life, Civil War service, and religious views and work. Townshend frequently worked and reworked his ideas on paper, and both his published and unpublished writings are a rich source of intellectual and reform history. Townshend was also an inveterate collector and preserver of interesting items, including materials relating to northern Ohio’s Liberty Party, his admission tickets to medical courses and the World Anti-Slavery Convention, an application to the Ohio State Asylum for the Education of Idiotic and Imbecile Youth, of which he was a trustee, and dozens of fliers and handbills for lectures given by himself and others.
The Margaret Bailey Townshend papers series (Boxes 26-27) is comprised of two diaries, a rich autobiographical writing entitled "Genealogy," describing her childhood and education, a small number of clippings, and materials relating to her education and career as a teacher in Illinois and Ohio in the 1850s. Many items in the Realia series (below) also relate to Margaret Bailey Townshend.
The Other Townshend family members’ papers series (Boxes 28-30) contains materials relating mainly to Townshend’s children and their spouses, but also includes James B. Wood (Townshend’s father-in-law), Harriet Wood Townshend (Townshend’s first wife), Margaret Wing Dodge (Townshend’s granddaughter), and several other relatives. The bulk of this series is made up of their writings, which are autobiographical, religious, and cultural in subject. Also of interest is biographical information on family members, including articles on Townshend’s children, who were early students of Ohio State University, and a number of obituaries of these family members.
The Dodge family papers series (Boxes 30-34) consists of materials produced and collected by the Dodges of upstate New York, from 1839 to approximately 1970, and documenting their family life, travels, hobbies (in particular the outdoors and canoeing), financial and legal transactions, and civic engagement. Incorporated are some writings by various family members, including Levi R. Dodge, F. Isabella (Donaghue) Dodge, Homer Dodge, and family friend Lydia Sayer Hasbrouck; topical files, the bulk of which are 20th century; biographical materials such as obituaries and clippings; and periodicals on topics of interest to the Dodges.
The Genealogical research series (Boxes 35-37) reflects the family’s interest in its own history and consists of correspondence, family trees, historical essays, as well as commercially produced family histories for some lines. The materials reflect a particular interest in finding links between various family members and such prominent figures as the Townshends of Raynham Hall, the Green family of Vermont, and General Grenville Dodge. This series pertains mainly to the 20th century and is arranged by family, except for the correspondence, which is arranged chronologically.
The Collection-related materials series is made up of documents and articles that shed light on the outreach efforts made on behalf of the collection, particularly for the Easterly items, prior to their accessioning by the William L. Clements Library. The series is comprised of fliers, museum publicity materials, and articles on exhibits. Materials date from the late 20th century, particularly the 1990s.
The Books series contains three items that are housed with the collection: Sermons on Various Subjects by the Late Rev. Thomas Strange, Kilsby, Northamptonshire, with Some Memoirs of His Life (1807); the Townshend Family Bible (with manuscript notes on births, deaths and marriages); and Robert W. McCormick’s 1988 self-published biography of Townshend: Norton S. Townshend, M.D. Antislavery Politician and Agricultural Educator. The rest of the books, including books from the personal libraries of Norton Townshend, Joel Townshend, Margaret Bailey Townshend, and the Dodge family, are housed in the Book Division of the Clements Library; for the list of titles, search for "M-3437" in the University of Michigan's library catalog.
The Visual materials series is arranged by type of item and then by subject. This includes daguerreotypes by prominent daguerreotypist Thomas M. Easterly, other photographs, drawings/prints, and maps. The materials range from the 1840s to the 1970s. See also Realia series below.
The Realia series contains approximately 8 linear feet of objects, including items from the childhood and teaching career of Margaret Bailey Townshend, intricate hairwork jewelry and a hair wreath made with the locks of at least 16 family members, geological materials and fossils collected by Norton Townshend and possibly Thomas Easterly, and other three-dimensional objects such as a glass vial for medicine, ribbons from the Ohio State Fair, and decorative objects. Also noteworthy are a number of paper objects, such as Civil War era chromolithograph animal toys, a Japanese paper lantern, and an alphabet game for children.
The Dodge Photographic Slides series includes eight cubic feet of photographic slides, totaling approximately 22,000 slides, attributed to Homer L. Dodge. They document travels around the southwest United States and to countries such as Japan, Canada and Sweden.
The Miscellaneous series contains envelopes without accompanying letters, blank letterhead, and a binder of transcriptions of select letters from Harriet Wood Townshend to Sarah Wood Keffer.