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Church of the Covenant collection, 1863-1870

0.25 linear feet

The Church of the Covenant collection contains monthly letters composed by Christian missionaries working for the American Sunday-School Union in Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee, during and just after the Civil War. Most of the letters are addressed to the Church of the Covenant Sabbath School in New York City. The missionaries, who described their work establishing and maintaining Sunday schools throughout the South, focused on educating children and freed slaves and occasionally mentioned the effects of the Civil War.

This collection contains 149 monthly letters composed by Christian missionaries working for the American Sunday-School Union in Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee, during and just after the Civil War, as well as 8 printed items and a map. Most of the letters are addressed to the Church of the Covenant Sabbath School in New York City.

The Correspondence series, which comprises the bulk of the collection, consists primarily of letters by William Sedwick, Otis Patten, Robert Downey Blair, and other missionaries, who reported on their work establishing religious schools in Kentucky and other southern states. Many letters contain monthly reports, and the missionaries frequently shared anecdotes about local parishioners, often children.

William Sedwick commented on the effects of the Civil War on his work, including shelling and the encroachment of fighting in the missionary fields (January 20, 1863) and local residents' fears that the Confederate Army would take over Kentucky (March 24, 1863). He also reflected on the war's negative impact on his evangelistic efforts, and on local attitudes about slavery.

Others mentioned their work with freed slaves, and Isaac Emory described the jubilation felt by two elderly former slaves who could now read the Bible publicly (August 25, 1867). The poverty and social conditions of the American South, along with the plight of African Americans, were frequent topics of conversation, along with missionary efforts to win converts and oversee the development of religious education. Several groups of these letters were once bound.

The Printed items series (8 items) includes reports of the Children's Aid Society and the Try Society, financial records related to the American Sunday-School Union, and an annual report made by William Sedwick during his service with the American Sunday-School Union (July 20, 1862).

The Map series has a manuscript map of three counties in northwestern Kentucky.


Henry Yates Thompson papers, 1863-1928

91 items (0.5 linear feet)

The Henry Yates Thompson papers contain the letters, diaries, and lectures of Thompson, an Englishman who visited the United States in 1863 and witnessed several battles in the Chattanooga Campaign, while making observations on politics, slavery, and education.

The Henry Yates Thompson papers contain 38 letters, 6 diaries, 4 documents, 2 maps, and 43 printed items (including newspaper clippings), spanning 1863-1928.

The Correspondence series covers 1863-1918, with bulk centering around 1863-1866. Thompson wrote the vast majority of letters home to his parents and siblings, while he traveled the United States and Canada; he filled his correspondence with thoughtful observations on slavery, the Civil War, women's education, and comparisons between England and the United States. On July 29, 1863, he noted the objections to the military draft by "copperheads" in New Hampshire and commented unfavorably on them. In late summer, he remarked about the Canadian support for the Confederacy (August 7, 1863); the growth of slavery, which he believed had been slowed by objections from the North (August 15, 1863); meeting abolitionist Samuel J. May (September 1, 1863); and the "marks of quiet industry" that he saw in free African Americans in the North. On September 29, 1863, he wrote a long, detailed letter about a visit to a "colored camp" in Baltimore, in which escaped slaves trained and drilled in front of Yankee officers. He also recorded the comments of several slave owners, who discussed the escape of slaves and expressed doubt that slaves would fight. In several letters, dated November 23 and December 3, 1863, Thompson described several battles in the Chattanooga Campaign at the side of Ulysses S. Grant. He wrote about the intensity of firing, expressed horror at the injuries and deaths he saw, and gave his impressions of Grant. Thompson also wrote about slaughterhouses in Chicago and the benefits of co-education to women (October 16, 1863), a journey to the Isles of Shoals (September 12, 1863), and the people he met in Keene, New Hampshire (July 23, 1863).

The letters postdating 1863 document Thompson's failed attempts to establish a lectureship on American history at Cambridge in 1865. On May 16, 1907, he declined a revival of the idea by Cambridge, citing possible objections from Harvard and the diminishing need for such an academic collaboration.

The Diaries series contains four volumes, which cover July-December 1863, with overlap in periods and events covered between volumes. As in his letters, Thompson wrote frankly about slavery and abolition, American politics, education, and various places that he visited. He also enclosed letters and ephemera related to these, such as tickets, pamphlets, advertisements, and clippings, which remain with the volumes. In Volume I (July 10-November 3, 1863), Thompson discussed the circumstances of Lincoln's election (pp. 3-4), a visit to Niagara Falls (p. 45), and the National Bank system (p. 53). Volume II (September 13-November 13, 1863) contains another account of the Battles for Chattanooga (pp. 22-31), and discussion of slavery and both sides of the conflict. Volume III (September 25-November 26, 1863) describes travels through Missouri with a German friend, and also covers the Battle of Chattanooga, but more briefly and informally. It may have served as a field notebook. Volume IV (November 15-December 15, 1863) contains further discussion of the Chattanooga Campaign and the war, as well as a description of people that Thompson encountered during his travels to Brooklyn, New York.

The Lecture Notebooks series contains two items: a rough draft and an apparent final draft of a speech on the Battles for Chattanooga, given by Thompson at Harrow School on March 7, 1865. The lecture gives a very detailed description of many aspects of the battle, including troop movements, casualties, supplies, and the role of the United States Sanitary Commission.

The Documents series contains an 1862 "Requisition for Forage" for the Confederacy, and essays entitled "Then and Now at the University of Cambridge" (1918) and "The American Lectureship" (n.d.).

The Maps series contains just one item: a manuscript map illustrating the geography and positions of troops at Chattanooga on November 23, 1863.

The Printed Materials series, spanning 1865-1941, primarily contains printed materials related to Thompson's proposed lectureship on American history at Cambridge. Also included are several obituaries for Thompson, and a book by Christopher Chancellor, Thompson's great-nephew, containing excerpts from the diaries and letters. Published in 1971, the book is entitled, An Englishman in the American Civil War: The Diaries of Henry Yates Thompson, and is housed in the Clements Library's Book Division.


Masters-Taylor-Wilbur papers, 1796-1857

2 linear feet

The Masters-Taylor-Wilbur papers are the personal and business letters of an extended family in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. Of special interest are a group of letters between former slave Matthew Matthews and Mary F. Spence (the owner of his six children), and between Francis Markoe, Jr., and Jeremiah Wilbur, who helped Matthews purchase his children's freedom.

The Masters-Taylor-Wilbur papers (618 items) consist of 570 letters, 9 legal documents, and 39 financial records (1796-1850). The vast majority of the letters are family correspondence written by Thomas Masters and two of his daughters, Martha [Mrs. Henry W. Taylor] and Sarah [Mrs. Jeremiah Wilbur], between 1824 and 1850. The collection also includes letters written by his wife Isabella, his daughter Anna, his sons Samuel and Francis, and his sons-in-law, Jeremiah Wilbur and Henry W. Taylor. Many of the letters are between family members living in New York City, where Thomas Masters ran his mercantile business and Canandaigua, New York; Marshall, Michigan; Philadelphia; and Mt. Morris, New York. Several are joint letters with notes from two or more family members. The letters are rich in details of family life: illnesses, disease, and cures are much discussed, as are family weddings, and travel. Though dominated by family news, the family occasionally discussed politics, religion, temperance, and other religious-inspired social reform issues.

Of note:
  • July 19, 1832: G.H. Green to Martha C. Masters claiming a link between the consumption of alcohol and the occurrence of cholera
  • October 15, 1833: Jeremiah Wilbur describing an anti-slavery speech
  • December 19, 1835: Henry Masters to Martha Taylor recounting in detail a fire that swept through parts of New York City and destroyed Taylor's firm of Masters & Markoe at 51 South St.
  • March 20-April 3, 1838: A long communal letter to Martha Taylor and Samuel Masters from family in New York City, in the form of a newspaper entitled "The Burning and Shining Light and Free Discussionest"
  • August 1840: passing reference to hearing Daniel Webster speak
  • Three letters from Lydia H. Sigourney to Martha Caldwell Taylor (July 26, 1841; February 18, 1846; February 13, 1849)
  • February 15, 1842: Martha Taylor to Sarah Wilbur describing the temperance movement in Marshall, Michigan
  • June 2, 1842: Sarah Wilbur to Martha Taylor discussing a wedding feast and spousal abuse
  • December 11, 1842: Thomas Masters to Martha Taylor, providing a detailed account of the first New York Philharmonic Concert, which opened with a well-received piece by Beethoven
  • March 3, 1844: Thomas Masters to Martha Taylor giving a second hand account of the explosion on board the U.S.S. Princeton, which killed the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Navy

The earliest letters in the collection pertain to the Wilbur family from 1811 to 1818 (32 letters). These consist of letters from Backus Wilbur in Princeton and Newark, New Jersey, to his brother Marcus Wilbur in New York City, describing Backus’ schooling, religious training, and life at school. Included in one letter is an account of a food fight that escalated to a near riot (February 6, 1812).

