Susan B. Anthony Letters Recovered From Old Barn

Mar 30, 2017

ROCHESTER (WXXI) -  A college in Susan B. Anthony's New York hometown has acquired a trove of 19th-century letters she wrote to a fellow leader in the women's rights movement. 

Credit J. ADAM FENSTER / UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER

The University of Rochester says the collection originally owned by Isabella Beecher Hooker includes dozens of letters from fellow suffragists Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The collection is now housed in the university's Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation. 

The letters were written between 1869 and 1880 to Hooker, a member of a prominent Connecticut family. 

The letters were found last year in a wooden box stored at the Bloomfield, Connecticut, home of George and Libbie Merrow.

“It’s an incredibly critical period in this movement,” says Lori Birrell, special collections librarian for historical manuscripts.

U of R assistant dean, Jessica Lacher-Feldman, says that, “These materials will shed new light on the relationships between important players in the suffrage movement during its most critical period.”

The letters were passed down through the family of George Merrow, whose grandfather owned the former Hooker house in Hartford.      

So far, only one scholar has seen the newly discovered collection. Ann Gordon, research professor emerita of history at Rutgers University, traveled to Rochester in mid-February, calling it “an amazing collection.”

According to Gordon, the papers will change prevailing scholarship on Beecher Hooker and her brief tenure in leading the suffrage movement.

According to the University’s website, the collection is now described online and available for research; in the coming months it will be digitized.

Video of the collection from the University of Rochester:

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