Abbot Family papers, 1733-1999 and undated, bulk 1860-1910 19 Linear Feet — 10 boxes
The papers of the Abbot family consist mainly of correspondence, but also include financial and legal papers, diaries, a letter-book, clippings, printed material, speeches and photographs (including cartes-de-visite, and some cyanotypes and tintypes). The materials date from 1733 to 1999, the bulk ranging from 1860-1910. A significant portion of the correspondence comprises of personal letters exchanged during the Civil War between William Richardson Abbot, headmaster of Bellevue High School, and his wife, Lucy Minor Abbot. Abbot's letters mention battles and political events of the Civil War, including his experience as an officer in the First Regiment of the Engineers Troops (Army of Virginia). Other correspondence includes exchanges between W.R. Abbot and his immediate family, both during and after the Civil War, as well as numerous letters to Abbot from parents of boys attending Bellevue High School. The collection also includes materials from the lives of the children and grandchildren of William and Lucy Abbot. Letters from the Abbot children consist of personal exchanges, accounts of travel in turn-of-the-century Europe, as well as experiences in the German university system. Also included is a brief memoir by Ann Minor, Lucy's sister, documenting childhood experiences in Virginia during the Civil War. There are also papers belonging to the Minors of Charlottesville (Va.), such as correspondence of Charles and John Minor.
While the bulk of the collection is made up of correspondence, the papers also include Abbot's addresses to schools and the Virginia Educational Society; printed bulletins detailing courses of study and formal statements of the teaching philosophy at Bellevue; and an official letter-book, receipts, financial and legal documents relating to the purchase, expansion and daily administration of the school. Other materials relating to the children of the William and Lucy Abbot include educational addresses by their son, Charles Minor Abbot, who administered Bellevue until it closed (1901-1909), as well as biographical material on Virginia Henderson's authoritative influence on professional nursing.
The Abbot Family papers provide the researcher with numerous vantage points onto public, professional and private life in nineteenth-century Virginia, most particularly through personalized accounts of men and women of the time. While the papers follow the families' colonial past from the early eighteenth century into the mid-twentieth century, the collection is noteworthy for its emphasis on military and private life in the Confederacy and in the Reconstruction South. The collection illuminates the experience of the Civil War through numerous windows onto the private lives of individuals; the professionalization of secondary education during the Reconstruction; the social and epistolary conventions of nineteenth century courtship; and the construction of an inter-generational identity, based on extended familial affections and ties to the institutions of Bellevue and the University of Virginia.