City Mouse and Country Mouse

With AAS’s annual Adopt-A-Book event right around the corner (read about last year’s event here), I thought I’d share another collection that will be up for adoption in April.

The Sawyer brothers lived in Manchester, New Hampshire in the mid 19th century.  Brothers Joseph and Henry enjoyed life in the bustling city, and loved sharing their experiences with their cousin, William Carr, who lived in the country setting of Bradford, New Hampshire.  In the tradition of the classic story of the city mouse and his country cousin, the brothers wrote to William about all of the intellectual and social activities they enjoyed in Manchester.  The brothers’ lively letters discuss their desire for education, attendance at lyceum lectures, membership in temperance lodges, and membership in the Manchester Athenaeum.

The letter shown here, dated June 1846, describes many exciting goings-on in Manchester.  Henry tells William about his busy work schedule, his attendance at a military convention, and even about a street robbery by “some Irishmen”.  In another letter, dated March of 1845, Henry writes to William about an offer to introduce his cousin to a unique experience should he visit the city –

“With regard to the Kankamagus Lodge” F. F. of T. B. I will just inform you that if you will come to Manchester I should be extremely happy if you would like, in my official capacity of ‘Warden’ to bandage your eyes and lead you into the circle of ‘True Brothers’…

What I wish we could see are William’s responses to the letters.  Did he envy his cousins’ urban lifestyle, or did he prefer the tranquility of his country home?  Either way, he surely was interested in learning about his cousins’ lifestyle, as the letters were exchange frequently, and over at least a six year time span.

This collection of Sawyer Family Letters provides an excellent look at the lives of young working men in the early days of the industrial era in New England.  Please considering adopting this collection!

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