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Agnes Dawson collection

Call Number: MS 295


Agnes (Balloch) Dawson was married to William Dawson III, who served as United States Minister to Ecuador, Colombia, and Uruguay, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Panama between 1931-1941. This collection includes extensive letters written by Agnes to family members describing daily diplomatic life and public social events. Included in her correspondence are photographs and newspaper clippings. A genealogy of her paternal lineage is also included from 1861-1905.


  • Creation: 1861 - 1941


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Agnes Dawson

Agnes Balloch was born on May 19, 1889 and was raised by her parents and two aunts, Omie and Adah. She was married to William Dawson III on June 8, 1926. Agnes had one child from a previous marriage, Edward Bready, born on December 5, 1914. Edward married Susan Lewis in 1936; they had their first child, Susan, in 1938. Agnes Dawson died May 28, 1981, preceded by William's death in 1972.


1 linear foot (2 document cases)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The collection includes letters from Agnes Dawson's time abroad as wife of William Dawson Iii, the Foreign Minister to Ecuador, Uruguay, and Colombia, as well as Ambassador to Panama. Dawson wrote frequently to her mother until her mother's death in 1935, and then with similar frequency to her father (sometimes addressed as "Toppie"). The rest of the letters are written to Aunts Omie and Adah, before Adah's death in 1937. Agnes was highly educated and shared in great detail with her mother and father her daily activities, including personal interactions with politicians, diplomats, and society, as well as conversations with various artists, authors, and musicians. Agnes gives an insightful account of Ecuador's "Four-Day War" in 1932 and shares discussions with the President-elect Bonifaz during the time spent sheltering him during the revolution. Agnes periodically sends photographs, as well as relevant newspaper articles and other personal materials to the family. She was heavily involved with domestic duties of the Legations and Embassy, and she and William traveled extensively in his various assignments as well as during their recreation time. Incorporated into Agnes's correspondence is a history test taken by her son, Edward, while attending high school in Ecuador. While he did not spend much time with his parents in their foreign posts, he lived for several years with Agnes and William in Ecuador during his adolescence. Also included are letters and notes written by ancestors from Agnes's paternal lineage, the Ballochs. These date from the Civil War through the turn of the century. Also in the collection is a copy of William Dawson, III's "Brief Biographical Account and Reminiscences," donated by their granddaughter, Betsy Bookman.

Physical Location

MS 295

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase; William Dawson III's biographical statement donated by Betsy Bookman.

Guide to the Agnes Dawson Collection
Agnes Dawson collection
Finding aid prepared by cmh, 2010; revised by eear, 2015; mwh, 2018.
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Preferred citation
Agnes Dawson collection, MS 295, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States