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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 744

Additional papers of the Lindsay family, 1839-1994 (inclusive), 1858-1957 (bulk)


Correspondence, photographs, diaries, etc., of Catharine Frazee and Vachel Thomas Lindsay, their daughter, Olive Lindsay Wakefield, and other members of the Lindsay family.


  • Creation: 1839-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1858-1957

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Lindsay 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.


10.84 linear feet ((26 file boxes) plus 2 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 11 photograph folders)

The Lindsay family additional papers contain correspondence, diaries, notes, calling cards, photographs, etc., documenting the lives of Catharine "Kate" Frazee, her husband, Vachel Thomas Lindsay, and their daughter, Olive Lindsay Wakefield. Folder titles were created by the archivist using notes provided by Olive's daughter, Catharine Wakefield Ward. Files were arranged by the archivist.

Series I, CATHARINE FRAZEE AND VACHEL THOMAS LINDSAY, 1858-1940 (#1.1-16.2, F+D.1, OD.1, PD.1), includes correspondence, clippings, genealogical information, etc. It is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1858-1940 (#1.1-1.12), contains clippings by and about Catharine and Vachel Thomas Lindsay, Lindsay family genealogical information, programs documenting Catharine's student activities, calling cards, etc. Also included is a scrapbook containing photographs of and letters from members of the Sunnyside Club, Vachel Thomas Lindsay's journal documenting the Lindsay's trip to Japan and China in 1914, and materials documenting Vachel Thomas Lindsay's medical education at Miami Medical College, including his 1869 dissertation on typhoid. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1881-1957 (#1.13-16.2, F+D.1, OD.1, PD.1), contains letters written to and from Catharine Frazee and Vachel Thomas Lindsay. Letters are mainly to Catharine from members of the Frazee and Lindsay families including Vachel Thomas' mother, Martha (Cave) Lindsay and siblings, Eudora "Dora" (Lindsay) South, and Nicholas Lindsay, as well as Catharine's parents, Ephraim Samuel (known as Samuel) and Frances (Austen) Frazee, and siblings Susan "Sue" (Frazee) Robinson, Isabelle "Belle" (Frazee) Campbell, Edward Austen (known as Austen) Frazee, Ephraim Frazee, John Paul Frazee, Lewis Andrew "Andie" Frazee, Frances "Fannie" (Frazee) Hamilton, and Mary Frazee. Also included are several letters from Catharine's great-uncle, Alexander William Doniphan, an influential soldier and attorney from Missouri who played a key role in the Mexican-American War and who prevented the summary execution of Mormon founder Joseph Smith during Missouri's Mormon War.

Letters from members of the Frazee family, particularly Belle, contain details about daily life in Fayetteville and Rushville counties, particularly in Orange, Glenwood, and Rushville, Indiana. Letters contain news items, such as courtships, marriages, deaths, and illness, as well as local scandals. Illnesses mentioned include smallpox, consumption, scarlet fever, and typhoid. Accounts include lists of victims, the degree of seriousness of the affliction, and detailed accounts of the symptoms an individual suffered from, particularly in cases where the individual died. Many letters containing news of deaths include accounts of sitting with the deceased person's body, preparing bodies for burial, and reviews of funerals, including how well the funerals were attended and assessments of eulogies.

More mundane details recorded in the Frazees' letters include accounts of recently accomplished household chores including sewing projects, cooking everyday and special occasion meals, house cleaning, and recent purchases as well as mentions of goods they need to purchase. The Frazees ran a successful farm and letters frequently contain financial details pertaining to the selling of animals as well as mentions of yearly animal slaughters.

In addition to being a farmer, Ephraim Samuel Frazee was a preacher and letters frequently mention his travels to surrounding towns to preach. The Frazees were admirers of Alexander Campbell and their letters contain frequent mentions of their religious beliefs, criticisms of many of their neighbors' religious failings, and the efforts by the female members of the family to raise funds for missionary endeavors. It is unclear if they always attended the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), but by the 1880s, there are mentions of the women in the family attending meetings and holding fundraisers for the Christian Woman's Board of Missions (CWBM).

Letters to Vachel Thomas Lindsay, mostly dating from before his marriage to Catharine in 1876, include letters from his family, particularly his mother, Martha Cave Lindsay, sister, Eudora "Dora" Lindsay, brother, Nicholas Lindsay, and cousin, Kate (Lindsay) Henry; friends; and colleagues seeking advice on patient treatment or requesting payments for bills. Letters include local gossip on deaths, marriages, illnesses, and social events mainly in Warsaw and Lexington, Kentucky. Vachel financially supported the education of his siblings Eudora, Johnson, and Nicholas, and letters frequently contain updates on their progress and successes. Vachel was particularly close to Eudora and her letters often ask for Vachel's advice on her love life, family situations, and professional decisions. Eudora's letters also contain mentions of her friend and Vachel's future wife, "Kate" Frazee. Later letters from Eudora contain accounts of running the Excelsior Institute with her husband, Reverend James K. Polk, in Franklin, Kentucky, while raising her family.

Early letters, particularly those from family members, also frequently comment on Vachel's love life, ranging from encouragement for him to find a wife to specific commentary on women Vachel was reported to be courting. Many letters contain mentions of "Ollie" (Olive W. Crouch), whom Vachel married in 1871. There are allusions to gossip slandering Crouch's reputation in the late-1860s. While the specifics aren't recorded, it appears the allegations and Crouch's continued association with the reported source of the gossip caused some concern among Vachel's family about Crouch's character. There are no letters mentioning Vachel's marriage to Crouch, which occurred sometime during the summer of 1871. According to Dennis Camp's biography of Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, Uncle Boy: A Biography of Vachel Lindsay, Olive contracted tuberculosis before the marriage and began to suffer from mental illness. Vachel committed Olive to an asylum in August, but later brought her home to Kentucky, where she died August 30, 1871. Letters from 1871 document Vachel's struggle with the decision of whether or not to institutionalize Olive and includes several letters of sympathy following her death.

Letters exchanged by Catharine and Vachel reveal their affection for each other and their children. There are several letters from Vachel to Catharine written during their 1875 European trip where he studied medicine in Germany while she and Eudora Lindsay South traveled throughout Europe. His letters include accounts of local sites, his living situation, and church services he attended. He also frequently implores Catharine to take safety precautions, such as not travelling after dark, and to take care of her health, particularly that she should be sure to get enough rest. Letters written by Vachel during their engagement year in 1876 reveal his enthusiasm over their impending marriage and reveal that Catharine had reservations about getting married, which he tried to overcome. After their marriage, correspondence between Vachel and Catharine generally covers periods of time when Catharine would visit her family in Indiana, taking the children with her. Catharine's letters express her regret that Vachel had to take care of himself; news of the children, particularly their health; and family news. Vachel's letters contain accounts of visits from neighbors and what and how much he has eaten for meals. He also expresses concern for Catharine and the children's health, often in conjunction with mentions of patients he has treated. Letters from Catharine often have letters written by their children, Olive Lindsay Wakefield and Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, enclosed.

Letters from Olive Lindsay Wakefield to her parents document her experiences at Hiram College, the New England Conservatory, and as a missionary in China. Letters from Hiram College contain details of her life as a college student, including classes and classmates, including Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, who attended at the same time. Letters also include mentions of Wakefield's future husband, Paul Wakefield and document their courtship. From 1905 to 1927, the Wakefields lived in China, where Paul worked as a medical missionary. Wakefield's letters from China contain accounts of her children's activities and development, housekeeping in China, and Paul's activities. Her letters also include descriptions of people she met, including other missionaries and Chinese people.

Letters are arranged alphabetically, then chronologically. Letters received by Catharine Frazee and Vachel Thomas Lindsay are maintained separately until 1877, the first year of their marriage.

Series II, OLIVE LINDSAY WAKEFIELD, 1858-1921 (#16.3-26.2, F+D.2, OD.2), includes correspondence, diaries, drafts, clippings, notebooks, etc. It is arranged in two subseries.

Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1892-1957 (#16.3-18.12), includes diaries, address books, drafts, clippings, notebooks, etc. Diaries generally contain short entries detailing Wakefield's daily activities, including accounts of speeches she made. Diary entries in the diaries tend to be sporadic and some diaries contain only a small number of entries. In 1935, Edgar Lee Masters' biography of Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, Vachel Lindsay: A Poet in America was published. Wakefield was vehemently opposed to Masters' depiction of her brother, particularly details surrounding his upbringing. She decided to write a memoir of their childhood, but she never moved beyond recording several anecdotes, which can be found in this subseries in the folders titled "manuscript reminiscences" and "writings." Files are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1881-1957 (#18.13-26.2, F+D.2, OD.2), contains letters written to and from Olive Lindsay Wakefield. Beginning in the 1940s, Wakefield began to transcribe letters she had in her possession that were written to and by her, as well as other members of the family, most of which contained details of Nicholas Vachel Lindsay's life. Wakefield kept multiple carbon copies of the transcriptions and included copies in letters she wrote, generally requesting that the recipient return the copies to her. No effort was made to remove the duplicate copies from the files. While some original letters are included in this collection, the majority of letters are carbon copies of letters. Catharine Wakefield Ward donated family papers to many repositories in addition to the Schlesinger Library, including Houghton Library, Hiram College, and the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library. It is likely that some of the original versions of letters represented in this subseries can be found in those collections. Files are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.

