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Abby Kelley Foster papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1139

Scope and Contents

Photocopies of letters by and to Abby Kelley Foster (1811-1887) and her husband, Stephen S. Foster (1809-1881, along with some manuscripts. Originals of these materials are located at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA.


  • Creation: 1837-1887


Access Restriction

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restriction

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical / Historical

Abigail Kelley Foster (1811-1887) began her career as a teacher in Massachusetts. In 1837, she abandoned teaching for the anti-slavery cause, for which she was denounced by both the public and clergy. In 1840, she was appointed to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society. She was disowned by her Meeting, Uxbridge Monthly Meeting (MA) for her anti-slavery stance and "impropriety". She m. Stephen Foster in 1845, also an anti-slavery worker. In 1850, Abby Kelley Foster attended the first large women's rights conventions and from that time, she led the movement of women who refused to pay their taxes unless they were enfranchised.

Stephen Symonds Foster (1809 - 1881) was also an abolitionist and reformer. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1838. While at Dartmouth he served a jail sentence rather than perform military duty. Foster was a close friend of William Lloyd Garrison, and like Garrison he denounced the Constitution and was ready to dissolve the Union. He accompanied his colleague on several lecture tours and became equally well known as an agitator, not only in New England, but throughout the Northern states. His career was as a lecturer on anti-slavery themes and he wrote the pamphlet, The Brotherhood of Thieves; or a True Picture of the American Church and Clergy (1843). He also advocated for women's suffrage, he was a temperance worker, an advocate of world peace, and a supporter of the rights of labor. His refused to pay taxes while women were denied suffrage. (Information from the Dictionary of Quaker Biography; Dictionary of American Biography in Biography Resource Center (online))


1.5 linear ft. (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Photocopies of letters by and to Abby Kelley Foster (1811-1887) and her husband, Stephen S. Foster (1809-1881), along with some manuscripts.


Letters from Kelley are organized chronologically; letters to her are organized alphabetically by sender.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Margaret Hope Bacon, 1980 and by purchase, 1984.

Processing Information

Processing history is unknown. Reboxed and finding aid revised by Katherine Hong, April 2022.

Abby Kelley Foster papers, 1837-1887
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • April 2022: Reboxed and finding aid updated

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