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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 917

Papers of Antoinette N. Spruyt, 1898-2016 (inclusive), 1906-1968 (bulk)


Correspondence and photographs of Antoinette N. Spruyt, rancher and farmer.


  • Creation: 1898-2016
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1906-1968

Language of Materials

Most materials in English; some material in Dutch.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Antoinette N. Spruyt 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.


8.55 linear feet ((20 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 10 photograph folders)

The papers of Antoinette Naglee Spruyt document her personal and professional life. The collection includes Spruyt's diaries, personal and professional correspondence, photographs, and legal and financial records. The majority of this collection is correspondence, and contains a rich collection of family letters, encompassing the 1906 San Francisco fire and earthquake, two world wars, and the changes that occurred in the aftermath. Antoinette Spruyt's correspondence also includes topics such as food and gasoline rationing during and after World War II, travel across Europe and the United States, her children and their education, the cost of food and household goods, her sons serving in the Armed Forces, her health, and life both on a California fruit ranch and on a farm in western Massachusetts. This collection also documents Antoinette and Frederik Spruyt's marriage and eventual divorce.

Also found in these papers are Antoinette Spruyt's correspondence with many of her friends, including the Spruyt children's former nanny Mary "Marnett" March Barnett, family friend Ruth Franken, and former Putney School teacher Jane Arms Kelly. This collection also contains correspondence that reflects Antoinette Spruyt's struggle with her mother's decline; detailing her care, estate planning, and mental deterioration in letters with her brother and his wife, John and Alberta Burk, and the family lawyer. This material also documents not only the effects of World War II in Holland, but also Antoinette Spruyt's effort to contribute goods in 1945 to the town of Veenendaal.

Most of the folder titles, and the arrangement, were created by the archivist; Spruyt's titles, when used, appear in quotation marks.

Series I, PERSONAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL, 1909-1963, 2016 (#1.1-1.16), includes diaries, appointment books, legal documents, and a family tree. Antoinette Spruyt's diaries include descriptions of taking the Overland Limited train from Chicago, Illinois, to San Francisco, California; living in Mount Kisco, New York; visiting brother John "Jack" Burk at the Salisbury School in Connecticut; participating in dog shows; horseback riding; music lessons; and various health problems, such as having leg braces and throat operations. This series also contains material related to a lawsuit that Antoinette Burk and Antoinette Spruyt brought against an investment firm in New York, over unsuccessful investments during the 1930s (#1.12.). This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1906-1968, n.d. (#2.1-20.7, FD.1), includes Antoinette Spruyt's correspondence with family, friends, and others. Letters between Antoinette and Frederik "Fric" Spruyt describe their courtship and later, their married life. Frederik Spruyt was often away, either while attending the University of California, Berkeley, or while working in Washington, DC. Antoinette Spruyt often traveled between the east coast and California to help her mother, leaving Frederik and the children at home. Because of this almost constant separation, their correspondence reflects most of the concerns in their marriage and home life. Topics include money and income tax issues, their three children, Frederik's career in entomology, Solana Ranch, and Trap Rock Farm. Frederik Spruyt also often wrote about his work for the Interim Commission for Food and Agriculture and the Committee on Medical Research of the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II. Antoinette and Frederik Spruyt's correspondence also reveals their eventual decision to live separately, and finally divorce during the 1940s and 1950s.

This series also contains correspondence between Antoinette and Frederik Spruyt, and Antoinette's doctor at the Milwaukee Sanitarium in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (#15.4). Also found in this series is Antoinette Spruyt's correspondence with her three children, the Burk and Robins families, and the Spruyt family. Topics include travel arrangements, health issues, world events, the devastation in Europe during and after World War II, and Holland's liberation in 1945. Antoinette Spruyt often wrote to her brother and her three children regarding income taxes and estate planning, both for herself, and her mother, Antoinette Naglee Burk. Letters from her children include news of their families, and their own lives.

Antoinette Spruyt's correspondence with friends and others located in this series often includes discussions regarding goat breeding (#8.9) post-World War II; purchasing the Solana ranch and ranch expenses; taking classes at the University of California, Davis, University Farm program; the health and schooling of her three children; and travel. Spruyt's incoming letters often contain thank you notes from friends and family for her generosity. Also found in this series are the letters Antoinette Spruyt exchanged with a French soldier through the "Oeuvre Mon Soldat 1915" program during World War I (#6.8).

Antoinette Spruyt filed most of her outgoing and incoming correspondence separately, with a few exceptions, such as her letters to her mother Antoinette Naglee Burk (#4.8-5.2), her early letters to her husband Frederik Spruyt (#12.4-15.7), and the folders titled "Correspondence" (#17.1-17.4), which contain both incoming and outgoing letters. The majority of Antoinette Spruyt's incoming correspondence were received in their original envelopes; these were arranged by the archivist by correspondent when there were multiple letters; single letters were filed together into folders titled "Incoming letters." Copies of most of Spruyt's outgoing personal and business correspondence were once kept in binders, which she referred to as her "le cashier noir" and are titled "Outgoing letters" (#18.1-20.7). Spruyt made copies of incoming and outgoing family letters, and shared them with family and close friends around the United States and Holland, and also kept these in her binders; there is some overlap within Spruyt's correspondence as a result. This series is arranged alphabetically, then chronologically.

Series III, SPRUYT AND BURK FAMILIES, 1898-1987 (#20.8-21.8), includes correspondence, obituaries, writings, and legal documents. The correspondence found in this series includes letters between Frederik "Fric" Spruyt and his second wife, artist Clara Lucile "Lucie" Green (#21.5-21.7). Topics include their courtship; Lucie's position as a Washington, DC, librarian; her art work; Frederik Spruyt's house on Enoch Island, Amityville, New York; her first marriage, and planning her wedding with Frederik Spruyt. This series also contains the wills and deeds of Antoinette Naglee Burk. Material related to Antoinette Naglee Burk also includes information regarding her brief second marriage to Gustave Oscar Alsen in 1947; she changed her last name back to Burk after the divorce from Alsen. The material also contains a diary from a 1917 sea voyage from the United States to France, containing a description of life on board ship, teaching French to American children, submarine warnings, the weather, and the tasks of the sailors (#21.8). This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1922-1948, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.10), includes photographs removed from folders throughout the collection. This series includes images of Antoinette Spruyt on horseback, Antoinette and Frederik Spruyt's wedding, Trap Rock Farm, and goods being distributed among the workers at the textile mill in Veenendaal, Holland. The photographs are arranged to mirror the series above.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Businesswoman and ranch owner Antoinette Naglee (Burk) Spruyt was born on October 16, 1892, to John and Antoinette Naglee Burk in San Jose, California. Antoinette Spruyt's grandfather, General Henry Morris Naglee, owned Rancho Pescadero, where he grew grapes to produce Naglee Brandy, in San Jose, California. Between 1906 and 1908, Antoinette Spruyt attended private schools in Switzerland and New York City, and was privately tutored while the family traveled through France, Switzerland, and Italy. She did not attend school regularly after 1908 due to health issues.

As a young woman, Antoinette Spruyt took an active interest in running the family ranch and orchards. Her mother, Antoinette Naglee Burk, sold her half of the ranch in 1918. Antoinette Spruyt's brother, John "Jack" Burk attended the Salisbury School in Connecticut, and Harvard University; consequently the family frequently traveled between New England and California. In 1918, Antoinette Spruyt was working in New York City for the Food Administration Grain Corporation in the clerical department. Antoinette Spruyt and her mother purchased the Solana prune ranch in Saratoga, California, in 1920. In 1921, Antoinette took journalism classes at the University of California Extension Division, which was referred to as the Farm School.

In 1921, Antoinette Spruyt met Frederik "Fric" Johannes Spruyt, a native of Holland who was working in California. They were married on September 23, 1922. The Spruyts had three children: Cornelia "Kee" de Bruyn Spruyt Learnard (born 1924), Dirk Jacobus Spruyt (born 1925), and Henry "Harry" Naglee Spruyt (born 1928); the marriage ended in divorce in 1953. Frederik Spruyt was remarried in 1954 to Clara Lucile "Lucie" Green Spruyt.

Frederik Spruyt earned a master's degree in entomology at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1925. In 1928, the Spruyts moved to Holland, where their son Henry was born. By 1930, they were back in the United States, living in Babylon, New York.

In 1937, the family bought a farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts, which they renamed Trap Rock Farm. The Spruyts renovated the farmhouse, reclaimed and planted many acres of farmland, raised sheep, and chickens, and ran a farm store. After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, the Spruyts bred goats with the idea of shipping them to Europe to alleviate the food and milk shortages. This program was not successful, and by the end of 1945, they had sold the majority of the goats to other farms. In 1943, Antoinette Spruyt went to the Milwaukee Sanitarium in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, for a three-month rest cure for anxiety and a gallbladder attack.

In 1945, Frederik Spruyt was working with the Interim Commission for Food and Agriculture and the Committee on Medical Research of the Office of Scientific Research and Development in Washington, DC. Although he occasionally came back to Massachusetts, Antoinette and Frederik were living independent lives, and considered themselves separated. In the fall of 1945, Antoinette Spruyt began collecting clothing, shoes, cloth, leather, food, and other goods to send to Veenendaal, Holland, where Frederik Spruyt's family owned a textile mill. Over two tons of goods were sent to Holland in late 1945 and early 1946.

After Antoinette and Frederik Spruyt decided to separate, Antoinette renovated the farmhouse and other buildings on Trap Rock Farm in order to rent the farm to tenants. She lived in one the smaller cottages on the farm, and during the winter lived in the town of Greenfield, Massachusetts. In 1949, Antoinette Spruyt conducted a study of food and housing costs in secondary boarding schools in conjunction with the Putney School in Vermont, which all three of her children had attended.

In 1955, after an unsuccessful search for a full-time tenant for the farm, Antoinette Spruyt donated Trap Rock Farm to the American Friends Service Committee, which was part of the Religious Society of Friends. Antoinette Spruyt was friends with many Quakers, and her children were very involved with the Religious Society of Friends.

In 1957 and 1962, she traveled to Africa to visit her son Dirk and his family, while he was working with the Ethiopian and Nigerian governments to found public health centers in both countries.

Antoinette Spruyt died in Greenfield, Massachusetts, on June 19, 1968.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Personal and biographical, 1909-1963, 2016 (#1.1-1.16)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1906-1968, n.d. (#2.1-20.7, FD.1)
  3. Series III. Spruyt and Burk families, 1898-1987 (#20.8-21.8)
  4. Series IV. Photographs, 1922-1948, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.10)

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2016-M198

The papers of Antoinette N. Spruyt were given to the Schlesinger Library by her son Dirk Spruyt in October 2016.

Related Material:

There is related material at The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley; see Naglee Family Collection, 1846-1959 ( BANC MSS C-B 796), Naglee family papers: additions, 1830-1961 (BANC MSS 69/152 c), Naglee family papers: additions, 1839-1929, ( BANC MSS 71/13 c).

Processing Information

Processed: October 2017

By: Cat Lea Holbrook, with assistance from Ella Lesatele and Margaret Dalton.

Genre / Form



Spruyt, Antoinette N., 1892-1968. Papers of Antoinette N. Spruyt, 1898-2016 (inclusive), 1906-1968 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Zetlin Sisters Fund and the Jane Rainie Opel '50 Fund.

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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