59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to the Sarah G. Colt Letters, 1856-1867, 1894-1935

Descriptive Summary

RepositoryMartha's Vineyard Museum, Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
Call NumberRU 437
Creator Colt, Sarah G., 1848-1937
TitleSarah G. Colt letters
Date1856-1867, 1894-1935
Extent1 box + 1 1/2 box (0.756 cubic feet)
LanguageThe materials are in English.
AbstractThe collection includes letters sent to Sarah G. Colt of Edgartown, Massachusetts, 1856-1935. Most of the letters in the collection were received by Colt from Edmund Janes Carpenter and chronicle their relationship between 1916 and 1923.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to the library's staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 437, Sarah G. Colt Letters.

Acquisition Information

The immediate source of acquisition and date of accession are unknown.

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Insley Julier in March 2013. Machine-encoded by Nathaniel Janick April 2014.

 Creation of this finding aid was sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Index Terms


  • Correspondence
  • Receipts

Geographic Name(s)

  • Edgartown (Mass.)
  • Milton (Mass.)
  • Provincetown (Mass.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Carpenter, Edmund J. (Edmund Janes), 1845-1924


  • Daily life
  • Voyages and travel
  • Weather

Biography/Historical Note

Sarah G. Colt was born September 19, 1848 to Henry Colt, 1803-1888 and his second wife, Harriet T. Cummings, 1820-1867. Sarah Colt had three surviving siblings; Susan, Nancy and Daniel. She never married and an 1880 Census finds her living at home at age 31, keeping house for her father Henry Colt. By 1907, as Edward S. Burgess writes in his glowing letter of recommendation, Sarah Colt had fallen on hard times: "She is a housekeeper, in her own home, (now to be left unfortunately on account of financial reverses), of many years successful experience." From circa 1907 onwards, Colt worked as a housekeeper, servant and companion to the ailing relatives of different island families and visitors. She lived variously with her sisters, friends and employers, but seems to have resided for most of her years in Edgartown, Massachusetts. She was sociable, well-educated and refined, according to Burgess, and an avid reader. She was also a seaweed collector and considered an expert in its identification.

Colt appears to have sustained a long-standing relationship with Edmund Janes Carpenter, 1845-1924. Carpenter was a journalist, author and historian. He was married in 1874 to Lydia E. Snow. The pair had six children and lived in Milton, Massachusetts, sometimes spending summers at their house in Provincetown. For over 20 years Carpenter reviewed books for the Boston Transcript and he was also employed by the Daily Advertiser, as Library Editor. He was the author of several books, including, The Mayflower Pilgrims (1918), and he was greatly interested in historical research, as well as, science, politics and current events.

Sarah G. Colt and Edmund Janes Carpenter corresponded frequently, often several times a week, until shortly before Carpenter's death in 1924. Sarah G. Colt died on January 22, 1937.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of circa 80 letters received by Sarah G. Colt of Edgartown, Massachusetts between 1856 and 1935. Correspondents include Colt's relatives, friends, employers or former employers. The bulk of the letters in this collection are signed by "E." of Milton, Massachusetts and Provincetown, Massachusetts. A single June 1916 letter, in the same hand, is signed E. J. C. of Milton. An examination of the contents of the correspondence and United States Census records reveal that E. was, in fact, Edmund Janes Carpenter, 1845-1924. Carpenter wrote to Colt regularly, including news of his children and grandchildren, his work, the progress of his book on the pilgrims and other writing projects, as well as his interactions with the "Pilgrim Commission." He described his vacations to Provincetown; noting changes in the community, the higher rates charged to summer residents, the increase in automobile traffic and difficulties with his hired help. He also discussed books and articles he read on politics, foreign affairs, science and other current events.

Letters from unidentified correspondents, empty envelopes, a few bills and receipts addressed to Sarah G. Colt and some miscellaneous papers found with the Colt letters, but seemingly unrelated, are filed at the end of the collection. Some of the letters addressed to Sarah G. Colt were found intermingled in the same box with letters of Frank P. Vincent, Minnie K. Vincent and Wesley Grove Vincent, see RU 438, Vincent family letters. As there is no known relationship between Colt and the Vincent family, the letters were separated into two individual collections.


The collection is arranged alphabetically by sender and therein chronologically.

Collection Contents


Blodgett, Frederick, 1895 


Bright, Mary G., 1894 


Burgess, Edward S., 1907 


Burgess, Irene S., 1895-1897, 1928 


Carpenter, Edmund J., 1916-1923 


Note: Letters are signed only "E." ,  

Colt, Daniel?, 1894-1897 


Note: Letters are signed only "Dan." However, Sarah Colt's younger brother was Daniel and she was sending this individual money for living expenses.


Colt, J. B., 1867 


Note: Possibly Josiah B. Colt.


Dunham, Thomas, 1856 


Fish, George W., 1916 


Keniston, Mabel, 1909, 1933 


Palmer, Grace A., 1907 


Wylie, Annie E., 1909 


Unidentified Correspondents, 1898, undated 


Unidentified Correspondents, 1910-1916, undated 


Envelopes Addressed to Colt, 1916-1923 


Bills and Receipts, 1921-1935 


Miscellaneous Papers, undated