Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Featured Manuscript: Lydia Maria Child

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) was an American author whose earliest works centered on hearth and home. She founded the children’s periodical Juvenile Miscellany when she was twenty-four years old. By 1831, Child had published The Mother’s Book and The Girl’s Own Book, “both of which,” according to her obituary in The New York Times, “hold places in nearly every New-England family library.”

In that same year, 1831, Child met William Lloyd Garrison. Her subsequent writings forcefully promoted anti-slavery issues. Within a decade she moved to New York to edit the weekly newspaper National Anti-Slavery Standard, a position she held until 1843.

This letter from the Lloyd W. Smith Archives was addressed to a Mr. Frederic Oxnard, and sent from New York in the fall of 1846. It appears that Oxnard had written for Child’s permission to include her in his pending project. Child replied,

“I cheerfully comply with your request, though with a consciousness that you may be often asked why that name was inserted among a gallery of “distinguished” ones; and, like the old Roman, ‘I would prefer that posterity should inquire why no statues were erected for me, rather than ask why they were.’”

Look closely at the bottom right corner of the manuscript. Affixed to the document is circular impression in green wax. The image appears to represent the palm of a right hand. Seals were used in the nineteenth century for a variety of purposes, often to secure envelopes. This particular seal, however, was not meant to be broken, and remains intact after more than one hundred and fifty years.

Featured Manuscript:

Child to Oxnard (November 3, 1846). LWS 2471. Lloyd W. Smith Archival Collection, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey.


“Child, Lydia Maria.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 11 July 2011. .

“Obituary: Lydia Maria Child.” The New York Times, October 21, 1880.

“sigillography.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2011. Web. 15 July 2011. http://school.eb.com/eb/article-58828.

Blog entry by Anne Ricculli, Drew University.

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