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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 395

Papers of Elsie Miller Palmer, 1888-1966


Correspondence with four generations of the Miller and Palmer families of Elsie Miller Palmer, wife of Unitarian minister Rev. Stephen G. Palmer.


  • 1888-1966

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Elsie Miller Palmer 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.


2.5 linear feet (6 file boxes)
This collection consists primarily of the correspondence of Elsie (Miller) Palmer: a four-generation exchange of letters among the Miller and Palmer families. There are also family photographs and a small quantity of correspondence between family members and friends other than Elsie Miller Palmer. Correspondents include Elsie (Miller) Palmer, her father, J. Peery Miller; her sisters, Della (Miller) Cottrell, Hazel (Miller) Hopkins, Edna Dean (Miller) Birch; her husband, Rev. Stephen G. Palmer; their two daughters, Lucile (Palmer) Cavender and E. Gertrude (Palmer) Gaines; and E. Gertrude Palmer Gaines's daughter, Marcia (Gaines) Rottman. Two threads link the letters: Antioch College and Yellow Springs, Ohio, where many of the correspondents were born and lived. The letters are those of a loving family who wrote regularly of their every day lives, and span the 1890s through the 1960s. They are divided into the following three series:

Series I, (#1-10) Correspondence of J. Peery Miller, widower, professor at Antioch College, spans the years 1901-1931 and includes Miller family photographs. J. Peery Miller writes of activities at the college, genealogical research, and family news.

Series II, (#11-49) Correspondence of Reverend Stephen G. and Elsie (Miller) Palmer, 1888-1966, includes letters to and from her three sisters, other relatives and friends, and letters to their two daughters. Letters report on work, illnesses, weather, social and domestic news, menus, Christmas gifts, early auto rides, and radio programs.

Series III, (#50-101) Correspondence of Palmer daughters et al. Lucile (Palmer) Cavender describes student life at Simmons College, where she attended school while working, Simmons faculty, and library jobs at Adelbert College, Western Reserve University, Middleboro, and Attleboro. E. Gertrude (Palmer) Gaines reports on camp life, student life at Antioch College and New York University, and retailing in New York and California.


Elsie (Miller) Palmer was born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, on March 20, 1871. The daughter of J. Peery Miller, professor of history at Antioch College and later secretary to the faculty, she was one of four sisters and four brothers. Her mother seems to have died of tuberculosis when Palmer was a child. Her father, in his later years, lived with his daughters in turn and pursued his interests in family history, compiling a genealogy of the Miller family.

All the Miller children, except one son attended Antioch College; all four sisters married their classmates. Palmer married Reverend Stephen G. Palmer in about 1898. Stephen G. Palmer (born July 2, 1865) first attended Bucknell University and then transferred to Antioch. He later taught Latin and English there, was a teacher and high school principal in Northborough, Massachusetts, and taught in Belmont, Massachusetts and at Watha Industrial School in North Carolina. He served as Unitarian minister in Dighton, Massachusetts, 1916-1924, and later in Windsor, Vermont. He died in 1937.

Throughout her life, Elsie Miller Palmer maintained a steady stream of correspondence on domestic topics with family and friends. In the last years of her life, she lived with her daughter Lucile in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Although Palmer suffered from poor health, she lived to be 100, dying in October 1971.

Lucile Palmer Cavender, daughter of Stephen G. Palmer and Elsie Miller Palmer, was born in Greenville, Ohio on May 12, 1899. She received her M.L.S. from Simmons College School of Library Science (1921) and went on to a position at the library of Adelbert College, Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. In 1923, she was appointed librarian of Middleboro (Massachusetts) Public Library and subsequently librarian in Attleboro. Lucile Palmer Cavender married Frank L. Cavender in 1940. He died in 1986. E. Gertrude (Palmer) Gaines ("Peggy"), younger daughter of Stephen G. Palmer and Elsie Miller Palmer, was born in 1907. She worked as a summer camp counselor and finished Antioch College in 1929 after five years of study and work in retailing, her concentration. Part of this period she spent at New York University. After graduation she married F. Loyd Gaines, a fellow student at Antioch, and moved to California. It is believed that E. Gertrude Palmer Gaines contracted hepatitis and died in the late 1940s. The Gaineses' daughter, Marcia, earned a Ph.D. degree in geology and married David Rottman in 1961. Now divorced, Marchia Gaines Rottman works for Exxon.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 87-M136

The papers of Elsie Miller Palmer were given to the Schlesinger Library by Lucile Palmer Cavender in November 1987.


  1. Box 1: 1-21
  2. Box 2: 22-39
  3. Box 3: 40-56
  4. Box 4: 57-71
  5. Box 5: 72-80
  6. Box 6: 81-101

Processing Information

Processed: August 1989

By: Adelaide Kennedy
Link to catalog
Palmer, Elsie Miller, 1871-1971. Papers of Elsie Miller Palmer, 1888-1966: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

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