Elizabeth Willard correspondence  1834-1846
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Elizabeth Willard correspondence contains 9 letters written by Willard to her friend and later husband, Reverend William Barry of Framingham, Massachusetts, as well as a letter to Elizabeth composed by her friend A. A. Kent. Kent's letter, the earliest in the collection, provides news of mutual acquaintances and a shared "social circle" in Keene, New Hampshire, and notes several illnesses among the group, as well as a recent death (March 20, 1834). The remainder of the collection consists of Elizabeth's correspondence to the Reverend William Barry, written before and during their engagement and throughout their marriage. In her early letters from Petersham, Massachusetts, Elizabeth, a well-educated and literary woman, often discussed different aspects of religion, and showed appreciation for Barry's insights regarding philanthropy and kind treatment of the poor. In one letter, for example, she discussed reasons why Christians might not celebrate Christmas (December 27, 1834). She also shared her literary tastes and opinions about different works she had read, including a wish to focus on more of Wordsworth's poetry, and gave her fiancée updates on her life and family. Her later letters, composed during the couple's marriage, center on family life; one of these, dated October 5, 1846, includes a lengthy contribution from the couple's daughter Lizzie, who spoke of her progress in music lessons and of her baby sister Julia.

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