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Guide to the Isabelle Perkinson Williamson papers, 1827-1930, bulk 1909-1930

Summary

Correspondence and other items of Isabelle (Perkinson) Williamson, wife of Lee Hoomes Williamson, engineer, and of her mother, Isabelle (Holmes) Perkinson. There are also letters from and items belonging to Lee H. Williamson. Topics include: life in Charlottesville, Virginia; students of the University; Edwin A. Alderman, University president; work in the Navy Department from 1913-1917; the early moving picture industry; life during the Roaring Twenties; and the beginning of the Great Depression. Includes descriptions of the Georgetown Visitation Convent, Washington, D.C., Europe during 1909 and 1910, Virginia, the Panama Canal Zone, Rancagua, Chile, and Puerto Rico. Papers relating to World War I consist of letters from soldiers and war workers; food cards; and letters from Mary Peyton, who was with a field hospital unit in France. The collection also contains information on early moving pictures; life during the Roaring Twenties; and the beginning of the Great Depression. Photographs - chiefly of family members and views from a Chilean mining settlement - and ephemera such as postcards, calling cards, tickets, and greeting cards round out the collection.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.10094
Title
Isabelle Perkinson Williamson papers
Date
1827-1930
Extent
2.5 Linear Feet, 4 boxes
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English

Collection Overview

Collection comprises papers of Isabelle (Perkinson) Williamson, wife of Lee Hoomes Williamson, engineer, and of her mother, Isabelle (Holmes) Perkinson. Included are many letters to Isabelle (Holmes) Perkinson from former students of the University of Virginia who had patronized her boardinghouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, letters from Isabelle (Holmes) Perkinson to her daughter describing life in Charlottesville, and commenting on Edwin A. Alderman, President of the University of Virginia, and many notes and bills reflecting frequent financial difficulties. Also included in this collection are letters between Isabelle P. and Lee Hoomes Williamson.

Many of the letters describe travels: letters from Isabelle P. Williamson to her mother were sent while attending the Georgetown Visitation Convent, Washington, D.C., while on a tour of Europe during 1909 and 1910, while visiting in Virginia and in the Panama Canal Zone, while working in the Navy Department in Washington, 1913-1917, and, after her marriage in 1917, while living near Rancagua, Chile, and in Puerto Rico with her husband. Also included in this collection are letters between Isabelle P. Williamson and Lee Hoomes Williamson.

The collection also contains information on the early motion picture industry; life during the Roaring Twenties; and the beginning of the Great Depression.

Papers relating to World War I consist of letters from soldiers and war workers, food cards, and letters from Mary Peyton, who was with a field hospital unit in France.

Sixty-nine photographs - chiefly of family members and views from a Chilean mining settlement - and ephemera such as postcards, calling cards, tickets, greeting cards, and Lee Williamson's WWI military identification card round out the collection.

Much more information on the collection's contents, written up in 1941, can be found in the Rubenstein Library cardfile catalog; please consult with Research Services staff.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

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Collection is open for research.

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More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Isabelle Perkinson Williamson papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence and papers, 1885-1913
(5 folders)
Box 1
Correspondence and papers, 1914-1918
(5 folders)
Box 2
Correspondence and papers, 1919-1930
(4 folders)
Box 3
Correspondence and papers, 1917 and undated
(2 folders)

Two undated pieces are in reality from 1917 and were sent on the occasion of the April 1917 wedding of Isabelle H.P. Williamson to Lee Hoomes Williamson in Valparaiso, Chile.

Box 4
Photographs, circa late 1870s-1925
(69 items)

Formats include one tintype, several cartes-de-visite, and many small early 20th century gelatin silver prints in various sizes.

Most of the photographs are of family members and friends - men, women, and children; most are without captions and unidentified. The earliest portrait appears to be from the 1870s, and the latest from the 1920s. A series of photographs, some with captions, were taken in a copper mining area in central Chile, in the hamlets of Caletones and Sewell, home to American families. There are also a few scenes taken in Puerto Rico. Other photographs are of unknown locations.

One photograph of interest is of three French children taken in a studio setting by photographer Joseph A. Collin in 1919; the original glass plate negative is in the American Red Cross image collection in the Library of Congress, digital file number LC-DIG-anrc-18496. There are hundreds of similar photographs of orphaned children in the collection. On the back of the photograph in the Isabelle Williamson collection is the Red Cross Bureau of Photography stamp, and the address of the woman who adopted at least one of the children, who were probably orphaned. The origin of this print of the image is unknown, but Lee H. Williamson was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 55th Engineers, Company A, Expeditionary Forces from 1918-1919. A Mary Peyton, figured in the family letters, was also serving during the war as a nurse in a field hospital.

Box 4
Postcards, 1910s-1920s
(15 items)

Photographic and printed postcards from Puerto Rico, France, and other places. A few have written messages.

Box 4
Ephemera, 1827-1920s
(2 folders)

A wide variety of formats includes: Commission Day cards for Wearmouth Bridge, Sunderland, in England, 1827-1843; calling cards, many with sympathy notes associated with the funeral of Isabelle Perkinson in 1924; early 20th century Christmas cards and notes; religious cards; a ticket to the seventh Olympiad, Antwerp, 1920; news clippings, some about engineer Lee H. Williamson's involvement in a Louisiana intracoastal canal; tobacco coupons; a small street map of Berlin; and other items.

Also of interest is a version of "Dixie" with verses composed for World War I. The last item is Lee Hoomes Williamson's military photo identity card from 1918, showing him to be 2nd Lieutenant, Company A, 55th Engineers, American Expeditionary Forces.

Box 4
 

Historical Note

Isabelle Howard Williamson (1895-1930) was a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia who was married to Lee Hoomes Williamson (1891-1942), a civil engineer. Her mother was Isabelle (Holmes) Perkinson (1856-1924), wife of William Howard Perkinson, professor of German and Italian at the University of Virginia; widowed when her husband died young, she earned a living by running a well-known boardinghouse, Eden Holme, in Charlottesville. Many former students wrote to her following their years at the University.

Isabelle, her daughter, married Lee Hoomes Williamson while they were living in Chile in 1917. They had three children. Their final residence was in Lexington, Virginia.

Related Material

Related Collections in the Rubenstein Library

Related collection: George Frederick Holmes papers, 1767-1960, Rubenstein Library, Duke University.

Related collection: Lee Hoomes Williamson papers, 1814-1932, Rubenstein Library, Duke University.


Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.

Provenance

The Isabelle Perkinson Williamson papers were acquired as a gift by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library between 1935 and 1941, as part of the George Frederick Holmes family papers.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library staff; photographs and ephemera processed by Paula Jeannet.

This collection was originally acquired as part of the George Frederick Holmes family papers, beginning in 1935. Sometime around 1941 the papers of Isabelle (Perkinson) Williamson and Isabelle (Holmes) Perkinson were processed and described by library staff, and became a separate collection.