McKeen-Duren family papers, 1720-1945 and undated, bulk 1855-1900
Using These Materials
- Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke...
- McKeen-Duren family
- 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.
12.6 Linear Feet
16 boxes; 1 oversize folder
Approximately 3240 items
Approximately 3240 items
- Material in English
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
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.
- Biographical / Historical:
The McKeen family traces its history to James McKeen, a magistrate, who immigrated to America from Northern Ireland in the early eighteenth century (circa 1718) and was active in the settlement of what would come to be called Londonderry, New Hampshire.
James McKeen, 1666-1756
Emigrated from Ireland to America in 1718. Settled in township of Londonderry, New Hampshire, circa 1719. Commissioned as magistrate in 1720.
Silas McKeen, 1791-1877
Great-grandson of James McKeen. Born in Corinth, Vermont. Married Phebe Fuller in 1816; she died in 1820. Children: Marianne, Serena, and Julia. Married Hannah Johnson in 1821. Children: Philena, Catherine, and George, and Phebe, his last child. Only two daughters survived into old age, Philena and Phebe. Second wife Hannah died in a carriage accident in 1848. Married Sarah Parmelee, 1851. Congregational Minister of Bradford, Vermont (1814-1832?, 1842-1866). Born in South Corinth, Vermont, and died in Bradford. Ordained, 1815. M.A., Dartmouth, 1822. Called to be pastor in Belfast, Maine, 1832. Called once more to Bradford, 1842-1866. Received D.D. from Dartmouth, 1861. Wrote many pieces for the The Vermont Chronicle, The Bradford Vt., The New Englander, and The Green Mountains Freeman, including memorial pieces, obituaries, and articles and published letters on temperance, and defending the abolition of slavery (1830s-1850s). Wrote A Scriptural Argument in Favor of Withdrawing Fellowship From Churches and And Ecclesiastical Bodies Tolerating Slaveholding Among Them (New York: American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1848).
Serena McKeen Duren, 1819-1862
Daughter of Silas McKeen and Phebe Fuller McKeen. Married Rev. Charles Duren, 1841. Two daughters, Marianne and Elizabeth, died in childhood. Mother of Charles McKeen Duren (1842-1934).
Philena McKeen, 1822-1898
Daughter of Silas McKeen and Hannah Johnson McKeen. Helped to establish Abbot Academy (sister institution of Phillips Academy), Andover, Massachusetts, and served as principal for 33 years. Co-author with her sister Phebe of Annals of Fifty Years: A History of Abbot Academy, Andover, Mass., 1829-1879 (1880).
Phebe Fuller McKeen, 1831-1880
Daughter of Silas and Hannah McKeen. Long-time teacher at Abbot Academy. Author of numerous published writings including several book-length works: Thornton Hall (1872); Theodora (1875, entitled Theodora Cameron when published in the United Kingdom circa 1878); The Little Mother and her Christmas (1876); Annals of Fifty Years: A History of Abbot Academy, Andover, Mass., 1829-1879 (1880, coauthored with her sister, Philena); and Sketch of the Early Life of Joseph Hardy Neesima (1890, published posthumously). Published many short pieces under the pseudonym Jenny Bradford.
Charles McKeen Duren, 1842-1934
Grandson of Silas McKeen and son of Serena McKeen Duren and Rev. Charles Duren. Moved from New England to Iowa after the Civil War. Married Gertrude Whiting. Children: Alice Serena (Fanny?) and Mabel. Began successful career in banking in Iowa and worked to establish banking services in underserved areas.
More information on Silas McKeen family members can be found in Silas McKeen's book, A History of Bradford, Vermont (digitized and availabled online). Also, additional biographical information on the McKeen, Fuller, and Duren families and related individuals, as well as further details on the photographic components of this collection, are available in the Rubenstein Library; please contact Research Services for assistance. Finally, the numerous genealogical documents in this collection can be consulted.
- Acquisition Information:
- The McKeen-Duren family papers were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library in 1973.
- Processing information:
Processed by Geraldine Degiron, Aaron Thornburg, January 2009.
Accession(s) represented in this collection guide: two accessions from 1973.
- Physical Location:
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
Abolitionists -- Vermont
Antislavery movements -- United States -- History
Education -- United States -- History -- 19th century
Photography -- United States -- History -- 19th century
Portrait photography -- United States -- 19th century
Slavery -- Religious aspects
Slavery -- United States -- Public Opinion
Women -- Education -- United States -- History -- 19th century
Women educators -- United States -- 19th century
Gelatin silver prints
McKeen, Phebe F. (Phebe Fuller), 1831-1880
McKeen, Philena, 1822-1898
McKeen, Silas, 1791-1877
Duren, Charles McKeen, 1842-1934
McKeen Duren, Serena, 1819-1862
Iowa -- Social life and customs
Massachusetts -- Social life and customs -- 19th century
New England -- Social life and customs -- 19th century
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects
Vermont -- Social life and customs -- 19th century
Using These Materials
Collection is open for research.
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All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
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- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], McKeen-Duren family papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University