Guide to the Aitken Family Papers
1865-1966

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Aitken, Alva, 1889-1970Aitken, Carrie, 1860-1947Aitken, Geraldine
Title: Aitkin Family papers
Dates: 1865-1966 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 15.75 linear feet (36 containers)
Collection Number: Ax 754
Summary: The Aitken Family Papers tell the story of a widowed mother and her two daughters, in their dedication to the Unitarian church; teaching kindergarten; teaching home economics in elementary, and junior high schools; and music in colleges in Hawaii and New York. This collection consists mainly of correspondence, diaries, scrapbook and photograph albums, photographs, a few funeral papers, and miscellaneous familial memorabilia.
Repository: Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon, 97403-1299
(541) 346-3068
spcarref@uoregon.edu

Languages: Collection materials are in English. 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical Note

Carrie Aitken (1860–1947) was born Carrie Johnson in Butteville, Oregon. In 1874 she was living with her widowed mother in Portland, Oregon. From 1876 to 1879 she attended Mills Seminary in Benicia, California; in 1880 she went with her mother to Arizona and taught in mining camps. In 1886 she married Alvord Aitken, a businessman in Prescott, Arizona. He died in 1890 when Carrie and her two infant daughters, Alva and Geraldine, were visiting her mother in Oregon. Carrie went on to become a Kindergarten teacher in McMinnville and Portland for about five years, after receiving her training from the Oregon Kindergarten Training School (O.K.T.S.). The rest of her life was spent in Portland where she was active in the Unitarian Church and in charge of its reading room and the Post Office Mission.

Frances Alva, known always as Alva, (1889–1970), attended the Oregon Agricultural College, 1908–1910. Upon graduating, she taught home economics in junior high and grade schools in Salem, Oregon until 1917 and then went to teach at Woodmere grade school in Portland, Oregon until 1918. Thereafter she held a succession of stenographic positions in Portland, except for a four-year period, 1920–1924, in Honolulu. In Portland she lived with her mother and shared her mother’s preoccupation with service to the Unitarian Church.

The musical one in the family, Geraldine Aitken, attended music school in Boston in 1909. She was teaching music in Hawaii in 1916 at Oahu College, Honolulu until she moved to New York in 1927, teaching at the Seymour School of Musical Reeducation and running a private piano school in Maplewood, New Jersey. She continued to be a private piano teacher in Honolulu when she returned in 1935.

Content Description

The Aitken Family Papers consist of correspondence, diaries, teaching materials, and photographs. The collection is arranged in series by type or format of material, and then by family member who created the material.

The Outgoing Correspondence of Alva Aitken, 1908–1951, comprises letters written to her mother Carrie and sister Geraldine. Arranged chronologically, these letters expose her daily life and her commitment to the Unitarian community. Those written while she lived in Waldo Hall at the Oregon Agricultural College, 1908-1910, are filled with details of simple college life.

The Outgoing Correspondence of Carrie Aitken consists of letters to her daughters, Alva and Geraldine between 1915 and 1946. Her letters contain family news and delightful reflections of the Unitarian community in Portland and its patriarch Thomas Lamb Eliot.

Outgoing Correspondence of Geraldine Aitken is arranged chronologically and covers the years 1909 to 1951. Her letters are written to her mother Carrie and sister Alva from her stay in Boston, Hawaii, New York, and New Jersey. Her letters reflect a professional life and a determination to remain independent of her mother and sister. Of some historical importance are her letters from Honolulu on and after December 7, 1941.

The Incoming Correspondence of Alva Aitken is arranged chronologically containing letters from Margaret Peacock and Harold Masten. Masten’s letters make up almost the entire series, ranging in date from September 30, 1906–May 17, 1920. Masten, an Oregonian, was a student at Harvard, 1906–1909, and spent the summer of 1907 in Paris. His letters are usefully descriptive from both places. Peacock’s letters are dated from November 19, 1929–February 15, 1953.

The Incoming Correspondence of Carrie Aitken, 1876–1947, but the bulk dating from 1884–1900, are letters from her husband Alvord Aitken, her father-in-law, John W.D. Aitken, two brothers-in-law, Hedrick D. and John M. Aitken, and J. Boughton, a businessman in Prescott, Arizona Territory. Except for the John W.D. Aitken letters this incoming correspondence all emanated from Prescott, Arizona and is filled with male gossip of that community. There are frequent references to social events, political matters, and personalities. Among the names commonly mentioned are Morris and Barry Goldwater.

Incoming Correspondence of Geraldine Aitken is one folder containing letters from her friends and one from her grandfather, John W.D. Aitken. The letters date from 1895–1909.

The Diaries of Alva, 1909-1969, are useful for day-by-day accounts of events; there is almost no reflection. A very small number of miscellaneous papers are included at the end of this series, including a baptismal certificate.

The diaries of Carrie are generally the same as Alva’s, day-by-day accounts of events, but included in this series are autograph books and papers dealing with her own funeral service: cremation certificate, information of how it should be carried out, and a speech given by Dr. Steener at her funeral.

In 1895 Carrie received a diploma from Oregon Kindergarten Training School and went on to teach for five years in McMinnville and Portland. The diploma, class notes, and demonstration booklets constitute the ninth series in this collection.

The Personal Papers of Geraldine contain her baby book, passport, many music programs, 1938-1942, a photo diary, a photo album from her stay in Honolulu, a large scrapbook/photo album from Hawaii and one from her stay in New York centered around her music and the music there, and finally, her own will and testament.

