Weld-Grimké family papers (1740-1930, bulk 1825-1899)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Bethany Anderson, 2009; Shannon Wait, 2011; Tessa Wakefield, 2016
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Weld-Grimké family papers
Creator: Weld family and Grimké family
Inclusive dates: 1740-1930
Bulk dates: 1825-1899
Extent: 14 linear feet
The Weld-Grimké family papers consist of correspondence, diaries, notebooks, autobiographical documents, printed materials, photographs, realia, and newspaper clippings. The collection addresses such subjects as abolition, women's rights, temperance, religion, education, and the lives of members of the Weld-Grimké family, including Sarah and Angelina Grimké and Theodore Weld.
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

1939-2012. M-400, M-426, M-1133, M-1196, M-1843, M-3399, M-4480, M-4930.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Other Finding Aids:

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a comprehensive writer index, which identifies letters acquired by the Clements Library in 2012 and letters published in Barnes and Dumond: Weld-Grimké Family Papers Writer Index.

Processing Information

Cataloging partially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project. Additional cataloging funded by private donors, 2016.

Preferred Citation

Weld-Grimké Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged into the following seven series:

  • Correspondence.
  • Diaries.
  • Documents and Receipts.
  • Notebooks and Writings.
  • Photographs.
  • Printed Items.
  • Realia and Ephemera.


John Faucheraud Grimké (1752-1819) was born in South Carolina on December 16, 1752, the son of John Paul Grimké and Mary Faucheraud. While studying law in London, he was among a group of Americans who petitioned King George III concerning measures that he believed infringed on colonial rights. Upon returning home, Grimké served in the Revolutionary War as a lieutenant colonel, fighting at Eutaw Springs and Yorktown. Following the war, he practiced law and served as a judge on the Supreme Court of South Carolina. He published multiple works on law, including The Public Laws of the State of South Carolina (1790) and Duties of Executors and Administrators of Estates (1797).

In 1784, John F. Grimké married Mary Smith, a daughter of a wealthy and well-connected family in Charleston. Her ancestors included two colonial governors and a speaker of the Commons House Assembly. The couple, who by this time were wealthy slave-owners in Charleston, had fourteen children, three of whom died in infancy and early childhood. The Grimkés were an active and well-read family, and at least three of the sons, Thomas Smith Grimké (1786-1834), Frederick Grimké (1791-1863), and Henry Grimké (1801-1852), followed in the footsteps of their father and studied law. Frederick moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, became a judge on the Ohio Supreme Court, and wrote on many topics pertaining to political science and philosophy. In 1848, he published his best-known work, Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions. Thomas Grimké was a scholar, philanthropist, and member of the American Peace Society and the American Colonization Society. He had a particularly strong influence on his younger sisters Sarah (1792-1873) and Angelina (1805-1879). During childhood, he supplemented Sarah's limited education by sharing his school lessons with her; she often expressed her desire to emulate her father and study law like her brothers.

As young women, Angelina and Sarah Grimké developed a close relationship with their slaves and, in defiance of their parents' wishes, taught several of them to read and write. Both women taught Sunday school and Angelina held daily prayer meetings for the slaves in the household. Though the Grimkés were raised as Episcopalians, Sarah and Angelina eventually explored other faiths. Sarah became interested in the Society of Friends, especially after becoming acquainted with Quaker Israel Morris. She moved to Philadelphia in 1821 and soon fully adopted a Quaker lifestyle. In 1826, Angelina briefly converted to Presbyterianism. Three years later, she joined Sarah in Philadelphia and became a member of the Society of Friends.

Although they had disapproved of slavery in their early life, it was not until 1835 that Angelina and Sarah were drawn into the anti-slavery movement. After reading about a pro-slavery riot in Boston, Angelina wrote to William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), who published her letter in The Liberator. This event marked the beginning of the Grimké sisters' careers as abolitionists. They directed their reading more and more toward anti-slavery literature and began corresponding with prominent abolitionists. In 1836, Angelina published her Appeal to the Christian Women of the South and, in 1837, the sisters embarked on a speaking tour of Massachusetts. During this period, they also spoke on women's rights. In 1838, Sarah published Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman.

In 1838, Angelina married Theodore Dwight Weld (1803-1895), who was the son of Congregational minister Ludovicus Weld (b. 1766) and Elizabeth Clarke Weld (b. 1772). Theodore was born in Connecticut and raised in Pompey, New York. He initially studied at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. After suffering from a temporary loss of eyesight, he left Andover and became an itinerant lecturer on mnemonics. He eventually enrolled in Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he intended to study for the ministry. During this period, Weld met two men who had a tremendous influence on him. The first was Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875), the renowned revivalist preacher whom Weld assisted during the "Great Revival." The second was Charles Stuart (1781-1865), a retired British East India army officer and abolitionist whom Weld met in 1825. Stuart became one of Weld's closest friends, and exerted considerable influence on Weld's decision to become an abolitionist. Stuart's financial support allowed Weld to enter the Oneida Institute in 1827 to continue the study of theology.

In the early 1830s, Weld befriended brothers and fellow-abolitionists Arthur (1786-1865) and Lewis Tappan (1788-1873), who helped shape his views on emancipation. Weld joined the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), which the Tappans and William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) had established in 1833. He initially refrained from engaging in public anti-slavery activities, and instead became a traveling agent for the Society for Promoting Manual Labor in Literary Institutions, another organization initiated by the Tappan brothers. In 1833, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to attend Lane Seminary. There, Weld began to demonstrate his anti-slavery sentiments actively, leading the so-called Lane Seminary "debates" on slavery in 1834. Many faculty members opposed these debates, in which most students expressed overwhelming opposition to slavery. This divide spurred approximately 40 students, led by Weld, to request dismissal from the school. This group soon became known as the "Lane Rebels," and many of them accepted an invitation to join the newly established and racially integrated Oberlin College.

In the late 1830s, Weld worked as an agent for the AASS. As a highly skilled public speaker, he canvassed and spoke throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York. He often faced angry and violent mobs, and became known for his ability to subdue them successfully. By 1836, he began to lose his voice, which put his public speaking career on hiatus, though he continued to write for the anti-slavery cause. In 1838, he published The Bible against Slavery, and in 1839, American Slavery as it is: The Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses.

When Angelina first met Weld in 1836, she described him as the "lion of the tribe of abolition." After a brief courtship, they married on May 14, 1838, and moved with Sarah to Fort Lee, New Jersey. Weld continued to work for the American Anti-Slavery Society. The couple had three children: Charles Stuart Weld (1839-1901), Theodore Grimké Weld (1841-1917), and Sarah Grimké Weld (1844-1899). In 1840, the family purchased a farm in Belleville, New Jersey, where they opened a school. However, the school struggled financially, and they eventually joined the Raritan Bay Union and opened and operated another school in Eagleswood, New Jersey. In 1864, they relocated to Hyde Park, Massachusetts. Sarah M. Grimké died on December 23, 1873, and Angelina died almost six years later on October 26, 1879. Theodore Dwight Weld lived the remainder of his life with his son Charles Stuart in Hyde Park, where he died in 1895.

The Welds' eldest son, Charles Stuart Faucheraud Weld (who went by "Stuart") (1839-1901), graduated from Harvard in 1863. During the Civil War, he became a conscientious objector, refusing to enlist or pay for a substitute to take his place--an issue that caused tension between him and his parents. He became a teacher and writer, focusing on Romanian and French history, and on the Panama and Suez Canals. In 1897, he published The Eastern Question. Charles married Anna Harvell (1851-) and they had one son, Louis Dwight Weld (1882-1946).

Theodore "Sody" Grimké Weld (1841-1917), Theodore and Angelina's second child, showed intellectual promise, but in his teenage years was afflicted with physical ailments and showed signs of mental illness. Although Sody never received a definitive diagnosis, he struggled with health issues for the remainder of his life. In an effort to help cure Sody, Angelina and Theodore arranged or considered meetings with religious leaders, doctors, and clairvoyants. Sody experienced (sometimes extended) periods in which he felt healthy and able to work. He lived with his brother Charles for a time but by 1900 was institutionalized at the Westborough Insane Hospital in Massachusetts.

Sarah Grimké Weld Hamilton (1844-1899) was Angelina and Theodore's only daughter. She worked in as a clerk in the Woman's Journal offices beginning in 1870 and she was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. She married William Hamilton (1843-1923) in 1870; he had served in the 167th Regiment of the Ohio Infantry during the Civil War. The couple had four children: Angelina (1872-1947), Josie (1875-1876), Willie (1878-1880), and Theodore (1885-1936). Their surviving son, Theodore W. Hamilton, became a civil engineer and their daughter, Angelina Grimké Hamilton (1872-1947) graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital of Chicago in 1896, with a degree in homeopathic medicine. She then worked in Shipshewana, Indiana before moving to Lewiston, Idaho, where she spent the remaining years of the 19th century. Angelina returned to the Midwest in the early 1900s, becoming an assistant physician at the Cook County Insane Asylum in Illinois. She graduated from the University of Michigan Department of Medicine and Surgery in 1908, earning a doctorate in medicine. She then worked for almost 40 years as a psychiatrist in the Illinois state mental hospital system. This included working at the Anna State Hospital in Anna, Illinois, as a physician.

Archibald Grimké (1849-1930) and Francis Grimké (1850-1937) were Sarah Moore Grimké and Angelina Grimké Weld's nephews. "Archie" and "Frank" were the children of Sarah and Angelina's brother, Henry Grimké and Nancy Weston, one of his slaves. Their father recognized the boys and they were taught to read and write. Upon Henry's death, however, Archibald and Francis were put under the care of their half-brother Montague, who treated them as slaves. After the Civil War, the boys attended a freedmen's school and then moved north to pursue further education. Angelina and Sarah learned of their nephews' existence in 1868 and made their acquaintance while they were both studying at Pennsylvania's Lincoln University. The women financially supported the boys' education. Francis Grimké studied law at Howard University before attending Princeton's Theological Seminary to become a minister. Archibald Grimké studied law at Harvard University and was admitted to the bar in Boston in 1875. He served as the United States consul to Santo Domingo (1894-1898) and wrote about social issues, including the history of abolitionism and slavery.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Weld-Grimké family papers contain approximately 3,200 items spanning 1740 to 1930, with the bulk concentrated between 1825 and 1899 (14 linear feet total). They form a record of the lives of abolitionists Sarah Moore Grimké, Angelina Emily Grimké Weld, and Theodore Dwight Weld, and they offer insight into the lives of the Welds' children: Charles Stuart Faucheraud Weld, Theodore Grimké Weld, and Sarah Grimké Weld. The collection includes 2,889 letters, nearly 200 newspaper clippings, 16 diaries, 39 notebooks and other writings, a manuscript biography of Theodore Weld, 37 loose photographs, 2 photograph albums, 17 valentines, and 13 objects and ephemeral items. The papers are a valuable source of information on the major reform and political issues of the 19th century, and they provide extensive documentation on the personal lives and activities of the Weld and Grimké families. Although anti-slavery movements and abolitionism are central themes in the papers, the collection includes material on women's rights, the American Colonization Society, temperance, political philosophy, religious introspection and commentary, education, literature, health and dietary reform efforts, spiritualism, and a wide array of other subjects.

In June 2012, descendants of the Weld family donated 961 hitherto unresearched letters to the Library, which focus on Sarah M. Grimké, Angelina and Theodore Weld, and the Weld children and grandchildren between 1853 and 1900 (these letters are included in the quantities of items listed above). The 2012 acquisition has an emphasis on the legacy of the anti-slavery activists, women's rights activism, temperance, family dynamics and activities, physical and mental health, and education.

The Correspondence series spans 1740-1930 (bulk 1819-1900) and contains 2,985 items (seven linear feet). The correspondence is physically arranged in one chronological sequence, although the following summary is divided into two components: Letters acquired by the Clements Library before 2012 (1) and letters acquired as part of the 2012 addition (2).

