Sunday, October 12, 2008

Judith Winsor Smith

A great Correspondence Archive (1844-1853) of Judith Winsor Smith is up for sale on Ebay.

Judith Winsor Smith (1821-1921) - An American abolitionist and woman's suffragist, born in Marshfield, MA. During her long lifetime, Smith was involved in many social and politicial causes. She was a member of the Standing Committee of Theodore Parker's 28th Congregational Society; a founder and first president of the Home club of East Boston (women's club) and an officer in state and national women's suffrage associations. Daughter Zilpha Drew Smith (1852-1926) became a prominent Boston social worker.

Handwritten archive of (32) personal letters from Smith, the majority while she living in Pembroke, Massachusetts, 1850-53 and sent to her husband, Silvanus Smith, a shipbuilder in East Boston, but a few earlier 1844-45. Plus (4) from other correspondents, including Silvanue. See below. (36) letters total.

Although the letters are mainly domestic in nature, Judith W. Smith commented in 1920 when she voted for the first time, "For 70 years I have been in the fight for woman suffrage...", and the candid letter content contain possible seeds of her discontent. Silvanus apparently bought their farm in Pembroke without her consent and left her isolated there with small children - overflowing cistern, scarlet fever, crops and livestock - while he went to work in East Boston as a shipbuilder. She comments frequently that she wishes she was in East Boston and regrets a few times that she can't join him to hear Theodore Parker. She also asks him to bring her one of Horace Mann's speeches.

Brief excerpts:

June 9, 1850 - "Martin Ford Jr. has a child two years old sick with the small pox. Dr. C attends him and he is going well. I don't know as I ought to wait till Dr. Wilde come had I? I mean about inoculating the children. Did yours take and is there much of it in South Boston?; My will is good to do a great deal more than I do but I suppose I ought to be content with all I can do. I feel impatient with myself often."

May 22, 1852 - "I like Capt. Manter's plan of bringing his wife here. I think it is much better than to buy the farm without even asking her how she should like it - as I once knew a certain man to do."

June 13, 1852 - "Seth and his two apprentices begun on the barn Friday. Thomas is coming tomorrow. They eat dinner here so your Judy feels as though she was helping you a little. I have felt better the last week than I have before since Zilpha was born - have taken an egg every day and am in hopes to get strong again some time. My last upper tooth broke off on day...and I pulled out the remaining false one - so I look worse than ever.

November 7, 1852 - "I thank you kindly for your very kind letter...Not that I doubt your good feeling at all - I know you have them - but we women are such queer creatures that we need sympathising words and when you say or write any, it does me lots of good."

December 5, 1852 - "I think as you do about Parker and wish I could hear him preach often. I think it would help me but how differently people think of the same thing. Dr. Wilde called here on his way to and from H for Kate. I asked him if he had read Parkers sermon on D W [Daniel Webster]. Part of it he said - and I questioned him about it till he said he thought the sermon unjust and hipocritical...that his (Parkers) malignity was equal to Horace Mann's.

Other content - quaker meeting; preparations for Washington's Birthday parade; wagon trip; more.

Other letters: (2) 1851,1853, Silvanus Smith, with some ship content; (1) 1850 from Zilphah (no surname); (1) H. Collamore.

Letters primarily quarto, two filled pages, a few longer. Legible ink. Six with covers, two postally sent. Overall VG+ condition.

This is a fantastic find if you are related to Judith Winsor Smith.

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