Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Bessie Joslin letters

Abstract

The Bessie Joslin letters (dated 1914-1924; 0.05 cubic feet; 3 folders) comprise letters to Bessie Joslin that document her struggle with mental illness and family in Massachusetts during the early twentieth century.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Bessie Joslin letters
Date
1914-1924 (inclusive)
Creator
Joslin, Bessie Belle, 1890-
Extent
0.05 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Family.
Letters.
Mentally ill -- Committment and detention -- Connecticut
Mental illness
Arrangement
Collection is arranged chronologically. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0179: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Bessie Joslin letters, 1914-1924, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Bessie Belle Joslin née Garland (b. 1890) was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts to Augustus Garland (b. 1861) and Minnie Colbarth (1868-1907). She had four sisters, Alice M., Moressa F., Minnie E., and Ruth D; one brother, Albert W.; and two half-brothers, Arthur and Chester. In 1918, Bessie married William D. Joslin (1889-1937), and together they had two children, Betty and Bobby. She separated from her husband in the 1920s while dealing with mental illness and struggled to feed her children. She eventually gave them up to the Hartford Orphan Asylum, but shortly after began to fight with social workers to regain custody of her children.
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The Bessie Joslin letters (dated 1914-1924; 0.05 cubic feet; 3 folders) comprise letters to Bessie Joslin that document her struggle with mental illness and family in Massachusetts during the early twentieth century. The letters are from friends and family to Bessie, most concern how she is faring after losing custody of her children and her mental health battles. Letters between 1914 and 1918 primarily discuss her impending nuptials and everyday life. From 1921 to 1924 the letters discuss having her removed from a mental hospital, her fight with her sister, Minnie (her legal guardian), figuring out ways to get her children back, friends offering words of advice, and her husband asking for her to return to him.
The Bessie Joslin letters are part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Letters to Bessie Garland Joslin, 1914-1918

  • Box 252, folder 8
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Letters to Bessie Garland Joslin, 1921-1922

  • Box 252, folder 9
To top

Letters to Bessie Garland Joslin, 1924

  • Box 252, folder 10
To top

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You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.

If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.

UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center is open Monday to Friday, 10:00am to 4:30pm. Appointments are encouraged but not required. Schedule an appointment here.

Researchers must have an SCRC Researcher Account to request materials. View account set-up and use instructions here.

Questions? Contact SCRC via our Contact Form.

Requests

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You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.

If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.