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HUM 136

Blackett, William Cameron, 1890-1925. William Cameron Blackett personal archive, 1900-1937 and undated : a draft inventory

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUM 136
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Blackett, William Cameron, 1890-1925
Title: William Cameron Blackett personal archive, 1900-1937 and undated
Date(s): 1900-1937
Quantity: 1.43 cubic feet (2 flat boxes, 1 document box)
Abstract: William Cameron Blackett, salesman and business man, was born on March 30, 1890, and received his Harvard AB in February 1913 as a member of the Harvard College Class of 1912. The collection consists of a scrapbook kept by William Cameron Blackett while an undergraduate, loose photographs and ephemeral items, and a lacrosse medal awarded to Blackett in 1910. The collection documents his undergraduate social life; hiking and canoeing trips; his work as a counselor at Brantwood, a summer camp for boys in Greenfield, New Hampshire; an extended visit to Ontario, Canada; and his service in artillery and aerial observation units in France during World War I; it also contains items collected by his widow at the twenty-fifth reunion of the Harvard College Class of 1912 in 1937.

Acquisition information:

Accession 18448: January 1, 2012

Processing Note:

The collection was processed in 2012. Processing involved a collection survey, housing in appropriate archival sleeves, folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid. This finding aid was created by Juliana Kuipers in December 2012.
Bracketed titles for photographs lacking captions and all image descriptions were supplied by the archivist.
Four nitrate negatives, for which the collection contained prints or related prints, were removed from the collection during processing.

Conditions on Use and Access:

The William Cameron Blackett personal archive is open for research use.

Preferred Citation:

Blackett, William Cameron, 1890-1925. William Cameron Blackett personal archive, 1900-1937 and undated. HUM 136, Harvard University Archives.

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Historical note

William Cameron Blackett, salesman and business man, was born on March 30, 1890, in Boston to William Henry and Anne Cameron Blackett. He prepared for college at Somerville Latin School and received his Harvard AB in February 1913 as a member of the Harvard College Class of 1912. While at Harvard, Blackett was heavily involved in lacrosse, serving as captain of the freshman lacrosse team and member of the varsity team for three years. He was also a member of Sigma Alpha Phi, the Speakers' Club, and the Aeronautical Society. Following graduation, Blackett worked in the sales departments of the United Paperboard Company in Lockport, New York until 1915, when he began working as sales manager for Boston's E.B. Badger & Sons. Blackett served with Battery D of the 301st Field Artillery during World War I after enlisting in September 1917; he received his commission on July 12, 1918, as second lieutenant at the Artillery School in Saumur, France. Blackett was later transferred to the Artillery Aerial Observation School at Tours and served with the 90th Aero Squadron. While returning from the front in France after the armistice was declared, he survived a train wreck in December 1918, recovering in a hospital in Beaugency. Following his discharge from military service in February 1919, Blackett resumed working at E.B. Badger & Sons. In June 1919, he, along with Clayton H. Ernst (Harvard College Class of 1910) and Ormond E. Loomis (Harvard College Class of 1911), founded the Torbell Company, publishers of the boys' magazine The Open Road. Blackett also served as treasurer of the Badger Fire Extinguisher Company and the Badger Metal Products Company. He married Priscilla Badger in 1920; they had three children. Blackett died on August 23, 1925, in a railroad accident in Winnetka, Illinois while traveling to visit a college classmate.

Arrangement

Scope of the William Cameron Blackett personal archive

The collection consists of a scrapbook kept by William Cameron Blackett while an undergraduate at Harvard College, 1908-1913, as well a lacrosse medal awarded to Blackett in 1910. It also contains loose photographs and ephemeral items: these were originally tucked between the pages of the scrapbook and were removed during processing. The loose items date from 1900 through 1937, when the twenty-fifth reunion of Blackett's Harvard class was held; some, if not all, of the items may have been placed within the scrapbook following Blackett's death, perhaps by his widow, who attended the 1937 reunion.
The collection documents Blackett's undergraduate social life, with a particular emphasis on his participation in lacrosse, and his work as a counselor at Brantwood, a summer camp for boys in Greenfield, New Hampshire. Blackett's love of hiking and canoeing is well-documented through photographs of trips taken in New Hampshire, Maine, and Ontario, Canada. The collection also documents his service in artillery and aerial observation units during World War I, with a particular emphasis on relationships developed during his recovery in France from wounds received after the armistice, and an extended visit made by Blackett to Ontario, Canada in 1914. While in Ontario, he spent time with Jessie Dey and the family of her older sister, Isa Crain. The relationship between the Dey and Blackett families is unclear.
The collection also documents the relationship between Blackett and his younger brother, Alexander H. Blackett, containing photographs of them at Harvard Stadium, Spy Pond in Arlington, and in Maine. The two are similar in appearance; some of the photographs lacking captions may have been mis-identified. It is probable that other photographs in the collection include unidentified members of Blackett's family.

General

This document last updated 2015 November 12.

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