Contents and Arrangement

Richmond, Mary Almy, "My Mother's Day as Seen through Diaries and Old Letters", 1796-1948

1 box

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of a biography of Amy White Richmond (1836-1908, née Howland) in the form of a manuscript narrative and handmade scrapbook written and assembled by her daughter, Mary Almy Richmond (1864-1946, later Pressly), recounting her life, times, and family history spanning several generations. The narrative documents Amy White Richmond's life in Massachusetts and, later, Michigan; as well as the story of her role in several well-connected New England and New York families, including the Richmond, Cornell, and Howland families.

The biography is a combination of a handwritten narrative and a scrapbook containing a substantial collection of original photographs, letters, clippings, documents, wedding dress fabric, a portrait of Amy, and other ephemera belonging to Amy White Richmond and her family. While Mary Almy Richmond assembled and wrote the biography between 1915 and 1948, older materials included within the scrapbook date from as early as 1796. Documents pertaining to Amy's father-in-law, Jonathan Richmond (1774-1853), include appointments bearing the signatures of James Madison as President, James Monroe as Secretary of States, and John Jay as governor of New York, as well as a membership certificate from the Grand Royal Friendship Society of the United States.

Working from accounts her mother told her, as well as from her mother's diaries, family histories, stories, notes, and letters, Mary structures her narrative as a sequence of small, slow reveals told to Amy in the second person. Beginning with Amy's childhood in Westport, Massachusetts, Mary describes her early friends and her close relationship with her grandmother, Lydia Howland, who was a Quaker; her school days at Woodbury Cottage school and the Wheaton Female Seminary; and her years living in New Bedford, Massachusetts, with her brother Peleg and his wife, Lucy. This section includes an anecdote about Henrietta ("Hetty") Howland Robinson Green (1834-1916), a well-known financier and businesswoman who was purportedly the richest woman in the United States during the Gilded Age. The narrative notes, "Hetty was devoted to an aunt Sylvia Ann Howland, and they had agreed that each would will her fortune to the other. When Sylvia died and left $200,000 to introduce water into the City of New Bedford, Hetty was so angry she produced a will, which was declared fraudulent and provoked a suit which lasted several years."

The next section includes an extended account of the history of the Richmond family, beginning with the Norman invasion, which culminates in the story of Amy's marriage to Charles H. Richmond (1821-1892) in 1856. This section provides ample information on Charles's father, Jonathan Richmond, including his militia service and roles as sheriff of Cayuga County, New York (1808-1812), United States internal revenue collector, and Democratic-Republican party Congressional representative for New York's 20th District (1819-1821). It also provides death and burial information for Rachel More, a woman whom Jonathan Richmond enslaved; noting that Rachel died on December 6th, 1853, at the age of 36, and was buried on Richmond's property "in the N.W. corner of the Middle field on the top of the hill at foot of a large Elm Tree."

After Amy's marriage, the narrative describes the couple's attendance at President James Buchanan's 1857 inauguration during their honeymoon and their life after settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mary situates her mother's life within historical events, including elections and visits from various candidates, the Prince of Wales' 1860 visit to the United States, and the American Civil War. This section includes several letters that Charles sent to Amy during his trips to Washington D.C., which mention slavery (in one 1857 letter, he asks Amy whether he should purchase two enslaved teenage girls), growing tensions at the beginning of the Civil War, and his thoughts on the Lincoln administration and Union actions at Fort Sumter. The last portion of the narrative, which ends in 1865, focuses on the military service of Amy's half-brother, Charles C. Howland, who served with the 38th Massachusetts Volunteers.


Arranged alphabetically by the name of the creator, with unattributed materials at the end.

Collection History


Purchased from William Reese Company in 2020 (AM 2021-52).


The collection is open and will continue to grow.


No material was separated during processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Lisa Yankowitz during the summer and fall of 2010 . The finding aid was written by Lisa Yankowitz in January 2011 and is regularly updated with new acquisitions by Faith Charlton, Kelly Bolding, and Armando Suárez.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Richmond, Mary Almy, "My Mother's Day as Seen through Diaries and Old Letters"; General Manuscripts Miscellaneous Collection, C0140, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (mss): Box P-000153