Guide to the Albert and Elizabeth DeMerritt Papers, 1882-1913
Collection number: MC 189
Size: 1 box
About Albert Demeritt, 1851-1913
Albert Demeritt, born August 26, 1851 in Durham, NH, was the youngest son of Hon.
Stephen Demeritt and Nancy Perkins Chesley. At the age of sixteen his father passed
away, leaving Demeritt responsible for the successful operation of the family farm.
According to The
History of the Town of Durham, NH, the Demeritt farm was
“one of the largest and most productive in Durham.” In addition, Demeritt and James
W. Burnham owned and operated Demeritt and Burnham, manufacturers and dealers of
wood and lumber in Durham. The timber business required frequent travel to remote
regions throughout New Hampshire and Canada’s Maritime Provinces in search of viable
wood lots. Much of Demeritt’s correspondence with Elizabeth describes his activities
on these various business trips.
A prominent Democrat, Demeritt served the local community as Durham town moderator,
selectman, and member of the Durham school board. On the State level Demeritt was a
delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1889 and 1912, a member of the
State House of Representatives in 1911 and 1913, a member of the State Board of
Agriculture, and served on the appropriation’s committee. The Union Leader reported
that Demeritt also served on the special committee of the General Court that
investigated Representative Clarence Snow on bribery charges. Upon his death,
several newspaper obituaries suggested that, in 1912, Demeritt had been frequently
mentioned as a Democratic candidate for Governor.
Locally, Demeritt showed a strong commitment to community education. He helped
organize the Durham Lyceum, drafted the free textbook bill enacted in 1887, and
spearheaded a movement to secure books from the Durham Social Library and the Durham
Agricultural Library in order to form the nucleus for the Durham Public Library. He
was a member of the Scammell Grange and the Knights of Pythius as well as a member
of the local Congregationalist Church. Demeritt served as a trustee of the New
Hampshire State College from 1892 to 1898. To meet the increasing demand for student
housing in 1894 Demeritt built what later became know as Ballard Hall. Furthermore,
in 1904, New Hampshire College awarded Demeritt an honorary Master of Science degree
in recognition of his service to the College and the Durham community. During the
1911 legislative session, Demeritt introduced and secured the passage of a
resolution funding the construction of an engineering building at the College.
Although, Governor Robert Bass vetoed the initial resolution, the College commended
Demeritt for his determination. In the next legislative session in 1913, the bill
passed and was signed by the Governor.
According to The Union Leader, on the morning of August 22, 1913, Demeritt was
accidently shot in the head while hunting woodchucks on the family farm. The 1941
edition of History of the University of New Hampshire noted that "as
a memorial to [Demeritt], the new [engineering] building was given his name at the
dedication ceremonies which were held Dec. 16, 1914."
About Elizabeth P. (Thompson) Demeritt, 1864-1932
Born in 1864, Elizabeth Thompson was the youngest child of Deacon John E. Thompson
and Mary J. Pickering. Sometime between the age of 21 or 22 (no date is given) she
agreed to marry Albert Demeritt. Two of Elizabeth Thompson’s elder sisters remained
single, pursuing careers. The eldest Mary was a prominent leader in the YWCA and
Charlotte became the Durham College and the town librarian. A third sister, Sarah
Adla, married a local resident, Forrest Smith, who later established a profitable
wholesale hay and grain business in Boston. Little is known of Thompson’s early
years in Durham. In 1882, Demeritt wrote to ask her to chair a committee involved
with the Library Fair. Several years later Demeritt began a concerted effort to make
her acquaintance while she attended the Worcester State Normal School in
Massachusetts. Over the next two years Demeritt corresponded with her almost daily,
describing his activities and responding to her questions. Apparently, she hoped for
a career in teaching but her first job in West Berlin, Massachusetts was a
disappointment. The following year Thompson taught in Concord, and sometime in 1886
she married Demeritt. They had three children.
In 1914, following Albert Demeritt’s death, Thompson became the Matron of Ballard
Hall and in 1919 the University of New Hampshire appointed her Dean of Women, a
position she held until her death in 1932. During her tenure Thompson revived the
College’s Big Sisters group, organized the Girls’ Student Advisor Council and was
appointed a New Hampshire delegate to the Dept. of Superintendents in Washington,
D.C. In 1924, the University awarded Thompson an honorary Master of Arts “because of
her skill at nurturing young women.” Upon her death, the home economics practice
house was named the Elizabeth P. Demeritt house in honor of her work at the
About the Albert and Elizabeth DeMerritt Papers
The Albert and Elizabeth Demeritt collection consists of correspondence, much of
which in the early years pertains to Albert Demeritt’s desire to win Elizabeth
Thompson affections (1884-1885). Most of Demeritt’s later letters recount his
out-of-town business travels (1888-90, 1893-96, 1906-1909). There are also a number
of letters to Elizabeth Thompson from her children (summers 1897, 1898, and 1906),
friends, family and the Worcester Normal School. In addition there are several
essays and poems; a 1905 letter regarding the disposition of Albert Demeritt’s
affairs and funeral arrangements, newspaper articles, calling cards and sympathy
notes regarding Mr. Demeritt’s death in 1913, a household inventory, miscellaneous
memorabilia and bills; copies of the rules and regulations of the Bradford Library
Association and the Bylaws for the Durham Tuesday Afternoon club, and a 1922 record
This collection is open.
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions
about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.
[Identification of item], [Folder number], [Box number], Albert and Elizabeth
DeMerritt Papers, 1882-1913, MC 189, Milne Special Collections and Archives,
University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.
Donated: Frank Palmer, Durham, New Hampshire, Oct. 20, 2004 (Accession number:
Series 1: Demerritt Papers, 1882-1913
|Box 1, Folder 1||Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth Thompson,
|Box 1, Folder 2||Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth Thompson,
|Box 1, Folder 3||Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth Thompson, Sept.
|Box 1, Folder 4||Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth Thompson, Sept.
|Box 1, Folder 5||Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth Thompson, Oct.
|Box 1, Folder 6||Letters, 1884-1885
- Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth Thompson, Nov.
1884-Feb. 28, 1885
- Letters, Mary L. Thompson to Elizabeth Thompson, Nov.
- Letters, John E. Thompson to Elizabeth Thompson, Jan.
|Box 1, Folder 7||Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth Thompson, Apr.-Sept.,
|Box 1, Folder 8||Letters, 1888-1889
- Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth P. Demeritt, June,
- Letters, Martha Demeritt Gage to Albert Demeritt, Sept.
|Box 1, Folder 9||Letters, 1890-1894
- Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth P. Demeritt, Apr.
- Letters, Mary L. Thompson to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
- Letters, Myrtie Chapin to Elizabeth P. Demeritt, 1891,
- Letters, Martha Demeritt Gage to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
|Box 1, Folder 10||Letters, 1895-1896
- Letters, Martha Gage to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
- Letters, Mary Thompson to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
Sept.1895 and Sept.1896
- Letters, Margaret Demeritt to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
|Box 1, Folder 11||Letters, 1897-1899
- Letters, Demeritt Children to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
- Letters, Margaret Gage to Stephen Demeritt,
- Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
|Box 1, Folder 12||Letters, 1906-1909
- Letters, Albert Demeritt to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
- Letters, Albert Demeritt to Lucien Thompson,
- Letters, Katherine Demeritt to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
- Letters, John C. Thompson to Elizabeth P. Demeritt,
|Box 1, Folder 13||Letters, 1884-1898
- Letters, State Normal School to Elizabeth (Thompson) Demeritt,
- Letters, Amy (?) to Elizabeth Thompson,
- Letters, Stella Rolston to Elizabeth Thompson,
- Letters, Mrs. H. Hawkes to Elizabeth P. Demeritt, 1890
- Letters, Willie Leavitt to Albert Demeritt,
|Box 1, Folder 14||Essays, undated|
|Box 1, Folder 15|| Miscellaneous letters, bills, invitations, regrets,
- Rules and Regulations of the Bradford Library
- Tuesday Afternoon Club Bylawsundated
|Box 1, Folder 16|| Albert Demeritt’s Death, 1913|
|Box 1, Folder 17|| Newspaper Clippings, 1913|
|Box 1, Folder 18||Calling Cards, undated|
|Box 1, Folder 19||Letters, Vin Morgan to Frank Palmer regarding the collection,
|Box 1, Folder 20||Notebooks with household inventory, undated
- Account book, undated
- Post cards, advertisements, invitations, undated
- Prescription and medical advice for Albert Demeritt,
|Box 1, Folder 21|| 1922 record book, 1922|