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Correspondence of Martha Alricks
Edited by Claire Messimer and MaryAlice Bitts

September 14, 1863 to December 22, 1863
Manuscript # MG466


Martha, age thirteen, wrote her letter to Clara Alricks on cream colored paper that measured nine inches by seven inches, and folded in half book-wise. I had faint blue lines on front and back. A small embossed design, not decipherable, appeared in crosslight. [sic] The pen nib was small, the letters formed with moderate to light pressure. The script was shaky and round. Spelling was poor and the sentence structure was rambling. Most t's were not crossed but periods ended sentences.

Martha's letter received more thought about the person than any of the other writers. I feel her writing and information delivery is not equivalent to a girl of thirteen. Perhaps the loss of her mother at an early age, the lack of schooling and family problems account for her immature behavior.

Family letters reflect concern as to whether Martha was adjusting to the absence of Clara and her interaction with Nancy, the housekeeper. Mary McCormick, in her April 4, 1864 letter to Clara, can hardly wait for Clara to arrive home for summer break in order to guide Martha in summer fashions.

Mary pictures Martha engaging in activities suitable for a tomboy. While this activity would not be out of place for a young girl on the brink of young womanhood, her letter, full of news, shows either a lack of discipline, lack of education, or slower educational tendencies.

The Letter:

From Martha Alricks to Clara Alricks, 12/1, 1863 ("You said that we had forgotten to put your hoop plaid skirt in but we forgot it.")

  • Alrich, William H. Uncle Levi and the Alrich (Alricks) Family Genealogy. by the author, April 1985.
  • Barney, William L. The Passage of the Republic. Lexington, Massachusetts: D.C. Heath and Company, 1987.
  • Bate, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-6. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.
  • Boyd, William H. Boys's Business Directory of Adams, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Lancaster, Montgomery, and York, Pennsylvania,1860. Philadelphia: N.E. Corner and 6 Minor Street, 1860.
  • Draper, Stacy, curator of Rensselaer County Historical Society, Troy, New York. Interviewed by author 11, April 1993.
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    • Genealogical Family Manuscript Charts::
      Alricks Family
      Boas Family
      Buehler Family
      Cameron/McCormick Family
      Forster Family
      Hamilton Family
      Kerr/Wilson Family
  • Gopsill, James., pub. Gopsill's Directory of Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lebanon and York, 1863-64. Jersey City: John H. Lyon, Printer, 1863.
  • Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History of People and Events. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1975.
  • Johnson, Allen and Dumas Malone, eds. Dictionary of American Biography: Vol. III. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958.
  • Kelker, Luther Reily. History of Dauphin County Pennsylvania with Genealogical Memoirs: Vol. III. New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907.
  • Phelps, Stephen. "The Indomitable Emma Willard" The Conservationist (March-April 1979): 17-19.
  • Schuessler, Raymond. "The woman who proved female intelligence". N.R.T.A. Journal (November-December 1977): 9-11.
  • Urdang, Laurence, ed. The Timetable of American History. New York: Simon And Schuster, Inc., 1981.
  • Williams, Susan. Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985.
  • Yarwood, Doreen. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Bonanza Books, 1986.

This online project is a joint venture between Penn State University and The Historical Society of Dauphin County, where the McCormick Family Papers are kept.

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