I am going to use this blog to transcribe the letters and documents preserved in my family for generations since the 1850s. There are hundreds of these documents, and they give a fascinating picture of daily life in (mostly) the nineteenth century. Since the two people most involved in preserving these letters, Mary White Tharp and Anna McPeak Thorpe were women, they also give a glimpse of women's lives in the decades covered. Mostly I am doing this so family members can read the letters, but anyone else interested in this kind of cultural history or in local history might also enjoy reading these.
I may footnote some of these as I transcribe them, or just put in links to web sites on (for instance) the WCTU or Doane College. I hope very much that some family members who remember hearing about some of our writers will chime in in the comments with stories or clarifications. Please correct me! I'm going to be guessing sometimes at relationships between correspondents.
I'm going to try to post 2-3 letters per week, maybe more maybe less when the semester is ending. At this rate it will take 2-3 years to finish all the letters.
I am apparently better at reading Anglo-Saxon handwriting from the Middle Ages than I am at some of these scripts. If anyone suspects I got something wrong, tell me. I'll let you know if I'm completely guessing at a word by putting it in square brackets with a question mark; if it is illegible due to damage I'll put in asterisks. I am transcribing these, which means I'm not editing. Spelling and grammar is all original. I'm going to add some punctuation to a few letters as needed, though. Cousin Josephine knew not the full stop, or even a comma.
I have moderated the comments because we'd be overrun with spam otherwise. This is not going to be used to filter anything any real reader has to say on here, just to keep the Viagra ads off.
That's about it for house-keeping stuff. Enjoy!