A Collection in
Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityContact Information:
P.O. Box 90001
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, Virginia 24062-9001
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Processed by: John M. Jackson, Special Collections
2012 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All rights reserved.
Collection is open for research.
Permission to publish material from the Look Family papers must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.
Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Look Family Papers, Ms1976-003, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
The Look Family Papers were donated to Special Collections in 1976.
The processing, arrangement, and description of the Look Family Papers commenced and was completed in May, 2012.
Susan Howes Look, daughter of Samuel and Polly Loomis Look, was born in Conway, Massachusetts on October 27, 1817. Soon after, the Looks moved to the Oneida Lake area of New York; to nearby Herkimer County a few years later; then to Utica. Around age 17, Susan Look enrolled in the Utica Female Seminary; following graduation, she served on the school's faculty for several years. She married Benjamin Avery in 1844, and the couple moved in 1848 to Louisivlle, Kentucky, where Avery established the Avery Plow Works. The Averys had six children: Lydia, Samuel, Gertrude, George, Helen, and William.
In 1858, the Averys, together with Susan's sister and brother-in-law, Julia and Albert Capwell, purchased "Hillside," a Wyoming, New York estate, for use as a summer residence. The house also became the permanent home of the sisters' parents, Samuel and Polly Loomis Look, who moved there from Virginia. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Looks were joined in Wyoming by their son, Nathan Loomis Look, and his two daughters. Nathan Look later returned to Virginia and died in Smyth County in 1907.
The Averys remained in Louisville. Following the 1885 death of her husband, Susan Look Avery sold "Hillside" to her daughter, Lydia Avery Coonley. Around this same time, Avery became an outspoken advocate of reformist causes, including women's suffrage, temperance, the free coinage of silver, and anti-imperialism. She was well acquainted with other public figures and reformers of the day, including Susan B. Anthony and Booker T. Washington. Avery was a charter member of Wyoming, New York's Warsaw Equality Club, a women's suffrage organization. The club was renamed in her honor as the Susan Look Avery Club in 1901. Susan Look Avery died on February 1, 1915.
This collection contains papers--including correspondence, photographs, and printed material--of the Look family of Wyoming, New York and Marion, Virginia. The collection includes six letters between family members, including Susan Look Avery, Samuel J. Look, and Lydia A. Coonley. The letters largely focus on family matters, including current activities and family history. In two letters to her brother, Susan Avery discusses the free coinage of silver, Thomas W. Lawson's Frenzied Finance, free trade, and other issues of the day. Also included are cartes-de-visite of Susan Avery and Lydia Coonley, as well as eight views of "Hillside," the Look family home in Wyoming, New York. The collection also contains a Susan Look Avery Club brochure, providing officer names and the 1905-1906 activities program.
The collection is arranged by item type.