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SERIES IX. WRIGHT FAMILY, 1806-1970, 1806-1970


Scope and Contents

Ellen Wright married WLG (1838) in 1864. This series contains genealogical and biographical materials, correspondence, writings, and memorabilia, related to five generations of her family. "Wright family" is used loosely to include the Coffins and the Motts and their ancestors and descendants. Photographs of the Wright family are located in SERIES VII. PHOTOGRAPHS. This series is divided into three subseries: Biographical materials and memorabilia, Correspondence, and Writings.

Biographical materials contains genealogical notes, correspondence and charts, anecdotes, poems and miscellaneous memorabilia. In Their Several Generations by Amice Mac Donnell Lee relates to the Yarnall family. Following this general material are biographical materials and memorabilia related to twenty-three family members. Of particular interest is the material related to Lucretia Mott, Peter Pelham, and the Wrights.

Lucretia Coffin Mott's file contains clippings and printed material (1873-1930), and memorabilia which includes items related to the Motts' 50th wedding anniversary (1861). Items related to Peter Pelham include a notice of his death, accounts of a shipment of the Pelham's belongings to Florida (1824), and the settling of his estate (1827). Included in this subseries is a "Sketch of the life and character of David Wright" by Theodore M. Pomeroy (1898) and personal reminiscences of his life which he wrote in 1886. Martha Coffin Wright's biographical file includes a sketch written by Eliza Wright Osborne in the 1890s. In this sketch Osborne mentions a will written by Martha when she was a 15 years old. In 2001 her great-great grandson, James D. Livingston provided a copy, which is now included with the sketch. There are also certificates, obituaries, condolence letters, her final will (1864), and a document of disassociation from the Society of Friends (1825). In addition there are her account books (1829-52), drawings, collected verse and a small notebook entitled "Excerpts from the Portfolio of Josiah Landon, 1810" written in her hand.

The second subseries, Correspondence, is divided into two sections; Letters from the Wrights and Letters to the Wrights. It includes family letters between spouses, siblings, cousins, friends, parents and children. They not only provide a view of nineteenth century social history and family life, but also give valuable insights into abolition, suffrage, women's rights and the people involved in those movements. The letters are interspersed with drawings and full of wit and humor. It should be noted that although they are arranged alphabetically by author, many were evidently handed around before being sent and are authored by two or more people, and many of these letters are round robin and were written to a number of different people. Also, in order to save paper, some letters were written in the blank spaces of other letters and some are written with the script going in two or three directions. Many of these letters have been photocopied for preservation purposes, some have been transcribed and typed copies have been included with the handwritten counterparts. There are also hand written copies made by Martha Coffin Wright for some of the letters.

Of special note are letters written from Eagleswood School by Anna Coffin Temple Brown to Lucretia Coffin Mott and from Anna Davis Hallowell to Ellen Wright Garrison; Civil War letters from William Pelham Wright (1861-63), from his friend Andrew Cowan to William and David Wright (1862-63), and from Marianna Pelham Mott while she was at Gettysburg caring for her injured brother William (1863); and European travel letters from Marianna Pelham Mott (1855-69), Thomas Mott (1855-56), and Eliza Wright Osborne (1889, 1903). The letters among Lucretia Coffin Mott, Martha Coffin Wright, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ellen Wright Garrison, Ida Husted Harper, and Victoria Claflin Woodhull provide a particularly detailed description of the seeds of the American women's movement, and the planning of the early women's right conventions, especially the first in 1848 and the third in 1856.

Of further interest are early Pelham family letters to Martha Coffin Wright (1824-65); letters from Putnam Catlin, father of artists Julius and George Catlin, to Martha Coffin Wright (1828-39); and letters from Henry Blackwell (1869), Matilda Joslyn Gage (1870-72), Lucretia and Martha's cousins Mary Hussey Earle (1842-75) and Phebe Hussey Gardner (1843), Sara Jane Lippincott (Grace Greenwood) (1860-65), Wendell Phillips (1860), Parker Pillsbury (1869-73), Theodore Dwight Weld and Angelina Grimké Weld (1854-62), and a fugitive slave, L. M. Worden (1845-70).

Writings, the third subseries, includes Hints to Young People On The Duties of Civil Life (1826) by James Mott, and miscellaneous writings of Lucretia Coffin Mott (1828-69) including her Discourse on Women (1850, 1869), a discourse at a Friends Meeting in New York (1866), and a statement to the Equal Rights Convention at Albany (1866). Some of these writings are copies of originals located at the Huntington Library, Swarthmore Peace Collection, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. There are also original and typed copies of Martha Coffin Wright's diaries (1854-74) and her poetry (1844-64). Although the diaries are short entry, they contain references to such notables as Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone. Her miscellaneous writings include a draft of "Hints for Wives" which was read by Lucretia Coffin Mott at the Seneca Falls convention (1848). In addition, there are the Civil War writings of William Pelham Wright about the First New York Battery and a diary (1862). The former includes a list of officers, causalities and battles in which the Battery was engaged.

Dates of Materials

  • 1806-1970
  • 1806-1970

Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection: The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Language of Materials


Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063