Of special interest are 12 letters and two enclosures documenting the attempt of Francis Markoe, Jr., and Jeremiah Wilbur to help former slave Matthew Matthews of Washington, D.C., purchase his six children (January-September 1835). Markoe and Wilbur outlined strategies regarding the best use of the available money to maximize the purchase of the highest number of children in the shortest possible time. Also included are two letters to Matthews, one from Mrs. Mary F. Spence, informing him that she may be forced to sell his children at public auction, and the other from Luke Johnson of Dumfries, Virginia, a black slave who loaned him money toward the purchase of one of the children. Enclosed with the letters are copies of bills of sale for two of the children.

In addition to the family papers are 135 business letters, 35 receipts, four invoices, and nine legal documents that relate to the mercantile affairs of Thomas Masters, Francis Markoe, and their firms of Markoe & Masters, and Masters & Markoe in New York City and Philadelphia (1796-1847). These business papers give some insight into the New York and European financial markets and the economic climate of the time.


Pratt family papers, 1854-1935 (majority within 1865-1895)

3.75 linear feet

The Pratt family papers present a chronicle of middle-class women's lives between the 1850's and 1890's.

The Pratt family papers present a chronicle of middle-class women's lives between the 1850's and 1890's. The writers are uniformly literate and attentive, and the majority of the letters are of a strongly personal nature. While some letters stand on their own, the collection should be seen as one large, continuous document presenting a nineteenth century "woman's" life in many of its aspects, from cleaning and cooking to marriage, childbirth, child rearing, sewing, gardening, travel, music, reading, teaching, religion, death, and friendships. The composite portrait that emerges is stronger than the portraits of any single woman, though the personalities of several of the correspondents are very strongly expressed. As a result, the Pratt Papers is a valuable resource for the study of women's work, as teachers, employees, and home makers, as well as their emotional and personal lives.

The primary focus of the Pratt papers is Emma Louise Pratt (b. 1864 April 8) of Revere, Mass. The collection includes several hundred letters addressed to her, as well as some of her diaries, the diaries of her only brother, Willie (d. 1888), 1881, 1883, and 1886, and notes between Emma and her mother, Emeline. Most of the letters were written by Emma's intimate friends and family members, including several of her aunts and cousins, and these provide the main dialogue of the collection and construct a fascinating image of the development of one young woman's personal relationships during the post-Civil War period. There are four women with whom Emma most consistently corresponded: Claribel M. Tilton Crane, Emma Lois Proctor, Mabel H. Drew Croudis, and Lola V. Jefferds.

Claribel (or Clara) M. Tilton Crane was a school chum of Emma's who moved from Revere to Malden, Mass., in 1873, and a few years later to Quincy. Their correspondence began when the girls were still teenagers, with Claribel describing her new home, her school, friends, pets, clothes, and fancy work, and she and Emma occasionally exchanged riddles and conundrums. The two developed a private code, words that had special meaning to each other, and Claribel often included words at the top of her letters that have no obvious relationship to the text. Over the Christmas holidays, which coincided with her birthday, Claribel always described her presents for that year, a practice that continued even after she and Emma became adults. The subject matter of Claribel's letters changed as she grew and began working in a dry goods store in Quincy owned by her brother, Charlie. Her letters include descriptions of her work, sewing, clothes, and her married life with a man named Crane. Claribel's health was never very good and a great many of the later letters describe her various convalescences. In some of these, Claribel includes floor plans of her home as well as written descriptions.

Emma's cousin, Emma Lois Proctor, moved to LaCrosse, Wisc., when very young to live with her father, Alfred, and new stepmother. The collection includes a few letters from Mary Ann Proctor dating from the 1860's, which refer to Emma Proctor and other family members, and it appears that when Mary Ann Proctor's mother died, Emma returned east to live with the Pratt's until she grew up. Emma Proctor's early letters describe her trip to Wisconsin, her father's farm and family, her work there, her sewing and fancy work, and her efforts to become a teacher. Other members of the Proctor family had also gone west to live, some in Wisconsin, others in Chicago, or as far west as Montana and Washington Territory, and Emma Proctor kept in close contact with all. She eventually became a teacher, and considered moving to Kallispell, Mont., to join a brother and his wife and teach school. The letters she wrote during an 1890 trip to Kallispell include some fine descriptions of the state and of the Flathead Indians. She decided that she would return to Wisconsin, though five years later she returned to Montana.

Mabel H. (Drew) Croudis from Medford, Mass., was another of Emma Pratt's cousins, though from which side of the family she is related is not clear. Mabel and Emma began corresponding in 1881 and their letters continue throughout the entire collection. The two women were exceptionally close and wrote to each other with great regularity, almost every week, and visited each other often. Mabel usually addressed Emma as "Susan" and signed her letters "Betsy". Her letters are filled with family news, discussions of her work as a bookkeeper in her brother's store, and with inside jokes and stories that she and Emma shared. Because of their closeness and the regularity with which they wrote and visited, Mabel's letters tend not to provide a very complete picture of their relationship, though their intimacy comes through very clearly. It appears that neither Emma nor Mabel planned on getting married, even when they reached their early twenties, and Mabel often commented on their plans to grow old together and live in their own "snuggery." Mabel eventually married George Croudis, and this event appears to have put a strain on the friendship. Soon after Mabel's marriage, Mabel complained to Emma about never hearing from her anymore, and implored her to understand that their friendship need not change simply because she has gotten married.

Lola V. Jefferds was another friend of Emma Pratt's who, like Claribel, moved from Revere to Livermore Falls, Me. She and Emma corresponded regularly, though not quite as frequently as Claribel or Mabel. Lola was a spirited person who wrote interesting, usually very descriptive letters. Like Emma, she did not plan on marrying, occasionally expressing a disdain for the men she met, stating that she would prefer to remain single if these men were her only options. Lola's father owned a furniture store in Livermore Falls where Lola worked along with her parents. The family took charge of the local post office at some point, probably through political patronage, and Lola soon began to work there.

Emma Pratt spent a month's holiday with Lola in August, 1891. During this time, she wrote an average of two letters per day to her parents, representing some of the few extant letters written by Emma. These include descriptions of her vacation, the landscape, Lola and her family, and, above all, her homesickness and feelings of guilt at being away from her home and mother. Emma worried constantly that she should not be on vacation, but nevertheless appeared to have a good time. It is unfortunate that Emma's letters to her friends and cousins are not present, for these would be particularly helpful in rounding out the picture. From the letters written to Emma it is known that she was a very descriptive and lively letter writer. Her friends often comment on the pleasure, comfort and amusement they derive from Emma's letters. The collection includes one letter, or rather story, that Emma sent to her cousin Mabel (Betsy) describing a lawn-party at Lola's, that offers a good glimpse into the wit and powers of observation that made Emma such a popular correspondent.

Emma Pratt corresponded regularly with several other women, including her cousins Nettie Maria Fellows (47), Edith Dann (43), Georgie Renton (23), Anna Linn Renton (15), and her aunt, C. Augusta Renton (27). The collection also includes other correspondence of Augusta's, mostly with her sisters, Emeline Pratt and Olive M. Homans (29). The letters from Nettie and Edith are not very illuminating, consisting primarily of brief discussions of family and the weather. The letters from Augusta and her daughters, Georgie and Anna Linn, however, are interesting when placed together. The Rentons owned a boarding house in East Gloucester, Mass., in which all three women worked, and Augusta's letters include interesting discussions of her life as a mother, boarding house keeper, and friend. Augusta also described the health problems of her son, Freddie, who suffered from a diseased leg. Georgie and Anna Linn began to write to Emma when they were very, through the period in which Georgie entered Wellesley College as a student in the late 1880s. Augusta Renton died in 1890, leaving Georgie, Anna Linn, and a cousin(?) Edith Dann, grief stricken and doing their best to cope with Augusta's death.

The 29 letters from Emeline Pratt's sister, Olive M. Homans, are especially interesting. Olive was a lively writer with a good sense of humor and a strong sense of what she felt was right and wrong. Her correspondence with Emeline began in 1867 after she has moved to Hannibal, Mo., with her husband, Willie Homans. She describes her new home in Missouri, her friends, and vacations to Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan. Olive taught Sunday school to freedmen in Missouri.

