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Mary Eliza Bradbury papers


Mary Eliza Bradbury papers
Bradbury, Mary Eliza
Collection number:
1 linear inch
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
January 8, 1855-November 26, 1855
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

This collection consists of the correspondence of Mary ELiza Bradbury, an Elkton, Maryland, school teacher who established and taught at her own school, and tutored African-American children on Sundays. The letters, written to Lewis H. Jackson, her friend, suitor, and husband after 1856, offer glimpses of everyday life in mid-19th century Maryland and chronicle local events, Bradbury's school, her family, and her religious experiences in the Methodist Church.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Mary Eliza Bradbury papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

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.

Alternate formats:

Digital copies of the letters in this collection are available at in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Mary Eliza Bradbury was born in Maine on May 14, 1830. She spent several years in the town of Elkton, in Cecil County, Maryland. Her father, Joseph P. Bradbury, was a farmer and livery stable owner.

Bradbury was a schoolteacher who established her own school. She also taught African-American children on occasion on Sundays. A devoutly religious woman, Bradbury devoted much of her time to prayer and spiritual inquiry at the First Methodist Church in Elkton. In 1853, Bradbury met Lewis [Louis] H. Jackson of Wilmington, Delaware. Jackson's family may have lived in Elkton at one time. Jackson was born in 1837 in Pennsylvania. Bradbury married Jackson on March 3, 1856, in Elkton. The couple remained in Elkton, where Jackson worked as a schoolteacher, and they had their first child, Fannie [Fanny], in 1857. Jackson was also a certified Methodist Episcopal Exhorter, or, lay preacher. Jackson became an Episcopal minister, and served as the rector at the St. Mary Anne's Parish, also known as North Elk Parish, from 1861 to 1868. From 1869 to 1871, he preached at Christ Church in Port Republic, Calvert County, Maryland. The couple had two more daughters, Mary [Mamie] L. (born ca. 1868) and Harriet [Hattie] E. (born 1869). In 1874, Jackson obtained the post of rector at Trinity Parish, Charles County, Maryland, where he remained until 1881. Mary Eliza Bradbury Jackson died at the Rectory in Trinity Parish on October 23, 1875.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Mary Eliza Bradbury consist of letters written by Mary Eliza Bradbury to Lewis H. Jackson in the course of the year 1855. Letters were exchanged approximately every week. Dates range from January 8, 1855 to November 26, 1855. There are 12 signed letters and one undated manuscript item.

The courtship of Bradbury and Lewis is carried on through these letters and religious devotion and emotional commitment are closely intertwined. Bradbury expresses her desire to grow spiritually and describes her profound religious experiences in the Methodist Church. News of local events, family notes, and details of the happenings in her school are also included.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Papers of Mary Eliza Bradbury from Scott Peterson, a manuscripts dealer, in 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Mary A. Stevanus, August 1988. Guide revised by Jennie A. Levine, July 2003.

Processing note:

The collection was arranged chronologically by date and placed in acid-free folders.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Henry Allen.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized as one series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, January-November, 1855 (1 linear inch)

This series consists of letters written by Mary Eliza Bradbury to Lewis H. Jackson between January 1855 and November 1855. Bradbury devoted approximately half of each letter to religious devotion, and the other half to local news. She wrote quite flirtatious letters to Jackson, scolding him lightly when he offended her and joking with him about the other girls in Wilmington, where he lived. Bradbury also spends time discussing her work at her school. In September, 1855, she wrote:

I have a very good school, but not room to take many more. I have bought a very nice stove, which by the way would be first rate for a Study.

Not long afterwards, she mentions competition. Another woman opened a school directly across the street from her. Cecil County, Maryland, did not have an official public school system in place until 1859, allowing for various types of schools to open. In October, 1855, Bradbury wrote:

My week day school is in a very prosperous condition, but I know not how long it will continue so, as there is a school opened right opposite to me. Our preacher's daughter is the Teacher. I do not intend to give myself any uneasiness about it, for if my way is shut here, it will be opened some where else, and the Lord will take care of me.

In her letters, Bradbury also talks about trips that she had taken to both Philadephia and Wilmington. Arrangement is chronological.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence (Online), January-November, 1855 series 1box 1folder 1

Related Material

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