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MC 305; Mf-3

Child, Lydia Maria, 1802-1880. Papers of Lydia Maria Child, ca.1827-1878: 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

Call No.: MC 305; Mf-3
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Lydia Maria Child, 1802-1880
Title: Papers of Lydia Maria Child, ca.1827-1878
Date(s): 1827-1878
Quantity: .42 linear feet (2 half file boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence and scrapbook of Lydia Maria Child, author and reformer.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 78-M19, 86-M208
These letters of Lydia Maria Child were given to the Schlesinger Library in February 1978 by Lydia F. Merrill. They are included in the microfiche edition of Lydia Maria Child's correspondence (Kraus Microform, 1980), which is available at the Library. A Lydia Maria Child scrapbook was given to the Library in October 1986 by Lydia F. Merrill.

Processing Information:

Processed: July 1980
By: Fred Wegener
Updated and additional materials added: April 2015
By: Johanna Carll

Access Restrictions:

Access. Folders #1-7 are closed; use microfiche (Mf-3). Folder #8v is available for use.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. The papers created by Lydia Maria Child 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.

Preferred Citation:

Lydia Maria Child Papers, ca.182-1878; item description, dates. MC 305, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Lydia Maria (Francis) Child, author and reformer, was born in Medford, Massachusetts, on February 11, 1802, and was educated locally. She married David Lee Child, reformer and businessman, on October 19, 1828, and became involved in the anti-slavery movement and other reforms. In addition to her writings of fiction, she produced a series of abolitionist works, was named to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and edited the National Anti-Slavery Standard from 1841 to 1843. In the 1840s she contributed regular columns to the Boston Courier and became an increasingly outspoken sponsor of emancipation as the Civil War approached. In old age she renewed an early interest in spiritualism, while maintaining her humanitarian sympathies, and died on October 20, 1880. For further biographical information, see articles in Notable American Women and the Dictionary of American Biography.


The collection contains Lydia Maria Child's correspondence and a scrapbook created by Lydia Maria Child. Most of the letters were written by Lydia Maria Child to her sister-in-law, Lydia B. Child, and to her mother-in-law, Lydia B. Child. Also included are three letters by David Child to his sister and letters by Lydia Maria Francis Child to David's nephew, William Haskins. Letters deal mostly with Lydia Maria Child's married life, family relations, David's business ventures and illnesses, the slavery issue and abolition movement, and the Civil War. They are arranged chronologically, with one folder of partially dated or undated letters and fragments.
A scrapbook created by Lydia Maria Child received by the Schlesinger Library in 1986 was added to the collection in April 2015 and is represented in #8v. At that time, the collection title was changed from "Letters, 1828-1879," to "Papers of Lydia Maria Child, ca.1827-1878," to reflect the broader range of materials in the collection.

Container list

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Abolitionists--Family relationships
Antislavery movements
Families--Health and hygiene
Family records
Massachusetts--Social life and customs--19th century
Social reformers
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Child, David Lee, 1794-1874
Child, Lydia Bigelow
Ross, John, 1790-1866