1. Weld-Grimké family correspondence acquired by the Clements Library before 2012

Prior to 2012, the Weld-Grimké family papers included 2,024 letters, dating mostly between 1819 and 1900, and relating predominantly to the lives and activities of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina E. Grimké, Sarah M. Grimké, and their network of correspondents.

Theodore Weld received letters from an array of prominent anti-slavery activists, including the Grimké sisters, Lewis Tappan, Gerrit Smith, Elizur Wright, Jr., Beriah Green, James Armstrong Thome, Sarah Mapps Douglass, Lydia Maria Child, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Charles G. Finney, James Birney, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Henry B. Stanton, Sereno Wright Streeter, Theodore Erastus Clarke, Dioclesian Lewis, and Samuel Dorrance. Many letters document Weld's friendship and working relationship with Charles Stuart. Letters of Theodore's parents, siblings, and other family members are also present.

From approximately 1821 to 1836, letters pertaining to Weld refer to his early pursuit of a career in the ministry, his association with temperance, and his early anti-slavery activities. Weld and his correspondents discussed the Colonization Society, Weld's near drowning accident in the Alum River in 1832, and his attendance at the Oneida Institute, Lane Theological Seminary, and Oberlin College. In addition to his work as an itinerant speaker on behalf of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), incoming letters show that he received numerous requests to lecture at anti-slavery and temperance societies. His correspondence refers to threats of violence against abolitionists and sheds light on the activities of the AASS.

Weld's correspondence with the Grimké sisters began in 1837. His letters to and from the sisters, especially Angelina, primarily concern women's rights and abolition. Weld's attitude was frequently didactic, and his letters convey much advice to the sisters on becoming political activists. On February 8, 1838, Weld wrote a letter to Angelina declaring his love for her; most of the correspondence between this time and May 1838 revolves around their courtship and wedding. Their wedding certificate, dated May 14, 1838, is present in the collection's series of documents.

Correspondence from 1839 to 1844 is mainly concerned with Weld's publications, American Slavery As It Is andThe Anti-Slavery Almanack , as well as the Amistad court case in 1841. Correspondence with Angelina and Sarah during Weld's brief tenure in Washington, D.C, highlights his work with John Quincy Adams, Joshua Reed Giddings, and others in keeping the slavery question a subject of debate in Congress. The Welds' adoption of the "Graham diet" is discussed in letters of this period.

The years between 1845 and 1853 marked a time of transition for Weld as he began his career as a schoolmaster. Charles Stuart's letters to Weld indicate an increasingly strained friendship, and although Weld still corresponded with other abolitionists, fewer letters address the issue of slavery during the late 1840s and early 1850s. From 1854 to 1867, Weld corresponded mostly with his children. He also received many letters from former pupils, many of whom referenced their educations at Eagleswood. Letters from 1868 to 1895 revolve around the legacy of the abolition movement and family life. Weld began to receive letters from fellow aging abolitionists and their children, especially to offer condolences after the deaths of Sarah and Angelina.

Prior to the Clements Library's 2012 addition, the papers included over 500 letters by and over 250 letters to Sarah and Angelina Grimké. The sisters were introspective writers and typically sent detailed and lengthy letters to their friends and family members. This correspondence provides insight into major events in their lives, such as their struggles with religious identity, their speaking tour throughout Massachusetts in 1837, and the births of Angelina's children. They often discussed books they had read, such as Woman and Her Era by Eliza Wood Farnham, or public talks they had attended. Among their correspondents were Sarah M. Douglass, Jane Smith, Julia A. Tappan, Rachel and Mira Orum, Elizabeth Pease, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Elizabeth Smith Miller, Susan Wattles, Sarah Wattles, Augustus Wattles, Harriot Kezia Hunt, their brother Frederick Grimké, and others.

From 1825 to 1830, the sisters discussed and reflected extensively on religion. Letters during this period are especially pertinent to Angelina's religious conversions, first to the Presbyterian faith and later to Quakerism. Correspondence between 1831 and 1835 includes content on Society of Friends meetings and Angelina's encounters with Catherine Beecher. Thomas Smith Grimké and Hester Snowdon, a slave whom Angelina had known in Charleston, also wrote letters in the later 1820s.

Between 1835 and 1837, the Grimké correspondence documents the beginnings of the sisters' involvement in the anti-slavery movement. Several items refer to Angelina's published letter to William Lloyd Garrison and others pertain to her bookAppeal to the Christian Women of the South . The majority of letters written in 1837 and 1838 concern abolitionism and women's rights issues, highlighting the difficulties Angelina and Sarah encountered as female abolitionists and public figures. Some of the correspondents with whom the sisters discussed these issues include Sarah L. Forten, Sarah M. Douglass, Henrietta Sargent, Theodore Weld, Jane Smith, and Elizabeth Pease.

Angelina and Sarah received 16 letters from their mother, Mary Smith Grimké, in 1838 and up to her death in 1839. The letters reveal the sisters' continued involvement in abolition, especially the time they spent conducting research forAmerican Slavery As It Is . Motherhood, domesticity, and Angelina's children were frequent topics of discussion, especially from 1839 to 1847. Between 1848 and 1863, Sarah exchanged two dozen letters with physician and women's rights advocate Harriot Kezia Hunt; Frederick Grimké; and Augustus, Susan, and Sarah Wattles. In addition to discussing abolition and women's rights issues, they also wrote about spiritualism, religion, politics, and other intellectual topics.

2. 2012 Addition to the Weld-Grimké Family Papers correspondence

The 961 letters from the Clements Library's 2012 acquisition span 1853 to 1899, with the bulk dating between 1862 and 1899. The addition is comprised primarily of the incoming correspondence of Angelina and Theodore Weld's daughter Sarah Grimké Hamilton (neé Weld) and her daughter, Angelina Grimké Hamilton, in whose wooden trunk the papers were preserved. At least 75 different writers contributed to the newly discovered body of letters; the most prolific correspondents include Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimké Weld, Sarah Moore Grimké, William Hamilton, Charles Stuart Weld, and Anna Harvell Weld. The Weld children also corresponded with their parents' associates, including Lucy Stone, James Armstrong Thome, and Henry B. Blackwell. This correspondence is largely family-focused, with content on race relations, women's rights, temperance, and the legacy of the anti-slavery activists and movements. Please note that the following numbers of letters attributed to individuals in this section only include those from the collection's 2012 acquisition.

