Anna Cora Ritchie collection (1856-1860)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Emiko Hastings
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Anna Cora Ritchie collection
Creator: Ritchie, Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt, 1819-1870
Inclusive dates: 1856-1860
Extent: 22 items
In the 1850s, Anna Cora Ritchie, a writer and actress, became involved in the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, whose mission was (and is) to preserve the home of George Washington. This collection includes incoming correspondence related to fundraising activities for the Association and letters from friends in her theatrical and literary circles.
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

2008. M-4688.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation

Anna Cora Ritchie Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Anna Cora Ogden was born September 12, 1819, to Samuel Gouveneur Ogden and Eliza Lewis Ogden. The ninth of fourteen children, she read from an early age and often wrote poetry and staged plays with her siblings. In 1834, she eloped at the age of fifteen with James Mowatt, a young New York lawyer. They traveled abroad in Europe for several years, returning to New York in 1840. In 1841, when James Mowatt lost his investments and his sight was impaired by illness, Anna Cora turned to her talent for dramatic readings to earn an income for her family, which included three adopted children. She also published articles, novels, and plays. Her first major play, Fashion, or, Life in New York, a satirical comedy about high-society New York, is considered one of the foundational works of early American drama. In 1845, she made her debut as an actress, performing in several leading roles and touring the United States and Europe until 1854.

After James Mowatt's death in 1851, she remarried in 1853 to William Foushee Ritchie, the editor of the Richmond Examiner. Living in Richmond, Virginia, Anna Cora took a leading role in the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association's efforts to purchase and restore the home of George Washington. In 1860, she separated from her husband and spent most of the next decade in Europe. Anna Cora Ritchie died in England in 1870.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Anna Cora Ritchie collection includes incoming correspondence regarding the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, theatre life, and other matters. Twenty letters are addressed to Anna Cora Ritchie, and two to William Foushee Ritchie.

Personal letters to Anna Cora include correspondence from writers, artists, and others involved in the theatrical world. James O. Sargent, younger brother of Epes Sargent, wrote to her regarding a search for a Mr. Johnson. She received two copies of a letter from J. Guido Methua, a German artist and husband of the actress Marie Scheller-Methua, reporting that he had begun to paint since she left the theatre. Other correspondents included Katharine Sedgwick, an American novelist, Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune (pen name Marion Harland), another writer, and Caroline M. Richings, an opera singer. The letters cover current affairs, her writings, and other personal topics.

Several of the letters discuss the activities of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (MVLA), particularly regarding various fundraising efforts on behalf of the organization. Four of the letters are from fellow members of the MVLA, Louisa Ingersoll Greenough, Susan Pellet, Judith Rives, and Mattie L. Hedrick. A letter from E.S. (possibly Epes Sargent, Anna Cora's literary advisor) mentioned that he had visited Mt. Vernon twice and was very pleased with the MVLA efforts. Andrew H. H. Dawson, who spoke on behalf of the MVLA, William H. Bruce, and C. F. Bartholomew also wrote to Anna Cora regarding the MVLA.

William Foushee Ritchie received two letters, one from James Lyons, a Richmond lawyer, and another from Robert H. Gray regarding an address written for the MVLA and a lengthy discussion of party politics.

Subject Terms

  • Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union.
  • Mount Vernon (Va.: Estate)
  • Theater--United States--History--19th century.
  • Bartholomew, C. F.
  • Bruce, William H.
  • Dawson, Andrew H. H., b. 1819
  • Gray, Robert H.
  • Greenough, Louisa Ingersoll, 1813-1891
  • Harland, Marion, 1830-1922
  • Hedrick, Mattie L.
  • Lyons, James, 1801-1882
  • Methua, J. Guido (John Guido)
  • Pellet, Susan L., 1808-1893
  • Richings, Caroline Mary, 1827-1884
  • Rives, Judith Page Walker, 1802-1882
  • Sargent, Epes, 1813-1880
  • Sargent, James O.
  • Sedgwick, Catharine Maria, 1789-1867

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Box   41, Small Collections  
Correspondence,  1856-1860 and  undated [series]
Folder   33  
James O. Sargent, ALS to A. C. Ritchie,  1856 September 5
J. G[uido] Methua, ALS to Anna C. Ritchie,  1856 November 24
J. G[uido] Methua, ALS to Anna C. Ritchie,  1856 November 28
Katharine Sedgwick, ALS to Ritchie,  1857 March 6
Folder   34  
James Lyons, ALS to W. F. Ritchie,  1857 June 4
E. S. [Epes Sargent?], ALS to [Anna Cora Ritchie],  1857 August 9
S. L. [Pellets?], ALS to Ritchie,  1857 October 30
Andrew H. H. Dawson, ALS to Anna Cora Ritchie,  1858 February 13
Christie, ALS to Ritchie,  1858 March 29
Folder   35  
William H. Bruce, ALS to Anna,  1858 April 20
M[ary] Virginia [Hawes] Terhune (pen name: Marion Harland), ALS to [Anna Cora Ritchie],  1858 June 10
L[ouisa] I[ngersoll] Greenough, ALS to Ritchie,  1858 July
L[ouisa] I[ngersoll] Greenough, ALS to [Anna Cora Ritchie],  1858 August 06
Robert H. Gray, ALS to W. F. Ritchie,  1858 August 19
Folder   36  
J[udith] P. Rives, ALS to [Anna Cora Ritchie],  1858 October 29
Mattie L. Hedrick, ALS to Anna Ritchie,  1859 May 9
Caroline M. Richings, ALS to Ritchie,  1860 February 06
Folder   37  
"Benedick," ALS to Anna Cora Ritchie,  March 24
L[ouisa] I[ngersoll] Greenough, ALS to [Anna Cora Ritchie],  September 21
E.S. [Epes Sargent?], ALS to [Anna Cora Ritchie],  undated
C. F. Bartholomew, ALS to Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie,  undated
Katharine Sedgwick, ALS to Ritchie,  undated
Loose envelope,  undated

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

Ritchie, Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt. Autobiography of an Actress; or, Eight Years on the Stage. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1854.

Ritchie, Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt. Fashion; or, Life in New York. A Comedy, in Five Acts. London: W. Newbery, 1850.

Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt Ritchie papers, 1842-1865, University of Virginia Special Collections, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt Ritchie papers, 1834-1939, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association records, 1853-1874, at the Mount Vernon Library and Special Collections in Virginia, include correspondence of Anna Cora Ritchie.


Barnes, Eric Wollencott. The Lady of Fashion: The Life and the Theatre of Anna Cora Mowatt. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1954.

Varon, Elizabeth R. We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.