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Michelsen and Havens Family papers

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Michelsen and Havens Family papers, 1925-1950 | University of Miami Special Collections

By Yvette Yurubi

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Collection Overview

Title: Michelsen and Havens Family papers, 1925-1950Add to your cart.

ID: ASM0220

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 02/19/2014

Formats/Genres: Letters

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

"Archive of letters between members of the Michelsen and Havens family, including correspondence from Kate C. Havens, a prominent female theosophist from Miami, Florida and Cloudland, Geogia. Approximately 75 letters plus newspaper clippings, ephemera, and a sketch book containing costume designs by Cleo Michelsen. The majority of these letters are addressed to Cleo Michelsen, a young lady, who is interested in the arts and would eventually marry Auriel Bessemer, a noted muralist of the New Deal. Cleo came from a well-established family from Miami. The letters are written from her brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents. The family is well-educated, and the letters are articulate and well-written.

However, with the Depression looming over the country, her family is is in the midst of a crisis. Cleo's father has seen his business fortunes plummet, and he and Cleo's mother have separated. Her father eventually moves to Cuba where he attempts to revive his holding company. Her mother stays in Florida but is in terrible financial straits. One of Cleo's sisters writes regarding the lack of money and her mother's impoverished state - one which forces her to go days without eating.

In addition, as mentioned above, Cleo has been courted by Auriel Bessemer, who she meets in art school. A promising artist himself, they go on to marry in 1935. During the New Deal, Auriel was commissioned by the Treasury Department to create seven murals - "Historical and Industrial Scenes - Sketches of Virginia," for the first federal building in Arlington. The murals were conserved in 2007, and today, they remain in their permanent home in the U.S. Post Office Building in Arlington.

Most importantly, in this collection are a series of letters from Cleo's grandmother, Kate C. Havens, who splits her time between her home in Miami, Florida and a mountain retreat in Cloudland, Georgia. Mrs. Havens originally hailed from Chicago and was a prominent voice in the Theosophy movement of the time, delivering lectures, writing articles and becoming acquainted other notable theorists, including Anne Besant and Max Heindel. In Miami, she continued her involvement with Theosophy becoming the president of the newly formed Theosophical Society there in 1919. She was a free and very liberal thinker and also became heavily involved in the Women's suffrage movement, eventually becoming an officer on the legal status of women in the Florida State League of Women Voters.

Havens has a great affection for Cleo and writes her interesting heartfelt letters, which are mostly always infused with a Theosophical bent, injecting her views on spirituality and orientalism, providing her opinions on important theosophical readings, reporting upon her lectures given to the Theosophical Society in Miami, and giving accounts of two fascinating meetings with Pearl Buck and Dr. Alvin Kuhns." -Denning House Antiquarian Books & Manuscripts

Subject/Index Terms

Religious organizations

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Acquisition Method: Purchased from Denning House Antiquarian Books & Manuscripts.

Preferred Citation: Michelsen and Havens Family papers, Special Collections, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, Florida


Box and Folder Listing


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Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Kate C. Havens Genealogy NoteAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Kate C. Havens, Cloudland, GA., August 19Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., May 28, 1926Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Kate C. Havens, Cloudland, GA. on Florida State League of Women VotersAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Kate C. Havens, Cloudland, GA.Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Kate C. Havens Lecture Card for Theosophical Society of ChicagoAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., Dec. 2Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL. Postcard with NoteAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Kate C. Havens, Cloudland, GA., Oct. 9Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., March 9Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL. "On the Ranch"Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., Dec. 13, 1931Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., Dec. 5, 1930Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., Jan. 22, 1926Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Kate C. Havens, Cloudland, GA., June 5Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., March 30, 1929Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Kate C. Havens, Cloudland, GA., July 8Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., March 24, 1926Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL. Postcard and Note, Apr. 4, 1929Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., Apr. 14Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Kate C. Havens, Cloudland, GA., June 22, 1929Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Kate C. Havens, Cloudland, GA., Aug. 16Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Kate C. Havens, Miami, FL., Jan. 22, 1926Add to your cart.
Folder 24: Sister Kate's LettersAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Letters from Sister KittyAdd to your cart.
Folder 26: Sister Ruth's LettersAdd to your cart.
Folder 27: Grandfather's LettersAdd to your cart.
Folder 28: Letters from Cleo's Mother and FatherAdd to your cart.
Folder 29: Letters from Other Family MembersAdd to your cart.
Folder 30: Miscellaneous Ephemera Clippings, etc.Add to your cart.
Folder 31: Cleo Michelsen's Costume Designs, 1950Add to your cart.

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