Catharine and Sarah Cram
Some 56 autograph letters dating between 1851 and 1856 were written by two sisters, Catharine and Sarah Cram, to their childhood friend and distant relative Franklin B. Sanborn (1831-1917), journalist, and social reformer, best known for his association with the prominent literary inhabitants of his hometown of Concord, New Hampshire, including William Ellery Channing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.
The letters provide fascinating insight into the intellectual life of these young, educated nineteenth-century New England women. Catharine Cram ran a school with her husband about which she reports frequently in her correspondence. Both sisters enthusiastically describe their attendance at lectures by George William Curtis, Emerson, and Theodore Parker. They mention reading works by such contemporary authors as Dickens, Emerson, Longfellow, Tennyson, and Thackeray. In addition they write about membership in literary societies and sewing circles, along with social news of family, friends, and local events. Reference is made to issues of the day including abolition and the free states, both of which were of passionate concern to Sanborn who narrowly escaped arrest for his participation in the Harper’s Ferry conspiracy (1859) with John Brown.
The letters are also testimony to the often precarious health of the women who suffered various debilitating illnesses from minor eye strain to the terminal illnesses of both Ariana ("Anna") Walker, Sanborn’s young wife, and Sarah Cram. The progress of the latter is charted almost letter by letter from 1855 to 1856 by her sister. Much of the correspondence refers to the death of Ariana Walker, who was a close friend of the sisters’ and who had been introduced by them to Sanborn.
Franklin B. Sanborn Papers
Acquired from David Holmes Autographs
Catharine Cram. Autograph letter signed to Franklin B. Sanborn, dated January 16, 1853, with envelope. On the subject of the paranormal, a popular interest of the times, Catharine Cram reports on local efforts to contact the spirit world, and that she had borrowed a pamphlet from her uncle on "Spiritual Manifestations," commenting that, "...I think I could sit one more evening trying to have the table tip..."
Catharine Cram. Autograph letter signed to Franklin B. Sanborn, dated October 7, 1855, with envelope. Reports on the condition of her sister Sarah: "...She cannot leave home this autumn and our only aim now is to make her as comfortable as we can here. The Doctor has told us that the inflammation has extended from the stomach to the lower part of the right lung and it is that irritation which occasions her cough which is rapidly wasting her strength. When I think how she was a fortnight ago yesterday when Susie was here - or even a week or less than that how her face has changed since then, how thin she grows every day - it seems Frank as if I cannot bear it. To whom could I say this who would understand the sinking of heart..better than you. I told her this morn what the Dr. thought - she was surprised for we have been thinking the difficulty lay near the throat. She occupies the parlor now - the couch which Anna did so long...She coughs...a good deal and suffers much..."
Sarah Cram. Autograph letter signed to Franklin B. Sanborn, dated February 28, 1855, with envelope. Describes her thoughts on visiting the grave of Ariana Walker: "...that place so sacred and hallowed to me...sometimes it seems strange that this should be so - merely the resting place of the body - but as the least thing connected with Anna is dear to us so must the form which her spirit animated be especially so..." and her belief in life after death, "...the departed having a form similar to that they had with us - not earthly but spiritual..."
Sarah Cram. Autograph letter signed to Franklin B. Sanborn, dated April 3, 1856, with envelope, expressing her views on the marriage of a young acquaintance: "...I think she is very unwise to be married so young - she is a pleasing young lady with a pretty face and considerable intelligence - but she needs to have a few more years of maidenhood before assuming the responsibilities of a wife..."
Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren
Mrs. Dahlgren was born Sarah Madeleine Vinton in Gallipolis, Ohio, on July 13, 1825. Her father was Samuel Finley Vinton (1792-1862), a congressman and leading figure in the national Whig party. In 1846, she married Daniel Convers Goddard, a lawyer from Zanesville, Ohio. He died only five years later leaving his wife, son, and daughter. In 1865, she married Admiral John Adolph Dahlgren (1809-1870), the famous naval officer and inventor of the Dahlgren gun.
Always interested in writing, Mrs. Dahlgren took to authorship as a means of livelihood after her first husband’s death. She contributed many poems and short stories to the New York Tablet and other newspapers. A collection of her writings was eventually published under the pseudonym, "Corinne," entitled, Idealities (Lippincott, 1859). Well versed in modern languages, Mrs. Dahlgren was also an adept translator.
