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Writing Home offers readers a firsthand account of the life of Emma Alderson, an otherwise unexceptional English immigrant on the Ohio frontier in mid-nineteenth-century America, who documented the five years preceding her death with astonishing detail and insight. Her convictions as a Quaker offer unique perspectives on racism, slavery, and abolition; the impending war with Mexico; presidential elections; various religious and utopian movements; and the practices of everyday life in a young country.

Introductions and notes situate the letters in relation to their critical, biographical, literary, and historical contexts. Editor Donald Ulin discusses the relationship between Alderson’s letters and her sister Mary Howitt’s Our Cousins in Ohio (1849), a remarkable instance of transatlantic literary collaboration.

Writing Home offers an unparalleled opportunity for studying immigrant correspondence due to Alderson’s unusually well-documented literary and religious affiliations. The notes and introductions provide background on nearly all the places, individuals, and events mentioned in the letters.


letters, American frontier history, 19th century Quaker life, Emma Botham Alderson, Mary Howitt, American Studies, Women's History


This collection copyright © 2021 by Bucknell University Press Scholarly text and apparatus copyright © 2021 by Donald Ingram Ulin All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Bucknell University Press, Hildreth-Mirza Hall, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837-2005. The only exception to this prohibition is “fair use” as defined by U.S. copyright law.


text; 548 pages




9781684482009; eISBN; PDF

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