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COLLECTION Identifier: A-148

Papers of the Holt-Messer family. 1809-1962


Papers of Joseph Burt Holt and Julia Evelyn Rollins Holt, who homesteaded in Minnesota and were instrumental in founding the town of Champlin; aided freedmen in Jackson, Mississippi; they taught school in Atlanta, Georgia; and worked on Indian reservations in Lac Court d'Oreilles, Wisconsin, and Los Pinos, Colorado.


  • 1809-1962

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Holt-Messer family is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. 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.


2.09 linear feet ((5 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversized folder, 1 supersize folder)

The papers of the Holt-Messer family center around Joseph Burt Holt (1828-1899), his wife Julia Rollins Holt (1829-1895), and their daughter Emily Burt Holt (1854-1934). The collection consists largely of letters to the Holts from Joseph Burt Holt's sisters and their husbands: Mary Burt Holt Messer and B. Edmund Messer, Elizabeth Holt Babbitt and William Dean Babbitt, and Gratia Holt Berry and Willis Berry. The letters contain numerous references to the Babbitt children (George Augustus, Gratia E., Edmund Holt, and Ella [or Ellen] Coe) and to the Messer children (Edmund Clarence Messer and Janette Messer). In addition to correspondence the papers include several folders of poems by Edmund Clarence Messer, his wife Emma North and their daughter Mary Burt Messer; autobiographies by Joseph Burt Holt and Emily Burt Holt; several letters from and a memorial article about Gratia Holt, Joseph Burt Holt's mother; a letter from, a speech by, and biographical notes about Fifield Holt, Joseph Burt Holt's father; letters from Augustus Fifield Holt, Joseph Burt Holt's brother; and genealogical information about the Baker, Burt, Holt, and other families. There are also many of Joseph Burt Holt's own papers, including diaries and business papers.

The collections document not only the close relationship between the families but also the diversity of Joseph and Julia Holt's experiences: they homesteaded in Minnesota (1853) and were instrumental in founding the town of Champlin; they aided freedmen in Jackson, Mississippi (1868-1869); they taught school in Atlanta, Georgia (1875); and they worked on Indian reservations in Lac Court d'Oreilles, Wisconsin (1873-1875) and Los Pinos, Colorado (1878-1879). They also lived in Nashville, Tennessee; Hammonton, New Jersey; New Sharon, Maine; Washington, D.C.; and Tierra Amarillo, New Mexico. These moves are reflected in the geographical arrangement of the Holt family papers. The Messer family papers, on the other hand, are arranged by individual.


Joseph Burt Holt (1828-1899) and Julia Evelyn Rollins Holt (1829-1895) founded the town of Champlin, Minnesota; assisted freedmen in Jackson, Mississippi from 1868-1869; taught school in Atlanta, Georgia in 1875; and worked on Indian reservations in Lac Court d’Oreilles, Wisconsin, Los Pinos, Colorado, and Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, during the 1870s and early 1880s.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 53-45, 324, 502, 584, 899, 73-99

The Holt-Messer family papers were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in 1953 by Edith G. Stedman, in July 1961 by Cora Mason, and in July 1961, May and November 1963, May 1965, and 1973 by Alice B. Nichols.

Re-processed under NEH Grant Number RC 24669-76-987.


  1. Box 1: Folders 1-13
  2. Box 2: Folders 14-32
  3. Box 3: Folders 33-47
  4. Box 4: Folders 48-67
  5. Box 5: Folders 68-92

Processing Information

Re-processed: December 1976

By: Patricia Affholter

Holt family. Papers of the Holt-Messer family, 1809-1962: A Finding Aid
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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