Letters of Josephine Louise Newcomb

An Unusual Testament


The letters of JLN offer everyday insights, sometimes boring, but at times descriptive of the interplay of agency, complaints, memory, change, and adjustments. The letters saved were used for a reason: to prove (or disprove) that JLN was a stable individual, and that she made her permanent home in New Orleans. Thus, they are just a small view of who she was. On the other hand, because the court case was held at all, we have a springboard to ask about many facets of any nineteenth century woman’s life and especially that of JLN. Foremost we have a permanency in her letters that most people never achieve, an ironic circumstance considering that she was a very private person and thought of memory as placed in gravestones, marble busts, college buildings, and most of all in the lives of women who attended the school made in her daughter Sophie’s name—not in flimsy papers written on hotel stationery.

This section consists of

-some background information on the presence of JLN’s letters in the McConnell family papers;

transcribed copies of these letters from the McConnell family papers, by date and addressee;

samples of originals in the McConnell papers;

-a discussion of the court case letters and links to other materials, including the index to the more than 350 letters in the court case, 1901-1908, and some samples of these printed letters;

-and, letters from the Newcomb Archives.