Theodore Dwight Weld wrote approximately 180 letters between 1857 and 1893. He wrote to his daughter Sarah and granddaughter Angelina Hamilton extensively, offering advice on education, reassurance about Sarah's intellectual development, news about his activities and current events, family and financial matters, and recollections of his younger days. He referenced major sociopolitical issues of the time, such as women's suffrage and temperance (with content on the Woman's Christian Temperance Union). Weld wrote about and provided updates on many family members and friends, including the Shepards, the Birneys, Archibald Grimké, Francis Grimké, Charles Stuart Weld, Anna Harvell Weld, William Hamilton, Angelina Hamilton, and Angelina Grimké Weld.

Notable letters include:

  • Series of five letters related to his 1862-1863 lecture tour, including a November 23 letter respecting his speech at Boston's Music Hall. Following the lecture, Senator Charles Sumner thanked Weld profusely for his The Power of Congress Over the District of Columbia (1838) and remarked on recent interviews with President Lincoln over the subject of emancipation. His letter to Sarah Weld dated [November] 24, 1862, contains remarks on a visit with John Greenleaf Whittier.
  • May 20, 1863: Mentions a combat injury sustained by James G. Birney's son David Bell Birney ("All the Birneys were in the thick of the fight at Chancellorsville").
  • His letters addressed the ill-will that developed between Sarah and her sister-in-law, Anna Harvell Weld. Theodore Weld's remarks on the relationship and his efforts to understand the tension may be found especially in his letters of April 30, 1877; February 23, 1883; and July 12, 1890.
  • January 26, 1880: Discusses his lectures on women's suffrage.
  • January 6, 1883: Reflects on the death of Mary Anna, with remarks on the emancipation of "Aunty Betsey Dawson" in the 1820s and on Mary Anna's moral courage and self-sacrifice.
  • July 25, 1885: Reassures his pregnant daughter, who had expressed fears about dying in childbirth.

Angelina E. Grimké Weld's approximately 260 letters date from 1857 to 1878 (over 170 of them undated). She sent the majority of them to her daughter Sarah or granddaughter Angelina ("Nina"). The primary topics of conversation included food, housekeeping and home renovations, visiting lecturers, financial matters, health concerns, and politics. She also supplied news about Samuel Chace, Archibald Grimké, William Hamilton, Angelina Hamilton, Anna Harvell, the Haskells, the Mosleys, Gerrit Smith's family, the Philbricks, Charles Stuart Weld, Theodore Dwight Weld, and Theodore Grimké Weld.

Angelina Weld provided her daughter with motherly support, shown, for example, by an undated letter (January 20). In it, she addressed Sarah Weld Hamilton's concerns that "little Nina" showed preference to her father William Hamilton, by describing the jealousy she [Angelina] sometimes felt toward her sister Sarah M. Grimké, whom she recognized as having a closer relationship with Angelina Weld's children than they had with their mother. Angelina assured her daughter that she understood her feelings--and that Angelina felt relief when Sarah Moore Grimké moved out of their household.

Angelina Weld wrote multiple letters about the presidential election of 1876, including a compelling discussion of President Hayes' Cabinet and the appointment of Frederick Douglass as Marshall of the District of Columbia. On the latter, she remarked that it must have been hard "for the Democrats to swallow this, and yet I suppose as politicians the hope of the Colored vote to help them into office in future" was a factor in Douglass' confirmation. She believed that the strife of party politics would ultimately work to resolve "the most difficult problem of our day," the reconciliation of the black and white races (March 18, [1877]).

Sarah Moore Grimké's letters to her niece Sarah Weld (later Hamilton), number roughly 100 and span 1853 to 1869 (bulk 1862-1869). Her letters to Sarah offer a glimpse into their relationship, in which Aunt Sarah demonstrated a deep interest in her niece's life, offering educational advice (see for example her undated letter in which she encouraged her niece to pursue courses that would lead to a diploma), expressing concern for Sarah's physical and mental well-being, and discussing her niece's financial concerns/school expenses. Sarah M. Grimké also kept her niece abreast of family news, including details about the mental health struggles of "Sodie"/"Sody" (Theodore Grimké Weld) and the family's efforts to "cure" him (see especially June 10, 1863, and August 22, 1875). She also discussed literature (including Les Miserables in three letters in 1862 and 1863) and politics. Sarah M. Grimké provided updates on and news about Theodore Grimké Weld, the Birneys, Gerritt Smith, Lucy McKim Garrison, Charles Stuart Weld, and Julia Tappan.

Sarah Moore Grimké sent two letters to her niece and nephews while in Washington, D.C., 1853-1854:

  • [December 26, 1853 or January 2, 1854?], to Sarah, Charles, and Theodore G. Weld: Offers vivid descriptions of the Capitol building, the Senate and House chambers, and the U.S. Supreme Court. She informed her niece and nephews that she sat in the Chief Justice's chair and proclaimed that perhaps a woman would someday occupy the seat--an act that "amused" her companions. She described the John Trumbull paintings in the Capitol rotunda and noted that the empty alcove would be suitable for another once the slaves were emancipated.
  • [March 3, 1854?], to Sarah Weld: Comments that she will be leaving the city soon, but has not yet visited Mount Vernon. She reconciles herself by noting that "although [George] Washington may have done right in his day, yet his achievements in the cause of liberty are connected with cruelty & slaughter, and fail to inspire the mind with that sacred feeling of reverence, which we experience in contemplating the characters of Howard & Fry, of Oberlin and Chisolm." She then describes an incident in which a tall, stalwart, and fiercely angry white man dragged a young African American boy onto the Capitol yard in order to beat him for an alleged verbal slight. Following Sarah Grimké's intervention, which prevented the battery, she followed the aggressor long enough to witness him greeting a young child with great tenderness and affection. The lesson of the experience, she informed her niece and nephews, was that "we are two beings just as the evil or the good spirit has possession of us...let us try to be always under the influence of the good."