There are a small number of letters documenting Wakefield's life before 1930, most notably those from her father, Vachel Thomas Lindsay. His letters contain news of family activities, including Nicholas Vachel Lindsay's, and express his concern for Wakefield and her family living in China. Several letters from Lindsay also contain advice for Paul Wakefield on setting up hospitals, including regarding purchasing equipment such as industrial washing machines.

Most of the correspondence dates from the 1930s to the 1950s and focuses on Wakefield's efforts to preserve and protect Nicholas Vachel Thomas' poetic reputation by objecting to published and proposed writings about him, relaying personal stories about him to friends and contacts in the literary world, and arranging to give lectures and poetry readings featuring his life and works. Wakefield's objection to Edgar Lee Masters' 1935 biography, Vachel Lindsay: A Poet in America, is expressed in letters to family, friends, and her contacts in the literary world, as well as in an open letter to Masters himself. She undertook a similar campaign against Mark Harris' 1952 biography, The City of Discontent: An Interpretative Biography of Vachel Lindsay. Wakefield also regularly corresponded with fans of Lindsay's work and encouraged their tributes, including the founding of the Vachel Lindsay Association.

Through Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, Wakefield became acquainted with the poet, Langston Hughes. When Hughes was accused of being a member of the Communist party in the 1940s, Wakefield wrote to him to offer her support and admiration for his work. Wakefield also began to publically support Hughes through statements to the press and in letters to her contacts in the literary world. Much of her correspondence with Hughes, which continued for most of the remainder of her life, is represented in this collection through carbon copies made by Wakefield of both sides of the correspondence. Most of the original copies of the correspondence are held by the Archives Division of the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History in the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Wakefield's correspondence with Hughes and her letters to others defending Hughes against the Communist accusations can be found in folders titled, "Langston Hughes communist accusations" as well as in the general correspondence files.

Series III, OTHER FAMILY, 1839-1994 (#26.3-26.12), contains letters to members of the Frazee and Lindsay families; financial documents detailing rental income from the Lindsay family home in Springfield, Illinois; and a recollection of Nicholas Vachel Lindsay by his cousin, Eudora Lindsay South. Additional materials belonging to Nicholas Vachel Lindsay were given by Catharine Wakefield Ward to Houghton Library. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1871-ca.1956 (#PD.2-PD.11), contains portraits of Catharine Frazee Lindsay, Vachel Thomas Lindsay, Olive Lindsay Wakefield and other members of the Lindsay family. A small number of photographs include Nicholas Vachel Thomas. Photographs are arranged alphabetically.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].


The eldest child of Reverend Ephraim Samuel and Frances Elizabeth (Austen) Frazee, Esther Catharine (Frazee) Lindsay, known as Catharine or Kate, was born in Fayette County, Indiana, on February 20, 1848. After attending Fayetteville Academy (1857-1861), Catharine graduated in 1869 as valedictorian from Glendale Female College in Ohio. Following graduation, she taught at Glendale Female College before accepting a teaching position at Hocker Female College in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1871.

Vachel Thomas Lindsay was born in Napoleon, Kentucky, on August 31, 1843, the son of Martha (Cave) and Nicholas Lindsay, an architect and builder. Educated in public schools in Kentucky, he taught for a time before graduating in 1869 from Miami Medical College in Cincinnati, Ohio. He practiced medicine in Sangamon County, Illinois, and in 1871 married Olive W. Crouch; she died from tuberculosis August 30, 1871.

In 1875, while touring Europe with her friend and fellow teacher at Hocker College, Eudora Lindsay, Catharine Frazee met Eudora's brother, Vachel Thomas Lindsay. Catharine and Vachel were married on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1876. They had six children: Olive Catharine (1877-1957), Nicholas Vachel (1879-1931), Isabel (1881-1888), Esther (1883-1888), Eudora (1885-1888), and Joy (1889-1942). Olive Lindsay married Dr. Arthur Paul Wakefield; they had four children, Vachel, Mary, Catharine, and Martha, and spent many years in China as missionaries. Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, known as Vachel Lindsay, was an internationally known poet whose poems include The Congo,The Santa Fe Trail, and Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight. Vachel married Elizabeth Connor and had two children, Susan and Nicholas. Joy Lindsay married Cleveland businessman Benjamin Blair and had six children: Vachel, Benita, Catharine, Alexander, Francis, and Harrison. The other three Lindsay girls died of scarlet fever in 1888: Esther on March 20, Eudora on April 3, and Isabel on April 7.

Catharine and Vachel Thomas Lindsay lived their entire married life in Springfield, Illinois, where Catharine came to be a leading figure in the religious, literary, and intellectual life of the city. A member of the First Christian Church, she taught the adult Bible class for 43 years, and was president of the Woman's Missionary Society and a founder and president of the Woman's Missionary Social Union, an organization uniting the efforts of evangelical missionary societies throughout the city. After their marriage, she and Vachel traveled widely, to Europe in 1904, 1906, 1908, and 1910, and to China and Japan in 1914. Catharine served as a delegate to the Ecumenical Missionary Congress of the World held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910, and wrote for religious papers, including Missionary Tidings, The Christian Century, and The Christian Evangelist. Vachel Thomas died in Springfield on September 20, 1918. Catharine Frazee Lindsay died in Springfield on February 1, 1922.

Olive Lindsay Wakefield was born October, 10, 1877, in Springfield, Illinois. She graduated from Hiram College in 1901 and from the New England Conservatory College of Oratory in 1902. In 1904, she married her brother Vachel's best friend, Arthur Paul Wakefield (known as Paul). Paul Wakefield was born October 5, 1878, in North Bloomfield, Ohio. He graduated from Hiram College in 1900 and from Rush Medical College in 1904. In 1905, the Wakefields moved to China to conduct missionary work. Paul Wakefield served as a medical missionary, first stationed in Nanking under the Foreign Missionary Society of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He was later stationed in Luchowfu from 1912 to 1919, and in Wuchang (under the Episcopal American Church Mission) from 1919 to 1927.

Upon returning to the United States, Olive lectured frequently on China and her missionary work. Always close to her brother Vachel, Olive devoted herself to promoting his poetic legacy following his 1931 suicide. She frequently lectured on democracy and China as depicted in Vachel's poetry and promoted Vachel's vision of the "gospel of beauty." Olive also promoted racial equality and used her social connections to defend Langston Hughes against claims that he was a Communist.

The Wakefields had four children: Vachel, Mary, Catharine, and Martha. Mary died of scarlet fever in 1917, when she was 9 years old. Paul Wakefield died in 1941; Olive died in 1957.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Catharine Frazee and Vachel Thomas Lindsay, 1858-1940 (#1.1-16.2, F+D.1, OD.1, PD.1)
  2. ___Subseries A. Biographical and personal, 1858-1940 (#1.1-1.12)
  3. ___Subseries B. Correspondence, 1881-1957 (#1.13-16.2, F+D.1, OD.1, PD.1)
  4. Series II. Olive Lindsay Wakefield, 1858-1921 (#16.3-26.2, F+D.2, OD.2)
  5. ___Subseries A. Biographical and personal, 1892-1957 (#16.3-18.12)
  6. ___Subseries B. Correspondence, 1881-1957 (#18.13-26.2, F+D.2, OD.2)
  7. Series III. Other Family, 1839-1994 (#26.3-26.12)
  8. Series IV. Photographs, ca.1871-ca.1956 (#PD.2-PD.11)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 98-M115, 98-M170, 98-197, 2000-M198, 2001-M109, 2001-M171, 2001-M191, 2002-M15, 2002-M56, 2003-M107

The additional papers of the Lindsay family were given to the Schlesinger Library by Catharine Wakefield Ward between July 1998 and September 2003.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Lindsay family papers, 1855-1993 (93-M80, 95-M121, 95-M156).

Processing Information

Processed: March 2013

By: Johanna Carll with assistance from Samuel Bauer.

Lindsay family. Additional papers of the Lindsay family, 1839-1994 (inclusive), 1858-1957 (bulk): 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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