Abby Hopper Gibbons Papers
Scope and Contents
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.
- 1824-1992 [bulk 1850-1892]
- Gibbons, Abby Hopper, 1801-1893 (Person)
Limitations on Accessing the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Explore Digitized Content
Note that the bulk of the correspondence to and from Abby Hopper Gibbons has been digitized and is available in our Digital Library. Explore this collection online.
Copyright and Rights Information
Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/.
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.
2.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
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.
The collection is divided by primary correspondent into eight series:
- Abigail Hopper Gibbons (1801-1893)
- James Sloan Gibbons (1810-1892)
- Sarah (Sally) Hopper Gibbons Emerson (1835-1918)
- Julia Gibbons (1837-1889)
- Lucy Gibbons Morse (1839-1936)
- William Gibbons (1834-1855)
- Isaac Tatem Hopper (1771-1852)
For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog
Immediate Source of Acquisition
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.
Various photographs, originally part of this collection, were removed to PA 69.
RG 5/ 174
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.
- Gibbons, Abby Hopper, 1801-1893 (Person)
- New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Hicksite: 1828-1955) (Contributor, Organization)
- Women's Prison Association of New York (Contributor, Organization)
- Hopper, Isaac T. (Isaac Tatem), 1771-1852 (Contributor, Person)
- Morse, Lucy Gibbons, 1839-1936. (Contributor, Person)
- Gibbons, J. S. (James Sloan), 1810-1892 (Contributor, Person)
- Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 (Contributor, Person)
- Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919 (Contributor, Person)
- Choate, Joseph Hodges, 1832-1917. (Contributor, Person)
- Emerson, Sarah Hopper, 1835- (Contributor, Person)
- Isaac T. Hopper Home (Contributor, Organization)
- Abby Hopper Gibbons Family Papers, 1824-1992 [bulk 1850-1892]
- FHL staff
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- 2020: Updated outdated, harmful terminology related to enslavement, except where it appears in a title, quotation, or subject heading.
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
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA