John Little Moffat Papers,1867-1873

Collection Number: 37-5-1460

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
John Little Moffat papers, 1867-1873.
Collection Number:
37-5-1460
Creator:
John Little Moffat, 1853-1917
Quantity:
.6 cubic ft.
Forms of Material:
Correspondence, essays, class notes, examinations, room and board receipts, a railway map, and memorabilia.
Repository:
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
Abstract:
Correspondence between John and his parents, Dr. Reuben Curtis and Elizabeth Virginia Barcly Moffat, constitutes the bulk of this collection; there is also correspondence between Moffat and his brothers Edgar, George, and Burnham, and sister Ada, and several relatives and friends, including Aunt Liney (Adelaide Curtis) and her sons Gram, Frank, and Ernest. Moffat's letters discuss his experiences at Cornell University; letters from family and friends discuss life in Brooklyn, New York. Also included are essays, class notes, examinations, room and board receipts, an Appleton's Railway Map-U.S. and Canada, 1871, and memorabilia including reception invitations and dance cards.
Language:
Collection material in English


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

Correspondence between John and his parents, Dr. Reuben Curtis and Elizabeth Virginia Barcly Moffat, constitutes the greatest part of this collection; there is also correspondence between Moffat and his brothers Edgar, George, and Burnham, sister Ada, and several relatives and friends, including Aunt Liney (Adelaide Curtis) and her sons Gram, Frank, and Ernest.
Also included in this collection are essays, class notes, examinations, room and board receipts, an Appleton's Railway Map-U.S. and Canada, 1871, and memorabilia including reception invitations and dance cards.
In September 1869, Moffat left his home on Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn to attend Cornell University, where he took up residence at Cascadilla Hall with his cousin Gram (1872) as roommate. (On the same floor of the Hall were also the rooms of Professor Fiske and Goldwin Smith; see hand-drawn map diagram, Nov. 28, 1869.)
In letters to family and friends, Moffat relates many of his daily experiences at the University; they in turn reveal something of life in Brooklyn in the early 1870's. Dr. Moffat was a homeopathic physician who made his calls by horse and carriage. A series of letters recounts the accidental death of his horse "Skip" and the long search for a suitable replacement. At times the doctor refers to some medical cases; often he writes at length on theological matters. The Moffats were members of the Society of the New Church in Brooklyn, of which Dr. Moffat was Sunday School superintendent, and where the family participated in many activities such as fairs and theatrical performances. Mrs. Moffat was also active in matters concerning a hospital and orphan asylum and benefit dances. Both Dr. and Mrs. Moffat offer an abundance of parental and spiritual guidance to their son. Two brothers write briefly about their clerical jobs and about rowing and yacht racing on the Hudson River.
At Cornell, Moffat was a member of the Natural History Society of Cornell University and the Philidor Chess Club, charter-member of the Chemical Club of Cornell University, and a corporal in the Independent Cadets; at the time of graduation, he was Captain of Company C in the Military Department.
Among the subjects on which Moffat writes are the following: cadet uniforms, drills, and outings; religious services (held in the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Ferris?) and the move to organize the New Church at Cornell; Moffat's and Curtis' room, and the food at Cascadilla; activities such as studying, rowing on the lake (Cayuga?), hikes in the general area; student behavior and student receptions; Moffat's academic courses; typhoid and other illnesses; the death of Professor Wilder's child Ruth of scarlet fever (Feb. 27, 1870); travel between Brooklyn and Ithca via the Erie Canal and other routes.
A letter from Gram Curtis to his uncle Reuben (Dr. Moffat) discusses plans for supplying water to the University from Fall Creek. (At Commencement Exercises in 1872, Curtis read his essay entitled "The Supply of Water and Water Power to the University.")
A letter from Mrs. Moffat encloses a letter (Dec. 5, 1871) concerning family history; a copy made by Moffat remains in the collection. (Reuben Moffat's grandfather, John L. Moffat, was a surveyor with Simeon DeWitt.)
Letters from Dr. Moffat prescribe and enclose medications for Moffat and fellow students. A letter (Feb. 24, 1870) discusses typhoid fever, giving descriptions of symptoms and treatment.
Family and friends' letters mention the Gold Panic of 1869 and the Chicago Fire of 1871.
SUBJECTS

