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Caroline LeConte was born in Ovid, New York on September 28, 1819. Her parents were Dr. Peter and Jerusha LeConte. She attended Ovid Academy to prepare to go to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, where she was a student from 1839-1841. After graduating she taught at a public school in Geneva, New York until shortly before she married Cornelius Van Horn Morris on May 1, 1847. They lived briefly in Ridgeway, Michigan then moved to Lodi Village, New York. They had five children. She died on February 20, 1899 in Lodi at the age of seventy-nine.
The Caroline LeConte Morris Correspondence provides detailed descriptions of her activities as a student at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary from 1839-1841. Her seventeen letters to various family members discuss her studies, religious life, academic and travel expenses, the political climate in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and her ideas of the value of education for women. She describes the compositions she is writing and lectures she attended. She often applied themes from her studies to situations current in her family life. For instance, after reading her "Political Class Book" she wrote to her brother about his role as her guardian in the context of her becoming "of age" at her following birthday. A number of letters relate to political matters including her disposition towards the Whig party, the racial composition of South Hadley, and conversations about abolition. She often compares the Pioneer Valley with her home in Ovid, New York, making note of different laws, trends of political opinion, and socioeconomic class. In a letter attempting to convince her older sister to enroll at Mount Holyoke, she discusses the age range of students and debates whether some students are as young as they claim to be. In another letter, she mentions a visit to Mt. Holyoke (the mountain) and discusses the view of the surrounding towns, pointing out South Hadley's importance because of the Seminary. She frequently contemplates the value of her education and considers leaving the Seminary at one point, but determines that it is her responsibility to be educated.
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:
Caroline LeConte Morris Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA
The 17 letters written by Caroline LeConte while she was a student at Mount Holyoke Seminary are dated between January 8, 1839 and June 28, 1841. The collection also includes an essay dated June 24, 1840 entitled "A visit to Mt.Holyoke". All the letters are addressed to various members of her family. She was one of seven children living on a farm in Ovid, a small town halfway between Geneva and Ithaca in the Finger Lake area of New York State.
|Jan.8, 1839||Arrival at South Hadley. "Since I left N.Y.State I have not seen but one black person and that was a mulatto girl whom I saw last Sabbath at church; have heard some little said about abolition, but not much." Encourages her sister to attend MH, despite her age - "There are several ladies here of about your age, and one, that I don't believe is the least bit under thirty.".|
|Mar. 16, 1839||"The people in this place are not as dressy as the Lodi people are." Service for conversion of impenitent.|
|Jun. 25, 1839||Climb of Mt.Holyoke; against law here to have cattle, sheep, hogs or even geese on road.|
|Oct. 22, 1839||Journey to South Hadley by boat and cars; arrived early to help Miss Lyon prepare for students; making maps.|
|Dec. 25, 1839||Care of sick; return next year when she would be "under Miss Lyon's peculiar care"; she will teach Caroline to work as fast as she does.|
|Jan. 30, 1840||Temperature January 19: 22 degrees below; Christmas spent in study and composition - "A Visit to my Native Home". Burned a cord of wood ($5) in her room stove. Joins church; religious interest in Seminary. New Year's presents to teachers. Abolition lecture by Rev. Mr.Root.|
|Apr. 15, 1840||Sleigh ride with large party and Miss Lyon (2 shillings each.) Comments on educated person. Miss Lyon in chemistry class; bread baking.|
|May 30, 1840||Expenses home and return would be $37; if she remains in South Hadley for vacation board would be $16. Lectures on architecture by Professor Snell of Amherst. Religious life.|
|June 13, 1840||Whigs on money; "We don't hear much about politics but I believe the ladies are all good Whigs". Botany class.|
|Aug. 25, 1840||Spends the vacation with Mrs.Lymon in Granby; what she will do with her life and learning.|
|Sep. 14, 1840||Illness and death among Seminary students.|
|Nov. 5, 1840||About 120 enrolled, about 30 of whom impenitent. "They don't like N.Y. money here".|
|Nov. 25, 1840||Thanksgiving plans; class in political economy.|
|Apr. 27, 1841||Mr.Heart on conditions in Western Kentucky. Description of Seminary Hall at examination time.|
|May 22, 1841||Visit to Boston area.|
|Jun.28, 1841||Death of Miss Arnold.|
By CR Ludwig. December 1987.
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370 Email Reference Form: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm