Edith Ella Baldwin papers, 1848-1920

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Baldwin, Edith Ella
Artist, craftswoman, and author from Worcester, Massachusetts. Collection consists of 39 unpublished volumes of stories, novels, poetry, lecture notes, and family history from Edith Ella Baldwin, including a novel about sex education for women, diary excerpts describing her visits with painter Mary Cassatt, and typescript copies of letters from her aunt, Ellen Frances Baldwin, dating from 1848 to 1854. Edith Baldwin's writings tend to cover timeless themes of religion and love, although some compositions include contemporary issues such as automobiles, labor strikes, and women's rights. Each volume is arts-and-crafts style construction with typed texts, frequently annotated by hand.
4.1 Linear Feet
39 Items
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The collection and its volumes represent over 20 years of work by Edith Ella Baldwin. There is no indication that any of her writings were published, although rejection letters included in one of the volumes suggests that she did attempt to become published at one point.

Each volume consists of typescript or carbon copy pages, sewn into cloth boards with dyed red cloth covers stamped with gold lettering; two volumes are burlap and one is corduroy. Some of the volumes' bindings are loose or separated from their covers. The texts have been copy-edited with corrections throughout, along with several re-titled in pencil. Most volumes' title pages include notes explaining whether the work is a fragment, unfinished, or complete; how they "must not be changed"; and how many are "the only copy in existence." Several stories also include Baldwin's handwritten introduction, summarizing the action or presenting the theme.

Many of the stories explore love and religion, but several are noteworthy for their contemporary subjects. "The Automobile" is a short story written in 1907 following two women as they tour New England in their Pope Hartford automobile. "Antony the Foreigner," an unpublished 1912 novel, concerns anarchists, labor strikes, worker unrest, and the suspicion of foreigners. The most notable text is the 1911 "Affairs at Farslope," a 140-page novella about a women's refuge for troubled young girls and how proper sex education could have prevented their misfortune.

Along with Baldwin's fiction and poetry, the collection includes lecture notes from several courses she took on bookbinding, cooking, nursing, and art. There are also her efforts at preserving her family's history, including a copy of her aunt's diary, dated 1848-1854; several of her grandfather's sermons; a volume of stories and poems by her younger sister, who died at age 11; and selected excerpts of her own journal kept while studying art in Paris from 1889-1892.

The materials have been arranged by genre, with the Fiction and Poetry Series making up the bulk of the collection; the Non-Fiction Series consisting largely of lecture notes and diary entries; and the Family History Series, which includes her aunt's diary, other family writings, and sermons. Within each series, materials have been arranged chronologically.

Biographical / historical:

Edith Ella Baldwin was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on November 19, 1870 to Ellen L. T. Peckham and Charles Clinton Baldwin, the son of Reverend John Denison Baldwin. She was baptized at All Saint's Church in Worcester in November 1888. She was an artist who produced paintings and miniatures, as well as a craftswoman and bookbinder. Her entry in Representative Women of New England says she studied at the Julian Academy in Paris and exhibited at the Salon of the Champ de Mars in 1901, and in Worcester in 1903. She died on February 21, 1940.

Acquisition information:
The Edith Ella Baldwin Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2012 and 2014.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, May 2012

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, May 2012

Collection guide updated to include an addition by Alice Poffinberger, March 2014

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2012-0048 and 2014-0054

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Edith Ella Baldwin Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.