PRINT Internship Week 11

This week was mostly about Abigail again.

On Tuesday, we met again for the weekly meeting. We gave each other updates like we do every week and discussed the UCF Celebrates the Arts presentation we will be doing on April 7th. My presentation will be on love and relationships in Quaker society as seen through Abigail’s life.

Before the meetings, I transcribed the four letters we received from the Pennsylvania Historical Society last semester. I quickly gave them a read last semester, but I didn’t fully transcribe them. I have to say, transcriptions are a lot easier now than they used to be. The oldest letter is from December, 1702 and it is a great letter that demonstrates the relationships between siblings in the 18th century.  At this point, Abigail, Israel, and Priscilla were the only surviving members of the Pemberton children, having just lost the youngest brother, Robert that year.  Abigail is asking how Priscila is doing and hoping that Israel is doing well again.

The next letter is from March of 1703 and it is basically a shopping list to Israel.  So nothing too much to report there.

The next letter is from later on that same year in August and it is my favorite letter that I have ever read and transcribed from her. At the beginning, she is talking about a mystery Joseph who she is in love with.  She remarks that no one thinks that they are serious but he’s gone to the Quaker meeting in Rhode Island to receive a certificate of intention of marriage, which is essentially the 18th century Quaker equivalent of an engagement ring. She then talks about Jeremiah, who is Jeremiah Langhorne, the man who everyone thought she would marry but she apparently hasn’t heard anything from him or about him and clearly he doesn’t actually care about her no matter how great everyone thinks he is. She then says the most amazing line,

Deare [dear] brother [Israel Pemberton] I am not unseceble [unsensible] that I aught to wait for
counsel from the wise di [crossed out: illegible] rectter [director] of all things in this
[crossed out: illegible] great concernment which consists either of comfort and
happines [happiness] or discord and discontent which if the formar [former] I
shall accept of as a blessing bu but if the latter I pay god
I may never mary [marry]

This is just so amazing and completely demonstrates the kind of woman she was.  She wouldn’t settle for a loveless marriage just because it is what she should do or what everyone in the city thought she would do. She would rather be a spinster for the rest of her life.  This is incredibly impactful, even moreso when you think about how this happened over three hundred years ago and most people believe that women had no thoughts of their own and no say in their lives. This proves that that is completely incorrect.

The final letter I transcribed is from about a little over a year later when she writes to her brother basically, “hey, brother, do you think you can come home next month because, surprise! I’m getting married to a guy named Stephen and I’d like you to be there.” I have no idea what happened to Joseph or how the relationship progressed with Stephen to lead to marriage and she said that she’s been keeping quiet after Jeremiah made so much noise “for so little purpose.” I’m assuming this came about after she announced her engagement to Joseph the year prior.

Upon reading these letters, I decided to change the letter I will be presenting at the UCF celebrates the arts and instead will be working with the letter from August 1703. There is literally no better option to talk about love and relationships in this project.

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