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Catlett Family Papers

Identifier: SC 0276
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only


The Catlett Family Papers, 1850-1933 (bulk 1901-1929), consists of two boxes containing the correspondence, personal financial records, and ephemera of the Catlett Family of Staunton, Virginia.


  • Creation: 1850-1933
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1901-1929


Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

Richard Henry Catlett, born April 19, 1828 near Warren County, Virginia, served with the Confederate Army during the Civil War working as an aide, an acting assistant adjutant general, and as head of reserve organization. After the war, he moved to Staunton, Virginia and established a law firm in 1865 with two war acquaintances to help develop the economy of West Virginia and Virginia. He died in March 1898.

He had his first two children, Charles (1866-1945) and Richard Henry (1868-1940), with Mary Mercer Patton (1838-1871). After her death, he married Fannie Bolling Gay (1847-1938) and had four daughters: Margaret Erskine (1878-1958), Fanny Gay (1879-1838), Amy Pendleton (1883-1972), and Elizabeth Gay (1884-1948). The family remained active in the daily affairs of Staunton, and the children traveled extensively over the course of the early twentieth century. Most notably, Amy Pendleton and Elizabeth Gay Catlett travelled in France while Charles Catlett (a geologist and chemist) and Fannie Bolling Gay Catlett remained prominent figures in the Staunton community, contributing to the naming of areas such as Woodrow Wilson Park, and donating to local businesses.

The Catlett Family Papers, 1850-1933 (bulk 1901-1929), consists of two boxes containing the personal correspondence, financial records, and personal materials of the Catlett Family of Staunton, Virginia. The materials in this collection provide a small glimpse into early twentieth century life through the eyes of the Catlett family. The collection is divided into two series: Correspondence and Personal Papers and Ephemera. Topics of conversation in the correspondence can range from education to travel to day-to-day activity, while financial records comprise of receipts and checks usually directed to or filled out by Fannie Bolling Gay (noted as Mrs. R.H. Catlett). Ephemera include personal affects held by unspecified family members and business-related materials of the time period.


0.66 cubic feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is divided into two series. All series are arranged chronologically.

  1. Correspondence, 1901-1929
  2. Personal Papers and Ephemera, 1850-1933

Acquisition Information

This collection was acquired through the Large Antiques and Firearms Estate auction held by Green Valley Auctions on January 16, 2018.

Appraisal Note

Numerous voided checks were originally part of the collection. A representative sample of these checks were retained and are filed in the collection with Paid Checks and Statements. The remainder have been discarded due to their duplicative nature. A December 6, 1926 issue of The Evening Leader was also discarded due to its condition and duplication elsewhere.


  • “Capt. Richard H. Catlett Dead.” Staunton Spectator and Vindicator [Staunton, VA], March, 24, 1898. (accessed September 21, 2018).
  • “The Leland Family of Virginia, et. al.” RootsWeb, April 12, 2017, (accessed September 24, 2018).
  • “Richard Henry Catlett and Family in Staunton.” Janegrayavery, July, 4 2016, (accessed October 5, 2018).

Processing Information

The collection was received in no particular order other than general groupings of correspondence and financial files. The archivist imposed an order on any unordered documents, created discrete series, and filed accordingly.



A Guide to the Catlett Family Papers, 1850-1933 (bulk 1901-1929)
Phillip Wong
October 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612