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A Finding Aid for the Abigail Smith Timme Papers 1899-1989

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Abigail Smith Timme Papers

Creator: Timme, Abigail Smith. 1890-1986.

Dates: 1899-1989

Abstract: Abigail Smith Timme (1890-1986) was born in Manistee, Michigan. A 1912 secretarial graduate of Ferris Institute (Big Rapids, Mich.), Timme worked at the Berkey and Gay Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During the war, Timme moved to Washington D.C. and served on the staff of several high ranking officials. After the war, she took a position with Continental Casualty Company, where she met her husband Ernst G. Timme. Timme worked with her husband on development projects and was a strong supporter of Ferris. Much of the collection is photographs although there is limited correspondence and objects.

Language: English

Quantity: 1.7 cubic feet; 3 boxes

Identification: MSS-1

Repository: Ferris State University Archives and Records Management Program

Historical Note

Abigail "Abbe" Smith Timme was born in Manistee, Michigan to John and Janet (Ramage) Smith in 1890. During her youth, she suffered from poor health and became an avid reader. Because of her mother's death in 1910 and her father's subsequent death in 1911, Abbe had to assist in the financial support of her younger brother and sister. Timme attended Ferris Institute from 1911-1912 but never graduated from the secretarial course. Thanks to a strong recommendation, however, from founder Woodbridge N. Ferris following a five-week apprenticeship in his office, she was able to obtain a job at the Berkey and Gay Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In 1917, Abbe Smith moved to Washington D.C. where she worked for a number of federal officials including Joseph Ware and Bernard Baruch. She next moved to New York City, where she worked with different banking institutions. In 1921, Smith returned to the Midwest to accept a position with Continental Casualty Company in Chicago, Illinois (one of the largest insurance companies at that time). It was there she met Ernst G. Timme, an officer in the company and widower with a teenage son. They were married in 1929 at the Little Church Around the Corner, in New York City (N.Y.). Ernst G. Timme died in 1957.

Abigail Smith Timme worked closely with her husband on several developmental projects. She also had a strong interest in gardening. Additionally, she was an active supporter of her alumni institution which had been renamed Ferris State College. She was the first respondent to an appeal in the 1960s and later set up a substantial trust. Ferris granted her a diploma in 1976 and in 1977 followed it up with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Abigail Timme divided her later years between homes in Alamo, California and Clermont, Florida. She died in her sleep in October 1986. Timme and her husband had no children.

Scope and Content Note

Abigail Smith Timme was a secretary, developer, wife, gardener and philanthropist. In her early years following graduation from Ferris, she served as a secretary in a number of companies and cities. During World War I, she served as a secretary to the assistant for Bernard Baruch as well as other officials. The collection consists mostly of photographs including an album from her World War I years, depicting Washington office buildings and military offices. There are also several photographs and printed memorabilia from her Ferris days. Additional photographs and memorabilia including a letter of recommendation from Woodbridge Ferris have been laminated into a scrapbook presented to Abigail Timme when she received her honorary degree in 1976.

Additionally, this collection reflects the documentation of Abigail Timme's personal life. There are photographs of family vacations, the church where she was married, and her husband Ernst G. Timme. Of special interest is a travel diary from 1959. Timme grew up in Wisconsin and worked for Continental Insurance. Abigail was assigned to Timme as his secretary shortly after his first wife died. There are photos of her pets and the gardens of her house in California. Family history materials including bibles and some 19th century books have also been included. There are also some newsclippings and reminiscences delivered by Cliff Larsen at the dedication of the Timme Library in 1989 in the folder marked memorabilia. There is very little correspondence or documentation directly related to Timme's secretarial career.

This collection was donated by Cliff Larson, neighbor and friend of Mrs. Timme. Some were given to him by Mrs. Timme and others were obtained when cleaning out her residence after her death. Some object items were removed from the collection at the time of donation and placed on display in the Timme Center for Student Services.


The papers are contained in into a single series.

Access Information

Conditions of Access

The Abigail Smith Timme Papers are open for research to all users in accordance with University Archives and Records Management access policies. It is available in the reading room of the Ferris State University Archives.