Sarah Weld Hamilton's letters, about 120 in total, address women's rights and writing submissions to serials including the Independent (1869-early 1870s), her relationship with William Hamilton and her parents' disapproval of him (see especially October 28, 1869, and June 13, 1871), religion, and temperance. She later wrote about child rearing, family matters, visits to Cambridge and Boston (see especially October 21, 1891, in which she reminisces at length about her youth). Sarah included updates on and anecdotes about the Badger family, William Hamilton, Mary Livermore, the Blackwell family, her parents, Julia Ward Howe and her daughter Laura, "Lizzie" [Elizabeth A. L. Cram], Lucy Shepard, Thomas Hill, and Lucy Stone. Selected examples include:

  • November 29, 1869, to William Hamilton: Explanation of her views on women's roles, firmly stating her belief that women should be able to support themselves and not be dependent upon their husbands.
  • January 16, 1870, to William Hamilton: Description of Sarah Weld's responsibilities and fellow workers at the Woman's Journal office.
  • March 6, 1870, to William Hamilton: Mention of an "octogenarian Grimké" at a women's meeting and a reevaluation of her initial impressions of Julia Ward Howe.
  • March 13, 1870, to William Hamilton: Description of voting at Hyde Park with a group of women and the reactions of the men present. In her subsequent letters to William Hamilton, she remarks that he probably views the act as "play-voting," and offers her perspectives on the women's rights movement.
  • October 6-31, 1891, to Angelina Hamilton: Eight letters to her daughter while visiting Cambridge, Boston, and Hyde Park, with her father Theodore D. Weld. She offered lengthy recollections of her youth and discussed meetings with children and grandchildren of her parents' friends (Smiths, Wrights, Badgers, Garrisons, et al.), and provided explanations to help her daughter contextualize the information.

William Hamilton wrote about 40 letters between 1870 and 1899, primarily about his health, his wife Sarah's health and death, his daughter Angelina, and his work in various educational and occupational endeavors (ministry, law, trade, and lumbering). Of particular note are his letters to Sarah written while conducting business both in and around Washington D.C. A few examples include:

  • July 14, 1870 to Sarah Hamilton: discusses his recurring/continual health problems, which the doctor diagnosed as a disease "of a nervous character."
  • August 10, 1872-September 13, 1872, to Sarah Weld Hamilton: Twelve letters to his wife respecting travel and a visit to Washington, D.C., and his return trip to Boston. He described the city in detail, discussing government buildings, the city layout, and General Lee's house. He provided commentary on the presidential contest between Horace Greeley and incumbent president Ulysses S. Grant. On August 29, he noted: "the little I am able to gather about politics here, is that the Negroes are very nearly a unit for Grant--that the old Virginians are all nearly for Greeley and that more recent inhabitants are variously disposed."
  • November 6, 1898, to Angelina Hamilton: Discusses Angelina's ethical and spiritual concerns as they relate to practicing as a physician. Offers advice about the dangers of professional rivals, citing Dr. Luella Day as an example.
  • January 28, 1899-February 3, 1899, to Angelina Hamilton: Four letters respecting the final sickness ("brain hemorrhage" followed by a coma), death, and funeral of her mother.

Charles Stuart Faucheraud Weld's 10 letters date from 1868 to 1895 and primarily revolve around his duties/role as a son and brother. He wrote about US-European finance, Unitarianism and Dwight L. Moody, his aging parents' health, his efforts to help his brother Theodore engage with others, the death of Theodore D. Weld, and current writing. Charles Weld's wife Anna Harvell Weld sent approximately 50 letters between 1877 and 1895, and was a main source of news for Sarah Hamilton regarding the well-being of Sarah's father, Theodore Dwight Weld, and brother, Theodore G. Weld. Her correspondence also reflects the growing tension that existed between Sarah and herself. A later source of conflict was Sarah Weld Hamilton's desire to write a book about her father's life and her accompanying quest for supporting materials. Anna Harvell Weld also discussed Francis Grimké, Archibald Grimké, Theodore Dwight Weld, Theodore Grimké Weld, and Charles Stuart Weld. Examples of Anna Weld's letters include:

  • July 27, 1889, to William Hamilton: Asking for his assistance in stopping Sarah from writing a book about Theodore D. Weld.
  • February 12, 1890, to Sarah Hamilton: Anna tells Sarah that Theodore Dwight Weld does not want a book written about him.
  • February 16, 1892, to Sarah Hamilton: If someone is going to write about Theodore D. Weld, it should be his nephew, Archibald.
  • [postmarked February 3, 1894] to William Hamilton: Discussing Sody's living arrangements. Anna remarks that since Angelina Weld's death, no one has had control over Sody. She doesn't fully agree with sending him to an asylum and had hoped that William and Sarah Hamilton would take him. She refers to Sarah's claim that Sody had made an inappropriate advance towards Sarah, which Anna believes is either a misinterpretation or a faulty memory.

Angelina Grimké Hamilton wrote approximately 30 letters between 1878 and 1899, offering insight into her education and work towards becoming a physician. Her letters pertain to childhood activities, food, family, medical duties/work, and school. Of particular note are the letters she sent between December 9, 1892, and December 16, 1896, to Sarah, William, and Nettie Hamilton. In them, Angelina wrote about her time at Hahnemann Medical College and subsequent internship. She discussed her classes and clinical work, which included dressing a scalded arm, giving children vaccinations, and tending to a sprained ankle. She briefly mentioned visits to the Art Institute (March 5, 1893) and the Columbian Exhibition (February 19, 1893).

