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A-41; M-59

Stearns, Sarah Ripley, 1785-1871. Papers of Sarah Ripley Stearns, 1801-1837: A Finding Aid.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: A-41; M-59
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Sarah Ripley Stearns, 1785-1871
Title: Papers of Sarah Ripley Stearns, 1801-1837
Date(s): 1801-1837
Quantity: .42 linear feet (1 file box)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence and journals of Sarah Ripley Stearns, her daughter Rachel Willard Stearns, and Eunice Callender of Massachusetts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Purchased from Charles Tuttle.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access. Originals are closed; use microfilm M-59.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Papers created by Sarah Ripley Stearns are in the public domain. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


  • Stearns, Sarah Ripley: M-59, Reel 992, No. M28
  • Stearns, Rachel Willard: M-59, Reel 992, No. M27
  • Callendar, Eunice: M-59, Reel 968, No. M4
  • Preferred Citation:

    Sarah Ripley Stearns Papers, 1801-1837; item description, dates. A-59, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

    Related Material:

    There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Eunice Callendar Diaries, 1808-1824 (A/C15). The American Antiquarian Society also holds one of Sarah Ripley Stearns' diaries (Sally Ripley Diary [manuscript], 1799-1801, 1805-1809).


    Sarah Ripley was born November 26,1785, the daughter of Jerome Ripley and Sarah (Franklin) Ripley, in Greenfield, Massachusetts. She married Charles Stearns of Shelburne, Massachusetts, in 1812; they had three children and were expecting a fourth child when Charles died in 1818. Sarah Ripley Stearns was an older sister of George Ripley, a literary critic and Transcendentalist organizer of Brook Farm. She lived most of her life in Greenfield, Massachusetts.


    The collection contains three journals, 1801-1818 of Sarah Ripley Stearns, sister of George Ripley; four journals, 1834-1837 of her daughter, Rachel Willard Stearns; 139 letters, 1802-1830 from Eunice Callender of Boston to Sarah Ripley Stearns of Greenfield and Shelburne. Full of local chit-chat, family affairs, and religious outpourings. Records of New England consciences.
    Volumes 1-2 of the Journals describe Sarah Ripley Stearns' life and interests of this period. She speaks of Uncle David Ripley; departure of Mr. R.B. Callender for Boston, having tended my father's store for 8 years and is now free; 1802 Reverend Ezra Ripley of Concord and his wife - to preach to the Free Masons; Mr. B. Callender brought his sister Eunice to visit from Northfield; November 1802 speaks of brother George, born October 3 (see D.A.B); visits Grandmother and Aunt Rachel in Boston; 1803 Eunice Callender visits her in March; 1804 May goes to Dorchester Ladies Academy for a few months. On September 26, 1804 speaks of being now 19 years old. (Volume 1 bears the subscription "This extract copied at Leominster, October 1823 while boarding with strangers and separated from all my children and natural relatives, except my little Charles ... still am I surrounded with proofs of the Divine Goodness")
    Volume 2 (Journal number 5) 1808 in Greenfield. Brother Franklin departs for Hanover (Dartmouth) on October 7; more religious notes; also family comings and goings; September 1809 Brother Franklin leaving for New York state to practice law, October settled in Cooperstown; 1810 visits in Boston, helping Aunt Rachel who keeps house for her brother and his two sons; May, returns to Greenfield; Brother Thomas has gone into partnership with Father in the store; takes on teaching her younger brothers and sisters. 1811 more visits, speaks of Sister Harriet, Catherine Emmons and Eunice Callender. November 10, 1812 marries Charles Stearns of Shelburne.
    Volume 3 (Journal January 3, 1813 - December 6, 1818) Married life. Death of Charles' brother Thomas, aged 22. September 11, 1813 birth of daughter Rachel Willard. Mary Stearns, Charles sister was to have visited but death of Mrs. Stearns leaves her caring for her brother Otis' family. 1814 Death of Cousin Susan Callender of Boston, aged 20 years. refers to the War, draft, etc. February 1815 Peace. Rachel growing. March 2 birth of son. Charles Stearns in partnership with Sarah's brother Thomas Ripley. December 24. a Female Charitable Society formed (Benevolent Institution); My two sisters E and M. profess religion. 1816, third child born. October 16th. 1817 Heathen School Association formed. New minister. 1818 Change in temporal affairs. Death of Charles Stearns, September 27, 1818, of typhus fever. Returns to her father's home, with three children and one unborn.
    The three journals 1801-1818 are full of local chit-chat, family doings, visits to relatives in Boston, etc. later parts become religious in nature.
    Rachel Willard Stearns, born September 11, 1813 in Shelburne, Massachusetts, daughter of Sarah Ripley and Charles Stearns.
    Journals, October 3, 1834 - December 17, 1837, record "the most interesting events of my life and of the Lord's dealings with me, and of my own feelings and conduct." The journals are full of religious outpourings and self-searching, introspective in nature, a fascinating record of a New England conscience.
    Volume 2 1834-1835. Speaks of Sarah (her sister) having tried her very much all day. Talked with Mr. Townsend, the minister, Camp meeting October 1834. "Louisa attending my school"; later on stage on way to Leominster to teach school. Conflict of Orthodoxy and Methodism.
    Volume 3 May 1835 - December 5, 1835. Joins Methodists. Brother William has left Boston, now in hospital in Worcester. Only 10 scholars in her school when it reopened June 8th. Finished school year, discouraged, children also leaving her sewing circle (religious controversy the cause?) September 11, 1835, speaks of humble station, poor garb, rich relations; November 4 getting her sister ready to go to Boston, "glad I am going to leave too." Rejoicing that she can attend school at Wilbraham. Uncle Franklin, her mother's brother refuses to be responsible for her school fee!
    Journal lacking - apparently she did not go to Wilbraham for in June 1836, Journal number 5
    Volume 6 Rachel is now in Newton, teaching in a school of which Mr. Davis is Head. Very introspective entries. Goes to church in the Upper Falls (a long walk) Becomes lost in the wood on the way.
    Volume 7 October 31, 1836 - December 17, 1837. (Journal number 6) Proposal! Fired from Mr. Davis school. Goes to teach in Woodville, Mississippi, The Miss Chapman's School. Sails for New Orleans, April 5, 1837. Description of storm at sea. Sister Margaret to join her.
    Eunice Callender born 1785? of Boston.
    139 letters to Sarah Ripley Stearns, 1802 - 1830. Comment on books, social life in Boston, theatre, current events and local gossip. Later letters become more religious in nature, full of death, illness, etc. September 30, 1813 - interesting account of Shaking Quakers at Harvard, Massachusetts. April 2, 1814 - quotes re female writers, Boston Female Asylum, etc. Makes fascinating reading in conjunction with Sarah and Rachel Stearns' letters.

    Container List

    Additional Index Terms

    Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs
    Family records
    Journals (notebooks)
    Massachusetts--Social life and customs
    New Englanders--Family relationships
    Women--Religious life
    Callender, Eunice, 1787-1848
    Stearns, Rachel Willard, 1813-1898