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Manuscript Women's Letters and Diaries from the American Antiquarian Society

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  • Coverage Dates: 1750-1950

Alexander Street Press's Manuscript Women's Letters and Diaries from the American Antiquarian Society 1750-1950 brings together 100,000 pages of the personal writings of women of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, displayed as high-quality images of the original manuscripts, extensively indexed and online for the first time. The collection is drawn entirely from the holdings of the American Antiquarian Society.

Thousands of letters and diary entries from less well known women vividly document even the smallest details of their lives and shed light on the roles women played within their families, their communities, and the social and political movements of their times. In many cases, we also include the replies, from both men and women, placing the letters in their full context. Additionally, materials such as the letters and diaries of three generations of women within the same family illuminate the lives of the authors, their family history, and the evolution of one group's culture.

The writings in Manuscript Women's Letters and Diaries are by women from New England families, but this is by no means a "New England collection." The women wrote from the many places throughout the U.S. in which they lived, traveled, worked, studied, and observed the lives and historical events around them — including John Brown's raid; the activities of the Ku Klux Klan; numerous wars; experiences in a Colorado mining camp, through Nancy Colburn Hartford's log of her time there; frontier conditions in Florida in 1830, as lived and described by Julia Ann Draper Lazelle; World War I Army training camps and the American Expeditionary Forces in France, through Lizzie Bliss Dewey's correspondence with friends in service; charitable work in the South, documented by the Chase sisters' writings of their experiences.

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