Emily Ford Skeel (1867-1958) was a bibliographer, editor and philanthropist. Her parents were Gordon Lester Ford (1823-1891), a railroad and real-estate magnate and collector of Americana, and Emily Fowler Ford (1826-1893), a poet. Like her older brothers Worthington Chauncey Ford (1858-1941) and Paul Leicester Ford (1865-1902), Skeel did historical research and compiled bibliographies on Parson Weems and Noah Webster. She and her husband, Roswell Skeel, Jr. (1866-1922), contributed time and money to various organizations and causes concerned with social reform or environmental conservation. Collection consists of correspondence, notes, scrapbooks, photographs, and printed matter relating to Skeel's professional and personal activities. General correspondence, 1871-1958, includes letters about her bibliographic and editorial work as well as letters of Skeel and her husband with family and friends, librarians, archivists, and academics. There is correspondence with various organizations and societies concerned with social and educational issues and with the Single Tax measures of Henry George. Personal and family correspondence, 1871-1950, contains correspondence with family members, relatives and personal friends, and other correspondence that is personal in nature. Financial and household correspondence, 1913-1946, consists of letters with banks and stockbrokers, general business letters and correspondence from Skeel's years in Martha's Vineyard. Bibliographic notes are made up of material Skeel gathered for her work on Webster and original manuscript of the Webster bibliography. Minor series includes notes about Weems, memoranda, writings, student notebooks, personal and family papers with genealogical information, commonplace books, accounts and account books, and maps. Also, scrapbooks compiled by Emily and Roswell Skeel; photographs of family members and residences, prominent people and various other subjects; and printed matter, such as clippings, pamphlets, prints and ephemera.
Biographical/historical: Emily Ford Skeel (nee Emily Ellsworth Ford) was born in Brooklyn in 1867, the youngest of the seven children of Gordon Lester Ford (1823-1891) and Emily Fowler Ford (1826-1893), and the great-granddaughter of Noah Webster (1758-1843). Her father was a railroad and a real-estate magnate, a lawyer and a collector of Americana. His library was one of the most comprehensive of his day. Her mother wrote poetry, much of which she published; a two-volume work, Notes on the Life of Noah Webster (1912), edited by Skeel, was posthumously published. Skeel did not go to college, however she travelled and made use of her father's library. In 1891 she married Roswell Skeel, Jr. (1866-1922) and moved to Irvington, New York. They had no children. Like her older brothers Paul Leicester Ford (1865-1902) and Worthington Chauncey Ford (1858-1941) Skeel did work in historical research. She published 1928-1929 a three-volume work, Mason Locke Weems, His Works and Ways. The first volume is a bibliography of Parson Weems (1759-1825) left unfinished by Paul Leicester Ford at the time of his death, and the other volumes are Weems letters, 1784-1825, edited by Skeel. For more than 25 years Skeel worked on a definitive bibliography of Noah Webster which she did not complete due to illness and old age. This work was edited by Edwin H. Carpenter, Jr., who followed Skeel's guidelines, and was published by the New York Public Library as A Bibliography of the Writings of Noah Webster (1958). Both Emily Skeel and her husband contributed time and money to various organizations and causes. Roswell Skeel, Jr. worked as a volunteer for the Prison Association of New York, assisting the families of convicts. He worked for other offices and associations, generally in order to improve the education and health care of young people. Emily Skeel gave money to several societies and organizations, most concerned with social reform or environmental conservation, and to educational institutions. She supported the Single Tax measures of Henry George, and contributed to societies committed to his ideas. After the death of her husband, Skeel moved to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; one of her residences was a restoration of Ann Dunham's house (And'hunam). She also lived in New York City, Arizona and California. After several years of illness, Skeel died in 1958. Towards the end of her life her one time secretary and close friend Helen Mouat had power of attorney.
Content: The Emily Ford Skeel Papers are divided into the following series: General Correspondence, Personal and Family Correspondence, Financial and Household Correspondence, Bibliographic Notes, Minor Series, Scrapbooks, Photograph Albums, Photographs, and Printed Matter. The organization of this collection as received was one of several filing systems inconsistent with each other. Although the collection has been further organized, Skeel's original order has been retained as much as possible. Overlap of certain types of material remains both within and between the series.