Mary Ann Wodrow Archbald Papers
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Mary Ann Wodrow Archbald Papers consist of four linear feet of diaries, correspondence, commonplace and letter books, photographs, maps, drawings and paintings. The bulk of the material dates from 1784 to 1840, with a few items from 1970 to 2004.
SERIES I consists of two subseries: Biographical Materials and Memorabilia. The first contains miscellaneous biographical material, including a genealogy along with letters regarding the publication of the diaries (1970), and biographical information on James Wodrow (n.d). Of particular interest is a piece written by Robert W. Archbald entitled "Archbald Family in Auriesville, NY" (2004). It is based on the contents of the diaries and also includes genealogical material.
Memorabilia includes a catalogue of books from Mary Ann Archbald's library (n.d.); letters, photographs an a map of Little Cumbrae Island, Scotland (1986); and silhouettes of James and Mary Ann Archbald (circa 1815). A series of fifteen photographs of her watercolors accompanied by related texts (circa 1805-40) is especially worth noting. The watercolors consist mostly of flowers and plants, but also contain several portraits. These include a self portrait, one of her cousin Margaret Wodrow, and another of Helen Louise Wodrow. There are also two watercolors of Little Cumbrae Harbor.
SERIES II. consists of original correspondence, diaries, letterbooks, and commonplace books along with transcripts. The original correspondence consist of ten letters from Mary Ann to her cousin Margaret Wodrow. They are undated but were probably written in the late 1700s to early 1800s. In addition there is a photocopy of a letter to an unknown recipient (1820). There are eight volumes of original diaries (1785-1806, 1839-40). These primarily document Archbald's social and artistic activities, her courtship and first years of marriage, and daily life on the island of little Cumbrae. They cease just prior to her immigration to the United States and pick up again in the years just prior to her death in 1840. There are two volumes of commonplace books (1821-1827 and 1831-circa 1834). They include information on the books that she read and reveal her lifelong literary and intellectual pursuits and love of nature. Two volumes of letterbooks (1784-1825) consist of letters to her family in Scotland and describe her life as a pioneer woman in a small farming community in New York as well as copies of letters to others. These include a letter she wrote to New York Governor DeWitt Clinton (1821) in her attempt to intervene on behalf of a young Irish laborer whom she believed had been unjustly convicted of assault.
There are also two sets of transcripts of the correspondence, diaries, and commonplace and letter books. In 1951, her great grandson, Hugh Archbald edited the diaries and letterbooks for The Letters and Diaries of Mary Ann Archbald, 1762-1840, A Scotch Emigrant. In 1995 Allison Scott transcribed them as part of a Ph.D. thesis: "These Notions I Imbibed from Writers:" The Reading Life of Mary Ann Wodrow Archbald (1762-1841), which is located in the Sophia Smith Collection's Browsing Collection. Scott also included transcripts of correspondence with DeWitt Clinton (1822-27), the originals of which are located in the DeWitt Clinton Papers at Columbia University.
This collection is organized into two series: