Table of Contents

Descriptive Summary

Administrative Information

Biographical Note

Scope & Content Note

Organization & Arrangement

Index Terms

Related Items

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Series Arrangement & Description

Series 1: Letters
Series 2: Poems and manuscripts
Series 3: Legal
Series 4: Receipts
Series 5: Ephemera & artifacts
Series 6: Visual materials
Series 7: Clippings & secondary sources
Series 8: Photographs and Scrapbook

Container Listing
Plainfield Public Library

Lawrence Family Papers, 1840-2004.

portrait
Portrait of Katherine (right) and Dorothea Dix (left) Lawrence, circa 1910.

Finding aid written by Debra Schiff in October 2010;
encoded by Sarah Hull in December 2010.
processed in October 2010 by Debra Schiff.

Processing of this collection was made possible through
a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.




Descriptive Summary

Title: Lawrence Family Papers, 1840-2004.
Creator: Lawrence family
Size: 2.5 linear feet of papers
Comprised of 4 boxes:
One (1) 10”x15”x12” archival storage box
Two (2) 10”x12”x5” document box
One (1) 24”x20”x3” newspaper storage box
Repository: Plainfield Public Library, Local History Department, 800 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060
Abstract: The Lawrence Family Papers document the daily affairs of three generations of the Lawrence family. These papers provide documentation of the family home located at 512 Stelle Avenue, Plainfield, NJ, from the first contracts with the builders in 1894 to its insurance coverage in 1947. The papers also include letters to and from family members such as Katharine Morgan Lawrence, Reina A. Lawrence, and Dorothea Dix Lawrence. A significant portion of the collection comprises receipts kept by family members from 1885-1960. Material types include: handwritten and typed letters, poems and other manuscripts, legal documents, receipts, booklets, photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, a scrapbook, and a large certificate.  Additional materials include blueprints for 512 Stelle Avenue.
Language: The records are in English.


Administrative Information
Access & Restrictions

The Lawrence Family Papers are available for research.

Access is restricted to materials prepared by the Local History department staff. All materials must be viewed in the Plainfield Room and may not be removed to another area of the library without permission of the Library Director or designee. Materials must be handled carefully and kept in order. Materials must not be leaned upon, altered, folded, ripped, or traced upon. Marks may not be added or erased from materials. Materials must be returned directly to Local History department staff and inspected before the researcher leaves the Plainfield Room.

One photocopy may be made (by Plainfield Public Library staff) of each document for the purpose of research; official Local History departmental reproduction fees may apply. Permission to publish must be obtained by the Plainfield Public Library Board of Trustees as delegated to the Library Director. Permission to publish does not constitute a copyright clearance. The researcher is responsible for further copyright restrictions. The Plainfield Public Library is not responsible for the misuse of copyrighted material.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item; Date (if noted); "Lawrence Family Papers,” Box and Folder Number; Local History Department, Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield, New Jersey.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by John A. Grady.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Debra Schiff in 2010. The finding aid was written by Debra Schiff and encoded by Sarah Hull in 2010. Finding aid content follows the guidelines suggested by Describing Archives: A Content Standard. The processing of this collection was made possible through a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

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Biographical Note

The Lawrence family lived in Plainfield, N.J. at 512 Stelle Avenue. In this collection, the key figures are Dorothea Dix Lawrence, Reina Andrade Lawrence, and Katharine Morgan Lawrence, although other family members also are represented in the papers. The family is closely related to Major General John Adams Dix (see below), for whom New Jersey’s Fort Dix is named. Dix was brother to Roger Sherman Dix, father of Katharine Morgan Dix.

dorothea1943Dorothea Dix Lawrence, 1899-1979.
Dorothea Dix Lawrence may be best known for being an opera singer, but she also created “The Folklore Music Map of the United States,” (visible here - this is an external link) held by the Music Division of the Library of Congress. After becoming a folklorist, she traveled the world lecturing and introducing American folk music to listeners during the 1940s and 1950s. She also was an avid collector of antique Christmas cards. Dorothea created the scrapbook in the collection.

(Photograph of Dorothea from her 1943 Christmas card)

 

 

 


Reina Andrade Lawrence, 1869-1948.

Reina was Dorothea Dix Lawrence’s aunt by way of Dorothea's father, Edwin Lawrence (also known as “Ted” in this collection). Reina was a photographer of local Plainfield life. Her photographs can be viewed online through the Library's online catalog (see below) and are also available for browsing (by appointment) in the Local History Room. Reina was a vocal anti-suffragist whose views were published in the Plainfield Daily Press and The New York Times. The collection includes a letter between Reina and New Jersey Representative Thomas Scully regarding her protest of the Equal Suffrage Bill.

 

KatharineKatharine Morgan Lawrence, 1836-1923.
Katharine Morgan Lawrence was the mother of Reina (and Edwin) Lawrence, and the grandmother of Dorothea Dix Lawrence. Married to Phineas Lawrence of London, she was the matriarch of the family during its time at 512 Stelle Avenue. The papers show that she was the driving force during the construction of the home. The early receipts in the collection show that the family had considerable wealth.

