Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Perry Marshall Papers
Scope and contents of the collection
The collection consists of a series of letters between Dr. Perry Marshall and Dorothy Bullard, both residents of New Salem, Massachusetts, dating from 1927-1929. Although the nature of the relationship between the two correspondents is difficult to discern from the letters themselves, an understanding can be achieved by considering both Marshall's life and the time period in which the letters were written. Along with the letters, Marshall often enclosed poems that he wrote for Bullard, as well as some of his sermons and religious texts. Two letters of recommendation, perhaps sent to a publisher, are also included, as are several of Marshall's publications.
Marshall's letters to Bullard appear at first glance to be romantic, but there is little reason to believe that their relationship was anything other than a friendship. According to Bullard's daughter, Jean Hankins, her mother mentioned Dr. Marshall frequently in conversation, even much later in her life, and her admiration for him was likely reserved for his literary accomplishments and writing ability. It is possible, too, that Dorothy considered Marshall to be a mentor. Marhsall's regard for Dorothy is harder to define. He is clearly very taken with Dorothy, who is at least 40 years his junior at the time of their correspondence. As an attractive, lively, and thoughtful young woman, it is not difficult to see why Marshall was such an ardent admirer. His correspondence with Dorothy, and likely his feelings for her, was not kept secret from his wife, Ella Maria Ormsby. Indeed, it is she who writes the final letter to Dorothy, in which she explains that the doctor is too frail and confused to respond.
Marshall was an accomplished man, trained both as a doctor of the body and the spirit. As a local minister, some of his sermons and philosophical or religious writings appear in the collection. A glimpse into his work as a practicing physician is also present. A business card with Marshall's medical specialty, "Surgical Diseases of Women," is included, along with a 1920s medical pamphlet advertising prescription drugs.
As a published poet, some of Marshall's writings appear in the collection, too. Included are works of pastoral and historical poetry, such as Light and Shadow, "Vinland: A History of the Norse Discovery of America," "Irene," and "Austria: The World War in Miniature."
Lastly, this collection contains a letter to Perry Marshall from Helena Doubleday, which possibly came into Dorothy Bullard's possession through her cousin Warren Doubleday. While the exact relation of Helena and Warren is unknown, it is clear from the postmark that letter was sent from North Dana in 1924. The town of Dana, which was one of the towns razed in the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir, contained three villages: North Dana, Dana Common, and Doubleday Village, and it is likely that the latter village was named for Helena's family.