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Looe Baker and Eliza Wardell Baker family papers
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Looe Baker and Eliza Wardell Baker family papers
    Inclusive Dates: 1700-1933
    Bulk Dates: 1790-1901
    Collection Number: mssBakerL
    Creator: Baker, Looe
    Extent: 498 pieces in 10 boxes (9.3 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Fax: (626) 449-3477
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: An archive of the Baker family of New Jersey; consisting of family letters, manuscripts, legal documents, genealogical material, photographs, letter book, two volumes, and ephemera.
    Language of Material: The records are primarily in English

    Administration Information


    The collection has been fully processed and is available for research. The majority of the collection is in good condition and may be copied; for any questions about the collection, please contact reference@huntington.org .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining permission rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Looe Baker and Eliza Wardell Baker family papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from William Reese Company by the Library Collector's Council, January 19, 2008.

    Biographical Note

    Looe Baker (1780-1854) was born into a New Jersey Quaker family; in 1801 he obtained a job as a commercial cotton trader in Natchez, Mississippi Territory. In 1805 he married Eliza Baker nee Wardell (1781-1821), also from a New Jersey Quaker family; together they had seven children though only two survived to adulthood. Eliza Wardell Baker was precocious and talented, a voracious reader and published writer; she contributed essays to New Jersey newspapers, mostly under the pseudonym of “Jersey Girl.” After Eliza Wardell Baker’s death from consumption in 1821, Looe Baker married Sarah Morris Kean (widow of Colonel Peter Kean), and adopted her three children. Looe Baker died in 1854 and was buried in Morristown, New Jersey. William Chapman Baker (1809-1901) was the son of Looe and Eliza Wardell Baker; during his lifetime he lived throughout the United States, including Morristown, New Jersey, New Orleans, Louisiana, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. W.C. Baker was a banker, a buyer of wholesale silk and a real estate investor. In 1842, he married Kate Stuart (1820-1853) and together they had five children; after Kate Baker’s death, W.C. Baker married her sister Mary E. Turner (1814-1878), and they had one child. During a trip to England W.C. Baker became interested in family history and thereafter collected a large amount of genealogical material for the Baker and Stuart families. W.C. Baker died in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the age of 92.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of correspondonce, manuscripts, volumes, family material and ephemera. The correspondence falls predominately into two sections. The first section includes the letters between Looe and Eliza Wardell Baker, beginning with their friendship in 1799, through their courtship and after their 1805 marriage when Looe was absent from home on long business trips. Their loving correspondence covers family and domestic concerns, the cotton industry, and current events. The letters describe life in Natchez, local and national politics, the New Madrid earthquakes, and the War of 1812. The second section, and the bulk of the correspondence, concern William Chapman Baker; these letters include those dealing with his business interests, his many children, siblings, cousins and other extended family members, and his genealogical research both in the United States and England. The manuscripts include memoirs and diaries, poems, political and personal essays, a commonplace book and Eliza Wardell Baker’s “Jersey Girl” columns. A large amount of the early letters and manuscripts have some damage, with loss of text, but otherwise the material is in excellent condition.
    The three volumes include: Discourse’s on the Death of Robert Stuart, Esquire (1848-1849) ; William Chapman Baker’s letter book (1855-1868) ; Letters of Looe and Eliza Baker…Reminiscences and Sketch of the Family…(1924, March), this third volume is a very rare and was compiled by Kate Stuart Lowry using the letters and other material in this collection. The three volumes are somewhat fragile, with damaged spines.
    The family material and ephemera include financial and legal documents, genealogical material for the Baker, Ferry, Stuart, and White families, photographs and ephemera. The ephemera includes envelopes, printed material, newspaper clippings and early New Jersey newspapers from 1821 and 1825.


    The collection is arranged in the following series:
    • Series 1: Correspondence and manuscripts (1799-1901)
    • Series 2: Volumes (1848-1924)
    • Series 3: Family material (1700-1933)
    The material is arranged in chronological and alphabetical order within each series; more information can be found in the series level notes.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Baker, Eliza Wardell, 1781-1821
    Baker, Looe
    Baker, William Chapman, 1809-1901
    Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1769-1821
    Washington, George, 1732-1799


    Childbirth – United States – History – 19th century
    Cotton trade – United States – History – 19th century
    Death – United States – History – 19th century
    Death – United States – History – 20th century
    Diseases – United States – History – 19th century
    Elections – United States – History – 19th century
    Freedmen – United States
    New Madrid Earthquakes, 1811-1812
    Second Coalition, War of the, 1798-1801
    Slavery – United States – History – 19th century
    Society of Friends – New Jersey – History – 19th century
    Spanish-American War, 1898
    Tuberculosis – United States – History – 19th century
    Yellow fever – United States – History – 19th century

    Geographic Areas

    United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865
    United States – History – War of 1812
    United States – Politics and government – 19th century


    Clippings (information artifacts)
    Family papers
    Genealogies (histories)
    Letter books
    Letters (correspondence)
    Manuscripts (documents)
    Volumes (documents by form)