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Bradley Family papers

Identifier: IWA0061

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Scope and Contents

The Bradley Family papers measure 2.25 linear feet and date from 1811 to 1992. The papers are arranged in seven series: Genealogical information; Rhoda Ogden/Henry Bradley/Abijah Fitch correspondence, David O. Bradley/ Cornelia Fitch Bradley/ Lué  Bradley correspondence, Lué Bradley diaries, Account books and scrapbook, Emma Bradley Middlebrook family correspondence, and Photographs.

The Genealogical information series includes a family tree and various materials about the family including newspaper clippings, David Bradley's will (1873) and a plat of Dobbs Ferry identifying the Bradleys' property. A copy of an article, "Longfellow's Letters to Cornelia Fitch," by Sargeant Bush, Jr. (Books at Iowa, No. 6, April 1967) completes the series.

Papers of the Prentiss family and the Shrauger family, descendants of David and Cornelia Bradley, are also held by the Iowa Women's Archives. The three collections together include correspondence of seven generations.

A small amount of correspondence of David Bradley's parents from the early nineteenth century is included in the Rhoda Ogden/Henry Bradley/Abijah Fitch correspondence series (1811-1865). Photocopies of letters written between 1839 and 1865 from Abijah Fitch, Cornelia Fitch Bradley's father, to William Henry Seward, Secretary of State, 1861-1869, complete the series. The originals are in the University of Rochester (New York) library.

The bulk of the Bradley family papers is devoted to the David O. Bradley/Cornelia Bradley/ Lué Bradley correspondence series (1864-1894) and to the Lué Bradley diaries (1879-1891).

The diaries (1879-1891 scattered) were written by Lué Bradley from the time she was eleven and continuing through the age of twenty-one. She writes in detail of the family, her schooling, recreation, health, travels and social activities.

The Account books and scrapbook series (1881-1905 scattered) includes an account book kept by Cornelia Fitch Bradley during her 1893 European trip and another kept by Lué Bradley during the first years of her marriage (1893-1905). The scrapbook kept by Lué Bradley for approximately the same period as her diaries includes programs, photographs, tintypes, and other items documenting her social life.

Many of the letters and diaries have been transcribed and typed by the donor, Virginia Shrauger Jones, granddaughter of Lué Bradley. Each transcription is filed with the original document.

The Emma Bradley Middlebrook family correspondence series (1927-1992 and undated, scattered) includes materials from Emma to her niece Cornelia Prentiss Shrauger; as well correspondence between Emma's daughter Cornelia (Tissy) Baekeland Hallowell, and Cornelia Prentiss Shrauger, Tissy's cousin; and the correspondence of Emma's grand-daughter, Cornelia (Dicki) Bagarotti with Virginia Shrauger Jones, Dicki's cousin.

Eight letters to Cornelia Fitch from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, written prior to her marriage to David Bradley, are held by the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries (MsL L853 fi, Longfellow to Fitch).

A book, Savage Grace, by Natalie Robins and Steve Aronson (William Morrow, 1985) has been removed from the Bradley Family papers and shelved with the printed works in the Iowa Women's Archives. The book concerns Tony Baekeland, the great-grandson of Emma Bradley Middlebrook. Baekeland, an heir to the Bakelite plastic fortune, murdered his mother, Barbara Baekeland, in 1972 and committed suicide in 1981.


  • Creation: 1811-1992


Conditions Governing Access

Permission to quote from or publish from these papers must be obtained from the donor.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. 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 owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

The Bradleys were a wealthy nineteenth century family who resided in the Hudson River Valley of New York, near New York City in Westchester county. David Ogden Bradley (1827-1895), a banker and New York state assemblyman, was born in Penn Yan, New York to Rhoda Ogden Bradley and Henry Bradley. As the president of the Tarrytown Bank, he became a man of considerable wealth, described as a "millionaire"" in a local newspaper in 1894. In 1865 he married Cornelia Fitch (1838-1893), the daughter of Llanah and Abijah Fitch of Auburn, New York. Bradley was then a widower with one child, a daughter, Lizzie.

In 1866 the Bradleys purchased a home in Dobbs Ferry and lived there for the remainder of their lives. The home, "Palivista," bought for $22,600, was located on a 30 foot bluff above the Hudson River with a frontage of 700 feet on the river. A newspaper advertisement described it as a "fine residence, containing six acres of good land; abundance of choice fruit, shrubbery and fine old forest trees. House all modern; gas and water throughout; carriage house and stable; over a mile of shaded walks; rustic summer houses, bridge, etc." At "Palivista" the Bradleys raised their four children: Lué (1868-1922), Emma (1872-1971), and twin sons, Jerome (1875-1951) and Nelson (1875-?) The Bradleys maintained their home and grounds with the help of many servants.

They travelled extensively in Europe, summered at various Atlantic seaside resorts, visited family frequently in upstate New York and Ohio, and led an active social life. The girls attended Miss Master's School in Dobbs Ferry. Lué Bradley was the school's first graduate. The boys attended preparatory school at Lawrenceville before entering Princeton University. Emma Bradley married Joseph Middlebrook in 1893. They were later divorced. Their children were Cornelia (Tissy) (1899-1990), Joseph (Mouse) (1895-1976), Bradley (1894-1915) and Buddy (1898-1983). In 1895 Lué Bradley married Dr. Henry James Prentiss (1867-1931). The Prentisses moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1905 when Dr. Prentiss was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Anatomy at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). He taught there until his death. Lu? Bradley died in 1922, at the age of 53, after a long illness. She was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Their five children were Cornelia Shrauger (1896-1985), Lilian Schwarz (1897-1935), Lué Childs (1902-1968), Henry, Jr. (1898-1922), and Robert (1908-1972). Lué 's twin brother, David, died at age three. (See the Prentiss Family Papers and Shrauger Family Papers, Iowa Women's Archives.)


2.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence and other papers of this nineteenth-century family that resided in the Hudson River Valley of New York.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 112) were donated by Virginia Shrauger Jones in 1987 and succeeding years.

Related Materials

Prentiss Family papers Iowa family descended from the Bradley family.

Shrauger Family papers Iowa family descended from the Prentiss and Bradley families.

Cornelia Shrauger Day papers Descended from The Prentiss and Bradley families.

Longfellow to Fitch letters, Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries (MsL L853 fi)

See also, Dobbs Ferry Historical Society:

Natalie S. Brody, 1994 and succeeding years.
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Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)