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Caroline A. Henderson Papers, (Bulk: 1946-1965)1898-1965
3.5 linear feet (7 boxes)
Collection number: MS 0547 (LD 7096.6 1901 Boa)

Henderson, Caroline Agnes Boa, 1877-1966; Secondary school teacher. Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1901. Papers consist of letters, articles, biographical information, and six letters written by her daughter, Eleanor; primarily documenting her daily activities and difficulties, including the Dust Bowl, on the family farm in Oklahoma.

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Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections

Biographical Note

Caroline Agnes Boa was born on April 7, 1877, in Wisconsin. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1901 and taught high school English and Latin in Red Oak, Iowa until 1903. She then taught in Des Moines, Iowa until 1907. Henderson took up a "claim" to land in the panhandle of western Oklahoma, not far from the New Mexico border. On May 7, 1908 she married Wilhelmine Eugene Henderson, a farmer. They lived on a farm in Eva, Oklahoma and had one daughter, Eleanor in 1909. Eleanor enrolled at the University of Kansas and completed a BA and MD at the university. In order to help finance her education, Caroline went to Lawrence and shared an apartment with Eleanor, while teaching school part-time. Caroline also enrolled in graduate courses in English and in 1935 received a Masters of Arts degree. Caroline and her husband lived in Oklahoma through the worst years of the Great Depression and their farm was located in the heart of the "Dust Bowl" region. Caroline's work on the farm included housekeeping, canning, cooking, tending the vegetable and flower gardens, ironing, as well as caring for chickens. In the final years of her life, Henderson suffered from an injured wrist and deteriorating eyesight. As a result of health issues, she and her husband relocated in the winter of 1965 to live with Eleanor in Arizona. Caroline A. Henderson died on August 4, 1966, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Caroline Agnes Boa Henderson Papers consist of Correspondence, Writings, an Herbarium, Biographical Information and a Photograph. The Correspondence series chiefly contains letters written to friends, especially Rose Alden, Mount Holyoke College class of 1901, describing not only the yearly struggles with crop production and natural disasters on the family farm in Eva, Oklahoma, but also family matters, including the development of Henderson's daughter, Eleanor. Of particular note are Henderson's letters regarding the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The second body of correspondence includes letters Caroline and Eleanor exchanged between 1948 and 1961. The content of these letters details news about Eleanor's son David, who was born in 1947 and her family's life in Phoenix, as well as her medical work, Caroline's travels to the West, domestic issues, the weather and books. Writings include published articles in the April 13, 1913 edition of the "Practical Farmer" and "The Ladies' World", in which Henderson had a regular column entitled "Our Homestead Lady". The articles principally discuss crop harvesting and seasonal changes related to farm life. Caroline Henderson's herbarium makes up the third series and contains approximately 30 samples of local flora and fauna native to Iowa and South Hadley, Massachusetts. Biographical Information includes an account of Rose Alden's visit to Henderson's farm in 1940 as well as the sub-series: Eleanor Henderson Materials that document Eleanor's time at the University of Kansas including handwritten notes and typescript drafts of an essay Eleanor wrote on March 20, 1930 while at the University as well as materials from her medical career. The fifth series: a Photograph includes an image of Caroline's nine-year-old grandson David Eugene Grandstaff dressed as a frontier doctor for a Sunday school pageant.

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Preferred Citation note

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Caroline A. Henderson Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts

History of the Collection

Processing Information

Original arrangement and finding aid by Patricia Albright, 2003. Updated arrangement and finding aid by Lori Satter, 2011.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

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