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Abigail Allen family papers, 1829-1838 (majority within 1837)

8 items

The Abigail Allen family papers contain seven letters written to Allen by various family members, who discussed the economic impact of the Panic of 1837, 19th-century education, and social news from New Haven, Connecticut.

The Abigail Allen family papers contain 8 letters written to Allen by various family members, who discussed the economic impact of the Panic of 1837, 19th-century education, and social news from New Haven, Connecticut. Abigail knew several teachers, who shared information about their schools, including recent lectures; they also remarked about the education of Abigail's younger sister. Her father, James Brewster, mentioned his business affairs several times, including the "dreadful conflagration which we have experienced," which destroyed much of his shop's stock (March 1, 1836). In another letter, he described the economic mood of New Haven just prior to the Panic of 1837, and told Abigail, "It is awful times here, there have been a great many failures" (May 5, 1837). Abigail's mother echoed the sentiments, but concentrated her letters more on family news and on domestic updates about mutual friends, including a discussion about a difficult local birth (May 11, 1837). The letters depict social and economic life in New Haven in the late 1830s.

The final letter in the collection, by Joseph B., relates a lengthy tale about being attached by "a party of Robbers & assassins." The writer walked though a wood near his uncle Lester's farm is near a forest, when he was attacked. " … a party of Robbers & assassins surrounded me … Instead of presenting their pistols to my throat & demanding my purse as I often heard they did--they attacked me with daggers--plainly shewing their object my blood & not my purse." He tried to resist but the group of three robbers had reinforcements, which caused him to flee. He fell in the swamp and sustained injuries from the robbers' knives before nearby farm hands heard his cries for help. In a postscript, Joseph B. reveals his jest when he states that the suspect of the crime "is discovered to be one of that murderous gang, so celebrated in both novels & [?] as the New Rochelle musquitoe" (September 4, 1838).


Friendship and Autograph Album collection, 1826-1944 (majority within 1826-1908)

37 volumes

The Clements Library's collection of individual friendship and autograph albums (the ones that are not part of larger bodies of family papers) dates primarily from the second half of the 19th century. The creators of these albums sought out friends, family, schoolmates, public persons, and others to write signatures, sentiments, poetry, extracts from books and serials, personal sentiments, and more. Contributions often emphasize ties of friendship, exhortations to seek love, happiness, or Christian religious salvation. Most of the volumes in this collection were compiled in the Northeast United States and areas in the Midwest, with urban and rural areas represented. The greater number of the albums were kept by young women and the bulk of the signers were also female. Contributors occasionally illustrated pages with calligraphic designs, trompe l'oeil visiting cards, animals, flowers, and themes that had particular significance to their relationship with the keeper of the album. The volumes in this collection are largely decorative blank books adorned with tooled covers, sometimes containing interspersed engravings of religious, literary, historical, and landscape themes. Some include pasted-in photographs, die-cuts, or stickers.