Collection includes the correspondence and papers of five generations of families from Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and New York chiefly created or collected by Carolina Danske (Bedinger) Dandridge. The primary portion of the collection is made up of the personal and family papers of Danske Dandridge (1858-1914), a writer and horticulturist. From 1866 to her marriage in 1877, Danske Dandridge's correspondence is concerned with social life in Virginia and Washington, D.C., and with family matters. Her literary correspondence begins in the early 1880s and continues until the year of her death. Correspondents include John Esten Cooke, Edmund C. Stedman, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Thomas W. Higginson. There are sustained exchanges of letters with William Hayes Ward, editor of The Brooklyn Independent which published much of her work; with the poet Lizette Woodworth Reese of Baltimore; and Margaretta Lippincott. Material on gardening begins to appear in the papers for the 1890s and includes a large number of letters and eleven notebooks.
Danske Dandridge's family correspondence continues with here sister Mrs. J. F. B. (Mary Bedinger) Mitchell, and her brother, Henry Bedinger IV, as well as with her numerous cousins.
Correspondence of Adam Stephen Dandridge (1844-1924) reflects his career in the West Virginia House of Representatives and his business as a seller of farm machinery.
Correspondence and papers of Serena Katherine (Violet) Dandridge, daughter of Danske and Adam Stephen Dandridge, bear on her career as an illustrator for the zoologist Hubert Lyman Clark, and reflect her interest in women's suffrage and the Swedenborgian Church. There are also twelve volumes of her writings in manuscript.
Correspondence and papers of Danske Dandridge's father, Henry Bedinger Dandridge III, include letters on literary subjects from Thomas Willis White, Philip Pendleton Cooke, and Nathaniel Beverly Tucker; papers from his years as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1845 to 1849; records of his service, 1853-1858, first as a consul and then as minister of the United States in Sweden and in particular his negotiation of the treaty with Sweden in 1857; and his notebooks containing poems and comments on social life in Virginia.
Letters of Caroline B. (Lawrence) Bedinger, mother of Danske Dandridge, to her husband's family in the South and her relatives in New York concern her experience as a young woman in Washington, D.C., and Virginia; her stay in Copenhagen; the Civil War experiences of her husband's family and her own; family life; and the education of her children.
The collection contains a large number of transcripts made by Danske Dandridge from originals in the possession of various branches of her family, including the Swearingens, Shepherds, Morgans, Rutherfords, Worthingtons, Washingtons, Kings, Brownes, and Lawrences for the period from the American Revolution to the Civil War. There are also copies of letters and documents from the Lyman C. Draper manuscripts at the University of Wisconsin. Essentially, they are the papers of three brothers, George Michael Bedinger (1756-1843), Henry Bedinger II (1753-1843), and Daniel Bedinger (1761-1818), and their descendants and connections. Among the many subjects discussed are Indian warfare and conditions on the Virginia frontier; descriptions of the events of the Revolution; trading in salt and fur; experiences of Americans held prisoner by the British during the Revolution; flour milling in the Potomac valley; trade and transport of farm commodities; travel on the Mississippi to New Orleans, 1811-1812; James Rumsey and the development of the steamboat; the settling of Kentucky and Ohio, descriptions of Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore at various times from 1800 to 1860; antebellum social life, South and North; and extensive comments on politics through 1860, particularly on the opposition to Federalism and the early Democratic-Republican Party.
Description taken from Guide to the Cataloged Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University. (1980).
The collection consists largely of family correspondence based in and around Harpers Ferry, which is arranged chronologically from 1838 through 1936. Since three of the four Chambers sisters never married, there are many letters from their friends and suitors. In particular are courtship letters from Jennie's suitor Charles Davies, a lawyer who wooed her for fifteen years. Although she appears to have loved him, her parents disapproved and the couple never wed; Davies eventually married someone else. There is also significant correspondence from the Castle sons to their mother in Harpers Ferry.
Along with correspondence, the collection includes some legal and financial papers, loosely arranged by date. Of note in the legal papers is a handwritten copy of John Brown's will, although no context is provided as to why it is present in the family's papers. Also present in the collection are drafts, poems, and essays, both by Jennie Chambers and unidentified authors. Of note are the drafts from Chambers' article, What a School-Girl Saw of John Brown's Raid, eventually published in Harpers Magazine in 1902.
There is a file with evidence of Chambers' interest in painting, including her notes about mixing paint colors and some sketches. The collection also contains several daybooks and a few photographs, largely unidentified.
Mainly diaries, account books, ledgers, and an autograph album from multiple members of the Page, Smith, Thompson, and Williams families who lived in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Ohio. Three of the diaries are written by H.M. Williams (b.1842), who traveled to Cincinnati as a Christian missionary in 1882. Her diaries record her daily activities such as visiting the sick, attending meetings of various social and religious societies, and teaching Sunday school. One notebook was written by Mary Page Thompson (b. 1869) while she attended State Normal School in Baltimore (Md.) 1889, and includes notes on biology, psychology, and religion, including notes on a discussion of Christian missionary work in China. There are several items relating to Philip Doddridge Thompson (b. 1838), a Christian minister who worked in several states and one ledger that indicates that William Doddridge Smith was a Justice of the Peace in Clarke County, Virginia in 1866. Collection also includes one folder of indentures, deeds, and wills the bulk of which was created during 1816-1854 and is related to the business and legal dealings of William Doddridge Smith and his father, Edward Jaquelin Smith, who were active in Virginia and West Virginia. There is also one folder of correspondence, photographs, clippings, and ephemera.