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COLLECTION Identifier: A/N952

Papers of Catherine Porter Noyes, 1863-1869


Diary, correspondence, and undated family photograph (photocopy) of Catherine Porter Noyes.


  • 1863-1869

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals closed; use digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Catherine Porter Noyes, as well as copyright in other papers in the collection, may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1 folder

The papers of Catherine Porter Noyes include a handwritten diary describing the challenges of living and teaching in the Sea Islands. Porter includes racial slurs in her descriptions. The diary begins in 1863 or 1864, shortly after her arrival, and concludes in 1866 after she returns to Massachusetts. Pages 25-26 appear to be damaged. The papers also include family correspondence from her sister Ellen, and other family members, and an undated family photograph (photocopy).


Catherine Porter Noyes was an educator who taught formerly enslaved men, women, and children in the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Elizabeth J. Porter and Francis V. Noyes and raised in a close-knit family that was committed to social change. Noyes' sister Ellen (Nellie) M. Balch and her cousin Mary Lambert Allen also taught freed men and women in the South. Ellen's husband Francis "Frank" Balch, was a lawyer and former secretary to United States Senator and abolitionist Charles Sumner. Her niece, Emily Greene Balch, was a sociologist, political scientist, economist, and pacifist, who led the women's peace movement and received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1946. The Noyes and Balch families resided in Jamaica Plain, a suburb of Boston.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2013-M33, 2013-M208

The papers of Catherine Porter Noyes were acquired from Tim Abbott Rare Books in 2013.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, see the Noyes-Balch family papers, 1854-1957, and undated (RUB Bay 2218).

Processing Information

Processed: February 2013

By: Anne Englehart

Updated and additional description added: January 2021

By: Emilyn L. Brown

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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