In 1868, the Grimké sisters discovered that they had nephews living in Washington, D.C. Although the Weld-Grimké Family Papers do not contain any letters by Archibald or Francis Grimké, the correspondence does include many references to their education, activities, careers, and families. A few examples include:

  • July 31, 1868, Sarah Moore Grimké to Sarah Weld: Reference to her "newly found" nephews.
  • January 12, 1876, Theodore D. Weld to William and Sarah Hamilton: Brief remarks on Archibald Grimké's admission to the bar: "Mr. B. prophesies that A. will soon attain a position that few lawyers secure when so young. When he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court on motion of Mr. Sewall, he was warmly welcomed. One of the prominent lawyers, Mr. Shattuck took him by the hand and said 'Mr. Grimke welcome to our fraternity. From what I hear of you, I doubt not that you will be an honor to the Boston bar.'"
  • March 28, 1880, and May 1, 1880, Theodore D. Weld to Sarah Weld Hamilton: Remarks on the birth of Angelina Weld Grimké (NB: who would become a prominent writer, poet, and activist for African American rights in the 20th century).
  • February 23, 1883, Theodore D. Weld to Sarah Hamilton: Lengthy description of Francis Grimke's recent week-long visit, his sermon at the Orthodox Church, his Presbyterian congregation in Washington, D.C., and other subjects.
  • April 26, 1885, Theodore D. Weld to Sarah Hamilton: Theodore is the only person that has complete information about the departure of Archibald Grimké's wife Sarah Stanley and their daughter Angelina, outside the parties directly involved. While not at liberty to reveal much detail, Theodore provides Sarah with his perspectives on the separation.

The Diaries series contains 16 diaries: Nine by Sarah Grimké, seven by Angelina Grimké, and one by Louis Weld. Sarah's diaries date from 1819 to 1836 and they contain poetry, copies of Bible passages, and her thoughts on religion and marriage. She also reflected on women's issues, on her experiences as a Quaker, and about her daily experiences. Angelina's diaries date from 1828 to approximately 1835 and record her struggles with her transition between the Presbyterian and Quaker faiths, her relationship with Sarah, and her reasons for opposing slavery. The "Angelina Grimké Manuscript, 1832-1833" (beginning, "I think I have sincerely desired to receive a right qualification...") relates to her courtship with Edward Bettle, who died of cholera in 1832.

The Notebooks and Writings series consists of essays, lecture notes, and 39 notebooks kept by various members of the Weld-Grimké family. Theodore Weld's essays cover a diversity of subjects, including the oppression of women, Shakespeare's works, William Lloyd Garrison, abolition, and subjects related to political philosophy. Approximately eight notebooks belonging to Sarah are also in the collection; these include essays on women's political rights, the education of women, and the status of women in society. Her essays, "Sisters of Charity" and "The Condition of Woman" are some of the notebooks with titles. The series also includes Angelina's lecture notes and several undated autobiographical essays by Weld and his children. Of particular note is a biography of Weld written on 22 notepads by his daughter Sarah Grimké Weld Hamilton.

The Photographs series contains loose images in multiple photographic formats, including 18 cartes de visite, 17 cabinet cards, 5 developing out prints, 1 card mounted photograph, and 1 quarter-plate daguerreotype of the Weld-Grimké family by Greenleaf Weld. Also present are a Weld family album of cartes de visite and a photo album related to Eagleswood Academy, containing cartes de visite and tintypes.

The Printed Items series is made up of nearly 200 newspaper clippings, pamphlets, broadsides, and cards. The clippings mainly pertain to the topics of slavery and the abolition movement, although some also concern women's rights and the legacies of Theodore Weld and the Grimké sisters. Also included are family members' obituaries, including those of Sarah Moore Grimké.

The Realia and Ephemera series contains several linear feet of three-dimensional objects associated with the Weld-Grimké family, including hair, Chinese ivory sewing box (gift of Benjamin Grimké), a cameo brooch, Angelina's eyeglasses and case, a silver Addison watch, a quilt presented by Eagleswood students, and a pocketknife belonging to Theodore Weld, a Chinese fan, a silhouette of Angelina G. Weld, and 17 elegant hand-cut valentines. Most of the items date to the mid-19th century.

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a comprehensive writer index, which identifies letters acquired by the Clements Library in 2012 and letters published in Barnes and Dumond: Weld-Grimké Family Papers Writer Index.

