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Casey-Needham Family Correspondence

Identifier: MSN/EA 5032

Scope and Contents

The collection includes 198 letters, mostly personal, written by the Caseys and Needhams and members of their extended families. There are also several records and bits of ephemera. The letters are mostly directed to Whiting, especially to the Casey farm. Mary A. Casey Newman is the collection's chief author, with 63 letters written from Troy Female Seminary and the various schools at which she taught, primarily in the South. All but one of Mary's letters date from the period 1841-59. There is a great deal, of course on education, from descriptions of Mary's student years at Troy and her subsequent teaching positions to her ongoing exhortations to family members about self-improvement through schooling. There is also much on life in the South. The correspondence also includes 19 letters of Louise Casey, almost all written from the South (1847-55). The Casey sons, Daniel and Edward, are less well represented, since they spent most of the 1840s and 50s at Whiting. There is a short series of colorful letters written by Edward from Kentucky in the early 1850s, and several written by Daniel from North Carolina in 1847. As for the Needhams, there are 24 letters (1854-59) written by Phebe Needham Casey, mostly to her parents and her younger sister Carrie. Also in the collection are sixteen letters (1851-58) of Stephen Locke, a cousin and business associate of Daniel Casey, and thirteen of the R. H. Walker family to the Needhams, from Wisconsin.


  • Creation: 1839-1861


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

Most of the Casey-Needham correspondence consists of personal letters directed to the Whiting, Vermont home of the widow Mary Norton Casey (1789-ca. 1860) and her son, Daniel Norton Casey. Mary Norton Casey had married the farmer Edward Casey (1786-1830) in 1816. Of particular importance for the collection are four of the Casey children: the aforementioned Daniel (b. 1817); Mary A. Casey Newman (b. 1820); Edward A. Casey (b. 1827); and Louise P. Casey (b. 1829). Likewise figuring in the correspondence are members of the Needham family, near neighbors of the Caseys in Whiting. Two daughters of Ezra and Jane Needham married into the Casey family; Phebe (b. 1838) wed Edward A. Casey, and Caroline (b. 1841) married Daniel. Beyond these central figures, the correspondence includes letters from more distant relatives, including members of the Norton and Walker families and a cousin to the Caseys named Stephen Locke.

Daniel Norton Casey, born at Whiting in 1817, was the oldest child of Edward and Mary Casey. He is the author of relatively few of the collection's letters but the recipient of many; he managed the family property at Whiting for most of the period covered by the correspondence. Daniel was a farmer and cattle broker, and served as town superintendent in 1862-63. Around 1860 he married his (considerably younger) neighbor Caroline "Carrie" Needham. Mary Casey Newman, the second of the Casey children to survive to adulthood, is the collection's most prolific author and in many ways its most vivid figure. Her earliest letters (1841-43) date from her years as a student at Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York, founded by the educator and women's rights advocate Emma Willard (of whom Mary speaks). After Troy Mary taught at a succession of plantation schools and academies in the South, in North Carolina (1844-49), Georgia (1850-51), Kentucky (1851-54), and Winchester, Virginia, where she met her future husband, the educator Robert W. Newman (b. ca. 1819). Following his marriage to Mary in 1855, Newman served as principal of the Winchester Female Seminary (1855-58) and of Harford Academy near Baltimore (1858-64). The couple had a daughter, Mary N. Newman (b. 1858), and a son who died in infancy. After the war the Newmans lived in Peekskill, New York. Edward A. Casey, the youngest Casey son, attended school in the Northeast before joining his sister Mary in Kentucky in the early 1850s, where he likewise taught. By mid-decade he was back in Whiting, working the family farm (the 1860 Federal census shows Edward owning one-third of the property, to his older brother Daniel's two-thirds). He later married Phebe Needham, who had been a student of Mary Casey's at Winchester. Louise P. Casey, the youngest of the Casey children, followed Mary to Troy Seminary, and likewise pursued a teaching career in the South, leaving for North Carolina in 1847. In the 1850s she joined her sister and brother-in-law at Winchester (Virginia) Female Seminary.


.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



192 manuscript letters written by and to members of the Casey and Needham families of Whiting, Vermont, mostly in the 1840s and 50s. Many were written from locations in the South, where several members of the Casey family taught school.


The collection is arranged in thirteen series, as follows: 1) Mary N. Casey Letters; 2) Daniel Norton Casey Letters; 3) Mary A. Casey Newman Letters; 4) Robert W. Newman Letters; 5) Edward A. Casey Letters; 6) Phebe Needham Casey Letters; 7) Louise P. Casey Letters; 8) Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Needham Letters; 9) Stephen Locke Letters; 10) Norton Family Letters; 11) Walker Family Letters; 12) Miscellaneous Correspondents; 13) Daniel N. Casey Records.

Mairead O'Malley
November 2011
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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