Emma's diaries, written in 1883-1887 and 1889-1892, consist only of one page entries, and are not particularly introspective. However, there are a few instances in which Emma manages to express her feelings within this space. It is in here that Emma's relationship with her father and mother becomes clearer, as well as Emma's frustration at feeling that she is a financial burden to her father because, at the age of 19 and unmarried, she still lives at home and is not contributing to the family's income. This frustration influenced her feelings toward both her parents, though in very different ways. Emma grew very protective of her mother, and assumed the role of the dutiful daughter trying to ease her mother's burden. At the same time, she seemed to grow angrier and angrier with her father, though her basic love for him always remained. Emma expressed an interest in becoming a dressmaker, but complained that she never had the time to learn, as she was so busy with housework, church activities, and (apparently) letter writing. At the end of each entry in her diary, she kept track of the Bible verse she had read for the day.

In August, 1888, Emma's brother, Willie, died in a drowning accident. Her diary from this year is absent, however in 1889, almost every entry mentions Willie, Willie's death, and Emma's grief and disbelief that her brother was taken from her. The collection includes a substantial number of letters of condolence as well. At about this time, both Emma and Emeline began a correspondence with a woman, Emma Aldrich, whose daughter had recently died. The daughter and Willie were buried in the same cemetery, and the letters from Emma Aldrich deal mainly with the cemetery plots and the death of her daughter and Willie.

Parallel to the letters of the Pratt and Proctor family is a very significant series of correspondence relating to the Stebbins family. This series forms a self-contained body of approximately 75 letters dating between 1854 and 1869, which may have been collected by Emma or written by relatives, but connections to either the Pratt or Proctor families is unclear. The focus of these letters is a woman, Laura Stebbins, from Springfield, Mass., whose teaching career took her into positions in the Deep South in the 1850s, and to Washington, D.C., to teach freedmen in the 1860s, and also includes a number of letters from a man, Eugene, probably her brother. Laura appears to have suffered from poor health, experiencing a great deal of trouble with her eyes. It is also apparent that her family and friends admired her greatly. She was considered to be an unselfish friend and teacher, selfless, and always thinking of others. From their perspective, Stebbins was the "perfect" woman who represented the "angel in the house," so to speak.

The Stebbins correspondence includes some excellent descriptions of the life of a woman teacher during the late ante-bellum period, her attitudes toward teaching, her students, and the south, and there are several letters that concern the education of freedmen and the end of the war and early Reconstruction period in Virginia. Like Laura, Eugene worked with freedmen in Norfolk, Va., both for an unidentified employer and the Freedmen's Bureau, and his letters are packed with interesting description and thoughts about his work, his home, Laura's teaching and health, and the aftermath of the Civil War. The collection also includes several letters written to Laura from family members and friends, including two women teachers with whom Laura seems to have been particularly close, Martha E. Swan and "Jennie."

Among other items, the Stebbins letters include two particularly interesting letters from a woman, Marcia A. Gleaner, that describe her experiences as an employee in a wholesale cloak store on Broadway in New York City in 1862. In the first letter, Marcia expressed her disgust with New York City and with her working and living conditions. In the second, she described an accident at work in which a women fell down the stairs while she and the other 150 others were leaving for the day.

Finally, there is a sequence of letters that is difficult to trace to the Pratt, Proctor or Stebbins families. These are a group of letters from the French, West, and Richardson families in Oberlin and Pittsfield, Ohio, Potsdam, N.Y., Jaffrey and Rindge, N.H., Cornish, Me., and Fitchburg, Mass.. There are several interesting letters from Abijah French from California where he has gone to see his brother Levi. Levi has "gone mad" and was unable to recognize Abijah as his brother, though he was able to remember all of his brothers and sisters' names -- Abijah, Alvira, Augusta, and Maria -- as well as his parents', Richard and Percilia. Abijah also describes California and his trip westward. It is possible that these families are related to the Pratts and Proctors; there is a letter from Carrie L. Richardson from Cornish, Me. (1893 January 26) to Emma which makes a reference to Grandma Pratt and to Emma's mother's health. An expense account book and miscellaneous receipts and notes belonging to Oscar W. Grover may represent items relating to Emma Pratt's would-be, or actual, husband.


Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society papers, 1848-1868

100 items

The Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society papers consist of documents generated by the society as well as correspondence to and from various members of the society about slavery, the conditions of freemen, and other progressive issues.

The Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society papers contain only a small portion of what must at one time have been a much larger collection. As a society devoted to the immediate abolition of slavery, the antislavery movement forms the context of most of the correspondence in the collection, but the members of the society were individually and collectively involved in the education of freedmen and in other movements, including women's rights. As a result, the collection offers a broad perspective on the mentality and activity of a small group of progressive northern women involved in the reform of what they saw as the worst inequities in American society.

The Society maintained contact with several national-level leaders of the antislavery movements, and provided important financial support to Frederick Douglass, in particular. The nine letters from Douglass in the collection all relate to the assistance provided for publication of his newspaper or are requests from him for direct aid to fugitive slaves en route to Canada. A particularly affecting letter is one that he wrote from England in 1860, while on an antislavery tour. Harriet Tubman, Beriah Green, Lewis Tappan, George B. Cheever, and Gerrit Smith also appear in the collection, either as correspondents or subjects of letters. Among the more interesting of these letters is one from John Stewart, probably a free black man, addressed to Harriet Tubman; a letter from Moses Anderson, also African-American, writing about the importance of Uncle Tom's Cabin in shaping his political consciousness; Jacob Gibb's letter of introduction for a fugitive slave; and William Watkins' report on the number of fugitive slaves that have passed through Rochester into Canada in the year 1857.

British support for the Society was crucial in keeping it viable in the late 1850s, and is documented through the letters of Julia Griffiths Crofts (Leeds, England); Sarah Plummer (Dalkeith, Scotland), and Maria Webb (Dublin, Ireland). The fund-raising efforts of the society can be tracked partly through the list of goods donated for a Festival (1:77), a small collection of ephemera relating to British antislavery societies (1:82), and a list of donations from those British societies (1:28). The most significant item for tracking finances, however, is the account book for the Society (2:20), which covers its entire history. The secretaries of the Society recorded the complete finances of the organization, and provided lists of speakers at their annual events, and carefully delineated money remitted to individual fugitive slaves. Included at the end of the collection are a set of photocopies of the manuscripts (2:21) and supplemental information about the Society and its members, provided by the University of Rochester (2:22).

Freedmen's education was a major concern of the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society, and is discussed extensively by several correspondents. The single most frequent correspondent in the collection is Julia A. Wilbur, writing while working with freedmen in Alexandria, Va., 1862-1865. Wilbur writes long and vivid letters describing the miserable living conditions found among the freedmen, their want of clothing and shelter, and she describes several individual cases. Wilbur also met and became familiar with the renowned ex-slave and author, Harriet Jacobs. The situation that Wilbur describes in Virginia verges on the chaotic, with corruption at the highest levels, dissension among those in charge of contraband matters, and many in the military reluctant or unwilling to take any responsibility. She was a perceptive observer of the progress of the war, Southern citizenry, and of the destruction that the war had inflicted upon Virginia. Her official reports to the Society, which are more general and less pointed than her private correspondence, were published in the Society's published annual reports (2:1-13).

In addition to Wilbur's letters, there are six other items pertaining to freedmen's education. Three letters from G. W. Gardiner and one document signed by Lewis Overton, 1862-63, relate to the work of the Colored School, founded for freedmen at Leavenworth, Kansas, and both letters from Daniel Breed, 1863-64, include discussions of the Rochester School for Freedmen in Washington, D.C., named for the Society whose money founded it.

The printed items in the collection include fourteen of the seventeen known annual reports of the Society, a report from the Toronto Ladies' Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored fugitives (2:14), and circulars from two British societies (2:15-16). Three issues of Frederick Douglass' Paper (October 2, 1851, February 19 1858, and July 1, 1859) and one issue of The North Star (April 14, 1848) are included in Oversize Manuscripts. An issue of the Christian Inquirer (New York, July 24, 1858), having no direct relation to the Rochester Society, was transferred to the Newspapers Division. Finally, in two letters written in 1859 and 1861, Rebecca Bailey discusses her father William Bailey's newspaper, The Free South.


Samson Adams papers, 1767-1794

108 items

The Samson Adams papers are the estate and business documents of Adams, a free African American man living and working in Trenton, New Jersey in the late 18th century. Adams worked as a carpenter and laborer, and produced and traded in a variety of items, including soap, milk, corn, and construction materials.

