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Mable Beckley Millen Collection

Identifier: RH-A-587

Scope and Contents

The diaries are written by Frederic Millen who was born on July 4th, 1891 Sussex County New Jersey, and died in May 1954 Passaic New Jersey. His diaries range from 1906 to 1922 in which he writes about his school days in the early diaries and writes about his adulthood in later ones. Frederic documented his life for his friends and family who live close and far away from him. He also documented the weather, how his day went, and his plans while living in New Jersey in the early 1900s.The diaries after 1915 detail his married life with Mabel Beckley Millen (1893-1980). They got married in June 1915. The bulk of these letters were conversations between the Millen family, Stiles family, N.M. Drake, and business associates. In letters from Mabel to her adult son Frederic Newton Millen she would write about updates on the family, weather, medicine, and stories of the family. He lived far from home in different places including for a time in Texas. There are also letters from his father, Frederic to him. Frederic would often write to not only his son but his brothers who are included in this collection. He would discuss business, how they were doing, how he missed them, and hoping they would visit soon.

Frederic had 6 siblings, three of whom were featured in the letters. Stiles Millen, born in 1880 and died in 1966 was the older brother of Frederic who lived in Endicott New York with his wife Grace Satterly Millen, and their children. There are letters between Stiles and his brother Frederic in the collection. As technology progresses, the letters were handwritten originally and then later from a typewriter. There are also letters from Annie Grace Millen (1916-2015), the fifth child of Grace and Stiles Millen. She wrote from Korea to her grandfather Elias Newton Millen and her brothers about teaching English to Koreans and how they reacted. Another brother of Frederic and Stiles, Roger Millen (1887-1955) is mentioned in the diaries. Frederic’s sister Evelyn Millen (1882-1966) is mentioned in the 1908 diary dedication, “To my sister who performs God’s work in Korea”.

There are letters from Frederic, Stiles, Roger, and Evelyn’s parents. Elias Newton Millen (1852-1932) would write to his grandchildren to see how they were doing. Letters from Eugenia Ashfield Stiles Millen (1852-1911) were also written to her grandchildren to see if everyone was healthy and to see about their adventures. She also wrote to her daughter-in-law Mabel Millen. There is a total of fifteen letters between Mabel and her friend N.M. Drake. He was a veterinarian in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They had long exchanges about medications who and why they were taking them, and also trades for medicine.

In many older letters, they are from a mother to a son but it is unknown which mother and son. In the ledger, it contains records of the oil budget for people in town or from the area and how long their tabs were along with records of payments. The manuscript, contains newspaper clippings from New Jersey shipwrecks that inspired the storyline which was about a love interest John and Barbara who were in a lifeboat strained. The miscellaneous papers are a variety of receipts, taxes for the town of Newton, the will for Elias Millen. These various miscellaneous papers from the Stiles family, Millen family and other unknown families.


  • Creation: 1818-1932



.75 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



The collection is composed of 10 diaries written by Frederic Millen (1891- 1954) along with various letters written by family members from 1818 to 1932 all from the eastern part of the United States.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was attained through a donation in 1969 by Mabel Beckley Millen who lived in Sturgis Michigan at the time.

Physical Description

The collection amounts to .75 cubic feet and is composed of 10 diaries from 1906 to 1922 written by Frederic Millen, husband of the donor. In addition to the diaries, there is a ledger from an unknown business in 1870, 15 letters from N.M. Drake to Mabel Millen from 1896 to 1904, a manuscript of a story “In Sickness and In Health” with an unknown date, 24 various family letters from 1973 to 1932, and miscellaneous papers with various dates. The diaries range in size from 3 x 4-3/4 x 1 to 5-1/4 x 8 x 3/4. The ledger measures 9 x 13-1/4 x 1-1/2. The rest of the letters and miscellaneous papers range in size. The letters from the late 1800s to the early 1900 and the manuscript were composed of various types of paper and ink. The letters were mostly handwritten with some of the letters from the 1900s were from a typewriter. Most of the miscellaneous documents were printed with a mix of typed from a typewriter and handwriting notes. The diaries were printed pages with handwritten daily notes, the ledger is similar to the diaries. The manuscript is made up of handwritten drafts. The diaries have fabric covers and are bound together with fabric with the ledger being leather bound.

The collection is in fair condition. Some of it is in better condition than others. The letter pages show wear as they have been creased from folding and some of the ink is fading. Letters from N.M. Drake has thicker ink used and some original envelopes that were sent between people have faded rips from when the envelopes were opened. The miscellaneous papers are faded and some of the pages are slightly damaged. The edges are ripped or have a few burn marks. The first few miscellaneous papers were found in a plastic sleeve to help protect the older and more frail papers. One of the papers from the 1890s still has a seal from when the letter was sent. The Diaries are in fragile condition. The binding on some of the diaries is loose and falling apart. The ink is faded, or the pencil marks are not as visible as they used to be. The ledger is in good condition based on the binding still intact. The ink can be faded in earlier entries but in later entries, it is easier to read. Many of the pages in the manuscript have faded to orange and the blue ink was faded. There is a lot of markings which included cross-outs on the pages as the manuscript was a draft.

Genre / Form


Mable Beckley Millen Collection finding aid
Morgan Hutchens, Reilly Means, Shawn Lilly, Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490