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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged into two series.
The Lydia Maria Child Papers consist primarily of letters written by Child to friends and professional acquaintances. The letters address her involvement in the abolitionist movement, her writing career, her religion, and personal relationships. In addition to the various correspondences, two poems are included in this collection, as well as manuscript writings by Child. This collection contains two photographs of Child.
Together with other letters by Child from the Park Benjamin, Sydney Howard Gay, Jay Family, and John H. Payne collections, the letters in folders 1 and 2 may also be accessed on microfilm under call number "MS Coll Child.".
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Lydia Maria Child papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Material-- Other Repositories
Lydia Maria Francis Child Letters, Harvard University.
Lydia Maria Child Papers, University of Michigan.
Lydia Maria Child Letters, Pennsylvania State University.
Lydia Maria Child Collection, Princeton University.
Lydia Maria Francis Child Papers, New York Public Library.
Park Benjamin Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Sydney Howard Gay Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Alternate Form Available
All letters in folders 1 and 2 are also available on microfilm. The microfilm is stored onsite in RBML under call number "MS Coll Child.".
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--Albert M. Baer. Method of acquisition--Gift of; Date of acquisition--1974.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed by Robyn Hjermstad.
Finding aid written by Robyn Hjermstad June 2010.
Collection is processed to folder level.
2010-09-02 File created.
2010-09-03 XML document instance created by Catherine N. Carson
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Lydia Maria Child was born Lydia Maria Francis in Medford, Massachusetts in February, 1802. Francis was born into an abolitionist family and was greatly influenced by her brother, Convers, who would later become a Unitarian Clergyman. After the death of her mother in 1814, Child moved to Maine to live with her sister and began teaching in Gardiner in 1819. While living in Maine, Child became increasingly interested in Native Americans and visited many nearby settlements. Child began actively writing shortly after returning to Massachusetts to live with her brother. She published her first novel, Hobomok, in 1824, at the age of 22. The story depicted the relationship between a girl from New England and a Native American. Although the book was published anonymously, Child would later gain fame as the author of Hobomok, the first American historical novel.
Child continued to have a vibrant writing career throughout her life; she was the pioneer of many writing forms, such as historical fiction, children's literature, and women's literature. In 1826, she founded Juvenile Miscellany, the first children's periodical in the United States; she published The American Frugal Housewife in 1844. Child published her first anti-slavery book in 1833, An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans We Call Africans, arguing for full, uncompensated emancipation of slavery and full racial equality.
Following her marriage to journalist and fellow abolitionist, David Lee Child, in 1828, Child and her husband became acquainted with William Lloyd Garrison, who greatly influenced their devotion to abolitionism. With her husband, Child established the National Anti-Slavery Standard, the official weekly newspaper of the American Anti-Slavery Society, in 1840. Among her many abolitionist efforts, Child transcribed recollections of freed slaves and edited Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). Public reactions to her actions were frequently negative, but Child continued with her endeavors against slavery and also supported both women's rights and Native American rights throughout her life. Child died in 1880, at age 78, in her home in Wayland, Massachusetts.