University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The items in the Digital Collections of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library contain materials which represent or depict sensitive topics or were written from perspectives using outdated or biased language. The Library condemns discrimination and hatred on any grounds. As a research library that supports the mission and values of this land grant institution, it is incumbent upon the University Library to preserve, describe, and provide access to materials to accurately document our past, support learning about it, and effect change in the present. In accordance with the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read statement, we do not censor our materials or prevent patrons from accessing them.

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Knight Family Correspondence (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the Knight Family Correspondence consists of letters written between the Mack family of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois and the Knight family of Selma and Towanda, Illinois, dating from the 1850s to the 1880s. Most of the letters were written by Martha Mack to her sister, Isabella Knight.

Martha and Isabella Gill were sisters and Irish immigrants. Isabella married Harvey J. Knight and they had two children, Martha (Mattie) and Anna Knight The Knight family lived in Selma, Illinois before moving to Towanda, Illinois, outside of Normal, so that Isabella and Martha could be closer to each other. Martha Gill married John T. Mack and the two lived in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.

The digitized content contains letters written between Martha and Isabella about farm life and family updates. Harvey and John also wrote to each other about their farm work. Later letters are written by Mattie and Anna Knight to their mother and father; these letters are about their education in Normal, Illinois, where they were learning to be teachers.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the Knight Family Correspondence (MS 041). The collection was completely digitized in 2020 and 2021. For more information, contact an archivist at