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Abigail M. Burgess Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collection, South Hadley, Massachusetts
History of the Collection
Summary of Correspondence
The journal of Abby Moore Burgess was written during her voyage on Ship Bertrand to India and was intended for members of her family and for Mrs. Porter. She describes life on a sailing vessel which departed on September 26, 1846 and finally reached Bombay about February 27, 1847. There were two emergencies during the trip, an officer went overboard accidentally, but was rescued, and in a severe storm the mast broke. Abby was very seasick during the first weeks of the voyage (she wrote she was "scarcely alive") but she gradually became accustomed to the motion. Food was remarkably good (they carried live fowl and a goat); when they sighted land in early February food was paddled out and was warmly welcomed. There appear to be about 8 passengers, plus officers and crew, totalling perhaps 20-25 (she wrote that 18 came to a Sabbath service on deck). Abby describes the ship in detail and the accommodations; she and her husband had their own stateroom, but the lack of air was the chief problem. The officers and steward did all they could for their comfort.
There are 12 letters in the collection: one short letter written in December, 1845, from So. Hadley and addressed to Martha Grant, expressing the hope of seeing her before departing for India; the remaining 11 letters date from March 2, 1847 to April 14, 1849 and are addressed to Mrs. Porter, except for one addressed to her mother. During this time Abby and her husband were stationed at Ahmednugger and her letters describe their home situation, their missionary work, the arrival of Mary and her serious illness after the baby's birth. There are frequent references to other missionaries in the area, especially with comments about their health, and an occasional reference to world affairs.
Of special note:
By CR Ludwig