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Piatt Family Papers

Call Number: MS 1038

Scope and Contents

The Piatt Family Papers consist mainly of letters to John Bear Piatt and other members of his household from his children and other relations. The letters of John James Piatt are mainly from Ireland, 1887-1893, including some addressed to a political associate, Reuben Howard Warren. The other family members wrote from various places in the Midwest and West-especially Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, and the Dakota territory. Of particular note are letters of Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836-1919), an important nineteenth-century poet who published some 450 poems across fifteen volumes and in leading periodicals of the day. Besides the letters there are a few miscellaneous items: literary notes (apparently excerpts of published book reviews), clippings, photographs (including one of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and one of his letter to J. J. Piatt); engravings of Kenyon College; and an album made by Cecil Piatt in Edinburgh, 1898-1899.


  • 1834-1909


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown, though much of the material in this collection is likely in the public domain. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In part gift of Howard S. Mott, 1954.


1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, literary notes, clippings, photographs, and an album of poems and drawings on Edinburgh compiled (1898-1899) by Cecil Piatt. The correspondence consists mainly of letters to John Bear Piatt from family members on the frontier in Montana, Dakota territory, and Kansas. There are also letters from his son, John James Piatt, who served as the United States Consul in Cork, Ireland, from 1882-1893, and from Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, noted nineteenth century poet and author.

Biographical / Historical

John James Piatt, the son of John Bear Piatt, was born in Milton, Indiana, on March 1, 1835. John J. Piatt was educated at public schools continuously until he was fourteen and intermittently afterwards. He attended Ohio State University and Kenyon College at times. Moving with his family to Illinois, Piatt submitted one of his poems to a journal and it was published. Soon after, he published a volume entitled, Poems of Two Friends, with William D. Howells. Between 1861 and 1867, he was clerk for the U.S. treasury department. In 1871, he became librarian for the U.S. House of Representatives and in 1882, U.S. consul to Cork, Ireland, where he stayed for a decade. Throughout his life, he published poetry in journals and books. He was married to Sarah Morgan Bryan, also a poet, on June 18, 1861.

Sarah Morgan Bryan was born on August 11, 1836, in Lexington, Kentucky to Talbot Nelson Bryan and Mary Spiers. She was educated at the Henry Female College in New Castle, Kentucky. From an early age she loved English poetry, and in her youth she began to write verses herself under the influence of those of Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge, and Percy Shelley. Her first published poem appeared in the Galveston (Texas) News. A short time later her poems began appearing regularly in the Louisville (Kentucky) Journal and then in the New York Ledger. Bryan was widely known as a poet by the time of her marriage in 1861 to John L. Piatt, a journalist, poet, and coauthor with William Dean Howells of Poems of Two Friends (1860). Sarah Piatt produced several volumes of poetry over the next 20 years, including The Nests at Washington and Other Poems (1864; with her husband), A Woman’s Poems (1871), A Voyage to the Fortunate Isles and Other Poems (1874), and Dramatic Persons and Moods (1880).

The couple had at least four children, including Cecil Piatt, a banker who was also appointed to be U.S. consul to Cork. John J. Piatt died February 16, 1917.

Guide to the Piatt Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Susan Grigg
March 1980
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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