Table of Contents

Overview of the Collection

Biographical Information

Scope and Contents

Series Arrangement


Index Terms

Related Items

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Administrative Information

Series Description

Series 1: Photographs

Series 2: John Van Fleet's Personal Papers

Series 3: Gladys Evelyn Van Fleet Doolittle's Personal Papers

Series 4: PPL Vertical File

Contents List

Plainfield Public Library

Farm in Readington 1880s
Van Fleet family farm in Readington, NJ, ca. 1883.

Finding aid prepared and encoded by Sarah Hull in February 2009,
Revised in October 2010.

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

Overview of the Collection
Repository: Plainfield Public Library, Local History Department, 800 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060
Creator: Van Fleet family members
Title: Van Fleet Family Papers
Dates: 1866 to 1982

2 linear feet of records
Comprised of 2 boxes:
One (1) 15" x 11.5" x 3"
One (1) 2.5" x 12.5" x 10.5"

Abstract: The Van Fleet Family Papers document the history of the family from 1866 to 1982, with bulk dates of 1923 to 1969.  Most of the collection consists of black and white and color photographs, and also includes correspondence, personal writings, family histories, a Bible, and other papers. The majority of the photographs are loose, but were once contained in scrapbooks or photo albums. There is a family tree, as well as several newspaper clippings of family member obituaries and marriage announcements, which were used to verify the biographical information in this finding aid.  
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Information

Clarence E. Van Fleet (January 31, 1878 to November 03, 1964)

Clarence with daughters 1918
Clarence Van Fleet with daughters, Ethel and Evelyn, 1918




Clarence Van Fleet was a native of Readington, and born to John E. (d. October 22, 1933) and Sarah Van Fleet, who were farmers in that town.  Clarence later moved to and lived in Plainfield with his family for about 45 years. He resided at 906 West Eighth Street. He was a carpenter and builder, who had worked at Mack Motors, Inc. during WWII, retiring from there in 1948.  He was a member of First Park Baptist Church and Senior Citizens Club. He joined the Old Guard of Plainfield in 1951 and was chairman of its club room committee for many years.  He died in Muhlenberg Hospital, where he had been a patient for a week or so prior to his death; he had been ill for two months. He was buried at Readington Reformed Church Cemetery in Readington, NJ, next to his wife.

The Van Fleet family resided Elizabeth, NJ on Sayer Street when the girls were little (2 and 3 years old). The family later moved to Plainfield, and resided at 117 Elmwood Place prior to (and including) 1926, and then moved to 906 West Eighth Street from 1927 until their deaths. They visited his parents’ farm in Readington, which is documented in many photographs.

Alice Pearl Mallery Van Fleet (September 03, 1881 to June 04, 1959)

Alice Pearl with prize sunflowers 1924

Alice was born in Hancock, NY, and lived in Plainfield, NJ for 32 years. Member of First Park Baptist Church, where she was a former deaconess. She married Clarence E. Van Fleet on June 27, 1907 in Elizabeth, NJ. Alice was graduated from Hancock, NY Teacher Training Academy, and was a grammar school teacher in Fanwood, NJ. She and Clarence had two daughters: Ethel and Gladys. The family resided in Elizabeth for several years. Upon her passing, Alice was survived by her husband, daughters, and granddaughter.  She had two nephews, Frank and George Scully.  She died in Muhlenberg Hospital following a short illness, and was buried at Readington Reformed Church Cemetery in Readington, NJ.

Alice Pearl with prize sunflowers, 1924.

Ethel Van Fleet Banghart (April 21, 1908 to November 1986)

Ethel 1925

Ethel grew up in Plainfield, NJ and graduated from Plainfield High School in 1926, where she was a member of the Glee Club for one year. She went on to attend the Montclair Normal School in 1927.  She married Claude Banghart (b. June 08, 1909, d. June 1971) of South Plainfield.  Ethel resided at the family home on West 8th street for most of her pre-married life, with the exception of one year in 1926, during which the Plainfield city directory lists her home residence at the YWCA.  Ethel worked at several jobs, according to the Plainfield city directories: a stenographer in 1949, as a secretary for NJ Bell Telephone in 1962, as a patent secretary for Bell Labs in 1972, and was retired by 1982. She still resided at the family home on West 8th at the time of her death.
She and Claude had one daughter, Barbara Ann, born on January 28, 1938 and died on July 11, 1998.  Barbara worked as a security guard at Bell Labs., and resided at the family home on West 8th..

Ethel on porch of Elmwood Place house in Plainfield, 1925

Gladys Evelyn Van Fleet Doolittle (November 17, 1909 to August 28, 1988)

Evelyn 1925

Gladys Evelyn was born in Elizabeth, NJ and went by the name of Evelyn. She was graduated with the Plainfield High School class of 1927. While at PHS, she was a member of the Student Patrol (part of the Student Council), Musical Comedy Club, Gym Pageant, Christmas Decorations Committee, and Girls Graduation Chorus.  Scoring quite well in her entrance exams, she went on to attend the Montclair State Normal School in 1928, and was graduated in May 1930.

She married Lewis Jefferson Doolittle of Port Chester, NY, in December 1929. Lew was born March 31, 1904 and died in 1971. He was employed as a trainman, according to the 1931 and 1933 Plainfield city directories, and there is a photograph of him in uniform. The couple moved out of Plainfield around 1934. They had one son, Richard Lewis Doolittle, on February 28, 1935, but whose date of death is unknown; it appears he may have died during his birth.  Evelyn received a certificate for her service to the country from President Truman for her volunteer work with the Office of Price Administration.  She was a public school teacher in Bound Brook from 1929 to 1935, while the couple resided at the family home on West 8th.  They did occupy a home on 28 Sandford Avenue for a short time (ca 1931). She passed away in 1988 in Norwich, NY.

