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Writing Home: A Quaker Immigrant on the Ohio Frontier; The Letters of Emma Botham Alderson

01 Mar 2023-The Journal of American History (The Journal of American History)-Vol. 109, Iss: 4, pp 920-921
TL;DR: Ulin's collection of letters of Emma Botham Alderson, an English Orthodox Quaker who migrated with her family to the United States in 1842 and resided near Cincinnati until 1847, offers historians of the mid-nineteenth-century Anglo-American world insight into a wide variety of historical themes and subjects as discussed by the authors .
Abstract: Most historians have felt the “allure of the archive,” the moment when the written manuscripts we study enable us to fathom some past world. Reading Donald Ingram Ulin's Writing Home recaptures the feeling of exploring the archive and entering a different place in time. Consisting of the letters of Emma Botham Alderson, an English Orthodox Quaker who migrated with her family to the United States in 1842 and resided near Cincinnati until 1847, Ulin's collection offers historians of the mid-nineteenth-century Anglo-American world insight into a wide variety of historical themes and subjects. Ulin, an English professor, initially became interested in Alderson's letters because they served as the source material for the English author Mary Howitt's popular 1849 children's book, Our Cousins in Ohio, which he planned to issue in a new edition. Ulin's focus changed as he read Alderson's letters, held at University of Nottingham. Between 1842 and 1845, Alderson directed most of her letters to her mother and sister, Anna Harrison, but in the fall of 1845, she agreed to let Howitt, her eldest sibling, use her correspondence as the basis for a new work. Thereafter, Alderson's correspondence with Howitt increased and included a series of letters written from the perspective of her eldest son, William. Ulin's introduction thus highlights the changing nature of epistolary writing, immigrant and women's authorship, and the contours of nineteenth-century Quakerism.