Subject Terms

  • Abolitionists--United States.
  • African Americans--Education.
  • Alternative medicine--United States--History--19th century.
  • American Anti-Slavery Society.
  • American Colonization Society.
  • Amistad (Schooner)
  • Antislavery movements--United States--History--19th century.
  • Boston (Mass.)--History--18th century.
  • Chicago (Ill.)--History--1875-
  • Courtship.
  • Eagleswood Academy (Perth Amboy, N.J.)
  • Education--History--19th century.
  • Food habits--History--United States--19th century.
  • Fugitive slaves.
  • Hyde Park (Mass. : Town)
  • Mental health and work.
  • Oberlin College.
  • Presbyterians--United States--History.
  • Quakers--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--History--19th century.
  • Raritan Bay Union (Eagleswood, N.J.)
  • Slavery--United States.
  • Spiritualism--United States--History--19th century.
  • Temperance--Societies, etc.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Washington (D.C.)--History--19th century
  • Woman's journal (Boston, Mass. : 1870)
  • Women abolitionists.
  • Women and religion.
  • Women physicians.
  • Women--Political activity.
  • Women--Suffrage--United States--History--19th century.
  • Women's rights--United States--History--19th century.
  • Birney, James Gillespie, 1792-1857.
  • Birney, William, 1819-1907.
  • Chace, Elizabeth Buffum, 1806-1899.
  • Child, Lydia Maria, 1802-1880.
  • Clarke, Theodore Erastus.
  • Cram, Elizabeth A. L.
  • Cutler, Elbridge Jefferson, 1831-1870.
  • Dorrance, Samuel J.
  • Douglass, S. M. (Sarah Mapps), 1806-1882.
  • Fairchild, James Harris, 1817-1902.
  • Finney, Charles G., 1792-1875.
  • Folsom, Catharine A.
  • Foster, Abby Kelley, 1811-1887.
  • Frost, Anna.
  • Garrison, Francis Jackson, 1848-1916.
  • Garrison, Wendell Phillips, 1840-1907.
  • Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879.
  • Green, Beriah, 1795-1874.
  • Greenwood, Grace, 1823-1904.
  • Grimké, Angelina Emily, 1805-1879.
  • Grimké, Frederick, 1791-1863.
  • Grimké, Mary Smith.
  • Grimké, Sarah Moore, 1792-1873.
  • Grimké, Thomas Smith, 1786-1834.
  • Hall, Mary Anna.
  • Hamilton, Angelina Grimké, 1872-1947.
  • Hamilton, Sarah Grimké Weld, 1844-1899.
  • Hamilton, William, 1843-1923.
  • Haskell, Llewellyn T.
  • Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891.
  • Howells, Theodora N.
  • Kirkland, Caroline M. (Caroline Matilda), 1801-1864.
  • Lewis, Dio, 1823-1886.
  • Livermore, Mary A. (Mary Ashton), 1820-1905.
  • Lyman, Huntington, 1803-1900.
  • Marsh, Luther Rawson.
  • May, Samuel.
  • McDowell, William Anderson, 1789-1851.
  • Overton, Louise Fitzi.
  • Pease, Elizabeth.
  • Philbrick, Edward Southwick, 1827-1889.
  • Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884.
  • Plumly, John L.
  • Purvis, Sarah Forten, 1811 or 12-1898?
  • Sexton, Pliny T. (Pliny Titus), 1840-1924.
  • Shepard, Lucy.
  • Smith, Gerrit, 1797-1874.
  • Smith, Marcia E. C.
  • Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 1815-1902.
  • Stanton, Henry B. (Henry Brewster), 1805-1887.
  • Stone, Lucy, 1818-1893.
  • Streeter, Sereno Wright.
  • Stuart, Charles, 1783?-1865.
  • Tappan, Julia.
  • Tappan, Lewis, 1788-1873.
  • Thome, James A. (James Armstrong), 1813-1873.
  • Thurman, Allen Granbery, 1813-1895.
  • Tolman, Harriet S.
  • Weld, Anna Harvell.
  • Weld, Charles Huntingdon, 1799-1871.
  • Weld, Charles R.
  • Weld, Charles Stuart Faucheraud, 1839-1901.
  • Weld, Cornelia Elizabeth, 1809-1863.
  • Weld, Elizabeth Clarke, b. 1772.
  • Weld, Lewis, 1796-1853.
  • Weld, Ludovicus, b. 1766.
  • Weld, Theodore Dwight, 1803-1895.
  • Weld, Theodore Grimké, 1841-?
  • White, Andrew Dickson, 1832-1918.
  • Wright, Elizur, 1804-1885.
Genre Terms:
  • Biographies (documents)
  • Cabinet photographs.
  • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
  • Circular letters.
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Commonplace books.
  • Diaries.
  • Essays.
  • Invitations.
  • Lecture notes.
  • Legal documents.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Notebooks.
  • Pamphlets.
  • Photograph albums.
  • Photographs.
  • Quilts.
  • Realia.
  • Silhouettes.
  • Tintypes (prints)