(Photograph of Katharine Lawrence taken by daughter Reina, Photo #L1018)

 

 

 


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Scope and Content Note

The Lawrence Family Papers, donated by John A. Grady, include a variety of material, the bulk of which spans from the 1880s through the 1950s, with a small number of documents dating as far back as 1840 and one as recent as 2004. There also are undated records, manuscripts, and drawings. Material types include: letters and correspondence, manuscripts, legal documents, receipts, newspaper clippings, booklets, objects, drawings, a scrapbook, and photographs. Also included in the collection are announcements and programs of Dorothea Dix Lawrence’s many vocal performances. The collection is divided primarily among receipts for goods and services, ephemera, letters, and legal documents kept by different family members.

Within the letters is a typed note from New Jersey Representative Thomas Scully to Reina Andrade Lawrence regarding her protest of the passage of the Equal Suffrage Bill. The personal letters of Dorothea Dix Lawrence show one of her Christmas cards as well as a colorful Halloween postcard from her father. There also is an undated group of letters to “Ted” (Edwin Lawrence) from “Mother” (Katharine Morgan Lawrence).

The key figures who kept these items are Dorothea Dix Lawrence, Reina Andrade Lawrence, and Katharine Morgan Lawrence, although there also are items in the collection originating with Roger Dix Lawrence, Edwin Lawrence, Phineas Lawrence, and Emma Sherman.


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Organization and Arrangement

The Lawrence Family Papers are arranged into eight (8) series:

Series 1: Letters
Series 2: Poems and other manuscripts
Series 3: Legal
Series 4: Receipts
Series 5: Ephemera and artifacts
Series 6: Visual Materials (non-photographic)
Series 7: Clippings and secondary sources
Series 8: Photographs* and scrapbook

*The Library owns a large collection of Reina Lawrence photographs; please refer to "Related Items" below.

 

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Index Terms

People:

Dix, John Adams, Major General, 1798-1879.
Lawrence, Dorothea Dix, 1899-1979.
Lawrence, Edwin.
Lawrence, Katharine Morgan, 1837-1923.
Lawrence, Reina Andrade, 1869-1949.

Genres:

Clippings (information artifacts).
Correspondence.
Drawings.
Manuscripts.
Photographic prints.
Programs.
Scrapbooks.

Places:

Plainfield (N.J.)

Subjects:

Folk music--United States--History and criticism.
Folk songs, English--United States.
Home construction.
Plainfield, N.J. – History.
Receipts.
Songs, English--United States.
Sopranos (Singers)--United States--Correspondence.


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Related Items

There are several items related to this collection.

Plainfield Porches, 1900-1950. (online exhibit)

Chronicles of Plainfield, 1870-1970. (online exhibit)

Reina Lawrence Photograph Collection, 1890-1933.

 

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection consists of paper documents, photographs, and a scrapbook, which do not require any additional technology for access. 

 

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Series Description
Series 1: Letters [1868-1959]

letterSeries Arrangement

Series 1 is arranged alphabetically by personal name and subject, and fills four folders. Chronological order has been imposed on the documents due to the collection’s original condition. Reina Andrade Lawrence’s calling cards are housed in box 3 with the oversized items.

Description

Series 1 contains handwritten personal letters, postcards, calling cards, note cards, and typed correspondence. The majority of the letters are to, from, and/or about Dorothea Dix Lawrence and Reina Andrade Lawrence, although there also are mentions of Phineas, Edwin “Ted”, and Katharine Lawrence. It is composed solely of paper documents and photographs.

Letter from the Lawrence brothers, 1885. Click to enlarge.

 


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Series 2: Poems and Other Manuscripts [undated]

Series Arrangement

Series 2 is arranged by author, and fills one folder.

Description

Series 2 contains manuscripts written by Dorothea Dix Lawrence and poems written by an unidentified author. Works are handwritten and typed in ink on paper.


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Series 3: Legal [1894-1959]

Series Arrangement

Series 3 is arranged by subject and fills three folders.

Description

Series 3 contains wills, contracts, insurance policies, and other legal documents kept by the Lawrence family. The legal documents include a substantial amount of documentation regarding the construction and insurance of the family’s 512 Stelle Avenue, Plainfield, New Jersey residence. Documents are typed and handwritten.

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Series 4: Receipts [1895-1960]

account bookSeries Arrangement

Series 4 is arranged by date, and fills ten folders.

Description

Series 4 contains handwritten and typed receipts for goods and services purchased by the Lawrence family. There are records of apothecary shopping trips, cab service, dry cleaning, and other shopping and services. The receipts cover multiple generations of the Lawrence family. They range from an 1894 tax assessment to a 1901 bill from the Plainfield Exchange for Women’s Work to steam cleaning bills that occur throughout the records. There is also a folder of account books (image on left) for various companies.

