The Lydia Harper collection contains 11 letters to Harper from Catharine and Condy Raguet, her aunt and uncle, during Condy Raguet's service as U.S. consul to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the 1820. The letters include descriptions of the couple's slaves and stories about the slaves' culture, history, and education.
Catharine's letters, which comprise the bulk of the collection, concern domestic life. Of interest are numerous observations and thoughts about her two child slaves, Lucia and Emanuel, which reveal much about her occasional ambivalence toward slavery. Catharine expressed interest in learning about the slaves' "customs & Manners" and reported an account of their capture and transfer to a slave ship (January 18, 1825), though her interest in African culture did not alter her fundamental view of Africans as servants. In her letter of January 6, 1826, she discussed punishing the slaves with a cat of nine tails, though she showed some sympathy for their situation. In his 2 letters, Condy Raguet encouraged his young niece to pursue fluency in French and related stories about Maria de Gloria and Paula de Braganca, two Brazilian princesses.