Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Mary S. Clayton Correspondence, 1877-1883

Finding aid created by
Clements Staff, September 2006, and Meg Hixon, February 2012

Summary Information
Title: Mary S. Clayton correspondence
Creator: Jordan, James F.
Inclusive dates: 1877-1883
Extent: 0.5 linear feet
This collection consists of letters written by Mary S. Clayton to her future husband, James F. Jordan, while she worked as a schoolteacher in Almont, Michigan. She discussed her teaching experiences, life in Almont, and her family in Plymouth, Michigan, whom she occasionally visited.
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:

1998. M-3468.1.

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 S. Clayton Correspondence, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


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


Mary S. Clayton was born in Wayne County, Michigan, on January 19, 1857, the daughter of Joseph S. Clayton and his wife Mary. She had four siblings: Frederick, Cornelia, Margaret, and Elizabeth ("Libbie"). Clayton graduated from the Michigan State Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University) in 1877, with a focus in modern languages, and moved to Almont, Michigan, where she became a teacher at Union School. In the late summer of 1881, she married James F. Jordan, a native of Decatur, Michigan, who also graduated from the Michigan State Normal School in 1877. They lived in Lawton, Michigan, where he worked as a teacher, and eventually moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he worked as a "credit man." They had at least five children: Lois, Anna, Robert James, Frances, and Veda.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of over 230 items, almost all of which are letters. Mary S. Clayton wrote most of the letters to her future husband, James F. Jordan, while she worked as a schoolteacher in Almont, Michigan. Mary began her correspondence in July 1877, shortly after graduating from the Michigan State Normal School, and regularly wrote flirtatious letters to James, also a teacher. She focused on her teaching career and life in Almont, Michigan, and described incidents from the classroom as well as from her social life. She mentioned the Methodist Church, where she occasionally taught classes, local news, and her thoughts on relationships, particularly on flirtation. She wrote most of the letters prior to her marriage to James in 1881. The rest include letters that James wrote to Mary from Buchanan, Michigan, in 1882, as well as letters from family and friends, who wrote from several Michigan towns and from Chicago. Some later letters relate to the custody of Mary's sister Libbie following the death of her father in the spring of 1882.

Subject Terms

    • Almont (Mich.)—Religious life and customs.
    • Almont (Mich.)--Social life and customs.
    • Buchanan (Mich.)--Social life and customs.
    • Courtship--United States.
    • Custody of children.
    • Education--United States--History--19th century.
    • Flirting.
    • Methodist Church--Michigan.
    • Plymouth (Mich.)--Social life and customs.
    • Teachers--Michigan.
    • Teaching.
    • Women teachers--United States.
    • Clayton, Mary S., b. 1857.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-25
     July 15, 1877-June 29, 1883, and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Additional information on the collection's contents is available in the Manuscripts Division.


    The Alumni Record of the University of Illinois. James Herbert Kelley, Ed. Urbana-Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois, 1913.

    Joint Documents of the State of Michigan, for the Year 1877. Volume 3. Lansing: W. S. George & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1878.