All Series Level Scope and Content Notes
The Gideon Aldrich collection contains material related to Aldrich's time at the Friends' Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island, in the early 1850s. His mother Phebe and several of his siblings, particularly Mary, wrote many of the earliest letters in the collection. In their letters, they updated him on the events that colored their daily lives, and often alluded to their devout Quaker beliefs; several of the letters from December 1850 relate to a measles outbreak reported at the Friends' School. Gideon's friends wrote most of the later letters, in which they expressed their affinity for a variety of personal interests, including baseball (March 17, 1852), sleighing, and other leisure activities. One letter from Huldah H. Sawyer paints a picture of early San Francisco, extolling the weather but lamenting the frequency of death in the city and the questionable morality of local women (February 11, 1853). Together, the letters represent the concerns and daily happenings of Quaker life in mid-19th century Massachusetts. In addition to the correspondence, the collection also holds three books used by Gideon Aldrich while at school; these include two penmanship exercise books and a composition book, which contains essays on topics such as a Quaker quarterly meeting, a description of Uxbridge, and a "Skating Party" (1851). Other material within the collection includes an 1853 valentine, several quotation cards, and a newspaper clipping.