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Collection

William H. Anderson family papers, 1828-1887 (majority within 1852-1875)

0.5 linear feet

The William H. Anderson Family Papers are made up of 177 letters, one manuscript map, 28 printed items, two photographs, and other materials of this Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Lowell, Massachusetts family. William Anderson wrote around 150 letters to his family and friends while at primary school in Londonderry, New Hampshire; Pembroke Academy in Pembroke, New Hampshire; Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire; and Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut. Anderson's correspondence includes 12 descriptive letters home from the Sligo cotton plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, where he worked as a teacher from 1859 to 1860, with content on plantation life, the enslaved workers, cotton processing, and educational matters. The remainder of the collection is William Anderson's post-Civil War letters, written while a lawyer in Lowell, and letters of Anderson's aunts Annis Nesmith Davidson and Anna B. Davidson Anderson Holmes from Londonderry and Wyoming County, New York.

The William H. Anderson Family Papers are made up of 177 letters, one manuscript map, 27 printed items, two photographs, and other materials of this Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Lowell, Massachusetts family.

The Correspondence Series. William Anderson wrote around 150 letters to his family and friends while at primary school in Londonderry, New Hampshire (5 letters, 1849-1850); Pembroke Academy at Pembroke, New Hampshire (15 letters, 1852-1853); Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts (3 letters, 1853); Kimball Union Academy at Meriden, New Hampshire (19 letters, 1854-1855); and Yale College at New Haven, Connecticut (60 letters). The letters from Londonderry, Pembroke, Andover, and Meriden are filled with details about his curricula, course work, school uniforms, teachers, boarding houses, school uniforms, secret societies, local politics and political events (Whig and Democratic; he ran into Franklin Pierce on October 25, 1852), updates on friends and family, visits to nearby towns, and more. Anderson helped offset the cost of his education by taking on various farm jobs. Detailed letters to his parents, brother, and friend Mary A. Hine from Yale College similarly include content on curricula, course work, professors, societies, examinations, graduation, finances, and other aspects of being a student in higher education.

Upon graduation from Yale, he began work at the Sligo Plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, where he taught a school comprised of students from Sligo and the nearby Retirement Plantation, from 1859 to 1860. During this time, he wrote 12 letters home to his parents and to his future wife Mary A. Hine. He arrived at Bennett's Retirement Plantation in early September 1859, and shortly thereafter settled in at David P. Williams' Sligo Plantation. He described his relative isolation, loneliness, teaching and wages, corporal punishment, thoughts on slavery and the enslaved men and women on the plantation, games he played with his scholars, travel between the Sligo and Retirement plantations, and leisure activities such as hunting and horseback riding. In late December 1859, he provided a lengthy description of a (largely) steamboat trip to New Orleans with his students for Christmas.

Anderson noted that no poor white people lived between Sligo and Natchez; he was uncomfortable with the aristocratic lifestyle of white people living in the south, and expressed this view on multiple occasions in his correspondence (see especially September 30, [1859]). Although his father appears on list of members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, William H. Anderson did not write with disgust at slavery, but rather used racist epithets, accepted the "servants" who assisted him in various ways, and wrote unmoved about abuse doled out to children (see especially June 9, 1860). In one instance, he wrote about enslaved women who gathered near to the house in the evenings before supper to sing and dance (October 25, 1859). One of the highly detailed letters in the collection is William H. Anderson's description of the use of the cotton gin on the Sligo Plantation, which includes remarks on its history, its functioning, the various jobs performed by enslaved laborers, and the rooms in which the jobs took place. He included calls made by enslaved workers between floors of the "gin house" and the roles of elderly men and women in the grueling labor ([October 1859]). In 1860, Anderson planned to take a summer break in Tennessee and then teach another year, but on the death of his oldest scholar Susie (14 years old) by diphtheria, Williams decided against having a school the next year (July 4, 1860).