Conditions of Use

Requests for permission to publish material should be directed to the University Archivist. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Copyright interests for this collection have not been transferred to Ferris State University. For more information, contact the University Archivist.

Subject Headings

Below are a list of names, organizations and subjects relating to the collection. Names have been taken from Library of Congress Authority headings whenever possible.

Related Materials

None specified.

Administrative Information


Footnotes and bibliographic references should use the following format:
[Item], Folder, Box. Abigail Smith Timme Papers. Ferris State University Archives. Big Rapids, Michigan.

Provenance (Acquisition Information)

The Abigail Smith Timme Papers were donated to Ferris State University Archives by Clifford Larsen, San Luis Obispo, California in June 2002. Additional materials were received from Larsen in January 2008.

Processing Information

The Abigail Timme Papers were processed to the folder level by Melinda McMartin in January 2003. A finding aid was prepared in a word processing format and converted to EAD 1.0. In April 2008, an addition to the collection was processed. At this time, the finding aid was revised and put into an EAD 2.0 format. The collection increased by approximately 1 cubic feet. A collection level MARC-format record was prepared and placed in the library online public access catalog. Description was based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004).

Separated Materials

During processing, duplicate materials were discarded. There were no other materials placed in other collections.

Technical Requirements

This collection consists of paper based materials. No specialized hardware or software is required for viewing.

Content Listing

Series 1. General Records. 1899-1989.

The Abigail Smith Timme Papers are arranged into a single series and cover a wide variety of topics from correspondence and events to her time at Ferris Institute.

The files are arranged alphabetically by material type or subject (i.e. wedding telegrams, or E.G. Timme). Where a subject has more than one folder, such as photographs, the files have been subdivided again in either a chronological or alphabetical order. For the photographs, general photographs are followed by those with a specific topic. Oversized material has been placed into a separate box.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Alamo House. House plans. California. Undated.
1 2 Correspondence. 1957; 1981-1982.
1 3 Family genealogy. Correspondence; undated Smith grave photos. 1957.
1 4 Ferris Institute autograph book. 1911-1912.
1 5 Ferris Institute memorabilia. 1911-1912.
1 6 Golden Manual. 1898.
1 7 Guestbook. 1932-1936.
1 8 Little Church Around the Corner. (New York, N.Y.) 1931; undated.
1 9 Maccabees order. Ribbons; medals. Manistee (Mich.) 1908-1909; undated.
1 10 Marriage certificate. 1929.
1 11 Michigan Public Schools attendance award. 1903.
1 12 Memorabilia; nearprint. 1959-1989.
1 13 Photographs. 1920-1985; undated.
1 14 Photographs. 1970-1979; undated.
1 15 Photographs. 1986.
1 16 Photographs. Alamo House. (Alamo, Calif.) 1959-1985.
1 17 Photographs. Birthday party. 1985.
1 18 Photographs. Childhood. 1895.
1 19 Photographs. Ferris Institute (Big Rapids, Mich.) 1911-1912.
1 20 Photographs. Smith family. Undated.
1 21 Photographs. Timme family. Undated.
1 22 Photographs. Timme, Ernest G. 1899-1939; undated.
1 23 Photographs. Washington D.C. 1917-1919.
1 24 Photographs. Wedding. 1929.
1 25 Photographs. Von Heidelberg, Gretchen. (Dog.) Undated.
3 2 Photographs. Oversized. Undated.
1 26 Ramage family bible. Undated.
1 27 Ration card book. 1917.
3 1 Scrapbook. Honorary degree. Ferris State College. (Big Rapids, Mich.) 1977.
Box Folder Contents
2 1 Smith family bible. Undated.
2 2 Stationary. Undated.
2 3 Timme, Ernest G. Blotter; calling cards. Undated.
2 4 Timme, Ernest G. Briefcase.
2 5 Timme, Ernest G. Correspondence. 1905-1911.
2 6 Timme, Ernest G. Memorabilia; nearprint. 1910-1911; undated.
2 7 Timme, Ernest G. Retirement book. 1936.
2 8 Trader Vic. Undated.
2 9 Travel diary. 1959.
2 10 von Heidelberg, Gretchen. (dog) Trophy. 1935.
2 11 Wedding telegrams. 1929.