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Marie Balje Kimball Correspondence

Identifier: MSN/MN 5019

Scope and Contents

The collection includes around 200 letters, postcards, greeting cards, and invitations directed to and preserved by Marie Balje Kimball, 1886 to 1927. There are also four letters written by Marie, all from November 1913, when she was at Rome, New York undergoing surgery for breast cancer. Many of the earlier letters, beginning in 1897, are from classmates at the New York Deaconess Home and Training School; these often relate the circumstances of their authors' lives after graduation, including social ministry and Christian missionary activities and stenographic and clerical work. There are also letters from Deaconess Home administators, like Annie Grace Adams and Zaida Tyrrell. The most frequent of Balje's Deaconess correspondents is Maria Brooks Poole (1875-1911), whose letters include a series of 22 written in 1908-10 from Turkish Armenia, where Poole was serving at the Harput (Elâziğ) Station of the Eastern Turkey Mission. Poole's letters touch on both the rise of the Young Turk government in 1908, the resulting empowerment of the Armenian Christian population, and the 1909 massacres of Armenians in Adana province. Also in the collection are about 50 letters written to Marie by her husband, Harry Kimball, from the period of their courtship to Kimball's stay in New York City in the winter of 1918-19. The 17 letters from this latter period, January to March 1919, provide a detailed account of Kimball's radicalism: his sense of persecution as an "industrial slave" within the glove trade; classes, reading, and lectures that shaped his understanding of politics, society, and labor; ruminations on national and world events, including the Paris Peace Conference, the Russian Revolution and international Bolshevism, the IWW, and more. The collection also includes a number of letters directed to Marie by her family, including some from Germany.


  • Creation: 1886-1927
  • Creation: Majority of material found within ( 1897-1919)


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

Marie Balje Kimball was born on 23 March 1873, in New York State. She was the daughter of the German immigrants William and Wilhelmina Balje, who arrived in the United States in 1872. By 1880 the family was settled in Bleecker, Fulton County, New York, where William Balje worked in a saw mill. (In later years, he established his own farm in). Marie attended local schools before leaving, temporarily, for New York City, where she studied over a period of several years (ca. 1896-1898) at the Methodist Episcopal Church's New York Deaconess Home and Training School at 245 West 14th Street. Balje seems to have had no aspirations to become a deaconess or missionary; she conformed to another class of student accepted by the school, "[w]omen who realize their need of Bible study and special training for better service as lay workers in their own churches." (Balje was herself a Lutheran). Though she soon returned to Fulton County, ultimately finding work as a bookkeeper at the Johnstown Knitting Mills Co., Balje seems to have made firm friendships with fellow students at the Training School, and corresponded with several of these women in later years. In 1910 Balje married Harry L. Kimball (b. 1876, in Bleecker, Fulton County), who worked in the glovemaking trade as a cutter; the two settled in Johnstown. Kimball was a socialist and labor activist who in 1916-17 moved to New York City to work in the glove trade and attend classes at the Rand School of Social Science, founded in 1906 by the Socialist Party of America. Marie Kimball appears to have shared her husband's leftist leanings. As World War I came to a close Harry Kimball seems to have become increasingly radicalized, and again left Johnstown for New York to work and study at the Rand. His stay was short-lived, as conflict with an employer named Rosenbaum left him blacklisted by the trade, and he returned to Johnstown in March 1919. In 1930 Harry and Marie Kimball were still residing in Johnstown; the Federal census indicates that Harry worked as a chiropractor. Marie Kimball died in June 1967, aged 94.


1 Cubic foot (2 containers; 41 folders )

Language of Materials




A collection consisting primarily of some 200 manuscript personal letters directed to Marie Balje Kimball (1873-1967) of Fulton County, New York. Included are a series of 22 letters written by a missionary friend in Turkish Armenia, 1908-10, and a series of 17 written from New York City in early 1919 by Marie Kimball's socialist and labor activist husband, Harry Kimball.


Dated letters and other correspondence are arranged chronologically in folders 1 through 38. Folders 39 through 41 contain undated and miscellaneous manuscripts and bits of ephemera.

Marie Balje Kimball Correspondence
Kathryn Ossing
March 2014
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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