Connecticut: 1875-1879. Archive of 13 handwritten manuscript essays composed by a Connecticut schoolgirl. Comprised of approximately 40 pages of autograph material written in ink by the same neat hand, and signed "Carrie Breed." In addition to titles, the majority of essays are dated and include Breed's school name and location. An exciting and interesting look into the work of a diligent young woman excited, in particular, about the female authors of her own time.
Founded in 1851, Parker Academy was a boarding school that boasted "a healthy location, a tidy village, an orderly community, and a most beautiful valley with pleasant surroundings -- a good place for an institution of education" (Historic Buildings of Connecticut). While little else is known about the school, the manuscript assignments of Carrie Breed reveal a curriculum that emphasized traditional feminine skills such as polite conversation and elegant handwriting as well as more rigorous subjects including literature, composition, and botany. The earliest works contained in this archive are three copy exercises assigned to Carrie to practice forming her handwriting; and they speak to her own burgeoning literary interests. The first, "Scenes of Childhood," is an assignment drawn from Charles Northend's The American Speaker, Being a Collection of Pieces in Prose, Poetry, or Dialogue Designed for Exercises in School (1856). Yet the two that follow later in the academic year of 1875-76 appear to be selections chosen by Carrie herself, as an instructor has added pencil notations "taken from Miss Alcott in Little Women." Published not even a decade before, Alcott's novel about sisterhood and women's lives made an impact on girls across America; and here, with more assertive, mature penmanship, Carrie copies out the long passages of "My Beth" and "In the Garrett" written by Alcott's character, the aspiring author Jo.
The remaining essays in the archive contain Carrie's own reflections and writing, as she matures as a student and thinker. Content is largely focused on moral concepts such as Influence, Benevolence, and Hospitality, although two essays also consider the domestic work of cultivating house plants and performing house cleaning. In two essays, Carrie reflects on her relationship to the seasons and to the experience of walking in the woods. The final essay, as she nears the end of her time in school and likely reflects on her future as a wife and mother, she writes on Filial Trust. As the months and academic years pass, it is possible to see her penmanship and her thinking begin to change from those of a girl into those of a young woman with her own mind.
With rich research possibilities in fields including but not limited to the history of women's education, paleography, contemporary receptions to women's literature, the history of American education, and gender studies. Near Fine (Item #2316)