Many of her works testify to her authority on social etiquette. Mrs. Dahlgren was often cited in newspapers as "social queen," and frequently published on matters concerning marriage. She was also an adamant anti-suffragist. In January 1878, she and Ellen Ewing Sherman (wife of William T. Sherman) among others, went before the U.S. Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections to lead an argument against a delegation proposing a sixteenth amendment to the constitution that would allow women to vote. Many articles preserved in the scrapbooks comprising this collection publish the heated correspondence between Mrs. Dahlgren and the notable advocates of women’s suffrage of the time, including Isabella Beecher Hooker and Virginia Louisa Minor.
Mrs. Dahlgren was a prolific novelist. Reviews and announcement of many of her books are included in her scrapbooks. A complete listing of her published works can be found in the National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints. In 1873, Mrs. Dahlgren founded the Washington Literary Society, for which she acted as vice-president. She died in 1889 and is buried on South Mountain in Maryland.
Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren Papers
Gift of the Dahlgren Family
Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren. Scrapbooks (circa.1877-88). Includes tipped-in autograph manuscripts of verse by Mrs. Dahlgren.
Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880), abolitionist and author. Autograph note signed to George Kimball (circa February 1836), with reference to a prospective expedition to Tamaulipas, Mexico, with her husband David Lee Child to settle a colony. In a preceding autograph letter signed (on the same sheet), dated February 29, 1836, the latter also refers to plans for sugar growing in the new colony and invites Kimball to join the enterprise.
Notable works by Lydia Maria Child include: An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans (1833), which made her many enemies and cost her book sales as well as her magazine, Juvenile Miscellany; and a pamphlet, Correspondence Between Lydia Maria Child and Gov. Wise and Mrs. Mason of Virginia (1860), arising from her appeal for permission to nurse John Brown after his wounding at Harper’s Ferry and which sold 300,000 copies. Child was also editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard (1841-49).
Louise Imogen Guiney (1861-1920), American poet and essayist. Autograph letter signed to Rev. Henry Shandelle, S.J., dated September 24, 1906. Judging from the letter, she writes with reference to an invitation from Shandelle to co-author an encyclopedia, possibly on Catholic history: "...If ever there was a non-encyclopaedic mind, it would appear to be mine. I would not trust it around the corner, although it has a strong turn for accuracy, because it is so perversely opinionated!...You want me to be ‘practical,’...but is it practical to mistake one’s own fixed, narrow capacities, and accept a task which could never be done as the cause deserves it should be done? I cannot truly think of a single subject on which I could write in brief, but from a fairly full mind, unless it were, perhaps, the Oxford Movement: I look upon that, root and branch, as a Catholic affair, an extraneous grace of the Holy Spirit making for the re-establishment of the faith in the English and Anglicizing world. (Lo! I have but just confessed that I was too opinionated for an encyclopaedia: there’s an instance of it, caught red-handed!)..."
Henry Shandelle, S.J., Papers
Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (1851-1926), philanthropist, writer. "Of My Life." Autograph manuscript, undated. She was the youngest daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne. In 1894, she co-authored, with her husband George Parsons Lathrop, a history of the Georgetown Visitation Convent, entitled, A Story of Courage. She was also author of a small volume of poetry, Along the Shore (1888), and a series of reminiscences of her father, Memories of Hawthorne, which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, and was later published as a volume in 1897.
Lathrop founded a home for victims of incurable cancer in 1896, and formed a religious sisterhood known as the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer, taking the name of Sister Alphonsa. Her work was initially established at the Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, New York, in 1901, expanding to a second location at St. Rose’s in New York City in 1912.
Theodore Maynard Papers
Georgetown, looking East
the Southworth cottage is just below the center, on Prospect between 36th and 37th Streets, N.W.
E.D.E.N. Southworth (1819-1899). Born Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth. American author of an enormous number of popular domestic and sentimental romances. Autograph letter signed, dated October 1, 1888. Addressed "To His Honor the Mayor of Georgetown," regarding the destructive effects on her house from grading work on Prospect Street.
Crawford Family Papers