AAS intern Katrina Ireland (Simmons College GSLIS program) recently came across a wonderful letter as she was processing our collection of Isaac Shepard Papers. Shepard (1816-1889) was a Harvard graduate and a commander of the 52nd US Infantry during the Civil War. In addition to his military life, Shepard was also a poet, author, and a devoted father. He shared a strong bond with his daughter, Ella, to whom he wrote many letters throughout his life. Their relationship can be traced through these letters, and it all started with a letter written on July 5th, 1846. You can read the entire letter here, and below are some highlights.
This is the first letter your father has ever written to you, and indeed the first that ever has been written to you. I suppose it is not a very usual thing for a lady not yet but seven months old to receive letters; but I have, today, thought a great deal of my little darling daughter as it is the first Sabbath I have ever been away from you and so I thought I would say how much I love you and how lonely I feel without you, and if you cannot read or understand it now, if God should let you grow up to be a young lady, then you can do so, and remember that your father loved you a great deal when you were a very little child.
You see I write upon a very small sheet because it is to a very small, though a very good girl. I have written you a little prayer in a hymn, and when you can speak I want you to learn it and say it every night before you sleep. I will copy it for you, and then this first letter to you will be done. You may give my love to your mother, and keep a great many kisses for me.
The entirety of the Isaac Shepard Papers will be described in a catalog record and finding aid, which should be available by the end of this year, so stay tuned!