The remaining letters by William H. Anderson, dated 1861-1887, contain scattered information on family matters, such as visits and health. He wrote little of his law practice or his life in Lowell, Massachusetts. Anderson's correspondence includes a variety of printed letterheads and one inset map: a rough floorplan of the Brother's Society Hall (January 14, 1856); the printed letterhead "INGENIUM LABORE PERFECTUM" "YALE" of Sigma Delta (ca. August/September 1856 and July 10, 1858); a partially printed letter sheet beginning "IN order to secure the regular attendance...", respecting Anderson's discipline (July 20, 1857); and the printed letterhead "STEVENS & ANDERSON, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law" Lowell, Massachusetts (August 16 and September 27, 1872).

The collection includes around 25 letters by William Anderson's aunts Annis Nesmith Davidson (1801-1877) and Anna B. Davidson Anderson Holmes (1798-1875). Anna wrote alternately to her sister Jane Davidson Anderson and her sister-in-law Annis Davidson, from Londonderry, New Hampshire; Pike, New York; and Genesee Falls, New York, between 1828 and 1874. Her letters pertain largely to domestic life, boarders, troubles keeping hired girls (including Irish girls) to help with housework, news of family births, marriages, and deaths, local ministers, and her children's schooling. The few letters by Annis Davidson from Pike and Genesee Falls, New York, regard family updates and visiting.

The collection's Map, Receipt, and Photographs include a partially printed receipt for William Anderson's tuition and fees for the term ending April 14, 1857. The pencil map identifies particular buildings in New Haven, Connecticut, around where College, Temple, Church, Orange, and State streets intersect with Chapel and Crown streets. The photographs are cartes-de-visite of William Henry Anderson and "Annis Davidson Anderson Holmes" [most likely Anna B. Davidson Anderson Holmes].

The Printed Items are made up of materials largely pertaining to William Anderson's time at Yale College. These include:

  • BROTHERS IN UNITY. Prize Debate in the Class of 1859, January 12, 1856. William H. Anderson listed as a participant.
  • JUNIOR EXHIBITION. Class of 1859, April 6, 1858, invitation to Mary Hine, with William H. Anderson listed as a speaker.
  • JUNIOR EXHIBITION. YALE COLLEGE, April 6, 1858 (E. Hayes, printer), program.
  • INITIATION, June 11, 1858, program, with manuscript annotations identifying an oration delivered by W. H. Anderson.
  • James Robinson & Co. (Boston, Mass.) printed letter requesting information about academies, [1858].
  • FIFTY-NINE. 'Oυ δοκέιν αλλ' είναι. Presentation Songs, June 15, 1859 (Morehouse & Taylor, printers).
  • YALE COLLEGE. PRESENTATION OF THE CLASS OF 1859, June 15, 1859 (Morehouse & Taylor, steam printers).
  • "Esto Perpetua." '62. Pow-wow OF THE CLASS OF '62, June 15, 1859 (Morehouse & Taylor, printers).
  • '59. OWLS FROM THE NORTH!, July 17, 1859, flier/advertisement.
  • DE FOREST ORATIONS, June 17, 1859, flier.
  • CATALOGUE OF THE OFFICERS AND STUDENTS IN YALE COLLEGE . . . 1859-60. New Haven: E. Hayes, 1859.
  • JUNIOR EXHIBITION, April 3, 1860, order of exercises. New Haven: E. Hayes, 1860.
  • '61's INITIATION OF '62, pink heavy-stock card with a printed image of two anthropomorphic donkeys boxing.
  • CLASS CIRCULAR, March 20, 1862, seeking feedback from 1859 graduates in anticipation of their triennial meeting.
  • Class '63 Day, June 19, 1863, heavy-stock card invitation.
  • SONGS FOR THE THIRD ANNUAL SUPPER OF THE Yale Alumni Association, January 27, 1868.
  • "INGENIUM LABORE PERFECTUM" Sigma Delta symbol of a wreath surrounding a crown.
  • Annis Davidson visiting card.

The remaining printed items include four copies of an engraved portrait of William H. Anderson by W. T. Bather of N.Y. and published by The Lewis Publishing Co., and five newspaper clippings.