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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 305: Mf-3

Papers of Lydia Maria Child, ca.1827-1878


Correspondence and scrapbook of Lydia Maria Child, author and reformer.


  • Creation: 1827-1878


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

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.


.42 linear feet (2 half file boxes)

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.


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.

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.

Container list

  1. Box 1: 1-7
  2. Box 2: 8v

Processing Information

Processed: July 1980

By: Fred Wegener

Updated and additional materials added: April 2015

By: Johanna Carll

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
Language of description

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. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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