(Account book, 1907. Click image to see inside book)

 

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Series 5: Ephemera and artifacts [1869-1965]

Series Arrangement

Series 5 is arranged by personal name and subject, and fills three folders. A Daughters of 1812 certificate presented to Reina Andrade Lawrence, an issue of Jersey Life magazine, three paper clothing bags, and a blank Plainfield High School scrapbook are located within an oversized box.

Description

Series 5 contains a variety of different objects kept by Lawrence family. Specifically, this series includes a passport belonging to Emma Sherman, Dorothea Dix Lawrence’s show programs, handmade booklets, and more. Objects collected include a Bamberger’s charge plate token given to Dorothea Dix Lawrence, and paper clothing bags designed for travel. The booklets comprise hand-crafted religious and patriotic texts created by Katharine Lawrence.

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Series 6: Visual Materials [1840-1941]

Dix PortraitSeries Arrangement

Series 6 is arranged chronologically, and fills one folder.

Description

Series 6 contains drawings, prints, portraits, and other works on paper kept by the Lawrence family. The works on paper within the visual materials include original drawings from “grandfather” (presumed to be Phineas Lawrence) and prints of Dix ancestors.

 

Portrait of Major General, John A. Dix, relative.

 

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Series 7: Clippings/Secondary Sources [1923-2004]

Series Arrangement

Series 7 is arranged chronologically, and fills one folder.

Description

Series 7 contains newspaper and magazine clippings, photocopied book pages, and other sources mentioning members of the Lawrence family (the bulk of the folder contains clippings related to Dorothea Dix Lawrence).

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Series 8: Photographs and scrapbook [undated, circa 1920s]

album
Page from Dorothea Dix's scrapbook, 1928.

Series Arrangement

Series 8 is arranged by size and fills two boxes. The scrapbook pages are arranged in their original order.

Description

Series 8 contains a scrapbook kept by Dorothea Dix Lawrence. It contains black and white photographs of her travels and relationships. There are handwritten notes on each page describing the content of the photographs. While it is known that Reina Andrade Lawrence was a photographer, the remaining photographs within the collection are neither signed nor credited to an individual. There is a folder (box 2 folder 9) of photographs where the photographer was likely to have been Reina Lawrence; these items may be incorporated into the rest of the Reina Lawrence Photograph Collection.


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Container Listing
Box Series Folder Title Date
1 1 1 Lawrence, Dorothea Dix 1942-1944
    2 Lawrence, Reina Andrade 1902-1932
    3 Family Members 1868-1924
    4 Professional Correspondence, Lawrence, Dorothea Dix 1912-1959
  2 5 Poems and Other Manuscripts undated
  3 6 Wills and Other Legal Documents 1906-1959
    7 512 Stelle Avenue, Construction 1894-1896
    8 512 Stelle Avenue, Insurance 1896-1947
  4 9 Receipts 1951-1960
    10 Receipts 1941-1950
    11 Receipts 1931-1940
    12 Receipts 1920-1930
    13 Receipts 1911-1919
    14 Receipts 1908-1910
    15 Receipts 1906-1907
    16 Receipts 1900-1905
    17 Receipts 1895-1899
    18 Account Books 1903-1920
  5 19 Lawrence, Dorothea Dix 1908-1956
    20 Lawrence, Reina Andrade 1923-1927
    21 Remaining Family Members 1869-1965
  6 22 Visual Materials 1840-1941
  7 23 Clippings/Secondary Sources 1923-2004
2 8 1 Photographs, Family at 1231 Martine Avenue and 545 Belvidere Avenue 1896-1929, with gaps
    2 Photographs, 512 Stelle Avenue and other Plainfield Houses Undated
    3 Photographs, Lawrence, Dorothea Dix with Family, Friends 1948, 1953, undated
    4 Photographs, Lawrence, Early Family Undated
    5 Photographs, Negatives, Madonna and Child Undated
    6 Photographs, Ephemera, Madonna and Child Undated
    7 Photographs, Negatives, Cows Undated
    8 Photographs, Ephemera, Souvenir Photo Folder, Autographed 1944
    9 Photographs, Likely Lawrence, Reina, A., glass plate prints to be incorporated in Lawrence Photograph Collection. Undated
3 8 1 Photographs, Lawrence, Reina, A., Life Saving Station 1889
    2 Photographs, Lawrence, Dorothea Dix, Portraits undated
    3 Photographs, Lawrence, Dorothea Dix, Scrapbook 1923-1933
    4 Photographs, Early Family 1865-1944, with gaps
    5 Photographs, Early Family, Album 1866-1907, with gaps
    6 Photographs, Negatives, New York City Undated
4* 7   Jersey Life magazine 1938
  8   Plainfield High School scrapbook (blank) undated
  5   Daughters of 1812 certificate 1920
  5   Box of calling cards undated
  5   Paper clothing bags undated

 

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