Gideon Aldrich collection (1849-1855, bulk 1850-1852)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Meg Hixon, October 2011
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Gideon Aldrich collection
Creator: Aldrich, Gideon Mowry, b. 1834
Inclusive dates: 1849-1855
Bulk dates: 1850-1852
Extent: 71 items
The Gideon Aldrich collection contains material related to Aldrich's time at the Friends' Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island, in the early 1850s, the bulk of which consists of his incoming correspondence from family and friends.
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:

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

2004. M-4401.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


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

Gideon Aldrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:
  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Penmanship and composition books
  • Series III: Ephemera

Each series is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Gideon Mowry Aldrich was born on January 29, 1834, in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, and worked as a wheelwright before attending the Friends' Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island, where he studied in the early 1850s. After completing his schooling, he returned to Uxbridge, where he eventually started a successful sawmill and lumber business. In 1855, Aldrich married Patience A. Pettiplace of Providence, and they had three children: Frederick (b. 1856), Alice (b. 1860), and Leander (b. 1862). Throughout his life, he held several public offices in Uxbridge, where he died on October 8, 1908.

Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

  • Education--United States--History--19th century.
  • Friends' Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
  • Massachusetts--History--1775-1865.
  • Penmanship, American.
  • Quakers.
  • Uxbridge (Mass.)
  • Aldrich, Mary B.
  • Aldrich, Phebe M.
  • Sawyer, Huldah H.
Genre Terms:
  • Letters (correspondence)

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Box   28, Small Collections  
Gideon Aldrich collection [series]
Folders   20-27  
Correspondence [subseries]
Folders   28-30  
Penmanship and composition books [subseries]
Folder   31  
Ephemera [subseries]

Additional Descriptive Data


Crane, Ellery B. Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity. Vol. 3. New York: Lewis Publishing, 1907.