Guide to the Clifford N. Harthill Papers 1930-1987
Cage 543

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Harthill, Clifford N.
Clifford N. Harthill Papers
Cage 543
Date [inclusive]
2.0 containers.
General Physical Description note
1 linear feet of shelf space.
Correspondence, largely of Harthill to his mother and brother, describing his daily rural life as a farmer and jeweler in Pine City, Washington, with his wife and two children.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 543, Clifford N. Harthill. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

Clifford N. Harthill was born October 2, 1902 in Pine City, Washington, the fifth child and first son of William Paul and Anna Catherine (Kimm) Harthill, pioneer farmers of the Palouse region of eastern Washington. He attended elementary school in Pine City and in 1919 enrolled in the twelfth grade at Rosalia High School. In January, 1920, his father died and Clifford quit school to assume the responsibility of running the family farm. He later earned a high school diploma from Pine City High School in 1924.

In 1928 Clifford married Melva A. Schelly. Originally from Ritzville, Washington, she was a student at Cheney Normal School when the couple met. They had three children, William Paul, Wanda Arlene and Nola Joy (who died as an infant).

Throughout the years in Pine City, Clifford devoted most of his time to the labor and management of the family farm which was virtually a one-person operation. He oversaw seeding, harvesting and selling crops; purchased, operated and repaired the farm equipment and machinery; built and maintained the farm buildings; and managed finances. Crops included wheat, potatoes, barley, peas and lentils. He also raised cows, pigs and chickens, and tended a vegetable garden which provided much of the family's food. In the years before central heating became standard, Clifford also earned an income by selling and delivering cords of wood to area homes. He helped harvest and transport crops from other farms for additional wages.

Although farming was Clifford's primary occupation, he was also a successful musician and jeweler. He played the trumpet, violin, banjo, saxaphone and clarinet as a member of various bands which provided music for regional dances. Over the years his earnings as a musician substantially supplemented the volatile family farm income. A self-taught jeweler, Clifford also collected and repaired watches and clocks, and operated a small business out of his home. By 1961 he had become railway watch inspector and soon after he opened a retail business, Harthill Jewelry, and The Antique Clock Museum in Rosalia, Washington.

In 1965 Clifford and Melva retired from the family farm and purchased a home in Rosalia. The remaining years until his death in September, 1984, were devoted to his work as a jeweler.

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Scope and Contents note

The bulk of these papers are Clifford N. Harthill's personal letters to his mother, Anna C. Harthill, and his brother, Marion P. Harthill, who both lived in Port Angeles, Washington. The letters, which were written on a weekly schedule, are an assiduous effort to chronicle the week's events of the Clifford Harthill family on their farm in Pine City, Washington. Most of them describe in detail the farming activities, social and community events, family experiences and weather conditions relating to the Harthill's rural life. Notable subjects which are historically traced in the correspondence include farming technology and practices; cultural entertainment from early radio programming to motion pictures to television; the great U.S. economic depression and recovery; World War II; the automobile industry; and innovations in home appliances and electronic equipment. The letters also document the growth within the family, in terms of education, career, marriage, illness and health, fashion, and hobbies, and reveal much about the American rural lifestyle from the 1930s through the 1960s.

The Clifford Harthill Papers also include a few letters written by Clifford to his sister Rose Harthill and the Harthill family; letters written by Marion P. Harthill to Anna and Clifford Harthill; and letters written by Melva Harthill to Anna and Gladys Harthill. Other material includes a copy of An Autobiography by Marion Harthill, which describes his early life on the family farm; copies of photographs of Harthill family members; and a list providing identification of people mentioned in Clifford's letters.

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Arrangement note

The papers are arranged in two series, Correspondence and Writings. The correspondence series is arranged alphabetically by author. Within an author group, the letters are arranged alphabetically by recipient and chronologically ordered within that division. The writings series is arranged alphabetically by title.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1987
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The papers of Clifford N. Harthill, 1902-1984, were donated to the Washington State University Libraries by his brother, Marion P. Harthill, in 1987 and 1989 (MS.1987.13, MS.1989.15).

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Pine City (Wash.)--Social life and customs

Personal Name(s)

  • Harthill, Clifford N., 1902-1984--Archives


  • Farm life--Washington (State)--Pine City
  • Home and Family

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Correspondence 

Clifford N. Harthill 

Anna C. Harthill 

Box Folder


1 1


1 2


1 3


1 4


1 5


1 6


1 7


2 1

Marion P. Harthill 

Box Folder


2 2


2 3


2 4
Box Folder

Rose A.H. Harthill 1942-1944 

2 5

Harthill Family 1957 1959 

2 6

Marion P. Harthill 

Box Folder

Anna C. Harthill undated 1955 

2 7

Clifford N. Harthill February 5, 1938 

2 7

Melva A. Harthill 

Box Folder


2 8

 1954 1955 

2 9

Added materials: Letters to family from Clifford and Melva, Lillian and Ken, and Marion. 1980-1987 


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Series 2: Writings 

Box Folder

An Autobiography, Marion P. Harthill 1968 

2 10

Harthill Family biographical information 

2 11

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