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Letters to Mary Rice Jewett (1847-1930) and (Theodora) Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909)


Subseries D, Letters to Mary Rice Jewett (1847-1930) and (Theodora) Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909), 1888-1908, undated (#11.6-11.24), contains correspondence addressed to Mary Rice Jewett and (Theodora) Sarah Orne Jewett, which includes letters, postcards, telegrams, financial statements, and clippings, from family and friends and focus on such topics as social events, daily life, general welfare of family and friends, financial matters, health issues, travel, invitations, thank you notes, etc. The subseries also includes a collection of correspondence from their nephew, Theodore Jewett Eastman (1879-1931), regarding spending money, rent, and other financial matters; Eastman's studies at Harvard University; his involvement in football; dental work; social events; daily life; general welfare of family and friends; travel; etc. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by surname of the author/sender of the letter(s), followed by other correspondence, and thereunder chronologically; when applicable, women are identified by married name.

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Collection Name
Jewett family papers
Collection Code
Date Notes
1888-1908, undated
Date of Acquisition
Physical Description
Personal correspondence (1 file box)
Collection Type
Description Level
Credit Line
Bequest of Theodore Jewett Eastman, 1931
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

Captain Theodore Furber Jewett (1787-1860), grandfather of Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909), was a prosperous sea captain, merchant, and ship builder who traded in the West Indies. In the 1820s, Captain Jewett moved his family from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to South Berwick, Maine. He rented the John Haggens House, a Georgian-style dwelling, on Portland Street and purchased it in 1939. Dr. Theodore Herman Jewett (1815-1878), son of Theodore Furber Jewett and Sarah (Orne) Jewett (ca.1791-1819), moved his wife, Caroline Frances (Perry) Jewett (1820-1891), and infant daughter, Mary Rice Jewett (1847-1930), into the house with Captain Jewett in 1848. On September 3, 1849, Sarah Orne Jewett (named Theodora Sarah Orne Jewett) was born. In 1854, Dr. Jewett's family moved into a new Greek Revival-style house next door, where Sarah's younger sister, Caroline Augusta (Jewett) Eastman (1855-1897), was born. Sarah, her older sister Mary, and their widowed mother, lived in the Greek Revival home until 1887, when they moved back into Captain Jewett's house; youngest sister, Caroline, and her husband, Edwin Calvin Eastman (1849-1892), became owners of the Greek Revival house next door. In 1897, Caroline suffered a heart attack and died; Sarah's sister Mary became guardian of Caroline's son, Theodore Jewett Eastman (1879-1931). Mary and Sarah lived in their grandfather's house until the end of their lives.

As a child, Sarah attended a private school run by Miss Olive Raynes in South Berwick, Maine. In 1865, she graduated from the South Berwick college preparatory school, Berwick Academy. Following graduation, Jewett spent time travelling. Her travels took her to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, South Carolina, and Florida, but she was always drawn back to South Berwick. During her childhood in South Berwick, she often accompanied her father on his medical rounds and observed the people and her surroundings. Jewett suffered early on from rheumatoid arthritis; as therapeutic treatment, she went for walks through the Maine countryside and developed a love of nature. Owing to her travels and her childhood memories, Jewett began her writing career. In 1868, under the pseudonym of Alice C. Eliot, Jewett published her first story, "Jenny Garrow's Lovers," which was followed in 1869 by, "Mr. Bruce." Following the popularity of "Mr. Bruce," which was published in the Atlantic Monthly, the Independent, Our Young Folks, and the Riverside, Jewett began writing under her own name. Continuing to focus on New England and its people, her first book, Deephaven, was published by James R. Osgood and Company in 1877; Country of the Pointed Firs, was published in 1896. During her lifetime, Jewett published twenty books, which included short story collections and compilations of serialized work in novel form. In 1901, she published her last novel, the Tory Lover, and became the first woman to receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Jewett's travels in Boston acquainted her with many of the leading literary figures of the day. She became associated with James Thomas Fields (1817-1881), publisher of the Atlantic Monthly, who helped launch her career. Jewett also befriended his wife, Annie (Adams) Fields (1834-1915). The pair traveled together to Europe for the first time in 1882, a year after the death of James Fields. They made three additional European tours in 1892, 1898, and 1900; hosted intellectual and literary greats; attended social events; and cultivated a lasting friendship. Until Jewett's death in 1909, Jewett and Annie Fields spent their winters at the Fields residence, located at 148 Charles Street, in Boston, Massachusetts, and their summers in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts; Jewett continued to spend her springs and autumns at the Jewett homestead in South Berwick, Maine. On September 3, 1902, Jewett fell from a carriage and suffered a spinal injury; she remained bedridden until 1908. Jewett died on June 24, 1909, following a cerebral hemorrhage.

Record details

Jewett Family of South Berwick, Maine
Other People
Eastman, Theodore Jewett, 1879-1931
Jewett, Mary Rice, 1847-1930
Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909
Other Organizations
Harvard College (1636-1780)
Descriptive Terms
financial statements
football (sports)
letters (correspondence)
personal correspondence
social functions
Material Type
personal correspondence
Personal, Finance
South Berwick (York county, Maine)
Cambridge (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Places (Buildings)
Sarah Orne Jewett House (South Berwick, Me.)
Location Note