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Title [Diary] [manuscript]: [1866-1868]
Author Caswell, Harriet S. (b.1834)
Document Type Diary
Description From the Newberry Library Catalogue: Ms. diary kept by Harriet B. Clark Caswell Broad during 1866-1868, containing personal and professional accounts of her life as a missionary to the Seneca Nation on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation in Cattaraugus, N.Y. Caswell, known at this time as "Miss Clark", writes in pen and pencil of her activities on the reservation, including church meetings, fundraising, meetings of the Ladies Sewing Society, and visits with Indians, whom she describes as "pagans". She describes their poverty-stricken, desperate and humiliating existence, with no medical care, and in some cases, living five or six to a single ten-foot-square log cabin. Caswell also refers to her own health problems, incessant chills, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy: "Blue! Desperate! Wish I was somebody else!" Included in the diary are texts of several letters written by Caswell between May 17, 1867, and Dec. 7, 1868, to the children of the Cape Cod Sabbath Schools, in which she explains the religious beliefs of the Indians. She also tells them the stories of Moses Crow, an Indian who accepted Christianity after being nursed by Caswell and others through a terrible sickness, and Young King, son of a powerful chief, Old Smoke, who became a Christian after living a life scarred by his addiction to "fire water". But not all the Indians welcome these "white women" who "come here and disturb us in the religion of our fathers". Some of the entries from June 1868, written in a childish hand in pencil, are letters by Moses Crow, and by Indian students at the mission. Caswell also notes missionary works among the Azorean (Portuguese) immigrants in Boston, describing, for example, the "Mothers’ Class" run by Mrs. H.K.S. Storen.
Names Moses Crow; Storen, Mrs., H. K. S.
Places Cattaraugus, New York, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Keywords personal account, missionary, religion, church, Christianity, reservation, cultural contact, poverty, health, school, observation, alcohol, liquor
Theme Missionaries and Education; Observation, Representation and Cultural Encounters
Tribe / Nation
Culture Area Northeast
Additional Information

LAID IN: 1 mimeograph leaf containing description of buildings on Newfane’s Historic Hill; and 8 postcards, with captions "Greetings from Vermont." Seven of the postcards are reproductions of sepia-tone photographs from around 1890 of Bencasson, Newfane, Vermont, including one of Harriet Caswell Broad and friends. Other subjects include Elsie Newton writing on the log cabin porch of Bencasson Cabins, Newfane Hill (2 copies), the old Newfane Inn on Rt. 30, and the Bencasson Cabin, Study, Barn, and Dining Hall in Newfane.

Caswell was a Christian missionary and teacher to the Seneca Indians in the 1850s. Born in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, she later became a teacher and missionary to the Seneca Indians of the Cattaraugus Reservation in western New York. She married, but was soon widowed. When she remarried, she settled around Newfane, Vermont. Involved in missions on a national scale, Caswell became editor of the Home Missionary and National Secretary of the Bureau of Women’s Work, and authored Our life among the Iroquois, published in 1892.

Library The Newberry Library
Copyright The Newberry Library
Collection The Edward E. Ayer Collection
Reference VAULT Ayer MS 3243
Catalogue Link The Newberry Library Catalogue