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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Antebellum America (1816-1860) (x)
  • Item Type > Diary/Letter (x)

We found 16 items that match your search

A Free Black Woman Writes to Imprisoned John Brown

In October 1859, a militant white abolitionist named John Brown led a small band of black and white anti-slavery fighters in a bold assault on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Their goal was to capture a large store of weapons, [...]

Item Type: Diary/Letter
An Irish Emigrant to New York Writes Home

This letter home from 23-year-old Irish emigrant Margaret McCarthy captures both the opportunity and adversity awaiting arrivals to a new land. McCarthy sailed from Liverpool on the Columbus on September 7, 1849, and arrived in New York on October [...]

A Letter from Ireland Tells of the Suffering Caused by the Potato Famine

This 1847 letter from Hannah Curtis to her brother John, who had emigrated from Queen's County, Ireland to Philadelphia some years earlier, gives a sense of the deprivation of those who remained behind during the time of the Irish potato famine. The [...]

A Destitute Famine Victim Sends a Desperate Letter from Ireland

Like many victims of the Great Famine, Mary Rush and her husband Michael had only one place to turn for assistance: parents or other relatives who had already emigrated. On September 6, 1846, the illiterate Mary dictated this desperate letter, [...]

A Nativist New Yorker Disparages Irish Arrivals

The following are excerpts from the diaries of George Templeton Strong (1820-1875), a prominent New York lawyer. Written between 1838 and 1857, the entries reveal Strong's undisguised contempt for the Irish immigrants who were then flooding the [...]

An Irish Emigrant Writes to Relatives in County Donegal

In this letter to relatives back home in County Donegal, William Dever describes some of the obstacles faced by Irish immigrants in the antebellum period. In contrast to German and Dutch immigrants, who were often able to purchase farms, the Irish [...]

A Mill Girl Explains Why She Is Leaving Factory Life

Born on a Vermont farm, Sarah Rice left home at age 17 to make it on her own. Eventually she journeyed to Masonville, Connecticut to work in textile mills much like those of Lowell. Rice's first letter was written after she had been weaving in the [...]

Item Type: Diary/Letter
A 49er Writes Home from the Gold Rush

Many miners wrote letters home to family and friends describing their experiences in California. In this letter, Robert Pitkin describes the tensions between American-born and Chinese immigrant miners.

A 49er Writes Home from the Gold Rush (with text supports)

Many miners wrote letters home to family and friends describing their experiences in California. In this letter, Robert Pitkin describes the tensions between American-born and Chinese immigrant miners.

A Boardinghouse Keeper Describes “Toil and Fatigue” in the California Gold Rush

Mary Ballou and her husband ran a boarding house in a California gold mining town. Ballou’s letter to her son, written in 1852, evokes the rough housing, violence, and high prices (from which the Ballous profited) in California during the gold [...]

Tags: Gold Rush
Item Type: Diary/Letter