Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Lydia Harper Collection, 1822-1830

Finding aid created by
Mary Parsons, December 2010, and Meg Hixon, October 2011

Summary Information
Title: Lydia Harper collection
Creator: Harper, Lydia, 1810-1856
Inclusive dates: 1822-1830
Extent: 11 items
Abstract:
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 1820s. The letters include descriptions of the couple's slaves and stories about the slaves' culture, history, and education.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2009. M-4749.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Lydia Harper collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Biography

Lydia Harper was born on December 18, 1810, and lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, throughout her life. In 1837, she married Benjamin Farnham, a Philadelphia businessman. Their three sons were Thomas (b. 1838), Edwin (b. 1842), and George (b. 1845). Lydia Harper died on April 16, 1856.

Condy Raguet was born in Philadelphia on January 28, 1784, and became a successful merchant after attending the University of Pennsylvania. He was a colonel during the War of 1812 and later studied law. Raguet was admitted to the bar in 1820, the same year that President John Quincy Adams appointed him U.S. consul to Rio de Janeiro. Raguet served until 1827 and remained in Brazil until 1830. Raguet married Catharine Simmons (1788-1877) on December 10, 1807, and they had one daughter, Margaret. During their time in Brazil, the Raguet family owned at least two young slaves. Condy Raguet died on March 22, 1842.


Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)--History.
    • Slavery--Brazil--History--19th century.
    • Women--History--19th century.
    Contributors:
    • Raguet, Catharine Simmons, 1788-1877.
    • Raguet, Condy, 1784-1842.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   44, Small Collections  
    Lydia Harper collection [series]:
    Folders   1-6  
      October 10, 1822-January 2, 1830, and  Undated
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Additional information about the collection is available in the Manuscripts Division.

    Related Materials

    The Clements Library holds the following four items by Condy Raguet:

    Bibliography

    "Raguet, Condy." Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske, eds. Volume 5. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1888.