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MC 764; DVD-36; CD-77

Camp Kehonka (Alton, N.H.). Records of Camp Kehonka, 1906-2012 (inclusive), 1930-1980 (bulk) : A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 764; DVD-36; CD-77
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Camp Kehonka (Alton, N.H.)
Title: Records of Camp Kehonka, 1906-2012 (inclusive), 1930-1980 (bulk)
Date(s): 1906-2012
Date(s): 1930-1980
Quantity: 10.29 linear feet (9 file boxes, 2 half file boxes, 7 card file boxes, 1 folio box, 1 oversize box) plus 1 folio folder, 3 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 14 photograph folders, 3 folio photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 1 oversize photograph folder, 1 supersize photograph folder, 6 CDs, 1 DVD, 2 objects, electronic records.)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, uniforms, program planning materials, financial records, and memorabilia of Camp Kehonka, one of the first camps for girls in the United States.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2008-M164, 2009-M55, 2010-M220, 2010-M229, 2012-M131, 2013-M41, 2013-M105, 2014-M69
The records of Camp Kehonka were given to the Schlesinger Library by the estate of Althea Ballentine in September 2008, with additional donations by Lynne Warrin between March 2009 and May 2014, Jo Dorchester between November and December 2012, Anna Stuart Galli in March 2013, and Bruce Ballentine in May 2013. Accession number 2014-M69 was added to the collection in June 2014.

Processing Information:

Processed: October 2013
By: Susan Earle, with the assistance of Samuel Bauer.
Updated: June 2014
By: Anne Engelhart

Access Restrictions: unrestricted.

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Camp Kehonka is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Camp Kehonka Records, 1906-2012; item description, dates. MC 764, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Donors: Lynne Warrin and Bruce Ballentine
Accession numbers: 2008-M164, 2013-M105
Processed by: Susan Earle
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to Schlesinger Library's Printed Materials Division:


Camp Kehonka, one of the first girls' camps in the United States, was founded by Laura I. Mattoon in 1902. The camp was originally located on Lake Wentworth, in New Hampshire, and in 1910 relocated to Alton, New Hampshire, on Lake Winnipesaukee. Mattoon, an 1894 graduate of Wellesley College, taught science at the MacDuffie School in Springfield, Massachusetts, and at New York City's Veltin School. The camp's first season had only eight campers, who slept in tents and built their own furniture. The campers also participated in the planning of activities and camp trips. As the early campers wore bloomers and Mattoon herself often wore somewhat masculine attire, their appearance was startling to many of the residents of Wolfeboro. The camp expanded over the years, with a section known as "The Point," for younger campers, added in the 1940s; the original section was known as "The Cove." The camp sought to instill in campers the qualities of self-reliance, integrity, and emotional stability, while encouraging spiritual growth, intellectual curiosity, initiative, and creativity, as well as appreciation of democratic freedom and acceptance of individual and group responsibility. The camp's traditions included a banquet held at the end of the camp season, at which counselors put on a show for campers, and the Sunday evening "musicale," at which campers and counselors sang. In early years, campers also performed a pageant every season; this eventually evolved into productions of dramas, though the term "pageant" was still used to describe the event.
Mattoon was active in the Camp Directors' Association of America (now the American Camping Association), becoming the organization's first salaried employee in 1924. She served as secretary for fifteen years. In 1938, Mattoon and Helen Dalton Bragdon developed Services for the Open, a nondenominational worship book which was widely used in camps. In 1911 Almyr Cooper "Bally" Ballentine joined the staff as a crafts counselor; he joined the staff full time in 1925 and under his guidance campers designed objects in wood (frequently geese, the camp's mascot, to be used as favors at banquets) and metal. After Mattoon's death in 1945, Ballentine became director of the camp. He was an active member of the American Camping Association and was one of the founders of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in 1932. In 1947, "Bally" married Mattoon's former nurse, Althea Macauley; they had 5 children: Linda, Roy, Jeffrey, Bonnie, and Bruce. Althea played an active role in managing the camp, and was particularly influential in attracting campers from abroad. On its 80th season in 1981, Camp Kehonka had 175 campers from 16 nations. "Bally" died in 1984 and after his death dissension in the Ballentine family resulted in the removal of Althea as camp director; her son Roy replaced her. The camp closed after the 1985 season and the property was sold. For further information, see the camp's web site.


The collection is arranged in three series:


The collection documents the administration of Camp Kehonka and includes photographs, camp uniforms, banquet favors, camp publicity and articles about Camp Kehonka, camp logs, counselor training material, correspondence, program planning materials, financial records, CDs and a DVD. The majority of the folder titles were created by the archivist; those created by collection donors appear in quotation marks. The camp's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection (WAX). Issues of the camp's newsletter Goose Quills have been transferred to Schlesinger Library's Printed Materials Division. Materials received by the Schlesinger Library in 2014 were added to the collection in June 2014 and are represented in #PD.20, 20.1-20.3, F+D.3.
Series I, CAMP ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT, ca. 1906-2012 (#1.1-18.8, 8CB.1m-13CB, 15CB.1m-15CB.4m, 19FB.1m, 14OB.1m-14OB.6m, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1-OD.2, CD-77.1 - CD.77.6, DVD-36.1, Mem.1-Mem.3, E.1), documents program planning and management of the camp and also provides information on A. Cooper Ballentine's role in the larger New Hampshire community. It includes articles about Camp Kehonka and its dissolution; a DVD of campers and counselors reminiscing about Kehonka; and material about A. Cooper and Althea Ballentine and Laura Mattoon, including condolence letters on the deaths of Mattoon and A. Cooper Ballentine, programs for their memorial services; sketches by A. Cooper Ballentine and quotations collected by him; and writings by him and by Mattoon, including Services for the Open. The series also includes camp logs; questionnaires completed by parents of prospective campers, in which they assess their daughter's characters; index cards with campers' and staff addresses and dates of camp attendance; excerpts from Goose Quills, the camp newsletter produced by campers in the summer and by the Ballentines in the winter; CDs of camp songs and reunion musicales; questionnaires regarding the future of Camp Kehonka; camp uniforms, banquet favors, and pins made by A. Cooper Ballentine and campers; programs and scripts for camp pageants; manuals written by camp staff; and booklets created by campers as tributes to A. Cooper Ballentine. Additional material includes guidelines for camp trips; material on the camp's crafts, costume design, dramatics, and athletics programs; counselor training material; and church service programs. The series is arranged with a description of the collection written by one of the collection donors, followed by an alphabetical arrangement of material.
Series II, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1911-ca.1980 (PD.1-PD.20), documents activities at Camp Kehonka and the evolution of the camp uniform over the years, The series contains photographs of campers, counselors, and camp grounds and buildings, including images of campers engaged in swimming and other sports; crafts and dramatics; and group shots of campers and counselors. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series III, INDIVIDUAL CAMPERS, 1940-1943 (20.1-20.3, F+D.3), includes diaries, autograph albums, scrapbooks containing printed material, handcrafts, etc.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Amateur theater--New Hampshire
Autograph albums
Camps for girls--New Hampshire
Camps--New Hampshire
Compact discs
Electronic records
Girls--Social life and customs--20th century
Horsemanship--New Hampshire
Pageants--New Hampshire
Sheet music
Swimming--New Hampshire
Web sites
Women-owned business enterprises--New Hampshire
Ballentine, A. Cooper
Ballentine, Althea
Mattoon, Laura I.