ArchivesSpace Public Interface

Series I: Correspondence Edit


Level of Description


  • 1829-1952 (Creation)


  • Scope and Contents

    This series contains the correspondence of both the Holley and MacRae families.

    Three significant groupings of materials are foundin this series: the correspondence of Josephine Lyon Holley, Mary Jane Rogers MacRae, Elmer Livingston MacRae, and Emma Constant Holley Macrae (often just called Constant Holley MacRae, the Emma has been dropped for the remainder of this finding aid). Josephine Lyon Holley ran the boardinghouse that served as the main site for the Cos Cob Art Colony, which represented the seat of intellectual activity in the community; her correspondence provides some detail regarding the running of the boardinghouse. The correspondence between Jostephine (often referred to as "Joe" or "Josie") and her husband, Edward Payson Holley, who was often away on business in Cuba or Florida, reveals the extent to which she was the sole providor for the Holley family, as well as the center of its activities. Correspondence between Josephine and her daugher, Constant, and with the boarder and later son-in-law Elmer Livingston MacRae, provides the researcher with insight regarding their courtship. Elmer MacRae confided in Josephine much of his hopes for a future as an artist, and for life with Constant, prior to his discussing such subjects with Constant in their lengthy correspondence during their courtship.

    Mary Jane Rogers MacRae's correspondence provides the researcher with background information on the MacRae family, as wella s the life of both the MacRae and Holley families. What litter information is available about Elmer MacRae's three prothers and their families is provided in Mary Macae's correspondence and in the MacRae family's general correspondence. Of particualar note is Mary MacRae's support of Elmer's engagement to Constant Holley, despite her husband's reluctance to give the couple his blessing. Correspondence with Clara DeCastro, an aspiring artist, suggests that Mary MacRae may have had some artistic talent. Charles MacRae's efforts on behalf of his son Elmer's career are also of importance, and his correspondence contains letters to artists such as Cecilia Beaux with whom he was attempting to arrange an audience for Elmer.

    The corrsepondence of Elmer MacRae and Constant Holley MacRae comprises the bulk of this series. Researcherse interested in their courtship will find a wealth of information in their nearly daily correspondence (1897-1900); correspondence between Constant and her cousin Irving P. Lyon indicates that Constant jilted another serious suitor for Elmer early in 1897. Their correspondence details much of Elmer's activities as an artist at this early point in his career. Also of interest is the correspondence between Elmer and Constant and the artists and writers with whom they had close relationships, significantly (Frederick) Ridgely Torrence. (Additional correspondence between Torrance and the MacRae's can be found in the Torrence Papers at Princeton, selected photocopies of correspondence from those papers is included in this series).

  • Arrangement

    Arranged in 9 subseries. I.1: Holley Family Correspondence (General), 1829-1908, n.d. I.2: Holley, Josephine Lyon (1882-1914, n.d. I.3: MacRae Family Correspondence (General), 1888-1935, n.d. I.4: MacRae, Mary Jane Rogers, ca. 1888-1905 I.5: MacRae, Constant Holley, 1885-1955, n.d. I.6: MacRae, Elmer, 1898-1950 I.7: Macrae, Elmer and MacRae, Constant Holley (Family and Friends), 1905-1950 I.8: Macrae, Elmer and MacRae, Constant Holley, 1897-1950 I.9: Postcards, 1903-1953