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MS Am 2932

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882. Ralph Waldo Emerson correspondence with Franklin Benjamin Sanborn and other letters, 1862-1917: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Am 2932
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882.
Title: Ralph Waldo Emerson correspondence with Franklin Benjamin Sanborn and other letters,
Date(s): 1862-1917.
Quantity: 1 collection (1 box (.25 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Autograph manuscript letters between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Franklin Benjamin Sanborn and other letters concerning the "Sanborn-Edith Emerson affair."

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

94M-25. Purchase with the Amy Lowell fund from Goodspeed's Book Shop; received: 1994 August 8.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
Microfilm on file (filmed prior to cataloging): No. 95-2920.

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Ralph Waldo Emerson Correspondence with Franklin Benjamin Sanborn and Other Letters, 1862-1917 (MS Am 2932). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th-century and lived in Concord, Massachusetts. His wife was Lidian Jackson Emerson, and one of their daughters was Edith Emerson [Forbes].
Franklin Benjamin Sanborn (1831-1917) was an American journalist, author, and reformer, who lived in Concord, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Secret Six, or "Committee of Six," that funded the militant abolitionist John Brown.
The subject of the correspondence in these papers concerns Sanborn's courting of nineteen-year-old Edith Emerson. Sanborn proposed to Miss Emerson in 1861, and was rejected. Sanborn apparently took offense, and launched into a series of letters to Miss Emerson's mother, Lidian Emerson. Those letters angered the Emerson family, with the result that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote to Sanborn, informing Sanborn of Emerson's wife's displeasure at having been accused. The matter did not end happily, with Mrs. Emerson writing her own letter of reproach to Sanborn. Ultimately, Sanborn begrudgingly apologized.


Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters concerning the Emerson family and the Franklin Benjamin Sanborn "affair." Includes letters between Sanborn and Lidian Emerson, Sanborn and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and a letter from Sanborn to Edith Emerson, as well as other letters concerning the Sanborn-Emerson relationship, including a letter from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Benjamin B. Wiley, a copy of a later letter from Edward Waldo Emerson to James Ford Rhodes, and another letter from Rhodes.
The curatorial file includes letters concerning this collection as well as typescript transcripts of some of the letters in the collection (so noted with each cataloged item). Readers should see public services staff for access to this curatorial file.

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