Evelyn on porch of Elmwood Place house in Plainfield, 1925.

Ethel and Evelyn 1913
Sisters Ethel and Evelyn, 1913.

Other related surnames noted in the collection:
Van Nest

Return to the Table of Contents

Scope and Contents

The Van Fleet Family Papers include a variety of record types and span from 1877 to 1982, with bulk dates of 1923 to 1969.  The collection is composed mostly of photographs – in and out of albums, and one scrapbook.  There are also correspondence, personal notes, newspaper clippings, family births and deaths notes, a family tree, a year book, and a family Bible.

Return to the Table of Contents

Series Arrangement

The Van Fleet Family Papers are arranged into four series:

Series 1: Photographs
Series 2: John Van Fleet’s Personal Papers
Series 3: Gladys Evelyn Van Fleet Doolittle’s Personal Papers
Series 4: Plainfield Public Library Vertical File

Return to the Table of Contents

Access and Use

Restrictions on Access

The Van Fleet 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.

Restrictions on Use

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.

Return to the Table of Contents

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.


Banghart family
Conover family
Doolittle family
Laubach family
Mallery family
Rice family
Scully family
Van Fleet family
Van Nest family


The Normal School (Montclair, NJ)-History


Elizabeth (N.J).
Plainfield (N.J.)
Readington (N.J.)
The Pine Barrens (N.J.)
Whitehouse (N.J.)


Plainfield (N.J.) – Local History

Return to the Table of Contents

Related Items

There is PPL photo file of the residence on W 8th – Grimstead G-638.

Plainfield High School Yearbook, 1926. PR 373 P69 1926.

Return to the Table of Contents

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection consists of paper documents that do not require any additional technology for access.

Return to the Table of Contents

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

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

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated in February 2007 by Mr. Dennis Sands, on be half of his Aunt Evelyn (Gladys Evelyn Van Fleet Doolittle).

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sarah Hull in February 2009. The finding aid was written by Sarah Hull in February 2009. 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.

Return to the Table of Contents

Series Description of the Collection
Series 1: Photographs [1917--1969, undated]

Alice Pearl and Clarence 1924
Alice Pearl and Clarence Van Fleet at Green Pond, 1924.

Series Description
Series 1 contains Van Fleet family photographs. Most are black and white, but there are several color prints taken in later years. This is by far the largest series in the collection.  Many of the images were identified and dated, in hand-written notes, by Evelyn or other family members.  No photos were removed from the albums by PPL processors, those that appear to be missing or torn from album pages came to the library in that manner. Postcards, many created by Clarence Van Fleet from his photographs and sent to his wife, Pearl, are also housed with this series.

There are four photo groups:
Small photo album, 1913, 1917--1925 [bulk dates 1923-1925]
Large photo album, 1912, 1926-1945
Loose photos, 1877, 1905-1906, 1935--1982 [bulk dates 1935-1969]
Anniversary scrapbook, 1911--1957 [bulk dates 1952-1927]

Series 1 is arranged according to original provenance. Photo scrapbooks and albums were left intact whenever possible. Loose photos were re-housed into archival sleeves.  This series fills 2 boxes.

Return to the Table of Contents

Series 2: Clarence Van Fleet’s personal papers [1866--1902, undated]
Clarence postcard 1906
Clarence Van Fleet, postcard to Pearl, 1906.

Series Description
Series 2 contains the personal papers belonging originally to Clarence Van Fleet (Evelyn’s father).  This small series includes correspondence, poems and writings, annual grocer lists and financials, a record of births and deaths of the Steven’s family, and a bank note. Some of the papers are likely to have been created by John Van Fleet, Clarence’s father and Evelyn’s grandfather. The postcards created from his photographs are housed with Series 1. All papers are handwritten, except the bank form.

Series 2 is arranged chronologically by subject, and is contained in one box.

Return to the Table of Contents

Series 3: Gladys Evelyn Van Fleet Doolittle’s personal papers [1927--1977, undated]
Mallory family births and deaths, undated
Mallory family record of births and deaths, from back of Evelyn's Bible, undated.

Series Description
Series 3 contains the papers belonging to Gladys Evelyn Van Fleet. This series includes correspondence, papers relating to her attendance at Montclair’s Normal School, a 1927 PHS yearbook (a photo copy of her sister Ethel’s 1926 year book page included here), newspaper clippings of family obituaries and marriage announcements, prayer cards, her Bible with nested papers, which have been removed but their placement marked within the Bible. There is also an oversized, hand-written family tree (undated). Most of the papers are hand-written.

Series 3 is predominantly arranged chronologically by subject or author, and is contained in two boxes.

Return to the Table of Contents

Series 4: Vertical File [2009]

Series Description
Series 4 contains the PPL vertical file from 2009 (created and used in writing the family biographies). A photo copy of the family tree is included with this folder for easier handling.

Series 4 is contained in one folder.

Return to the Table of Contents

Contents Listing







Evelyn’s yearbook




Evelyn’s bible – papers




Evelyn’s bible – book cover




Evelyn’s bible – Mallory family deaths




Evelyn’s bible




Evelyn’s Papers – Normal School

1927, 1977, undated



John Van Fleet papers

1866, 1876



John Van Fleet papers

1871-1902, undated



Unidentified papers





1908, 1913, 1955, undated



Obituaries, memorials, and ephemera




Family tree (copy)




Empty photo mats and loose notes








Anniversary Scrapbook pages

1911-1915, 1952-1957



Small photo album




Large photo album

1912, 1926-1945



Loose photos

1877, 1905-06, 1935--1982