Daniels Family Papers, 1842-1984

Scope and Content Note

The papers, largely generated by Olive Bell Daniels, consist of genealogical charts, correspondence, Christmas cards (“annual reports”), writings, peace material, notes, financial records, diaries, reminiscences, and correspondence and printed materials concerning foreign and domestic missions. The collection is organized in three parts: the original collection, received in the Archives between 1975 and 1980; additions received between 1982 and 1984; and the 1994 additions. Both the original collection and the first group of additions contain a range of materials as described above. The 1994 additions consist of two genealogies compiled by Olive Bell Daniels which previously were cataloged individually under her name.

PART 1 , the original collection, dates 1865-1980 and has been divided into two subseries--the papers of the Olive and Farrington Daniels family which is the largest and most important part, and the papers of related families which Olive probably acquired during the course of her genealogical research and through inheritance. The related families are those on Farrington's side of the family--the Daniels and Farringtons.


The Genealogical Charts (1934, 1937, 1961, 1978) trace the ancestry of the Daniels family from 1646 to 1977 and the Farrington family from 1588 to 1956. The annotated charts include information on the education, occupations, military service, and other significant events for some family members.

The Correspondence is divided into four sections: Family, Personal, China Missions, and Travel. Much of the correspondence which was originally undated was dated by the donor in recent years. The Family Correspondence (1890-1980), arranged chronologically as the donor herself had filed it, consists primarily of incoming and outgoing letters of Olive Bell Daniels but also includes scattered correspondence of her husband, her children, and other relatives. Olive Daniels' correspondence dates from 1895 when, at age four, she dictated letters to her aunt, Sarah Slater, who sent them to Olive's parents in Chicago. This unusually long span of correspondence furnishes extensive documentation on her life but also provides insights into family relationships and values because of its coverage of important phases in the lives of family members such as births, marriages, deaths, college life, military service, and careers. Much of the correspondence concerns routine matters such as birthdays, sicknesses, hobbies, and domestic chores.

The Personal Correspondence (1912-1917) is arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent and consists of letters of Olive and Farrington during their courtship, announcements of their engagement and marriage, congratulatory letters from relatives, and correspondence between Farrington and his parents.

The Correspondence from China Missions (1919-1950) consists of typewritten, mimeographed letters from John Horton Daniels, the brother of Farrington, and his wife, Helen, which were sent to relatives in the United States. John Horton, a physician, worked as a medical missionary with the Presbyterian Church at the University of Nanking Hospital. Much of the correspondence concerns domestic matters but also included are commentaries from the point of view of missionaries on daily life and important events in China such as the Nanking Incident of 1927, the Japanese occupation of China, and the activities of the communist forces. Helen Daniels was for many years a friend of Pearl Buck and briefly described her personality in a letter of May 24, 1932 after Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for literature.

The Travel Correspondence (1952-1970) written by Olive Daniels to her family, resulted from three trips around the world with her husband who was sent on scientific missions sponsored by the Asia Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Department of State. The typewritten travel correspondence is arranged chronologically and is mostly contained in one bound volume that includes a table of contents.

The Christmas Cards (1917-1972), designed by Mrs. Daniels and referred to by her as “annual reports,” consist of brief summaries of family news for the year. The Christmas cards, with accompanying photographs, are all mounted in a scrapbook.

An unpublished biography of Olive Daniels' husband titled “Farrington Daniels Chemist and Prophet of the Solar Age” comprises the Writings category (1978). Written by Olive Bell Daniels, the biography includes a forward by Mark Ingraham, a colleague of Farrington Daniels. Also included is an index, a bibliography of Daniels' publications, a list of his patents, a list of students who received Ph.D. degrees under him, a genealogical chart, photographs, and a brief biographical sketch of Olive Daniels.

The Peace Material (1912-1937), arranged by type of material and thereunder chronologically, includes a small amount of correspondence from several peace organizations, broadsides, bulletins, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and miscellaneous peace papers. Olive belonged to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom for a brief period; this series reflects her interest in peace issues. Included is a peace poem written by Ernest Bell, who preached against war in his Chicago ministry.

The Notes (circa 1917-1920) consist of general notes of Olive Daniels, most of which seem to date from around 1917 when she was working as director of religious education in Plymouth Congregational Church in St. Paul. Included are notes on books read, schedules of events, prayers, religious thoughts, genealogical notes, and lists of household purchases.

The Printed Materials category (1927-1944) is comprised of bulletins, newsletters, and reports, most of which were published under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church relating to its foreign missions. Some of the material relates to the work of John Horton Daniels who was head of a medical mission in Nanking. One newsletter, Relief for Americans in Philippines (1942-1944), was intended to keep American families informed about the fate of United States citizens held captive by the Japanese in the Philippines. During World War II, John Horton Daniels was detained by the Japanese on his way back to the United States from China.

