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Seymour Howard Stone Letters

Identifier: MSN/MN 5016

Scope and Contents

The collection includes 195 personal letters and postal cards written by Seymour Stone, mostly to his parents, from September 1884 to May 1895. The letters fall fairly readily into distinct chronological groups. Sixty-six letters and postal cards (September 1884 to August 1886) date from Stone's schoolboy years at Swarthmore. These are typically brief, and deal most commonly with Stone's recreational interests, including the Swarthmore College football team and outdoor activities like hiking and skating. A second group of 35 letters and cards was written in the spring and summer of 1887, after Stone's departure from Swarthmore. Many of these were written from Felsenheim cottage in the Adirondacks' Keene Valley; others (May to July 1887) were occasioned by an initial trip west, to a farm in Goodhue County, Minnesota, where Stone was taken on as an unpaid hand. A third group of 64 letters and cards (May 1888 to November 1889) dates from Stone's time in Colorado. These treat conditions in what was still, in the 1880s, sparsely settled country. Stone writes of ranching and agriculture, irrigation and controversies over water rights, efforts to develop the San Luis Valley, working with the local Spanish-speaking population, and related topics, often in considerable detail. Finally, there are 30 letters written in 1894-95 from Bartow, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia, during the period when Stone was employed in the phosphate industry. It is apparent that the letters and postal cards in the collection were once pasted down, probably to the pages of a scrapbook or album.


  • Creation: 1884-1895


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Seymour Howard Stone was born on 11 June 1867 in Hampton, Virginia, the son of George Whitefield and Catherine Graupner Stone. He and his younger brothers Ralph and Fred were raised in Wilmington, Delaware, where his father owned a successful marine machinery business and was active in civic and Republican Party affairs. In the mid-1880s Stone attended the Swarthmore Preparatory School in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; the enthusiasms mentioned in his letters home—sports, the outdoors, minerology and natural history—had little to do with his coursework. In fact, the young Stone was preoccupied with the idea of farming or ranching in the West. This wish was realized in 1888, when with his father's somewhat reluctant support he filed a claim on 160 acres of land near La Jara in the high San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado (Conejos County). Prior to improving his claim Stone worked as a hand at North Farm ranch near Monte Vista, in Rio Grande County (May to August 1888). In 1889 he lived on and worked his property at La Jara, growing wheat and other crops, but by the end of the season was ready to assent to his father's wish that he return east. In the early 1890s Stone was involved in the Florida phosphate boom, working at a plant owned by the Pharr Phosphate Company of Bartow, Polk County (whose ownership appears to have had Wilmington connections). By the summer of 1894 the phosphate bubble was collapsing and Stone was seeking alternate employment. By 1900 he had settled in Boston, and soon thereafter married Amy Wentworth of Danvers, Massachusetts. By 1911 he was Secretary of the Boston Association for the Relief and Control of Tuberculosis, and appears to have been employed by American anti-tubercular societies for many years. He died after 1930.


.42 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



A group of nearly 200 personal letters from the 1880s and 90s written home to Delaware by a young man named Seymour Howard Stone. Many are from the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado, where Stone was trying to establish a farm.


Items in Series 1 (Letters) are arranged chronologically. Series 2 contains one photograph.

Seymour Howard Stone Letters
Mairead O'Malley and George Rugg
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556