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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1115

Papers of Ednah Nelson Allbright, 1915-1949

Overview

Correspondence, diaries, address books, and financial records of Ednah Nelson Allbright, a strawberry cultivator, and her son London Allbright.

Dates

  • 1915-1949

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ednah Nelson Allbright as well as 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.

Extent

2.42 linear feet (2 cartons, 1 file box)
The collection includes Ednah Nelson Allbright's diaries, as well as a diary kept by London Allbright, in which he describes school activities and reflects on personal relationships, including his difficult relationship with his mother; courtship letters exchanged between Ednah and Thomas Allbright; correspondence between Ednah and London Allbright, with Ednah Allbright expressing her displeasure with London Allbright's first marriage and detailing the many ways in which he was a disappointment to her. Her deep devotion to him is also evident in these letters. Ednah Allbright's letters also document her medical ailments, financial hardships and other disappointments, and her strong socialist leanings. Her correspondence with friends and associates is also included, and in a letter to a friend, she describes in detail the abuse she experienced while married to Thomas Allbright, including when about to give birth to their son. Other correspondents include Ednah Allbright's parents, brothers Wilber and Milton, and sister-in-law Helen. London Allbright had a number of male and female pen pals and his correspondence with them is included in the collection. Some letters written and received by Thomas Allbright are also included, as are London Allbright's divorce petition and Barbara Lee's response to it.

The majority of the collection arrived at the Schlesinger Library in labeled folders and whenever possible these folders were retained. In some cases the folder headings were transcribed onto archival folders. In a few cases the archivist created folder headings, which appear in square brackets. The collection is arranged with biographical information appearing first, followed by Ednah Nelson Allbright's diaries and correspondence; material related to London Allbright's accident; his diaries and correspondence; and finally by address and memorandum books.

BIOGRAPHY

Ednah Nelson Allbright was born in Kansas in 1895, the daughter of Nels and Hannah Nelson, Swedish immigrants. She had two brothers, Wilber and Milton. She grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the entire family worked as cultivators of high quality strawberries. In 1918 or 1919 she married Thomas Allbright. Thomas, thirteen years her senior, impressed her during their courtship with his apparent worldly knowledge as well as with his literary aspirations, which Ednah Allbright shared. In 1921 they had a son, London, named in honor of the writer Jack London. Thomas Allbright abused Ednah Allbright physically, emotionally, and sexually, and also threatened to kill her brothers. She divorced him in 1923. Ednah Allbright eventually settled in Burbank, California, where she followed the family business of strawberry cultivation, also growing other fruits and making and selling jams and preserves. She also began raising chickens but struggled financially throughout her life, as well as suffering from various medical ailments, some caused by Thomas Allbright's abuse. London Allbright was hit by a car in 1928 and suffered serious injuries; it took two years for him to fully recover. Like many other members of her family, Ednah Allbright was a socialist and she was strongly opposed to both World Wars as well as to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his policies.

London Allbright was a ham radio enthusiast during his teen years and also had several male and female pen pals, from throughout the United States and from England. In April 1944 he married Barbara Lee, a seventeen year old from Missouri. Ednah Allbright was strongly opposed to this marriage, believing that Lee had tricked her inexperienced son into marriage. London Allbright filed for divorce in June 1944, charging among other things that his bride had given him a "social disease," neglected preparing his meals, and persisted in smoking and drinking despite his opposition to these habits. After serving in World War II, London Allbright met Sybil Oudin Walker, a widow with a young daughter. They married in 1947. Ednah Nelson Allbright died in 1970 and London Allbright died in 1992.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2020-M118

The papers of Ednah Nelson Allbright were acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Carmen D. Valentino in November 2020.

Processing Information

Processed: March 2021

By: Susan Earle

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
Link to catalog
Author
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Sponsor
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Radcliffe College Class of 1955 Manuscript Processing Fund.
EAD ID
sch01960

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.

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