Collection documents in great detail the histories of the McKeen and Duren families, particularly of Silas, Phebe, and Philena McKeen. Topics of note documented through correpondence, diaries and journals, other peronal papers, printed material, and images include: religious thought and institutions in New England; the education of women and the careers of female educators; photography throughout the 19th century; the Civil War and its effects on New England society; westward migration patterns; social life in Massachusetts and Vermont; family relations in the 19th century; 19th century New England women writers and their activities; and New England genealogy. There are also many clippings in the scrapbooks debating the abolition of slavery, many written by minister Silas McKeen. The photographs series is large and offers many fine examples of 19th century portraiture and photographic processes, including ambrotypes, cyanotypes, daguerreotypes, tintypes, albumen prints, postcards, and early gelatin silver and platinum prints. The majority are portraits but there are also interiors of family rooms and images of educational institutions, especially Abbott Female Academy in Andover, Massachusetts (now Abbot Academy), whose principal over several decades was Philena McKeen. Three photograph albums round out the photograph series.
the histories of the McKeen and Duren families, particularly of Silas, Phebe, and Philena McKeen. Topics of note documented through correpondence, diaries and journals, other peronal papers, printed material, and images include: religious thought and institutions in New England; the education of women and the careers of female educators; photography throughout the 19th century; the Civil War and its effects on New England society; westward migration patterns; social life in Massachusetts and Vermont; family relations in the 19th century; 19th century New England women writers and their activities; tourism in 19th century England, Scotland, Switzerland, and Egypt; and New England genealogy. There are also many clippings in the scrapbooks debating the abolition of slavery, many written by minister Silas McKeen.
The bulk of the manuscript material is housed in the Correspondence Series, which chiefly consists of exchanges between members of the McKeen-Duren families. The earliest correspondence originates from New England, the McKeen family having been established in the area by brothers James, William, and Samuel McKeen, who emigrated from Ireland in the early 18th century. Beginning around 1823, letters exchanged between Silas McKeen and the father of Serena McKeen (she married Charles Duren) appear. A significant later portion of the correspondence was written by Silas to his son Charles, who served as a Union soldier during the Civil War. The family's exchanges then began to stretch westward during a period in which Philena and Phebe McKeen taught at the Western Female Seminary, Oxford, Ohio, and when Charles McKeen Duren moved to Iowa following the Civil War. Prominent topics in the letters from the latter half of the 19th century include Phebe and Philena's literary and publishing activities; education in New England and the Midwest; the Civil War and its effect on New England citizens; and routine family topics such as health, religion and morality, and social activities. There are very probably references to the abolition movement and slavery: the McKeens, Silas in particular, were outspoken abolitionists.
A rich variety of written communication is found in the Writings Series, divided into two subseries, Manuscripts and Volumes. The Manuscripts subseries contains handwritten copies of a variety of types of writings by members of the McKeen-Duren families. The Volumes subseries contains often unattributed handwritten drafts and notes on fictional pieces; essays, probably written by Phebe or Philena; and sermons, most likely written by Silas McKeen. There may be material related to Silas McKeen's writings on slavery.
The collection is notable for its extensive Photographs Series. Almost all photographic formats across the 19th century can be found here, including many albumen prints, chiefly in the form of cartes-de-visite and cabinet cards; cyanotypes; cased and uncased ambrotypes and daguerreotypes; and tintypes. Also present are gelatin silver and platinum prints. The series is divided into four subseries: Albums, Cased Images, Oversize Prints, and Prints. One family member, perhaps Phebe, was reportedly an amateur photographer, but direct evidence of this remains to be discovered. Interior photographs of the family home show multitudes of photographs hung on the wall. Subjects in the collection's images include family members from babyhood to old age, family friends, travel in England, Europe, and the Middle East, pets, and horses. Other families portrayed in the photographs include Page, Deming (?), Grovenor, and Dunlevy. There are only a few landscapes but there are images of Abbot Academy buildings, grounds, and students with their teachers (Andover, Massachusetts). Some of the photographic items, particularly the cased images, are fragile and should be handled with care.
The Diaries and Scrapbooks Series contains many personal journals and diaries, spanning the years 1804-1900, and scrapbooks, circa 1838-1902. The diaries are quite detailed and were chiefly written by the female members in the McKeen family; topics revolve around family health problems, visitors and travel, readings, the weather, and emotional or religious experiences. There may be passing references to slavery; there is one reference to a prominent abolitionist, later imprisoned, who visited the McKeen house. The scrapbooks house pasted-in clippings pertaining to family members, and many published short pieces written by Silas, Phebe, and Philena McKeen. There are also handwritten extracts of letters, as well as prescriptive pieces and poems, and a series of pages from Civil War periodicals. There are quite a few clippings in the scrapbooks on slavery and abolitionism, as well as references to issues pertaining to statehood; many of the anti-slavery pieces published in New England serials were written by Silas McKeen from the 1830s to the 1850s. The clippings folder in the Printed Material Series contains similar loose items.
The Financial Papers Series contains notifications of contributions to missionary institutions, receipts for good and services, society memberships, and subscriptions. A number of ledgers, some in bound volumes, are also found here.
The Genealogy Series contains extensive handwritten accounts and notes originating from the early 19th century, documenting the ancestry of the McKeen-Duren families and related branches, as well as two hand-written bound volumes containing detailed genealogies of the Duren, Gould, Prichard, and Freeman families. There are also a few printed materials, including obituaries and memorial pieces.
The Legal Papers files contain the earliest documents in the collection (1720). Items include land grants and deed transfers, inheritance inventories, loan notices, service contracts, wills and will abstracts, writs of indenture or apprenticeship, powers of attorney, and other documents.
An assortment of printed items, clippings, and ephemera pertaining to members of the McKeen-Duren families can be found in the Printed Materials Series, including invitations, event programs, announcements, obituaries and memorial pieces, short story reprints, copies of a course curriculum, a copy of the Abbot Academy journal, cards, and other assorted materials, including a hand-drawn map, perhaps the local vicinity where one of the families lived, found in the ephemera folder.
A folder of Oversize Material housing diplomas awarded to members of the McKeen-Duren families completes the collection.