Photographs are of the Aitken family, relatives and friends.

The Personal Papers of Alvord Aitken center around his death to include funeral notices, telegrams to relatives transmitting the news of his death, a speech given at his funeral, and formal court documents that distribute his property since his death was sudden and he had no will.

Use of the Collection

Alternative Forms Available :  

Available in microfilm as part of: Women's lives. Series 3, American women missionaries and pioneers collection (MICROFILM BV3703 .W66 2006, reel 75-80); Primary Source Microfilm, 12 Lunar Dr., Woodbridge, Conn. 06525.

Restrictions on Access :  

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.

Restrictions on Use :  

Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish or from collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival material may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.

If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Preferred Citation :  

[Identification of item], Aitken Family Papers, Ax 754, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Or.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Collection is organized into the following series:

  • Series I: Outgoing Correspondence of Alva Aitken
  • Series II: Outgoing Correspondence of Carrie Aitken
  • Series III: Outgoing Correspondence of Geraldine Aitken
  • Series IV: Incoming Correspondence of Alva Aitken
  • Series V: Incoming Correspondence of Carrie Aitken
  • Series VI: Incoming Correspondence of Geraldine Aitken
  • Series VII: Diaries and Personal Records of Alva Aitken
  • Series VIII: Diaries and Personal Records of Carrie Aitken
  • Series IX: O.K.T.S. Materials
  • Series X: Personal Papers of Geraldine Aitken
  • Series XI: Photographs
  • Series XII: Personal Papers of Alvord Aitken

Acquisition Information :  

Gift of Geraldine and Alva Aitken in 1968.

Processing Note :  

Collection processed by Paz Mendez, Troy Barnard, and David Young, Manuscripts Processors.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I:  Outgoing Correspondence of Alva Aitken, 1908-1951
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Outgoing correspondence Fall 1908-October 1915
2 Outgoing correspondence November 1915-December 31, 1937
3 Outgoing correspondence April 20, 1939-May 1, 1948
4 Outgoing correspondence May 5, 1948-September 9, 1951

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Series II:  Outgoing Correspondence of Carrie Aitken, March 1883-December 1946
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Outgoing correspondence March 1883-March 1945
2 Outgoing correspondence March 1945-December 1946

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Series III:  Outgoing Correspondence of Geraldine Aitken, February 3, 1909-December 31, 1951
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Outgoing correspondence February 27, 1910-March 6, 1917
2 Outgoing correspondence March 4, 1917-May 10, 1925
3 Outgoing correspondence May 17, 1925-August 5, 1928
4 Outgoing correspondence August 8, 1928-May 22, 1932
5 Outgoing correspondence June 5, 1932-May 21, 1936
6 Outgoing correspondence May 27, 1936-October 30, 1939
7 Outgoing correspondence November 9, 1939-March 10, 1944
8 Outgoing correspondence March 18, 1944-August 22, 1947
9 Outgoing correspondence August 30, 1947-February 7, 1950
10 Outgoing correspondence February 10, 1950-December 31, 1951

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Series IV:  Incoming Correspondence of Alva Aitken, September 30, 1906-February 15, 1953
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Incoming correspondence September 30, 1906-February 15, 1953

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Series V:  Incoming Correspondence of Carrie Aitken, January 30, 1876-March 10, 1947
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Incoming correspondence January 30, 1876
2 Incoming correspondence January 13, 1891-August 12, 1893
3 Incoming correspondence September 16, 1894-March 10, 1947

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Series VI:  Incoming Correspondence of Geraldine Aitken, April 14, 1895-October 25, 1909
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Incoming correspondence April 14, 1895-October 25, 1909

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Series VII:  Diaries and Personal Records of Alva Aitken, 1889-1970
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Diaries and personal records March 3, 1889-October 2, 1935
2 Diaries and personal records October 3, 1935-October 3, 1960
3 Diaries and personal records October 4, 1960-March 18, 1970

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Series VIII:  Diaries and Personal Records of Carrie Aitken, 1827-1931
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Diaries and Personal Records of Carrie Aitken 1827-1886
2 Diaries and Personal Records of Carrie Aitken 1909-1931

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Series IX:  Oregon Kindergarten Training School (O.K.T.S.) Materials
Container(s)
Description
Box
Folder
1 1 “Paper Folding O.K.T.S.” Notebook
1 2 “Paper Cutting O.K.T.S” Notebook
1 3 “Sewing O.K.T.S” Notebook
1 4 “Miscellaneous O.K.T.S.” Notebook
2 1 “Weaving O.K.T.S.” Notebook
2 2 “O.K.T.S.” Notebook
2 3 “O.K.T.S.” Notebook

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Series X:  Personal Papers of Geraldine Aitken, 1941-1955
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Music programs, diary, miscellaneous 1941-1955
2 New York Music Scrapbook
3 Honolulu II Scrapbook
4 Will and testament, Hawaii scrapbook, and miscellaneous

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Series XI:  Photographs, circa 1865-1966, and undated
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Photographs of Aitken family and friends
2 Photographs of Aitken family and friends

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Series XII:  Personal Papers of Alvord Aitken, 1890 and undated
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Box
1 Materials relating to Alvord Aitken's death and funeral; court documents; and miscellaneous 1890 and undated

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Subjects

  • Personal Names :
  • Aitken, Alva, 1889-1970
  • Aitken, Carrie, 1860-1947
  • Aitken, Geraldine
  • Subject Terms :
  • Unitarian Universalists--United States
  • Women teachers--United States

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