John Milton Holley (1777-1836) Papers, 1793-1799


John Milton Holley (1777-1836) Papers, 1793-1799


The John Milton Holley Papers, 1793-1799, consist of letters, arranged chronologically, that were written and received by Milton Holley (1777-1836) and his brother Myron (1779-1841) during their attendance at Williams College. The Holley correspondence can be broken into two broad categories, which combine to provide a lively, detailed picture of life at Williams in its earliest days. First, there are letters that the brothers sent home to their parents, Luther and Sarah Holley, reporting on their progress at school. These letters address practical concerns such as education and living expenses, travel schedules, health, rooming situations, classes, etc. Second, there are letters written to Milton at the Holleys' home in Dover by his friends who were still at Williams. These letters are witty, animated and often quite sentimental. They are, on the whole, less informative than the letters the brothers wrote to their parents. They do, however, include news of social events, post- graduation plans, interpersonal relationships and general gossip. Other than the Holleys, major correspondents include: Ephraim Judson (Class of 1797), Thomas Fitch (Class of 1798), Moses Curtis (Class of 1798), Elijah Mills (Class of 1797), Martin Field (Class of 1798), William Billings (Class of 1798) and William H. Williams (Class of 1798).

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The John Milton Holley Papers were donated to the College by the Holley-Williams House Museum in April 1994. Additional letters were added at later dates: Milton Holley's letter of February 20, 1797 (originally accession #93-006); Thomas Fitch's of November 15, 1794, March 23, 1796, and December 10, 1797, E. Hunt Mills' of July 29, 1797, Moses Curtis' of August 24, 1797, and Horace Holley's of January 1798 (originally accession #94-037).

Items in the John Milton Holley (1777-1836) Papers, 1793-1799 Collection

Correspondence: Thomas Fitch (Williamstown) to Milton Holley (Dover)
Fitch apologizes for not writing sooner and blames his tardy correspondence on exam stress. He also thanks Milton for his sympathy on the death of his father.

Correspondence: Milton Holley (Dover) to Myron Holley (Wiliamstown)
The brothers had had a disagreement in an earlier letter, and Milton assures Myron that all is once again well between them. Milton follows with a discussion of the conflict Americans feel between their desire on the one hand to establish a national…

Correspondence: William H. Williams (Williamstown) to Milton Holley (Dover)
Williams misses rooming with Milton and wishes to keep in touch.

Correspondence: Myron Holley (Williamstown) to Luther Holley (Dover)
Myron updates his father on what he's studying and discusses the work he must yet complete before reentering in the fall. He indicates his plans to come home for vacation in a few weeks and makes transportation arrangements.

Correspondence: Horace Holley (Williamstown) to Milton Holley (Dover)
Horace expresses his appreciation of Milton both as a brother and as a friend. He is enjoying his studies but is also quite homesick and eagerly anticipates his next vacation.

Correspondence: Moses Curtis (Williamstown) to Milton Holley (Dover)
Milton had been ill that winter and Curtis comforts him. Curtis is confused and agitated about what course he will pursue after college and his letter contains frenzied philosophizing on the nature of man. He is anxious to join the professional…

Correspondence: Horace Holley (Williamstown) to Milton Holley (Dover)
Horace mentions to his brother his studies in history and geography, but writes more evocatively concerning the exhibition ball that took place January 16th. It appears that there were two balls that evening, one held by the scholars and a second run…

Correspondence: Myron Holley (Williamstown) to Luther Holley (Albany)
Myron mentions that Horace had been ill and had been bled, but that he recovered quickly and is doing well in geography. Myron once again reminds his father of the advantages of a Williams education. He also invites his father to come to the…

Correspondence: Moses Curtis (Williamstown) to Milton Holley (Dover)
Curtis sends general news of Williams life in his usual witty style. He invites Milton to an exhibition on January 16 and thinks the visit with his old College friends will do Milton good.

Correspondence: Thomas Fitch (Williamstown) to Milton Holley (Dover)
Fitch thanks Milton for the letter Milton sent by his brother, Myron. He also tells of students Bradford Marcy and Daniel Tomlinson, the one who left College and the other who has joined Fitch's class. He also expresses his opinion of Locke and…