Marion Theresa (M. T.) Biddle papers
Six letters, all datelined "Hispaniola," postmarked at Chesapeake City or Elkton, Maryland, addressed to Miss Maggie R. Thompson, Oxford, Pennsylvania, by "Prof. M. T. (Marion Theresa) Biddle." The correspondence is between two women and they talk of beaux , visiting relatives, education, weddings, and brief mentions of the Civil War
Important Information for Users of the Collection
This collection is open for research.
Marion Theresa (M. T.) Biddle papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
Digital copies of the letters in this collection are available at http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/8714 in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.
This collection is PROCESSED.
Marion Theresa (M. T.) Biddle was born on March 11, 1840, in Chesapeake City, Cecil County, Maryland and died on March 22, 1869 at the age of twenty-nine. She lived with her parents, William Eugene Biddle (b.ca.1797), a farmer, and Armina Nichols Biddle (b.1825) at "Hispaniolia". Hispaniolia was located near Chesapeake City and Elkton, Maryland, as noted on the postmarks on four envelopes included in the collection. M.T. was the eldest of at least six children, one of whom was a younger sister Isabell. She was a teacher and signed all the letters "Prof. M. T. Biddle."
Maggie R. Thompson (b.1843), the recipient of the letters in this collection, lived in Nottingham and later Oxford, Pennsylvania. She refers to a younger sister, Ellie, and twin sisters in the letters. M.T. and Maggie attended school together, possibly the Oxford Female Seminary. Thompson was unmarried when the letters were written and M. T. Biddle addressed her as "Dr."
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The papers of M. T. Biddle consist of six letters written to her friend Maggie R. Thompson in 1858 and 1861. Subjects covered include her affection for Maggie, family and health matters, weather conditions, visits, and correspondence with mutual friends, beaux, and concerns about the Civil War.
Custodial History and Acquisition Information
The University of Maryland Libraries purchased this collection from Halvor Americana in October 2004.
Processed by Terry Ann Sayler, November 2005.
The letters were placed in an acid-free folder and stored in an acid-free box.
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie A. Levine.
Arrangement of Collection
The collection is organized into one series:
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: Correspondence, 1858, 1861 (6 items)
Series I consists of six letters written by M. T. Biddle to Maggie R. Thompson between February 1858 and August 1861. In the February 18, 1858 letter, M. T. asked Maggie if she was returning to the seminary and mentions that the new teachers are difficult. On July 25, 1858, she inquired if Maggie had visited Oxford lately and been to their old classrooms. She missed the teachers and their classmates.
In the November 6, 1858 letter M. T. wrote: "Miss Wilson was obliged to disapoint [sic] us on account of her mothers [sic] death, but we have succeeded in getting another teacher, from New York."
In all the correspondence M. T. frequently wrote about her deep affection for Maggie. Each letter's signature ended with an endearment; however, she never referred to herself by any other name than "Prof. M. T. Biddle".
The letters of February, November and December 1858 refer to weather conditions at "Hispaniolia". When it snowed, M. T. looked forward to sleighing. When it disappeared there was only mud. In August 1861 she wrote of the completed harvest and the beauty of the countryside.
M. T. also discussed her health and illness. On November 6, 1858, she wrote of suffering from a very bad cold. In the same letter she wrote of a mutual friend who had been ill and expressed her desire for his recovery. In both instances she wished for Maggie's professional care. In August 1861 she complained of poison ivy on her face.
There are frequent references to "beaux ideal" and descriptions of the man she imagined for herself. M.T. feared she would become a spinster but thought that would be better than marriage to someone she did not love. On February 11, 1861, she mentioned a letter from a Baltimore boyfriend in which he showed little affection for her but indicated that his other correspondence may have been more romantic. She did not know where the relationship was going and did not intend to become his.
By 1861, the Civil War became a topic of discussion in the letters. On February 11, 1861, M. T. expressed her concern that the nation's leaders were not doing enough and the country needed another Washington, Clay or Webster to come forward. She wrote on August 4, 1861, about the scarcity of men in Elkton because so many had enlisted and without them life in Elkton was dull.
Arrangement is chronological.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame||Item|
|Correspondence (Online), 1858, 1861||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
|Correspondence, February 18, 1858||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 1|
|Correspondence, July 25, 1858||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 2|
|Correspondence, November 6, 1858||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 3|
|Correspondence, December 30, 1858||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 4|
|Correspondence, February 11, 1861||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 5|
|Correspondence, August 4, 1861||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 6|
Researchers may consult the following works in the Maryland Room, Hornbake Library, at the University of Maryland Libraries:
- Bulletin of the Historical Society of Cecil County. Elkton, Maryland, The Society, 1955-2000. (UMCP HBK Maryland Room, Maryland Folio F187.C3H5)
- Garrett, Jerre. Muffled Drums and Mustard Spoons: Cecil County, Maryland, 1860-1865. Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, Burd Street Press, 1996. (UMCP HBK Maryland Room, Maryland Folio F187.C3 G37 1996)
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- Biddle, Marion Theresa, 1840-1869 -- Correspondence
- Maryland -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
- Thompson, Maggie R. -- Correspondence
- Women -- Maryland -- Social life and customs -- 19th century -- Sources