Skip to main content
Archives & Manuscripts

Abby Hopper Gibbons Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-174
The collection contains about 1,680 ALsS and related materials. Of particular note is the correspondence sent and received by Abby Hopper Gibbons, including family letters and and related to her work to assist Union Soldiers during the Civil War. Also includes letters from Union soldiers, prominent Americans such as Theodore Roosevelt, Joseph Choate, and Lydia Maria Child, and correspondence reflecting Quaker family life and concerns.

Dates

  • 1824-1992 [bulk 1850-1892]

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Extent

2.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Overview

Abby Hopper Gibbons (1801-1893), daughter of Isaac T. Hopper (1771-1852), was an important figure in many of the reform movements of the mid- and late nineteenth centuries, especially abolition and her work with the Women's Prison Association and Isaac T. Hopper Home. In 1833, she married fellow Hicksite Quaker, James Sloan Gibbons (1810-1892), a member of the New York Yearly Meeting of Friends. Her daughter, Sarah Hopper Emerson, used some of this material as a basis for her 1897 biography of Abby Hopper Gibbons. The collection contains about 1,680 ALsS and related materials. Of particular note is the correspondence sent and received by Abby Hopper Gibbons, including family letters and and related to her work to assist Union Soldiers during the Civil War. Also includes letters from Union soldiers, prominent Americans such as Theodore Roosevelt, Joseph Choate, and Lydia Maria Child, and correspondence reflecting Quaker family life and concerns.

Biographical / Historical

Abigail Hopper Gibbons (1801-1893) was an important figure in many of the reform movements in the middle and late nineteenth century. Like her father, Isaac T. Hopper (1771-1852), "Abby" Gibbons was an ardent abolitionist and dedicated to prison reform. She served as a Civil War nurse and visited army camps in that period and also was a welfare worker. After the War, she established a "Labor and Aid Society" to provide work for returning veterans. Abby Hopper Gibbons was one of the founders of the Women's Prison Association and The Isaac T. Hopper Home in New York City, which was established to aid former prisoners' return to society. Many of the leading reformers of the day were entertained in her New York City home; the house was destroyed by a mob during the 1863 draft riots.

Abigail Hopper Gibbons was born in Philadelphia in 1801, the third of ten children. In 1833, she married fellow Quaker, James Sloan Gibbons, in New York City. Both before and after her marriage, she directed Quaker schools. Like her father and her husband, she was deeply committed to anti-slavery concerns. After they were disowned by the New York Monthly Meeting (Hicksite) in 1841 for their writing and testimonies against slavery, the following year she resigned her membership, along with her four minor children. Nonetheless, the family remained "Quakerly" in worship and life-style.

Abigail and James Gibbons had six children. Two boys died in infancy, and a third son died suddenly after an accident while a student at Harvard. Many of the letters in the collection reflect the concerns of family life. Abigail Hopper Gibbons remained active in reform concerns into old age, and in her later years dressed dolls in Quaker dress to present to quarantined and hospitalized children.

Some of the correspondence in this collection were published in abbreviated form in 1897 for a biography, The Life of Abby Hopper Gibbons, Told Chiefly through her Correspondence, edited by her daughter, Sarah Hopper Emerson. T The bulk of the correspondence concerns the Civil War years, and Abigail Hopper Gibbons's work to assist Union officers. The collection consists of about 1,680 letters and related material, primarily letters to and from Abigail Hopper Gibbons, but also including correspondence of her husband and other family members. From the Civil War years, there are many letters from Union soldiers. The collection offers a valuable resource to scholars of nineteenth century reform movements. Included are letters from prominent figures including Theodore Roosevelt, Lydia Maria Child, and Joseph H. Choate.

Arrangement

The collection is divided by primary correspondent into eight series:
  1. Abigail Hopper Gibbons (1801-1893)
  2. James Sloan Gibbons (1810-1892)
  3. Sarah (Sally) Hopper Gibbons Emerson (1835-1918)
  4. Julia Gibbons (1837-1889)
  5. Lucy Gibbons Morse (1839-1936)
  6. William Gibbons (1834-1855)
  7. Isaac Tatem Hopper (1771-1852)
  8. Miscellaneous

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession information

Donor: James M. Dunning, Sarah Dunning Schear, and Frances Dunning Beebe, 1987, 1993; Accession number: 90-001.13 and 93.21

The collection was given by Mrs. Gibbons's great-grandchildren. It had descended through her daughter, Lucy Gibbons Morse, and grand-daughter, Rose Morse Dunning. One of the donors, Sarah Dunning Schear was a graduate of Swarthmore College, Class of 1934.

Related Materials

See also:
  1. RG 5/115, Sarah Hopper Palmer Papers

Separated Materials

Various photographs, originally part of this collection, were removed to PA 69.

General

RG 5/ 174

Processing Information

Collection of about 1,680 letters given to FHL, originally sorted into five boxes, divided roughly into categories of General Family letters, Civil War events, Civil War time span, and prominent correspondents. (Sarah Hopper Emerson's biography of her mother, Life of Abby Hopper Gibbons, told chiefly through her correspondence (1897), was based on a selection of these letters.) Also included in this gift was a wax-(over composition?) headed doll dressed in Quaker costume, dressed by AHG.

A preliminary inventory was prepared by Albert Fowler in 1988. Subsequently, the correspondence was sorted into about twenty series, generally by family members, and arranged alphabetically and chronologically within each series. In 1993 additional material on the liberty ship "Abigail Gibbons" was received from the family. In 1996, the collection was arranged in eight series determined by the primary correspondents.
Title
Abby Hopper Gibbons Family Papers, 1824-1992 [bulk 1850-1892]
Author
FHL staff
Date
1996
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2016: This electronic finding aid was updated in Summer 2016 by Abdulrezak Kemal in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace, to conform to current markup standards and the ArchivesSpace data model.

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

Contact:
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA