Collection Facts

Extent: 
47 items
Dates of Original: 
1963-1865
Collection Owner:
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

Rachel Eltinge, born in 1847 in New Paltz, NY, began attending the New Paltz Female Academy in 1863. During her stay at the Academy she wrote numerous letters to her friends and family. Rachel wrote about day to day experiences that could be easily contextualized in a modern setting: she requested money for food and clothes, asked her parents to pick up her laundry and to take her home on weekends, and argued with her father over the pettiness and stern policies of a school administrator. On a broader scope, however, Rachel’s letters paint a schematic of the socio-political life of a small town and family in the midst of a period of turbulent change in American history. The Civil War, issues of draft payments and military fundraising, the status and expectations of women’s education, and the ever-present morbid reality of seasonal sickness were frequent topics of discussion and consideration.

Scope of Collection

This collection contains Rachel's letters to her parents, sisters, and friends, describing everything from mundane daily tasks to important local events. The collection also includes family photographs and genealogical information.