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Perley M. Stoughton Papers

Identifier: mss-958

Scope and Content Note

The Perley M. Stoughton Papers mainly consist of correspondence between Perley Stoughton and his mother, Mrs. A.C. (Hattie) Stougton, though friends and other relatives are represented in the correspondence (see Biographical Note). Many letters sent overseas were opened by censors, as evidenced by notations on envelopes present in the collection. Details of training on the Vickers machine gun with the Royal Air Force in Oxford, England are contained in a diary from 1918. It appears that the material was jointly collected by Perley and Hattie as correspondence was addressed to both though the content is centered on Stoughton's years of service. A small amount of evidence is present regarding his social life after the war. In addition to the many letters are photographs and negatives, travel tickets, programs and documents from social and fraternal groups, songbooks, diaries, objects and financial, military, and legal documents (deeds). The collection is arranged alphabetically.


  • 1867-1959
  • Majority of material found within 1917 - 1920


Language Note

A portion of a small number of documents are written in French, and so noted. Knowledge of French is not required to utilize this collection.


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Perley Melbourne Stoughton (March 13, 1892 - July 1975) was the son of Augustus Caesar Stoughton and Harriet "Hattie" A. Patnod Stoughton (1861-1929). A. C. Stoughton (1849-1930) served in the Civil War, Company L, 1st Vermont Cavalry from 1864-1865 and was afterwards active in both the local Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and First Vermont Cavalry Reunion Society.

Perley Stoughton worked as a reporter for the Burlington Free Press for 8 years until he enlisted in the Aviation Section, Signal Officers' Reserve Corps in June of 1917. He trained in Massachusetts, Italy, England, and France, first going overseas in September of 1916. He served in the 166 Aero Squadron, First Day Bombardment Group as part of the U.S. Army's American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France from September 1918 to February 1919. On November 3, 1918, he experienced a flying accident when an engine failed. There were no fatalities though Stoughton was recovering from this accident when news of the armistice broke just days later.

He returned home to Burlington in February 1919. He married Pauline "Polly" Ardelle Preston (September 19, 1900 - March 10, 1996), daughter of jeweler and musician Frank James Preston (1867-1944), and Linnie Mae Mace (1872-1934, m. 1891), in Burlington in June of 1920. Perley and Pauline "Polly" had a daughter named Marion (born February 23, 1922) who graduated from UVM with a Bachelors of Science degree in Home Economics in 1943. She was a member of the sorority Pi Beta Phi. Marion married Joel Perkey and they had a daughter named Pauline.

There are limited records of Perley Stoughton's activities after the war. He appears to have been a member of the Burlington Masonic Lodge (as was his father-in-law), the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, and the Ethan Allen Club. The 1940 Census record indicates that the family lived in Ausable, New York where Perley edited a newspaper. There are sparse references to work in the field of banking, in sales for the Burroughs Adding Machine Company (1920 census), and in sales of automobiles with the Cons Auto Sales Company (1923) and Stoughton Motor Company (1930).

Perley's siblings included May, Carl, and Crystal. Mary Ann "May" (b. 1885, m. 1904, d. 1964) was based in Bernardston, MA with husband Harry J. Foley and children including twin sons Harry and Herbert. Carl (1888-1943) was based in Charleston, NH with wife Bernice and their children. Crystal (1895-1900), died in childhood. Their father A.C. Stoughton was the son of Alansing Guy Stoughton (1821-1900) and Mary Anne Deal (1816-1891, m. 1843). Alansing G. Stoughton served in the 1st Vermont Cavalry in the Civil War alongside his son. Perley's mother Harriet "Hattie" A. Patnod was the daughter of Mary A. Pickle (1835-1926) and her second husband Charles J. Patnod (1837-1914) who served in Company G of the 7th Vermont Infantry in the Civil War from 1862-1866 and was also a member of the GAR. Hattie's younger brother Perley P. Patnod (1876-1953) is also represented in the collection in a minor way. Perley M.'s friends Fremont Foss and Tommy Wright, whose correspondence is present in the collection, also served in World War I. In letters to Fletcher Perry, addressed to the Stoughton home, Perley refers to him as a brother, though this appears to be an informal designation.


2 Linear Feet (1 carton, 1 box, 1 shoebox, 1 oversize folder)


The Perley M. Soughton Papers document this Burlington resident's training and service in World War I as an aviator in France with the 166th Aero Squadron. The majority of the collection consists of letters to his mother Mrs. A.C. (Hattie) Stoughton and also include correspondence with other family members and friends, photographs and negatives, postcards, financial records, insurance records, two diaries, military documents, objects, programs and documents from social and fraternal groups, songbooks, travel memorabilia, and deeds.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Related Archival Material

The Burlington City Real Estate Assessments Collection, Lake Champlain Yacht Club Records, Ethan Allen Club Records, and City of Burlington Records (Street Watering Assessment ledgers) are all held by University of Vermont Special Collections and may help provide contextual information. Pictures of the storefront for F.J. Preston and Sons Jewelers are present in the Louis L. McAllister Photographs collection and have been digitized.

Papers of William S. Preston Sr. (1895-1974), brother of Pauline M. Preston Stoughton, are held by University of Vermont Special Collections and detail his role as co-chair of the New York – Vermont Interstate Commission to further develop the Lake Champlain Basin and was appointed by President Eisenhower to set up and direct the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain. Additional papers of William S. Preston Sr. (1895-1974) are held by Vermont Historical Society. These papers document William's six-year term as Chairman of the Vermont Fish and Game Commission (1947-1953) as well as miscellaneous personal and professional papers related to the Burlington Masonic Lodge and the business F. J. Preston and Son Jewelers, located on Church Street in Burlington, run by three generations of Prestons.

Guide to the Perley M. Stoughton Papers
2017 January 9
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)