The Financial Records (1917-1966) are arranged chronologically and consist of journals of family receipts and expenditures showing items purchased, amount paid, sources of receipts, and amounts. There is a gap in the records between 1928 and 1945.

The Miscellany (1871-1975, undated) includes material such as passports, a program for the Ammergau Passion Play of 1871, school report cards of the children of Olive and Farrington Daniels, graduation announcements, programs for meetings of the American Philosophical Society, an invitation from the White House for a reception for members of the National Academy of Sciences, and other papers.


Correspondence (1865-1950), arranged from earliest generation to latest and thereunder chronologically, consists primarily of family correspondence including letters of John Horton Daniels and his wife, Frances, concerning the loss of their family fortune during the Panic of 1873. There is a small amount of business correspondence, letters of recommendation for job applications written on behalf of John Horton Daniels, and letters (1865-1867) to Everett Case Daniels from his mother, Frances Pomeroy Daniels, while he attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.

The Diaries is arranged chronologically and consists of engagement calendars (1892-1927) of John Horton Daniels which contain very little substantive information. Also included are diaries (1936-1942) of Florence Farrington Daniels mostly relating daily events and family matters.

The City Missions (1898, 1932, undated) contains copies of newspaper clippings, pamphlets, brochures, and other papers relating to the work of Samuel and Harriet Farrington in city missions in Chicago and Minneapolis. In 1869 Harriet organized a girls' mission society in Chicago called the “Busy Gleaners” and in later years she helped establish the Farrington Mission Sabbath School and Hope Industrial School in Minneapolis where she served as president of the Westminster City Mission Society.

The Reminiscences (circa 1938), arranged by year beginning with Florence Farrington Daniels' marriage in 1886, provides a sketch of her family life up to around 1938.

The Financial Records consist of personal expense journals (1884-1926) and account books (1913-1926) of Franc Birchard Daniels. The expense journals indicate the purpose of expenditures and amounts. The account books show accounts payable and receivable. One notebook (1932-1941) which probably belonged to Florence Farrington Daniels, consists of records of personal investments showing amount invested, location of investment, and expected income.

PART 2 , the 1982-1984 Addition, dates 1842-1984, and was arranged to parallel the original portion of the papers. The addition generally reflects the subject contents of the original papers. The chief differences between the two sections are the inclusion in the second segment of extensive genealogical research materials collected by Mrs. Daniels and a much expanded file of her writings.

Of foremost importance among the Genealogical Records in Part 2 is a group of completed family genealogical records documenting the generations of Farrington, Franc, and John Horton Daniels. Also included is a list of purchasers and related correspondence for genealogical publications written by Olive Daniels from 1936 to 1972.

Correspondence in Part 2 is confined to the “Family” category (here renamed “Family and General”). This group has been arranged chronologically, as in the original collection's processing, and it consists primarily of the incoming and outgoing letters of Olive Bell Daniels, but it also includes letters to and from Farrington and other family members and relatives from 1890 to 1984. Also included are greeting cards, birth and death announcements, and Christmas cards separated by genre from correspondence. Correspondence to William Jennings Bryan (1922) and the First Congregational Church of Madison completes the category.

Christmas Cards , or Olive Daniels' “annual reports,” continue from December, 1973 to December, 1983, just prior to her death in March, 1984.

The Writings section has been extensively expanded in this addition, ranging from Olive's elementary school days to her later years. Many areas are touched upon, especially family history and the role of women. A few early writings of Farrington (1902-1906) are also filed here, as well as related correspondence with co-authors and publishers for his textbooks. Additions to the Notes section are limited, consisting mainly of background material for talks on many subjects given by Olive Daniels from the 1930s through the 1960s.

The Financial Records (1917-1976) consist of additional financial journals, detailing family expenditures and receipts, some early income tax statements, and expense sheets for a family move in 1919.

Biographical Material , a new category, consists solely of material on Olive and Farrington Daniels. Material on Olive is quite extensive and includes information on her birth, high school and college education, and her daily life. In addition, there is documentation on Olive Bell Daniels Day in Richland Center in 1971, as well as material on the growth of the Nakoma Neighborhood in which they lived. Biographical material on Farrington is smaller in volume, but it displays the same broad scope, including awards, obituaries and articles about him, and a record of the distribution of his library.

The Miscellany here consists only of a few scattered pieces of material from Farrington and two high school newspaper articles describing Clare Bell and her retirement.

The additions to the Related Families records consist of a small quantity of original correspondence of family members and a substantial volume of genealogical research material. The correspondence consists of letters from Farrington's grandfather, father, mother, and brother, (John Horton Daniels II, commonly referred to as Horton). Research material, the second newly-established segment of the papers, provides extensive and valuable background material for the Bell, Daniels, and other related families. It is likely this material was used by Olive Daniels for the many family genealogies she wrote and published. The material consists of extensive research correspondence, transcribed documents, newspaper clippings, and handwritten notes and notecards.

PART 3 consists of two genealogies.