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Correspondence [series]
Box   1  
[1740 July 30]-1835 January 20
Folder   1: Oversize Manuscripts  
1832 August 2
Box   2  
 1835 January 22-1838 February 23
Folder   2: Oversize Manuscripts  
1836 August 9
Box   3  
[1838 February 24]-[1840 November 21]
Box   4  
 1840 November 23-1850 February 20
Box   5  
[1850] April 1-1861 January 3
Box   6  
 1861 January 13-1866 July 12
Box   7  
[1866] July 31-1871 January 24
Box   8  
 1871 January 29-1880 August 10
Box   9  
 1880 August 12-[1889]
Box   10  
[1889]-1893 November 29
Box   11  
[1893 November]-1900 August 27
Box   12  
[ca. 1900]-Undated: Grimké, A. E.
Box   13  
Undated: Grimké, A. E.-Grimké, Sarah M.
Box   14  
Undated: Grimké, Sarah M.-Unidentified Writers
Diaries [series]
Box   15  
Angelina Grimké Diary,  1828 January 10-1829 April 19
Angelina Grimké Diary,  1829 April 21-1829 July 13
Angelina Grimké Diary,  1829 July 17-1829 October 10
Angelina Grimké Diary,  1829 November 17-1833 May 18
Angelina Grimké Diary,  1831 July 4-1831 July 28
Angelina Grimké Manuscript,  1832-1833     (Beginning, "I think I have sincerely desired to receive a right qualification...") 
Angelina Grimké Diary Pages
Sarah Grimké Diary,  1819 August-1824 August 28
Box   16  
Sarah Grimké Commonplace Book,  1819 August
Sarah Grimké Diary,  1825 January 1-1827 June 30
Sarah Grimké Manuscript,   1827 June
Sarah Grimké Diary,  1827 July 1-1828 November 11
Sarah Grimké Diary,  1828 November 14-1831 June 15
Box   17  
Sarah Grimké Diary,  1831 June 19-1833 September 17
Sarah Grimké Diary,  1833 September 16-1835 December 31
Sarah Grimké Diary,   1836 January 1-1836 August 3
Louis Weld Diary and Notes,  1891
Documents and Receipts  [series]
Box   18 Folder   1
Folder   3: Oversize Manuscripts  
1838, 1897-1907, 1931-1937 (19 items)
Notebooks and Writings [series]
Box   18 Folder   2
Eagleswood School: Minutes of the Argonauts Boat-Club,  1858-1859
Grimké, Angelina E.
Folder   3  
Anti-Slavery Lecture Notes, [1836]
Folder   4  
Autobiographical Manuscript, [ ca. June-July 1828]
Folder   5  
Folder   6  
How Does the Anti-Slavery Expect to Reach the South,  1854
Folder   7  
Last Illness of Emma Bee; Account of "Absalom",  1830
Folder   8  
Notes and Writings
Folder   9  
Notes of the Yearly Meeting,  1833 (29 pages)
Folder   10  
Safety of Immediate Emancipation
Grimké, Sarah M.
Folder   11  
Anecdotes of Friends
Folder   12  
Commentaries on Bible Passages, etc.
Folder   13  
Commonplace Book,  1823-1833 (45 pages)
Folder   14  
Condition of Women/Sisters of Charity
Folder   15  
Education of Women
Folder   16  
Essay on the Laws respecting Women, [after 1856]
Folder   17  
Folder   18  
Marriage (26 pages)
Folder   19  
Folder   20  
Notes and Writings
Folder   21  
Of Feelings (105 pages)
Folder   22  
Opinions of Southern Men; Facts Relating to the Insurrection of the Slaves in Chas. S.C. in  1822 citations. All written on the endpapers of George M. Stroud's Sketch of the Laws Relating to Slavery in the Several States... Phila. 1827.
[Harvell, Lydia Anna?]
Folder   23  
Autograph Book,  1871
Box   19  
Shepard, Lucy E.
Folder   1  
Expression,   March 6, 1859
Weld, Charles Huntingdon
Folder   2  
College Paper on John Knox
Weld, Charles Stuart Faucheraud
Folders   3-4  
General Sheridan's Prediction
Folders   5-11  
Notes and Writings
Weld, Ludovicus
Folder   12  
Sermons,  1810s-1820s
Weld, Theodore D.
Folder   13  
Folder   14  
Lecture Notes
Folder   15  
Notes and Writings
Weld, Theodore D. (in the hand of Sarah M. Grimké)
Folder   16  
The Nation Its Rights and Duties
Folder   17  
William Lloyd Garrison
Folder   18  
"Dead Issues" Alive
Folder   19  
Man's Disparagement of Woman in all Times and Climes
Folder   20  
The Cost of Reform, What Will It Cost?
Folder   21  
Lessons from the Life of Wendell Phillips, No. 2
Weld, Theodore D. (in the hand of Stuart Weld)
Folder   22  
Autobiographical Sketch
Box   20  
Weld, Theodore D. (in multiple hands)
Folders   1-2  
Essays and other writings on Shakespeare
Weld, Theodore Grimké
Folder   3  
Additional Writers
Folders   4-9  
Notes and Writings
Box   21  
Biography of Theodore D. Weld
Photographs [series]
Box   C.3.Weld-Grimké (Graphics Division)  
Cartes de visite (18 photographs)
Box   C.5.Weld-Grimké (Graphics Division)  
Cabinet Cards (16 photographs)
Realia Box   2  
Cabinet card photograph of Theodore D. Weld in decorative frame
Box   C.8.7 Weld-Grimké (Graphics Division)  
Card Mounted Photograph of Louis Weld
Box   D.6.12 (Graphics Division)  
Quarter-plate daguerreotype of Weld-Grimké family (by Greenleaf Weld)
Weld-Grimké Family Photograph Album,  ca. 1860-1880     Located in the Graphics Division. 
Eagleswood academy album,  1863-ca. 1890     Located in the Graphics Division. 
Printed Items [series]
Box   22 Folder   1
Pamphlets,  1860-1892
Folders   2-3  
Broadsides, Invitations, and Cards,  1841-1901
Folders   4-13  
Newspaper Clippings,  1830-1963
Realia and Ephemera [series]
Box   22 Folder   14
Realia Box   1  
Chinese ivory sewing box (gift of Benjamin Grimké), ca. 1790-1820
Realia Box   2  
Cameo brooch, ca. 1850
Eye glasses and case (Angelina E. Grimké Weld), ca. 1820-1845
Silver Addison watch (Angelina E. Grimké Weld), ca. 1840-1860
Chinese fan, ca. 1840-1869
European leather sewing or trinket box, ca. 1790-1820
Handpainted silk purse (possibly Angelina E Grimké Weld's wedding purse)
Peale Museum silhouette (Angelina E. Grimké Weld) and silhouette of an unknown man
Knitting shuttle case, ivory tools
French miniature tea set, ca. 1750-1770
Pocket knife (Theodore D. Weld), ca. 1881
Realia Box   3  
Box   22 Folder   15
Genealogy [series]

Additional Descriptive Data

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a comprehensive writer index, which identifies letters acquired by the Clements Library in 2012 and letters published in Barnes and Dumond: Weld-Grimké Family Papers Writer Index.

Alternate Locations

The following items are housed in the Clements Library Book Division:

The following items are housed in the Clements Library Graphics Division:

  • Quilt
  • Cameo brooch, ca. 1850
  • Eye glasses and case (Angelina E. Grimké Weld), ca. 1820-1835
  • Silver Addison watch (Angelina E. Grimké Weld), ca. 1840-1860
  • Chinese fan, ca. 1840-1869
  • Ivory sewing box, Chinese, (gift from Benjamin Grimké), ca. 1790-1820
  • Leather sewing or trinket box, European, ca. 1790-1820
  • Silk purse, handpainted, (possibly Angelina's wedding purse)
  • Peale Museum silhouette (Angelina E. Grimké Weld)
  • Netting shuttle case, ivory tools
  • Miniature tea set, French, ca. 1750-1770
  • Pocket knife, (Theodore D. Weld), ca. 1881
  • 5 developing out prints
  • CDV album
  • 12 cartes de visite and 2 tintype portraits of Weld-Grimké family and unidentified subjects
  • Cabinet card photos
  • Louis Weld portrait
  • Cabinet card photo of Sarah E. Grimké Weld and cabinet card photo of Theodore D. Weld
  • Quarter-plate daguerreotype of Weld- Grimké family (by Greenleaf Weld)
  • Photograph album, presented to Weld in 1863 or 1868 (includes portraits of former pupils from Eagleswood Academy)

Related Materials

The James G. Birney Papers contain undated lecture notes by Sarah Grimké ("General Lecture on Slavery" in the Speeches, Essays, Notes and Other Writings series) and a wedding invitation sent to Birney by Angelina Grimké and Theodore Weld (May 1, 1838).

The Clements also holds a variety of related printed works by members of the Weld-Grimké family. Some examples include:


339 letters from the collection are published: Barnes, Gilbert H. and Dwight L. Dumond. Letters of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimké Weld, and Sarah Grimké, 1822-1844. D. Appleton-Century co., inc., New York/London: [ca. 1934].

These books provide useful background and biographical information on the family: