Collins Family Papers
Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Abel Collins (1770-1834) was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, one of the eleven children of Amos and Thankful (Clark) Collins. Other children were John (b. 1781) and Hannah Earle (1786-1819). Abel was a birthright Quaker and a minister recorded by Hopkinton Monthly Meeting. He married Mary A. Wilbur (d. 1858) of Hopkinton in 1790. Between 1794-1809, Abel and Mary Collins had eight children who survived to adulthood: Deborah, Mary W., Phebe, Timothy Clark, Abigail, twins Amos Wilbur and Thankful, and Abel Francis.
Abel Francis Collins (b. 1809) lived on the Collins farmstead, which he named Prospect Vale, in North Stonington, Connecticut. In 1844 he married Electa Jane Collins (1818-1896), the daughter of Job Scott and Ruth Hall Collins of Utica, New York. Electa Collins had two brother, both medical doctors, Chalkley Collins, who died in his twenties, and Clarkson Thomas Collins (1821-1881). Clarkson T. Collins married Lydia Coffin in 1844 and established a medical practice in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where he founded the Invalid's Hotel for the treatment of chronic diseased.
Abel F. and Electa J. Collins had three sons, Francis Wendell (1845-1887), Clarkson Abel (b. 1853), and Abel Chalkley (b. 1857). All three sons attends Friends Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island, and continued their studies at Brown University. Chalkley Collins practiced as an attorney in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Clarkson was a lawyer in New York City. Francis W. Collins moved to Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, where he taught elementary school. In 1877 he married Alice V. Burdick. They moved to Woodland, California, where Francis operated a nursery business, "Ornamental Trees." They had one son, Francis Winfield Collins.
The collection contains correspondence, journals of Francis W. Collins, including descriptions of his student days at Friends Boarding School in Providence; family business and financial papers; miscellaneous papers, photographs, and genealogical material on the Collins and Burdick families.
The collection is divided into five series:
- Biographical and genealogical
- Business and Financial
Purchase, Tolles Fund, 1993; Accession number: 1993.056. Apparently the collection was preserved by Francis Winfield Collins; he compiled much of the genealogical information and identified individuals in the family album in 1954, according to a pencil notation.
Gift of William Cox, Acc. 2017.021. Per donor's suggestions, four letters written in 1876 by Clarkson Collins to family and one undated letter written by Rebecca Coffin to Electa Collins were added to Series 2.
Received unprocessed, sorted into general topics.
The following materials have been removed from the collection:
- 2 volumes of genealogy transferred to book stacks; genealogical charts photocopied from the back of these volumes and included in folder 1: Noyes Genealogy, descendants of Rev. James Noyes, Vol. I and II, collected by Henry E. and Harriet E. Noyes (Boston, Mass, 1904.)
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Author
- FHL staff
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/.
Includes biopgraphical sketches of Amos M. Collins, Mary A. Collins, Abel Collins, and Charles Coffin; biographical sketches of Francis W. Collins, and of the Burdock family. Also includes marriage certificate of Francis W. Collins and Alice Burdick; will of Mary A. Collins.
re: family news, move to Chatam, Quaker issues, hope to found a new school.
re: Quaker testimony and discipline
re: descriptions of school life from both a student's (Lydia Wilbur, 1821) and a teacher's (Timothy Clark Collins, 1821) perspective. From Lewis Clark (5mo. 5, 1822) re: "Philadelphia Friends" and Quaker Testimony; from Charles D. Longworthy (April 19, 1825) re: Scriptures and Quaker Testimony.
re: opening colored school in Plainfield, Phebe C. Monroe (6mo. 9, 1833); re: ode to "life and character of grandfather Collins" from T. Monroe (11mo. 22, 1840).
re: observed changes in society after returning to upstate NY from 9 yrs. at sea, including the visit of Lindly M. Hoag, slavery and abolition, tensions between North and South, and the details of establishing a medical practice.
Includes one letter from before they were married, and then on several occasions when she was visiting her family (includes some letters from Abel to Electa during the same period, re: conscription in Utica).
From miscellaneous family, includes criticism of Virgile (sic) by G. Foster, 1836; an account of the state of the Society in Indiana, and of a visit to Quaker Meetings (H) in New York by William Morris, 1861; an account of teaching school, medical practice; and the situation of the Society by Emmeline Collins, 1837-41.
Includes some letters from Chalkley Collins, while he lived at home with his parents, re: Mexican American War, 3mo. 1847
Includes some letters written by Rebecca A. Coffin, who was a part of their household.
Written at the time of Francis's marriage and subsequent move to California. Includes letters from Alice V. Collins
Includes letters addressed jointly to A. Chalkley Collins, while the brothers attended Providence Friends Boarding School and later Brown University.
Includes letters from Alice V. Collins
Note: Francis W. Collins refers to Francis Wendell Collins, and Francis W[infield] Collins refers to his son.
Letters written while he attended Friends Boarding School, Providence
re: visit to Washington, D.C. including meeting President, touring White House; visit to War Dept.; news about warl; fire at Smithsonian Institute (Feb. 4-5, 1865)
re: visit to Columbia S.C.; speech of Secretary of State Hayne; meeting of Negro Assembly (March 12, 1875)
Includes letters to Alice V. Collins.
re: visit from Sojourner Truth at age 80; her account of being forbidden to ride a rail car in Washington, D.C.; her views on women's rights (Sept. 18, 1820)
re: lecture by suffragist Anna Dickinson, (Nov. 9, 1873); reading by Wilkie Collins, (Dec. 14, 1873).
Written while he was a soldier in the Union army; re: Great Dismal Swamp, NC; Battle of Fredricksburg; army life.
Consists of short passages describing daily routine at Friends Boarding School in Providence
3 journal entries describing his wedding trip in 1877, and New Year's observation in 1879 and 1886. Volume also includes commonplace items, poetry, newspaper clippings, lecture notes, etc.
Reciepts of Isaac, Abel, Mary A., and Amos Collins, and others.
Primarily associated with Francis W. Collins, including job offers and his teaching certificate.
Includes examination schedules, notices of meetings, program for school, undated list of rules from Nine Partners Boarding School, essays and lectures, report cards.
Letters addressed to New England Quarterly Meeting by George Churchman, 1804, Extract "On Spiritual Silence" from the journal of Jesse Kersey, copied for Abel Collins by Job Munroe, 1817. Minutes and correspondence from South Kingstown Monthly Meeting, and Hopkinton Preperative Meeting (these papers are primarily associated with Abel F. Collins)
Some copied and some original poems, including several by Francis W. Collins, one by Electa J. Collins, a sewn volume entitled "Rosy the Wreath" compiled by Clarkson Collins, an anonymous poem "On the death of A.M. Collins," and several signed "Rustic Bard" in the handwriting of Francis W. Collins
Album belonged to Francis Wendell Collins, and depicted members of the Collins family (as identified in 1954 by Francis Winfield Collins): Electa J. and Abel F., Ruth H. and Job S., Clarkson T. and Chalkley C., Francis Wendell and Alice V., and A. Chalkley Collins, as well as many other unidentified photographs.
Clippings, wedding invitations, birth announcements, an index to biblical passages, unidentified photographs, and a ribbon