Griffin family and Lydia Sigourney papers  1807-1885
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of correspondence related to the Griffin family of New York City and includes 58 letters that George Griffin and his family exchanged between 1833 and 1854 with author Lydia H. Sigourney of Hartford, Connecticut. The second series of the collection includes several folders of correspondence among members of the Griffin family, especially letters of fatherly advice that George Griffin wrote to his sons Edmund Dorr Griffin (1804-1830) and George Griffin, Jr. (1811-1880). In addition to narratives of family life, the bulk of these letters involve accounts of two extended trips to Europe as well as discussions of Protestant theology and higher education. The final series in the collection is a 3-page manuscript copy of Sigourney's poem on the death, in 1831, of American poet John Trumbull.

Sigourney Correspondence , 1833-1854: This subseries consists of Lydia H. Sigourney's correspondence with her close friend and intermediary, George Griffin, and his family in New York City.

Much of Sigourney's correspondence with George Griffin directly involves her work as an author and her position as a woman in that profession. She frequently sent him copies of her written pieces, some of which had already been published in periodicals, asking for advice about the content of the work and about how she might pursue publication. In the course of doing so, she remarked upon her writing and revision process. These letters also specifically address her negotiations, often through Griffin's work as intermediary, with the Key & Biddle, Harpers, Leavitt, Lord & Co., D. Appleton, and Van Nostrand publishing firms, as well as the publication of her Letters to Young Ladies (1833 and 1841), Poems (1834), Sketches (1834), Girl's Reading-book (1838), and Letters to Mothers (1838). Additionally, a couple of letters from 1840 deal with Sigourney's trip to Europe.

Griffin, in turn, kept Sigourney apprised of developments with publishing firms as well as on the sale and review of her work. He candidly offered his response to works she had sent him, as well as general advice on the direction of her literary career. As a writer himself, he too sought feedback for his work, which took the form of theological essays. A manuscript copy of one of the reviews of his book, The Gospel its Own Advocate , appears in this series. Both correspondents also reflected on the challenges facing the publishing industry during the financial crisis of the late 1830s (especially the Panic of 1837) and shared their opinions on the state of American literary culture.

This series also includes letters that Sigourney exchanged with George Griffin's wife, Lydia Butler Griffin, and daughter Caroline. These pieces tended to relate family news and household matters but also included reflections on reading and Sigourney's involvement in various charitable societies. She briefly remarked on her relationship with her African American servant, Ann Prince. In addition, Sigourney conveyed in her letters to George Griffin that she valued the responses of his wife and daughters to her work. Finally, the series contains 2 letters composed by Charles Sigourney, Lydia Sigourney's husband.

Griffin Family Correspondence , 1807-1885: The Griffin Family correspondence contains over 150 letters, dated between 1807 and 1885, that relate to George Griffin (1778-1860) of New York City and his family.

Most of the letters from the 1820s deal with Edmund Dorr Griffin (1804-1830), the second son of George and Lydia Butler Griffin. A handful of these items chart his religious convictions and pathway to becoming an Episcopal minister. The bulk of these letters, however, are ones that Edmund exchanged with his parents, siblings, and friends during the extended trip he took to Europe between October 1828 and April 1830. George Griffin's letters to Edmund during this trip are full of advice and directives about where to travel, what to observe, and practicalities about money. He also kept his son informed about matters that were unfolding among the Episcopal churches in New York and at Columbia College. Although George Griffin was the primary writer of these letters, many of them include notes from other family members as well, with accounts of family life, including the courtship and marriage of Edmund's older brother Francis to Mary Sands.

Edmund's letters home narrate his journey and impressions of Europe in extensive detail. George Griffin actively compiled his son's epistles to have them published in periodicals, and upon Edmund's death in September 1830, these travel accounts (not all of which are included in the collection) made up the bulk of the "Remains" compiled by Francis Griffin and published in his brother's memory in 1831. Letters pertaining to the preparation and reception of this document, as well as a 12-page account of Edmund's final days, can be found in Series I and II of the collection.

Another group of letters from 1830 chart George Griffin, Jr.'s (1811-1880) sudden religious awakening and decision to pursue ministerial training under the care of his uncle, Edward Dorr Griffin (1770-1837), a Congregational minister and the president of Williams College. Later letters in the collection reveal that George Griffin, Jr., eventually became a farmer in Catskill, New York, and deal with his efforts to sell his hay. He would also travel to Europe, in 1850, with his ailing sister Caroline (1820-1861). While they were away, their father conveyed advice regularly and procured letters of introduction, some of which remain in the collection.

Additional materials include subjects related to male and female friendship; family financial matter; the births, deaths, or marriages of family members; education; Protestant theology; health and medicine; early telegraph communication; and family genealogy. The handful of items that date to the 1870s and 1880s include a printed piece called "Dear Erskie!" which contains a series of riddles, and a fifteen-page booklet that includes two poems titled "Picnic" and "Archery."

Lydia Sigourney Poem, [1831?]

This series consists of a 3-page manuscript copy of Sigourney's poem on the death, in 1831, of American poet John Trumbull.

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