Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

MG 1080

Julia Keese Nelson Colles (1840-1913)

Papers, 1890-1906

2 linear ft.


New Jersey Historical Society

Manuscript Collection




Processed by:  Shira Markoff

                       February, 1999




The papers of Julia Keese Nelson Colles span the years 1890 to1906 and total 2 linear feet.  The collection was processed by Shira Markoff, a student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, for a history internship project.



Biographical Note


Julia Keese Nelson Colles was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1840 to John Peter Nelson and Julia Ann Keese.  Her father’s family was among the early settlers in Duchess County, New York.  Her maternal ancestors, including her grandfather Richard Keese, were also prominent in New York, and the town of Keeseville was named for them. In 1867 Julia Nelson married George Wetmore Colles (1836-1911), the son of her father’s business partner.  Shortly afterward George and Julia moved to the Colles’s family home in Morristown, New Jersey (Morris County).


Julia Keese Colles, a graduate of Abbots Collegiate Institute in New York City,  served as chair of Social Science at Rutgers Female College in New York City.  Colles was a member of many organizations, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Women’s Town Improvement Association, and the American Historical Association.  She helped found the Women’s Branch of


Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

and a church mission group for boys called “Drop in the Bucket Band.” Furthermore, Colles was involved in saving and preserving the historic Arnold Tavern in Morristown.  Her only published book, Authors and Writers Associated with Morristown, was printed in 1893 by Vogt Brothers in Morristown.  She presented two unpublished works, “Authors Associated with Newark” and “A Forgotten Historical Nook,” to the New Jersey Historical Society.  In addition, Colles gave many lectures in private homes in the Morristown area on topics ranging from Shakespeare and Chaucer to Martha Washington and castles of the Rhine. 


Colles had three children: Gertrude (1869-1957), the oldest child, a painter and women’s suffrage activist; George Jr., an engineer, whose poem was printed in his mother’s book, Authors and Writers Associated with Morristown; and Julia Nelson Colles (1876-1903), the youngest child, a graduate of Wesleyan College (B.A.) and Smith College (M.A.), was a doctoral candidate at Columbia and a physics teacher at Barnard College.



Scope and Content Note


The papers, 1890-1906, of Julia Keese Nelson Colles contain her notes for lectures given in private homes in Morristown and surrounding areas.  The lecture topics include famous literary figures, such as Shakespeare, Spenser, Coleridge, Byron, Milton, and Chaucer.

Colles also lectured on subjects, such as German literature, early Russian literature, drama, and the art of conversation.  In addition, there are lecture notes on famous historical figures, such as Alfred the Great, Marie Antoinette, and Martha Washington, as well as lesser known figures, such as Marie Louise (1791-1847), Napoleon’s second wife, and Hortense (1783-1837), the queen of Holland and mother to Napoleon III.  The collection also includes photographs of the Rhine River and castles surrounding the Rhine, which supplemented the lectures on Goethe and castles of the Rhine.  Also included in the collection are newspaper clippings related to the lectures.


The New Jersey Historical Society has additional manuscript collections relating to Julia Keese Colles.  These include her research notes for her unpublished manuscript on authors associated with Newark (MG 1027) and a short hand-written biography of Colles in an unpublished dictionary, “New Jersey Women Authors,” by Margaret Tufts Swan Yardley (MG 958). 


The New Jersey Historical Society library has two editions of Colles’s book, Authors and Writers Associated with Morristown (1893 and 1895, Vogt Brother, Morristown).


The Morristown Public Library, Local History and Genealogy Department, has further information on Julia Keese Colles and the Colles family in two manuscript collections, “Julia Keese Colles Papers” and “Colles Family Papers.”  The New York Public Library also has a collection of Getrude and Julia Keese Colles’s papers. 





























MG 1080

Julia Keese Nelson Colles (1840-1913)

Manuscripts (1890-1906)

Container List


Box         Folder                    Title                                                                       Date


1  Notes for Lectures Given By Julia Keese Colles:       


1.  “Hortense”                                                                                       Oct. 27, 1890

                2.  “Marie Louise”                                                                                1890

                3.  “The Art of Conversation”                                                           1890-1894

                4.  “King Alfred and Alfred the Great”                                             Nov. 16, 1891

                5.  “Bonaparte Family”                                                                        1891

                6.  “Early Russian Writers”                                                                1891

                7.  “The Elizabethan Period”                                                              1891

                8.  “Madame Recamier”                                                                       1891


2  Notes for Lectures Given By Julia Keese Colles:       


1.  “Plays and Drama”                                                                         Jan. 25, 1892

                2.  “Coleridge”                                                                                      Feb. 22, 1892

                3.  “Lord Byron”                                                                                   March 15, 1892

                4.  “Castles of the Rhine”                                                                   March 18. 1892

                5.  “Shakespeare”                                                                 March 22, 1892

                6.  “Goethe”                                                                                          Nov. 15, 1892

                7.  “The Art of Conversation”                                                           1892

                8.  “Early German Literature”                                                              1892

9.  “Goethe”                                                                                          1892, 1893

                10. “Middle Age of German Literature”                                            1892, 1893

              11. “Middle Age of German Literature”                                              1892, 1893

                12. “Chaucer”                                                                                       1892, 1896


3  Notes for Lectures Given By Julia Keese Colles:


1.  “German Literature- Period of the Reformation”                        Jan. 5, 1893

                2.  “Third Period of German Literature”                                            Jan. 12, 1893

                3.  “German Literature- Heinrich Heine”                                           March 2, 1893

                4.  “Klopstock”                                                                                     1893

                5.  “German Literature”                                                                        1893

                6.  “Course in German Literature- Schiller”                                      1893

                7.  “The Art of Conversation”                                                           1903

                8.  “Balzac”                                                                                            March 8, 1904

                9.  “Martha Washington”                                                                   Dec. 17, 1906

                10. “Course in German Literature-Richler”                                       n.d.

                11. “German Literature- Lessing’s Poem”                                        n.d.

                12. “Julie Recamier”                                                                             n.d.

                13. “Letitia”                                                                                           n.d.


4  Notes for Lectures Given By Julia Keese Colles:


1.  “Marie Antoinette”                                                                        n.d.

                2.  “Milton”                                                                                           n.d.

                3.  “Shakespeare, Calderon, and Goethe”                                        n.d.

Box         Folder                    Title                                                                       Date


                4.  “Spenser”                                                                                         n.d.

                5.  “Wordsworth”                                                                                n.d.

                6.  “Wrieland and Herder”                                                  n.d.

                7.  “Wycliffe”                                                                                        n.d.


                8.  Photographs of Rhine from “Goethe” Lecture                           Nov. 15, 1892

                9.  Photographs of Rhine from “Goethe” Lecture                           Nov. 15, 1892

                10. Photographs for “Castles of the Rhine” Lecture                      March 18, 1892




1080. COLLES, JULIA KEESE (d. 1913) author, educator.

      Lectures, 1890-1906.  5 ft.


   A graduate of the Abbott Collegiate Institute of New York City, Colles went on to hold the chair of Social Science at Rutgers Female College, New York.  The collection includes lectures on German and British literature as well as on various topics in American and European history. For additional writings see MG 1027, for biographical data, see MG 958.




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