Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Josiah Wood Papers
Scope and contents of the collection
The Josiah Wood Papers (1854-1874) consist primarily of letters between Josiah Wood, living in Hopedale and New Bedford, Massachusetts, and his siblings in Philadelphia, as well as extended family and friends in the Northeastern and Western parts of the country, including Massachusetts, Vermont, Chautauqua County (N.Y.), and Wisconsin. Beginning shortly after the death of Josiah's father, the letter contain only a few references to larger-scale historical events such as the Civil War or westward expansion, the majority concerning the events and routines of everyday family life. These letters document births, sickness, marriages, and deaths, with the correspondents exchanging information about their work, business opportunities, wages, land prices, and other timely topics, such as Spiritualism and temperance. More importantly, though, these letters document the relationships of family members, and they illustrate the considerable effort made to keep in touch with relatives and friends.
Wood's chief correspondents are his sister, Sarepta, and brother, Nathan, both of whom lived in Philadelphia. Other correspondents include Josiah's sister, Lillis, who died after several months of illness apparently related to an accident; his father's brother, Josiah Wood, a wagon maker in New York State; his cousin Ormond A. Mack and uncle T.J. Mack, who moved west in 1856. A number of letters written during the Civil War contain references to soldiers, some recuperating in federal hospitals.
Apart from Josiah's correspondence, the collection includes letters to Lurana Wood from her mother Lizzie, sister Abbie, and brother Loren in 1869, all written during a visit to Philadelphia. Finally, the collection contains religious writings by an unidentified author, accounts and addresses, calling cards, and about 20 envelopes.