Oliver Marcy (1820-1899) Papers
Scope and Contents
The Oliver Marcy Papers comprise biographical materials; correspondence; copies of articles and addresses by Marcy; and materials relating to the Northwestern University Museum of Natural History.
Biographical materials include clippings, memorials, and obituaries pertaining to Marcy and his wife.
The Correspondence, which forms the bulk of the series, is separated into Oliver Marcy's correspondence and that of other members of the Marcy family. Oliver Marcy's correspondence spans the years from 1845 to 1898 with the bulk falling in the period from 1871 to 1892. This correspondence is arranged into folders by decade, and within folders by date. A few undated letters have been placed at the end of the correspondence.
Marcy's correspondence consists of both incoming letters and copies of outgoing letters and concerns a variety of subjects, including his early career as a science teacher at Wilbraham Academy and at Amenia Seminary. Marcy's later correspondence pertains to his career as a faculty member and his two separate terms as Acting President of Northwestern. His letters to his wife discuss, along with family matters, Northwestern's faculty and administration, campus life, and Evanston's early growth. There are also a number of letters from Marcy to his daughter and from his brother Ichabod, a Methodist minister in Georgia. Marcy's correspondence with Northwestern's business agent Thomas C. Hoag concerns salary and expenses mainly connected with the operation of the Museum of Natural History. Related correspondence refers to Museum catalogs and the acquisition and loan of Museum specimens. Letters pertaining to the Museum from Horace Mann (June 4, 1868), William Deering (May 21, 1890; October 14, 1890), Charles W. Deering (November 21, 1888; December 5, 1888; December 13; 1889), and the secretaries of the Smithsonian Institution Spencer F. Baird (December 9, 1861; March 29; 1866; June 30, 1880; August 3, 1880) and Joseph Henry (January 21, 1874) are included. Marcy's interest in the geology of the Chicago region is documented by pertinent correspondence from the 1890s.
The Marcy family correspondence includes a typed copy of a letter from one of Marcy's cousins to another concerning family genealogy. Copies of letters between Mrs. Elizabeth D. Morris, Marcy's granddaughter, and the Northwestern University Archives, concerning disposition of Marcy family papers comprise the bulk of the family correspondence.
A few of Marcy's articles and addresses concerning farm labor, natural theology, science education, and botany, plus an article and a pamphlet on the genealogy of the Marcy family are included in the series.
A small amount of materials, excluding correspondence, that pertains to the Museum and the Laboratory of Natural History, the Biological Laboratory, and the Dr. Oliver Marcy Artifacts Collection is contained in one folder.
The Archives' reference shelves in Room 110 hold a copy of a memorial book printed on the occasion of Marcy's death and a copy of a Marcy family genealogy. The Archives also holds a number of photographs of Marcy and his wife.
Description of the Addition
The addition contextualizes Oliver Marcy's accomplishments within the story of the Smith and Marcy families, 1794-1911. The bulk of the papers, comprised mostly of family correspondence, date between 1840 and 1911. The papers consist of biographical materials; family correspondence; family manuscripts and publications; a research notebook; and family-related ephemera.
Biographical materials date between 1844 and 1911 and include newspaper clippings, eulogies, and obituaries pertaining to Oliver Marcy; his wife, Elizabeth Eunice Smith; his daughters, Maude and Anna (Mrs. Frank Davis); his brother, Rev. Ichabod Marcy, and his relative, the statesman William L. Marcy. Also included are biographies of Oliver and Elizabeth Marcy prepared by the Evanston (Illinois) Historical Society, locks of Oliver Marcy's hair, a sketch of his grave site, and a portrait of aunt Chloe Marcy's husband, Noah Perrin.
Arranged chronologically, the Marcy family correspondence dates from 1840 to 1911 and includes incoming and some outgoing correspondence of Oliver Marcy, Elizabeth Marcy, and their daughters Maude and Anna. The bulk of the correspondence belongs to Elizabeth Marcy, a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union who also was active in missionary and settlement organizations. Letters spanning the decades of the 1840s through the 1870s pertain mainly to family matters, documenting the Marcys' courtship; the family's years at Wilbraham, Massachusetts and Evanston, Illinois; the daily lives of relatives and friends in New England, California, and the Southern states; and, in 1875, Maude's death and Anna's marriage.
Most of the correspondence dating between 1875 and 1890 reflects Elizabeth Marcy's interests in social reform. Letters from Annie Wittenmeyer, first president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union appear frequently throughout this period; other correspondents of note include Julia Ward Howe (14 July 1875), Frances Willard (6 September 1876, 19 February 1881), and Rutherford B. Hayes (17 February 1883). The Marcy family correspondence also yields perspectives of Elizabeth Marcy's nephew Norton Goodrich (5 April 1873) and friend George Nicholson (19 May 1872), both Union soldiers, while letters from Mrs. Marcy's brother, Sparrow Smith, detail his life in Sacramento, California between 1859 and 1890.
Generally undated, the manuscripts include Elizabeth Marcy's poems and position papers; Anna Marcy's school compositions; Miry tales by Maude Marcy; and what is apparently the draft of an article by Oliver Marcy. Also included is a notebook, dated 1794, containing arithmetic exercises, surrounded by sketches and notes, belonging to Thomas Marcy. Oliver Marcy acquired his father's notebook in 1875.
Family publications date from 1856 to 1906 and consist of published writings by Oliver Marcy; Elizabeth Marcy; Oliver's brother, Rev. Thomas Marcy; and Noah Perrin, the husband of Oliver's aunt Chloe Marcy. Oliver Marcy's materials include newspaper clippings of his scientific articles, two pamphlets of Marcy family genealogy, and reports concerning Northwestern University and the Department of Natural History. Dated and undated clippings of Elizabeth Marcy's poetry also are included, as well as poems by Rev. Thomas Marcy (1856) and Noah Perrin (1880).
Research materials comprise a notebook kept by Oliver Marcy throughout his research trip to Idaho and Montana in 1866-67. His notations include geological and meteorological data. Journal entries, newspaper clippings, and other related materials are interspersed among the pages. These papers retain the Evanston Historical Society's original order. Pertinent information may be found in the Marcy family correspondence from the years 1866-69.
Three folders of ephemera include calling cards, financial receipts, and other small items of interest to Oliver and Elizabeth Marcy and their daughters. The first folder contains the largely undated household notes, pamphlets, advertisements, and clippings of poetry and scientific news. For what it's worth, collected by the Marcy Family. The second, also undated, contains social calling cards. The third comprises household financial receipts dating from 1879 to 1882.
Conditions Governing Access
Language of Materials
The Oliver Marcy Papers comprise biographical materials; correspondence; copies of articles and addresses by Marcy; and materials relating to the Northwestern University Museum of Natural History. Marcy's correspondence concerns a variety of subjects, including his early career as a science teacher at Wilbraham Academy and at Amenia Seminary; his career as a faculty member and his two separate terms as Acting President of Northwestern; Northwestern's faculty and administration, campus life, and Evanston's early growth. The addition contextualizes Oliver Marcy's accomplishments within the story of the Smith and Marcy families, 1794-1911. They consist of biographical materials; family correspondence; family manuscripts and publications; a research notebook; and family-related ephemera.
The Correspondence, which forms the bulk of the series, is arranged into folders by decade, and within folders by date. A few undated letters have been placed at the end of the correspondence. The family correspondence in the addition is arranged chronologically.
Method of Acquisition
This series was derived form the University Archives' Faculty Biographical Files (Accession #81-52). The addition to the Oliver Marcy Papers was separated from Accession #99-77, which was donated to the University Archives by the Evanston Historical Society on May 23, 1999. The addition arrived as one full-size archival box of biographical materials and a large, tin box of papers. Half of the papers were bundled by decade; the other half were unbound.
The two maps mentioned in the letter to Dr. Marcy from W. C. Dandy, dated July 18, 1882 and sent from Waukegan, were transferred to the Northwestern University Library Map Department on September 9, 1976 by Patrick M. Quinn.
Kevin Barry Leonard; March, 1981. Addition processed by Rae Sikula; July, 1999.
- College presidents
- Marcy family
- Marcy, Oliver, 1820-1899
- Natural history--Study and teaching
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)--Administration
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)--Faculty
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of Natural History
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Museum of Natural History
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Office of the President
- Winchell, Alexander, 1824-1891
- Guide to the Oliver Marcy (1820-1899) Papers
- Kevin Barry Leonard
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US