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Papers of Alice "Ahla" Newbold Codman (1866-1923)

Description

The largest subseries in the collection is letters received. Spanning the period from 1884 to 1923, it includes correspondence from a variety of places and persons in different circumstances. For instance, the letters of Geraldine De Koon-Korner relate the experiences of a woman who, having lost her livelihood, becomes a governess in Czarist Russia. On the other hand, the letters of the Grey-Egertons portray life in the English upper class. Correspondence with French prisoners of war as well as with Henrietta T. Reubell, an expatriate living in France through much of the period, illuminates the effects of World War I. Much of Alice's correspondence, however, is with her family, primarily her mother and numerous cousins: Martha Codman Karolik, Edith Newbold, Morris Ogden, Emma Ogden, and various Bradlees. Many of Alice’s letters were found tied in bundles, roughly by year and correspondent or subject matter. One such group is that of condolence letters, which includes all the letters she received relating to the death of her mother in July 1922. This grouping has been left intact even when separate series exist for the correspondents. Occasionally, what appears to have been a letter sent occurs in the groups. These have been attached to the letter with which they were found because such replies were not in the nature of a carbon or fair copy. They did not include independent identifying information such as a date, or any indication that they were actually sent, and were usually pencil-written with numerous scratch-outs. A small collection of letters sent is separate from the rest of the correspondence. This includes a group of letters sent to her mother in 1883, detailing her visit to the Grey-Egertons at their country seat and in London; carbons of letters to her brother Ogden and friend Mary B. Sherman; and a notebook of fair copies of letters written in French to the soldiers to whom she sent gifts under the auspices of the relief agency "Mon Soldat" in 1916.

Alice’s papers also include diaries and calendars. The volumes cover the period from 1893 to 1921, but not necessarily with equal thoroughness. This subseries contains Alice’s report card, on the back of a bill paid to the College de Saint-Servan in 1883. Of note in this subseries is a Codman genealogy, printed in 1882, detailing the Codman Family of England, and a sub- subseries entitled "newspaper clippings, information on acquaintances." This subseries includes all loose clippings on family members and acquaintances that were not found with specific letters. No attempt has been made to determine whether these drawings and paintings, which are for the most part unsigned, were done by Alice Codman. However, it can be assumed that those signed "a.n.c." are hers. Also a receipt for the group of landscape studies exists in her financial series, and the notes on the drawings appear to be in her hand. Of particular interest is the subseries "landscapes" which includes many paintings of "the Grange" and the Lincoln countryside.

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Details

Collection Name
Codman family papers
Collection Code
MS001
Dates
1881-1923, undated
Collection Type
Manuscripts
Description Level
Series
GUSN
293738
Reference Code
MS001.07

Historical/Biographical Note

Alice, or "Ahla," as she was often addressed by family and friends, was born on 25 July 1866 in Lincoln, Massachusetts. She appears to have been much affected by her family's sojourn in Dinard, France, between the years 1874 and 1884, and she became a lifelong Francophile. This is seen in her continued membership in the Salon Français in Boston and in her charitable interests, which were primarily related to agencies for French relief during and after World War I. Alice had two avocations: travel and art. She spent much of her life between 1893 and 1923 travelling, not only to the homes of relatives living along the eastern seaboard during the summer, but also back and forth to Europe. Her interest in art was strong. She studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School as well as at private schools in France. She was a member of the Copley Society of Boston, and she exhibited in at least one of the Society's shows, offering a watercolor of the Lincoln countryside for $20. Chronic ill health, perhaps the result of rheumatic fever suffered as a child, may have contributed for her death on 7 November 1923 at the age of 57.

Arrangement

The series is arranged in four subseries.

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