Whitney family letters  1839-1843
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is comprised of 30 incoming letters to Mary Jane Whitney and her brother, William Wallace Whitney, of Albany, New York. Eliza Whitney wrote 13 letters to Mary about her experiences at the Albany Female Academy, and William and George Whitney each wrote letters to Mary about their lives in Albany. Asa Whitney, a machinist and railroad entrepreneur, sent Mary and William news from home and updates on his business affairs.

Mary Jane Whitney received 21 letters while teaching at a school in Washington, D.C., between December 19, 1839, and July 26, 1841. Eliza, her sister, wrote about her social life and activities in Albany and her education at the Albany Female Academy. She discussed her subjects of study, classes, examinations, teachers, and classmates, and special occasions, such as visits to a local medical college and a lecture delivered by Harvey Peet. Eliza also attended parties and other social engagements, and often reported local marriages.

Asa, William, and George wrote to Mary about life in Albany, the health of her grandmother, and the potential publication of her father's political tract. Mary received two questions about possible encounters with William Henry Harrison: Eliza asked whether Mary had attended a ball given in President-elect William Henry Harrison's honor, and her father wondered if the capital had been crowded during Harrison's inauguration.

Asa Whitney sent 9 letters to his son William between August 26, 1842, and July 24, 1843, while William lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His letters primarily relate to his business interests and to his partnership with Matthias Baldwin. He also wrote one letter from Cleveland, Ohio, about a recent business trip (March 14, 1843). Whitney's letters from September 1842 concern John Whitney's affliction with scarlet fever, as well as the death of a neighbor from the same disease.

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