Names:
Moffat, John Little, 1853-1917.
Curtis, Adelaide.
Curtis, Ernest.
Curtis, Frank.
Curtis, Gram.
Moffat, Ada.
Moffat, Burnham.
Moffat, Edgar.
Moffat, Elizabeth Virginia Barcly.
Moffat, George.
Moffat, Reuben Curtis.
Cornell University--Examinations.
Cornell University--Students.
Cornell University.Class of 1873.

Places:
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Canada--Maps.
United States


INFORMATION FOR USERS

Cite As:
John Little Moffat papers, #37-5-1460. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

CONTAINER LIST

Container
Description
Date
Box 1 Folder 1
Correspondence
1867-1868, June-Oct. 1869
Box 1 Folder 2
Correspondence
Oct. 1869
Box 1 Folder 3
Correspondence
Nov. 1869
Box 1 Folder 4
Correspondence
Dec. 1869
Box 1 Folder 5
Correspondence
Jan. 1870
Box 1 Folder 6
Correspondence
Feb. 1870
Box 1 Folder 7
Correspondence
Mar. 1870
Box 1 Folder 8
Correspondence
Apr. 1870
Box 1 Folder 9
Correspondence
May 1870
Box 1 Folder 10
Correspondence
June 1870
Box 1 Folder 11
Correspondence
Oct. 1870
Box 1 Folder 12
Correspondence
Nov. 1870
Box 1 Folder 13
Correspondence
Dec. 1870
Box 1 Folder 14
Correspondence
Jan. 1871
Box 1 Folder 15
Correspondence
Feb. 1871
Box 1 Folder 16
Correspondence
Mar. 1871
Box 1 Folder 17
Correspondence
Apr. 1871
Box 1 Folder 18
Correspondence
May 1871
Box 1 Folder 19
Correspondence
June 1871
Box 1 Folder 20
Correspondence
Sept. 1871
Box 1 Folder 21
Correspondence
Oct. 1871
Box 1 Folder 22
Correspondence
Nov. 1871
Box 1 Folder 23
Correspondence
Dec. 1871
Box 2 Folder 1
Correspondence
Jan. 1872
Box 2 Folder 2
Correspondence
Feb. 1872
Box 2 Folder 3
Correspondence
Mar. 1872
Box 2 Folder 4
Correspondence
Apr. 1872
Box 2 Folder 5
Correspondence
May 1872
Box 2 Folder 6
Correspondence
June 1872
Box 2 Folder 7
Correspondence
Sept. 1872
Box 2 Folder 8
Correspondence
Oct. 1872
Box 2 Folder 9
Correspondence
Nov. 1872
Box 2 Folder 10
Correspondence
Dec. 1872
Box 2 Folder 11
Correspondence
Jan. 1873
Box 2 Folder 12
Correspondence
Feb. 1873
Box 2 Folder 13
Correspondence
Mar. 1873
Box 2 Folder 14
Correspondence
Apr. 1873
Box 2 Folder 15
Correspondence
May 1873
Box 2 Folder 16
Correspondence
June 1873
Box 2 Folder 17
15 college essays
1870-1872
Box 2 Folder 18
Notes, Chemistry and Elocution
1870
Box 2 Folder 19
Essays, examinations, notes - Part I
1870-1873
Box 2 Folder 19
Essays, examinations, notes - Part II
1870-1873
Box 2 Folder 21
"Receipts for Tuition, Board, Room etc. 'Chemicals' (Lab fees) Cornell University"
1869-1873
Box 2 Folder 22
Programs, invitations, memorabilia
1872-1873
Box 2 Folder 22
Independent Cadet discharge
1872
Box 2 Folder 23
Appleton's Railway Map of the United States and Canada
1871