The Samson Adams Papers is comprised of over one hundred items that offer a rare glimpse into the economic and personal life of a free African-American resident of the mid-Atlantic states during the last quarter of the 18th century. The collection is divided into two series, the first consisting mainly of materials dating between 1780 and 1792, with a few earlier items, and the second containing all materials specifically related to the settlement of Adams' estate. The first series is arranged chronologically, but the second is arranged with the intention of representing the progression of the estate settlement, in an attempt to reconstitute the order placed on the materials by the executors.

The first series of Adams' papers (folders 1-11) contains bills and receipts issued by and to Adams for items ranging from milk and soap to building materials. Also included in this series are a work pass for his sister, Violet, and two important and highly unusual subscription letters seeking assistance for Adams in completing the building of his house. The second series (folders 12-30) includes Adams' will, an inventory and a complete breakdown of the distribution of his estate, bills submitted to the estate with numbered receipts showing their payment, and numerous other estate-related items. This series appears to contain nearly complete documentation of the progress of the estate, and the inventories, evaluations, and itemized list of the distribution of the estate offer an extremely detailed portrait of Adams' financial holdings and personal and business relationships


Samuel Prioleau and Margaretta Fleming Ravenel family collection, 1807-1950 (majority within 1837-1902)

0.75 linear feet

This collection contains correspondence and other materials related to the family of Samuel Prioleau Ravenel and his wife, Margaretta Fleming Parker Ravenel. Many of the letters concern life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina, before, during, and after the Civil War (particularly during Reconstruction). Other items pertain to family news, European travel, and other subjects.

This collection is made up of correspondence, photographs, and other materials related to the family of Samuel Prioleau Ravenel and his wife Margaretta Fleming Parker Ravenel. Many of the letters concern life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina, before, during, and after the Civil War.

The Correspondence series (215 items) comprises the bulk of the collection. Many of the earliest items are incoming personal letters to Clarissa Walton and Thomas Fleming from friends, their son. These and other early items largely pertain to everyday life and social activities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina. The series includes a group of letters that Thomas and Margaretta Fleming Parker wrote to the Flemings, his in-laws and her parents, about life in Charleston in 1861; Margaretta occasionally referred to the war. James McCarter wrote two letters from Charleston in June 1862 about the flight of civilians from the city and other effects of the war.

Ravenel family correspondence begins in the late 1850s with letters that Samuel Prioleau Ravenel received from a correspondent in Philadelphia; at the time, he lived in Pendleton, South Carolina. Ravenel began to correspond with Margaretta Parker in 1862, and they discussed their courtship, plans to marry, and daily lives until 1865. In letters to Margaretta and, in the late 1860s, to his father, Daniel, Samuel Prioleau Ravenel often wrote about Reconstruction policies, freedmen, and other political topics. Daniel Ravenel wrote to his son and his daughter-in-law about life in Charleston.

Samuel Prioleau and Margaretta Ravenel spent much of the late 1860s in Switzerland and in Paris, France, which Margaretta described in letters to her mother Clarissa Walton Fleming. Fleming responded with news from home, including comments about the 1868 presidential election and her life in Philadelphia. Throughout the 1870s, Samuel and Margaretta corresponded with their families about Charleston socialites and family news from South Carolina and their home in Highlands, North Carolina. They often discussed the births and growth of their children. A group of letters written in 1902 concerns the death of Samuel Prioleau Ravenel. Additional items from the early 20th century concern the Ravenel family's interest in a sugar mill and other topics.

The Photographs series (5 items) contains carte-de-visite portraits of S. Prioleau Ravenel in a military overcoat (1 item), Arthur Parker (1 item), and a woman, tentatively identified as Margaretta Ravenel or "Annie" (2 items), as well as a cabinet card photograph of three men around a table, taken in Mexico.

The Printed Items series (7 items) includes copies of a Supplement to Charleston Mercury (November 30, 1867), the Charleston Daily Courier-Extra (December 3, 1867), and The Charleston Mercury (May 2, 1868). Also included are a page from The Tri-Weekly Courier (December 9, 1867), a playbill for a production of Ten Nights in a Barroom at the Wardman Park theatre (April 23, 1929), a newspaper clipping containing a copy of "Mother Shipton's Prophecy" (undated), a calling card for "Miss Loat" of Balham Hill (undated); and a single book: Mason Smith Family Letters, 1860-1868, edited by Daniel E. Huger Smith, Alice R. Huger Smith, and Arney R. Childs (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1950).